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On 4/30/2013 6:56 AM, Tom Davies wrote:
Hi :)
I am a bit bitter about this sort of thing too.  Even back when i was in school i could see 
teachers clearly trying to help people.  Unfortunately general attitudes of the kids in the 
classroom meant that even those of us that were interested in learning the skill had a tough time.  
It didn't improve at Uni.

There have been some excellent suggestions in this list.  Perhaps set a mini-competition half the 
class using 1 technique. Perhaps ask for hands up if  they can't cope with using styles, in order 
to play to the machismo of some.  When the results are in ask who can change the formatting of 
their document fastest.

Another idea is to get a horribly mangled paragraph and challenge them to insert it into their 
document to fit the style of their own work.

I frequently have to do this for my company's newsletter and at first found it took hours to try to 
fix people's messes in Word.  In LibreOffice i just pasted as unformatted and then applied styles 
taking just a couple of minutes at most.

However i still think it's easier to teach people things they want to learn.  Trying to trick them 
into wanting to learn about something else is a tough challenge.

Regards from

Tom :)

I first learned about styles and templates with Microsoft Word, and I think it is clear that this is something that all word processors do, for a very good reason. Back in the 1990s I developed a course for our degree completion students (basically people in their 40s who had started on a bachelors degree but never finished it). They needed to demonstrate proficiency with office software programs to graduate, and if they could not pass a test they could take my course and pass it. What almost always happened was that they put it off until the last possible time either because they thought they already knew it all, or because they thought they couldn't learn computer stuff and were afraid. By the time I was done with them, they almost always complained that they should have been given the course at the beginning because it would have saved them so much time. So people can learn this, and people can see the benefit of learning this.

I now do training sessions at placed like Ohio LinuxFest, and they are very well received. I just did another this past weekend at Penguicon, and had very enthusiastic participation. These are all people who chose to be there, so there is no possible implication of force involved. These are tools, and every tool works best if you learn how to do it properly. If you pick up the wrong saw and use it the wrong way, you may eventually cut the piece of wood, but it will look bad and take a lot more effort than it should.


Kevin B. O'Brien
A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.

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