Effective learning

If we are to accommodate people's different IT skills, abilities and experiences in a learning situation, we have to adapt the training to suit the individual.

This is easier said than done. But it is something we should strive for and with thoughtful interaction between trainer and learner it is possible to achieve this.

Our approach to your learning

From the beginning, Toco Training has had a philosophy of learning which it applies to all its training courses and personal coaching. The core principles have been shaped by real experiences in real business situations and are essential to how and what we teach.

Read our owner's story, a former schoolteacher and subsequently, IT consultant, as to why these principles form the learning foundations of Toco Training.

A personal perspective

by Phil Smith, Training Director of Toco Training

During my early years in the computing industry I enrolled on many training courses. Some were obviously better than others, but in my opinion, none actually caught the essence as to what I thought a training session should be about. I was never convinced they were delivering what was really essential in a way that was effective and long-lasting.

I would come away frustrated that the trainer hadn't really involved me in the training experience. That the lesson content, although practical, didn't actually relate to my job or work. Also, much of the instruction focused on topics I wasn't sure I'd ever have to use, or in what circumstances I'd actually need to.

There was one trainer-led course in particular which for me was to become the benchmark as how NOT to teach IT skills. It was marketed as an 'Advanced Excel' course, and showcased its lesson content as a list of functions and features to be covered, most of which were meaningless until you'd actually been on the course. In that vein, the trainer kept to a carefully-prepared script in a demonstrational style which us 14 delegates followed passively from an accompanying manual of exercises and examples.

There was never any attempt to engage us in dialogue except to enquire as to whether 'we were keeping up'. Such was the trainer's determination to complete his itinerary, it was never explained how these functions could be applied to our own daily tasks.

By the end of the day, the trainer had not spoken to me, enquired of my progress, or, I fear, even bothered to learn my name.

As for myself, what did I get out of this ? I learned to follow examples from a book ! This wasn't teaching as I knew it.

September 2017

Our core principles

From our considerable experience in training IT to users, we put in practice a set of principles which we feel are essential to good learning.

Learner-centred teaching

We follow a method of teaching where the trainer encourages discussion and participation amongst the group.

These interactive lessons are designed to mirror how people actually use Microsoft Office in their daily work. They are practical sessions, based around tasks you will commonly perform in the workplace.

This active (rather than passive) approach not only develops your software skills but trains you to think independently in solving problems encountered when using Microsoft Office.

Developing independent learning

Encouraging our learners to become more independent is one of the key principles of Toco Training's philosophy. Many IT trainers unwittingly promote dependence of their learners on themselves. In the long term this has the effect of inhibiting the learners when attempting to acquire computer skills unaided.

Through continuous interaction, skilful trainer prompting, appropriate questioning and encouraging participants 'to have a go' without the fear or sense of failure, all learners can develop an ability to think for themselves.

We aim to coach the learner to a degree of independence where the trainer is no longer needed.

Engaging and enjoyable lessons

We try to make our lessons interesting, enjoyable, engaging, jargon-free, involving, relevant, worthwhile and fun. What more can you ask ?

Training should be relevant to how you work

We believe your Microsoft Office learning should reflect the IT scenarios, problems and tasks you encounter during your working day, which is why our lessons use realistic data in recognisable work simulations for a more genuine experience.

As an example, our Excel training may involve you building a workbook from a requirement, resolving the problems or questions you may raise during the process, and selecting the right Excel tools and functions to complete the job. Just as you would do in the workplace.

Unlike many Excel trainers we don't teach functions and features just for the sake of it. We put the horse before the cart !

...and tailored to your skill levels

We get to know our delegates a little before we meet by performing a quick but comprehensive Training Needs Assessment prior to the training day. For our tailored instruction this allows us to build a training plan that is relevant and at the right level to all those attending.

Optimum class sizes

We like to keep our Small Groups 'small', that is, with no more than 6 learners. This allows the trainer to provide attention to individuals when necessary and opportunity to stimulate discussion at the group level.