This Saturday, I held the latest version of my one-day Tech class. This is the second time I’ve run a class with the new question pool. (The Element 2 question pool was updated on July 1, 2010.) Here are a few observations:
- There is a bit more material to cover in this version of the question pool, but it’s still doable in a day. My class runs from 9am – 3pm, with a half-hour break for lunch. I’m considering adding a half hour next time, but the problem with that is that is student fatigue. There really is only so much that you can cover no matter how long the class is. After I think about this for about ten minutes, I’ll probably decide not to do it.
Another option would be to hold two three- or four-hour sessions, say one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Or, just brainstorming a bit, maybe you could do two hours on Friday evening, and then five or six hours on Saturday, followed by the test. That would allow for a more leisurely pace, but require that students make time to attend the class on two separate days. That might not be so easy for some people.
- The key to success with this format is getting the students to at least read through the study guide a couple of times and take some online practice tests before coming to class. I stress this in every e-mail that I send students and prospective students. In nine out of ten cases, those that fail the test after the class do so because they came to the class cold. It’s just too much to absorb all at once. If they pre-study, it’s more of a review session than a class.
- 20 people pre-registered for the class, but only 14 showed up. I was very disappointed with this turnout, especially as I e-mailed folks a couple of days before the class and asked them to tell me if they couldn’t make it. I don’t mind if they have to cancel for some reason, but it’s just good manners to actually cancel.
Anyone have any ideas as to how to encourage people to actually show up? I’ve thought about requiring payment beforehand, but that might discourage people from even signing up. Maybe I could require the payment and then have coffee and donuts when they arrive
- 11 students passed the test. When I asked if they had read through the study guide, those that failed said that they hadn’t had time to do that. Well, I’m sorry, but there’s nothing that I can do about that. They can’t say that they weren’t warned.
- Two of the students that failed the test were kids—one 10 or 11, the other 13. What I find is that kids have a harder time with this format than do adults. Heck, it’s hard enough getting adults to sit still for six hours, much less kids. :) On the other hand, some kids have successfully taken the class and passed the test. Maybe it’s a question of motivation. Some kids are there because their parents want them to get a license, not necessarily because they want to get a license.
One more thing. One of the students told me that he got serious about getting his license about a month or so ago. He went to the ARRL website and searched for clubs in this area. The search returned 22 clubs within a 25-mile radius of his zip code. He said that he tried contacting every single one of them, but I was the only one who replied to his inquiry.
I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t say much for amateur radio. Your club is hopefully a better job of responding to inquiries from non-hams, but it might be worth checking on the procedure just to make sure.