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Expert and peer help

Students learning programming, data analysis, or any skill, will get stuck. Their code won't work, their analysis software will report impossible numbers... many things go wrong.

Some errors are predictable, since many beginners make them. For example, forgetting to increment a variable, so that a code loop runs forever. However, students are always coming up with new and more interesting mistakes. The mistakes they do make are different from one student to the next. The misunderstandings that cause the errors are different, too.

Students need personal help, at the least from an expert, but also, if possible, from other students. Students who help others can learn as much from the experience as the people they've helped.


Flipped classes are well suited to face-to-face skills courses. Flipped means there are no lectures. Students read course material on their own time, and try exercises. Class time is reserved for one-on-one help, group exercises, and demonstrations. These sessions emphasize problem solving, rather than details that students could read about.

For flipped to work, you need good course material. It should be well written, with the attributes of good explanations research has revealed.

Another advantage of flipped, besides the focus on problem solving, is that it helps build relationships. At their core, flipped sessions are people helping each other. Instructors get to know students, and students get to know each other.


Students in online skills classes should be able to get personal help. Asynchronous discussions, like email and forums, are useful, but they can't replace the real-time back and forth needed to diagnose code, analyses, etc. Students should be able to work with instructors and other students synchronously.

Services like Webex and Zoom are helpful. People can talk to each other, share screens, and, in some cases, instructors can take over students' PCs to show how what to do.

Further, since online students work independently, they need good course material. Explanations that are well written, easy to read, and help them learn how to do tasks.

Skilling's role

Skilling can help you make good explanations, good tasks, and give good feedback. It doesn't include online conferencing services, not will it help you get to know others in a face-to-face course. That's up to you.