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Old November 2nd 07, 06:28 AM posted to
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Oct 2007
Posts: 26
Default Entry-level class

Steve Bonine wrote:
On Oct 23, 12:03?am, Steve Bonine wrote:

I have to add, and I don't want to sound condescending, but I
know that
some of the people who will attend this class are barely
literate, much
less capable of reading and understanding the question
pool . . . even
though it's written at a junior-high level.

Who *are* these folks? I mean, the current written exams
have been passed by elementary school children years
away from middle school.

I probably shouldn't sell the students short until I see who actually
shows up. But the impetus for the class was a request from a couple of
people who have already attended two previous entry-level classes taught
by the radio club in the next town over. I saw their material; it's
good; anyone who managed to attend their class and not pass is either
unmotivated or unteachable.

I suggest that if you have low expectations, the class will
live down to them, and if you have high expectations, they
will live up to them.

You have an excellent point, and I will try to act on it. On the other
hand, I do have to be realistic. I have to adapt the material to the
level of the people in the class, to the best of my ability and striving
not to pitch it so low that part of the class gives up in disgust.

With all due respect, if someone cannot grasp the concept of what
a frequency is, they should not be a licensed radio amateur, IMHO.
Such a lack of basic radio knowledge means the person just isn't
qualified yet, and endangers both the person and those around them.

I think you've gone too far because I went too far in my example.

Let me try to say this in different words.

The students in this class live in rural Minnesota. Electronics is
foreign to most of them. They can run a GPS-controlled tractor and
cover their fields without double-spraying a single row, but don't
expect them to understand the concepts of how GPS works. Or want to.

It's a real challenge to teach electronics to this demographic. For one
thing, their motivation to learn the material is 100% related to passing
the exam; they really couldn't care less that 1 amp will flow through a
resistance of 1 ohm if 1 volt is applied. Some of it I can make "real"
-- bring in a long extension cord, measure the resistance, discuss what
that means when you put a welder at the end.

Most of these folks will never be electronics gurus. They don't need to
be. They need to understand enough concepts to understand how to
operate the equipment that they buy. Do they need to understand the
relationship between wavelength and frequency to do that? No.

The whole point of license testing is to insure that licensees know
the basics.

I'm not sure that's actually true. Why do we care that a Technician
licensee knows Ohm's law?

It seems to me that the point of license testing is to erect a barrier
to entry. If that were not the case, the license pool would look a lot
different. It would consist of regulations and practical knowledge that
was actually used on a day-to-day basis. It would consist of material
that, to use your phrase above, is essential to insuring that the
licensee is not a danger to the person and those around him.

What I'm looking for is a real entry-level license, similar to the
Novice ticket, with an incentive to upgrade. I want to be able to
actually teach concepts and the real skills that people need to get
involved in ham radio, without feeling that I cannot do so because my
limited time must be spent getting them the knowledge to correctly
answers to pool questions.

Then you need more time. It's that simple. The time can be
class time, or it can be time the students spend reading and
learning on their own. But it takes time to learn this stuff.

But I don't have more time. It's going to be hard enough convincing
people to come to six sessions spread over three weeks. If I asked for
more time, I would get no students. The goal is to figure out how to
best use the time I have.

If I'm really successful, I will be able to lure people back to a
followup class. That's the only way I'll ever get access to more of
their time.

"If it were easy, everybody would do it."

And we're back to the concept of the exam as a barrier to entry. If you
have zero barrier, you have CB. If you have infinite barrier, you have
no one entering.

Like everything else in life, this class is a series of trade offs. I
picked six two-hour sessions as a compromise between having enough time
to cover everything I want to cover and being able to attract enough
people to conduct a class. I'll trade off time covering concepts to
time covering specific pool questions since I owe it to the students to
cover both. And I'm sure I'll be challenged to keep it simple enough
for some students while trying to challenge the rest.

73, Steve KB9X

I never got a class for my novice license thirty years ago. I listened
to a lot of code on a shortwave radio in the parlor of a church's
community building and practically memorized an ARRL publication
entitled "How to Become a Radio Amateur" if I'm remembering correctly.
And even though I'm an electrician by craft let me assure you that there
is not a lot of theory to electrical service work. The only time I've
needed ohms law is for long outdoor feeders but I was ahead of the other
apprentices when I learned about feeders because of amateur radio. I
let my novice license lapse because I moved to an apartment and could
not have antennas there.

So back in January my Fire Chief calls me aside and says since you've
been training the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers and
studied up on disaster preparedness I want you to represent the
department on the cities Disaster Preparedness Committee. My work on
the committee showed me that the local government could not afford a lot
by way of communications for disaster response work. The only likely
source of help we could identify was amateur radio.

I new there had been a lot of changes in the thirty years gone by so I
took the technician class given over two weekends in February of this
year. One of the things that the instructors showed us was some home
brew antennas. After passing my exam I tackled a collinear J-Pole as my
first home brew antenna because I could afford the tubing a lot easier
than I could afford any of the ready made antennas that claimed a
similar gain. I bought a used SWR meter, a club member checked it
against an antenna analyzer into a club antenna, and using only that SWR
meter and some patience I adjusted the J-pole to an acceptable SWR. A
used Yaesu FT470, Mirage BD35, and that J-pole, and I'm working a fair
number of repeaters, participating in the local EMCOM training net and
working every public service gig I can. I can't build a radio yet, but
I have been praised for my work on the events by people who have no
reason to butter me up. I got to try out HF at the Get On The Air table
of the clubs field day in June and the list goes on. I think I'm
getting an awful lot of mileage out of that two weekends.

I know I'm rambling but don't sell your students short. If you put the
effort into preparing a lot of show and tell, using real world examples
they may surprise you with how much they learn. Some of what they learn
you may never be aware of but the stuff I learned out of ARRL books is
still helping me feed my family. The material they put in the effort to
present during those two weekends back in February is helping me to
learn to help my community if the stuff ever does hit the fan.
Tom Horne, W3TDH

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
for general use." Thomas Alva Edison

  #42   Report Post  
Old November 2nd 07, 07:36 PM posted to
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Jan 2007
Posts: 300
Default Edison Quote (was: Entry-level class)

On Thu, 1 Nov 2007 22:45:20 EDT, Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
for general use." Thomas Alva Edison

"What do you mean, Charlie, 'back and forth' ?" ggg

My engineering school, one of the top ones in the country, had a
graduate in the 1880s named Thomas E. Edison. The new school
president a while back proclaimed "Thomas Edison graduated from here".
Someone had to drop a word to him that it wasn't THE Thomas Edison,
who never went to college.

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane

From a Clearing in the Silicon Forest

Beaverton (Washington County) Oregon

e-mail: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net

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