Teaching an A+ Course: Help

sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
Hey guys, I am currently enrolled in a 2 year IT program at a local CC here. This is my senior semester, and I am enrolled in an A+ prep class, in which I am some what exempt from because I passed the A+ already over the summer.

Nonetheless, since I am exempt, and the fact that the teacher lets me out of a computer lab so I can go work at my real job where I work on PC`s I have been asked to teach for the rest of the semester for an hour each Friday about A+, which I find pretty fun.

The dilemma, The students already have Basic computer classes where the foundational skills of how a hard drive works how ram works etc etc is taught. I really do not want to bore the students with drab details of stuff they already *should* have learned. Unfortuantley I think some of the people in the class think hearing me talk for an hour over the next 8 weeks is going to get them able to pass the A+.. lol sure I can help.. but mehh they need books and other materials and motivation to study on their own.

Well, back to my question. Can you guys give me some ideas on what to teach about? Once again I am trying to keep things interesting and stay away from all the specs and details of hard drives,Processor ports etc, for they already have classes on that stuff 2 times a week.

To give you guys ideas on what I have been gearing this class towards . My first week I taught the 6 trouble shooting steps and how to apply them, and gave each member of the class a screen shot of a PC error and I played the part of the freaking out customer/user, in which I helped them understand how to physically use the steps not just "know" them. I just wanted them to get away from "what the book says" for a moment, and try and induce a sense of how people act in the real world.

Last week I went kinda off topic, I talked to the class about Cloud Computing and how it may or may not affect PC techs in the future. They either hated that subject or it went over their heads.... I was not too sure what happened at the end of that session lol. But yea, I am just trying to teach this course in a way to where they know how to handle situations in the real world.

Tomorrow my plan is too teach A+ I have printed out some test questions, and I am going to go over and analyze them in class with the students. I also plan to tell them the news about A+ adding Windows 7 to the test and the revised objectives.

I just need some ideas on neat things to do, to where I can stay away from all the spec details. If I have to go to the details I rather teach more of the technical stuff of the A+ like Encryption and Networking those are 2 things that do not really get covered in the "Basic" classes.

Long post guys, but I wanted to relay my plan.

Thanks - Shane
Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security

Comments

  • earweedearweed Posts: 5,192Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    One thing I could recommend doing. Since some of these people may become PC techs themselves if the school has any old computers around and do a little "hands on" with them about finding out how to upgrade them and how to find upgrade limitations about them. I'm talking about all upgrades (RAM, CPU, Video Cards, OS, etc) as they will encounter people wanting to be cheap and upgrade their computer instead of purchasing a newer one. Also you could go into things such as upgrading the BIOS and what it can and can't do.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • LlaneLlane Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    A few hints (aye, my first post too!):

    + Hands on sounds great! When I did my A+ course (which was a giant disappointment, btw) we had one afternoon working on PCs... and our instructor basically told us to put the PC appart and together again. I left the class at this point since I felt like it was a joke.

    + Show people fun stuff to do! Hack a PC with a telnet protocol (wha, that still works sometimes?), download a virus and show people what it does to your computer or how you can prevent it from happening. Try to tie as many RL scenarios into your coursework as possible. I've found those things can really spice things up and keep people interested, espacially when you're about to deal with some really dry stuff.

    + I remember when I was in a different class, talking about the BIOS our instructor asked one of our people to set the admin password on a PC he brought in. He showed us how to fix the problem of a forgotten password by removing the CMOS battery. People's eyes really lighted up at seeing how this is actually done. Keep in mind that most people sitting for A+ are technical folks that get terribly bored at looking at books and pictures all day long.

    They want to see things in action. If you can't show it to them tell them a story that involves a practical application of the whole thing.

    Anyway, my 2 cents worth. Good luck. :)
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    Thank you guys for the responses. Hands on is a great idea.

    Last week I went over a set of A+ practice questions, and I kind of turned it into a game show lol. The class loved that, and I plan on doing that again this week. My goal is to have them understand how CompTIA thinks and words questions, for instance showing them how to notice keywords that pretty much give the answer away.

    For hands on, I would like to do a session where I teach them about writing batch files. Allthough Batch files is not completley part of the A+ I believe showing them how to do batch files will reinforce what they know about the command line, and also teach them a really neat skill.

    As for working on the computers this class gets plenty of that in their "Labs" Thats what is making this hard for me because pretty much everything the A+ covers in details is stuff they cover in other classes.

    @ Huntert - I preach to them to go to Profesor Messor each week! that is a great site, and thats where I learned a lot.

    Keep the ideas coming guys, for I do appreciate this!

    Thank you.
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
  • DevilsbaneDevilsbane Posts: 4,212Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Where I went to college, there is a hardware and a software class. (Which were combined into a single class not long ago when it became clear that your really can't have one without the other).

    Then more recently there was an A+ class. Even to one who knows what Ram is and a Hard disk is, there is still a lot to passing the A+. Just go through the objectives. Let your class decide their pace. If the eyes start glazing over, finish up with that topic and move on. If they look puzzled, slow down and find out what they don't get.

    If they already know the stuff and you whiz through it in 6 weeks, have them try some practice tests. Make sure they understand what they will be walking into. If you finish with practice tests, find some labs to do. Hands on learning will help them understand and remember the stats that they learned.

    You don't want to brain ****, but you to want knowledge to stick in their heads. Develop opening questions. Build a pool of simple questsions and at the start of each class, go around to room asking them. "The laser printer just printed a black page, what should you check?" Ask 10-20 questions at the start of each class. Not only do they get a feel for what kinds of questions they will really see, but they will have knowledge that lasts forever.
    Decide what to be and go be it.
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Posts: 5,057Mod Mod
    ... I have been asked to teach for the rest of the semester for an hour each Friday about A+, which I find pretty fun.

    The dilemma, The students already have Basic computer classes where the foundational skills of how a hard drive works how ram works etc etc is taught. I really do not want to bore the students with drab details of stuff they already *should* have learned. ...

    Were you told to change/modify the curriculum to meet your goals? I would expect a class that you are taking over already has a syllbus and that is what the students are expected (depsite how bored they may be with it).

    I would get with the person who hired you to clarify what the course objectives are and then ask him/her about making changes. Some courses are somewhat overlapping, but if you take them into the next level, then the school may not appreciate you thinning out their 'beefed up course offereings'.

    YMMV
    Plantwiz
    _____
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • Ivanr4g63Ivanr4g63 Posts: 77Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I did that for a while, It was actually fun!

    Brought a couple of old computers to the classroom, made teams of 4 people and ask them to completely tear it down and put back together and if the computer came back on they pass that test if not we would go over what they did wrong, it actually helped them and helped me on what I was doing.
    You can do the same with a printer (but is much more elaborate) but it's another way to keep them entertained and with attention towards the subject and not fooling around.

    Another idea was to make them do some tasks in DOS command line, like create batch files, move/rename directories with files in them, change their attributes etc... you know make them use the keyboard on CLI not just mouse over GUI.
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    Plantwiz wrote: »
    Were you told to change/modify the curriculum to meet your goals?
    YMMV

    The main teacher sits in the class and watches with the rest of them. He loves what I am doing. No troubles there.
    Ivanr4g63 wrote: »
    I did that for a while, It was actually fun!

    Brought a couple of old computers to the classroom, made teams of 4 people and ask them to completely tear it down and put back together and if the computer came back on they pass that test if not we would go over what they did wrong, it actually helped them and helped me on what I was doing.
    You can do the same with a printer (but is much more elaborate) but it's another way to keep them entertained and with attention towards the subject and not fooling around.

    Another idea was to make them do some tasks in DOS command line, like create batch files, move/rename directories with files in them, change their attributes etc... you know make them use the keyboard on CLI not just mouse over GUI.

    If I had more than an hour and was not on my lunch break from work I would consider some hardware hands on.

    I am working on a batch file lesson right now, in which I will explain the CMD`s that A+ places emphasis on, and show the class how to make batch files, for that is a pretty cool skill to know, and plus they are not taught that in their normal classes.

    Thank you
    Devilsbane wrote: »
    have them try some practice tests. Make sure they understand what they will be walking into. .


    Thats kinda what I have planned for tomorrow. I have provided the class with a set of practice tests I used to study.

    Tomorow I am going to run through some tests, and try and get a feel on what kind of questions stump then, and then build more lessons plans on what they do not do well on.
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    Ivanr4g63 wrote: »

    Another idea was to make them do some tasks in DOS command line, like create batch files, move/rename directories with files in them, change their attributes etc... you know make them use the keyboard on CLI not just mouse over GUI.

    I ended up doing this, and it went right over their heads.. I think it was a bit too much.
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
  • EthanpEthanp Posts: 32Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I used to teach A+ Essentials and PC Application classes. I found out one big thing, lectures are always boring to students. I remember when I was student and my Instructor lectured. I was either asleep or drawing on my notebook. The college I used to teach at required me to lecture though, so I would lecture for only 10-20 minutes then give the students a break. When they came back I had them do 4-6 labs finishing the 1 ½ hour class up. I did this for every class I taught and the students appreciated it because they received lots and lots of hands on training, and learned a lot at the same time.
    In one lab I would all have them open their computers and I would show them the main components of a computer on the opened Instructor’s computer. While I was showing them they would follow along and point to the main components on their own computer. Before each of my quarterly exams I would devote a whole class to review and I did it with IT Jeopardy. They loved it because it turned into competition against each other, and they had lots of fun doing it. I would also give the student lots and lots of practice questions each day to study. At the end, I am proud to say that the students who chose to go on and actually take the A+ Essentials and PC Application exams passed with no problems, and are now A+ certified.
    Next up: CISSP 3rd time around
  • azjagazjag Posts: 579Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Look into the other topics covered on the exam. Printers would be a big one for me. How to troubleshoot and repair printers. You don't have to take the things apart, but a basic lesson on how a printer works, how to troubleshoot a paper jam, how to identify what is causing the problem. What is causing the crease in the paper, is the image defect caused by the toner cartridge or fuser. Difference between PS and PCL.
    Currently Studying:
    VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration (VCAP5-DCA) (Passed)
    VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Design (VCAP5-DCD)
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    azjag wrote: »
    Look into the other topics covered on the exam. Printers would be a big one for me.

    That sounds like I plan.

    The other topic I am also planning on doing is people skills. I will be testing the students mannerisms and professionalism.
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
  • Mike-MikeMike-Mike Posts: 1,860Member
    Ethanp wrote: »
    I used to teach A+ Essentials and PC Application classes. .


    hey I don't mean this to be offensive at all, so please don't take it that way.... but didn't you just post about just passing your A+ the other day? So you were teaching the A+ class without having the actual cert?
    Currently Working On

    CWTS, then WireShark
  • EthanpEthanp Posts: 32Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Mike-Mike wrote: »
    hey I don't mean this to be offensive at all, so please don't take it that way.... but didn't you just post about just passing your A+ the other day? So you were teaching the A+ class without having the actual cert?

    I was waiting for someone to ask me about this. 2 things: I worked for a nationally accredited College that cared only about my Masters degree. I mentioned to them that I was not A+ certified at the time, but they did not care and assigned me to teach the A+ classes. I just wanted to teach or train anywhere because I did not have a job at the time. Again, that was for a nationally accredited College. There is a huge difference between nationally accredited and regionally accredited Colleges or Universities. Regionally accredited Colleges or Universities do care, and if I worked for a regionally accredited College they would not let me teach any A+ classes without being A+ certified. Plus I would have to have a Masters degree in the line of study for the courses I would be teaching. Second thing: Over the past year I struggled with the A+ Essentials exam, because of my horrible test anxiety. When I took the Network+ and Security+ certification exams I did not have test anxiety because my college degrees are Network Security related. I did not even have to study for the certification exams. But with the A+ certification, I have not ever taken any computer engineering or maintenance courses. For the A+ certification, I had to study, and studying causes anxiety for me. I hope this answers your question.
    By the way, I earned my BS and Masters degrees at a regionally accredited University.
    Next up: CISSP 3rd time around
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    Well, I figured I would update this thread with my findings from this semester.

    In the given time that I am there 1 hour I have found that going through practice exams with the class has been most affective. The approach was simple start with 1 person and just go from person to person asking a question. I would give each person a few moments to pick an answer, and then ask the rest of the class if they agreed or not.

    That approach was simple, but worked very well for the short time I had, and plus it kept every body interested for it turned into a competition to an extent.

    when the students would get on a question nobody understood, I would then lecture on that question for a bit in an effort to fill them in on the Why's and What's.


    Thanks again for all the advice
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
  • ramirerramirer Posts: 27Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I ended up doing this, and it went right over their heads.. I think it was a bit too much.
    If it's an A+ course it shouldn't be over their heads. Maybe just wait until there are a few days in which the class covers it in more detail then go over, sort of a quick review.
  • earweedearweed Posts: 5,192Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    That sounds like I plan.

    The other topic I am also planning on doing is people skills. I will be testing the students mannerisms and professionalism.
    People skills is a good thing to teach them. Be sure to tell them about the importance of learning to deal with difficult people. That has been included in almost every single one of my interviews, how I dealt with a difficult customer/client.
    Also try to show them some sort of methodology or order in troubleshooting. What do you always do first and what questions to ask the client.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    ramirer wrote: »
    If it's an A+ course it shouldn't be over their heads. Maybe just wait until there are a few days in which the class covers it in more detail then go over, sort of a quick review.


    They do not cover batch file creation in any other class. Batch creation was something I thought they all may like, but they decided it was easier to click around the GUI Vs, making a batch file to help make repetitious task easier.

    But yes, it was wayyy over their head, and yes, I was suprised that it was.
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
  • ramirerramirer Posts: 27Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    They do not cover batch file creation in any other class. Batch creation was something I thought they all may like, but they decided it was easier to click around the GUI Vs, making a batch file to help make repetitious task easier.

    But yes, it was wayyy over their head, and yes, I was suprised that it was.
    How are they with using other commands? Eventually they will get a puter that cannot boot into Windows and will have to use the command line.
  • sthompson86sthompson86 Posts: 370Member
    ramirer wrote: »
    How are they with using other commands? Eventually they will get a puter that cannot boot into Windows and will have to use the command line.

    That would be unsatisfactory - They have a class where they learn the command, which I went through also.

    I felt that actually putting the commands to use would be more interesting than just learning commands for memory.
    Currently Reading: Again to Carthage - CCNA/Security
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