For all my loyal followers (Hi, Mom!) who faithfully read these posts, you know that last week I wrote about how I shamelessly pulled the wool over the eyes of a former boss. I still think it was foolish, but clever of me. In any event, I was telling that story to a colleague who happens to be a big supporter of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). He smiled condescendingly, like most people do when I talk, and said that I had used the “EDGE” method of training, a method developed and used extensively by the BSA.
I was so impressed after he explained how it works that I went home and described it to my wife at dinner. She, too, smiled condescendingly (Why do people keep doing that?) and said, “Yes. It’s how I taught the children.” Apparently I never got the memo.
EDGE is a simple four-step process used to teach new skills. It stands for: Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable. Apparently it is a very efficient and effective teaching method. Looking back, I realize that I did use this process.
Step 1 – Explain: This is obviously the part where you figure out what you what to explain to whoever you’re teaching and then do it. I did this when I taught my boss how to do various tasks on his new computer. I used easy-to-understand words to teach him the correct jargon: “The little arrow is the cursor.”
Step 2 – Demonstrate: I would demonstrate each task in a manner that was clear and slow enough for him to follow.
Step 3 – Guide: This was the toughest part. I would step back and watch him execute the tasks I had explained and demonstrated. He was tentative when performing various tasks and there was often some confusion between what I had told him and what he heard. I had to be extra careful that we both used the same words and understood their meanings. When I would say, “Cut and paste,” he would hear it as, “Move the cursor over a sentence until it turns dark, etc.” We were often not on the same page, but eventually got it together.
Step 4 – Enable: This was the payoff. After explaining what tasks I wanted my boss to perform, he would, without any help from me, slowly work his way to completion. It was surprising and gratifying to watch a very accomplished man’s face light up when he saw that he could do each task.
Even though I’m late to the party on EDGE training, I appreciate it. In fact, as I’m working my way through Desktop Pro, I realize that this is how TestOut’s LabSim courseware works: The instructors explain what you need to do, show you how to do it, guide you through the task with hints as needed, and then finally enable you to do it on your own. I admit that I get great satisfaction and confidence when the pop-up window says, “Congratulations, you completed this task successfully.”
EDGE is not just popular, it’s also intuitive and most people use it regularly. Scoutmasters use it to teach scouts, my wife used it with our children, and the arresting officer used it when I was fingerprinted. (Just kidding. Or am I?) Utilizing EDGE is one of the reasons why TestOut has been so successful training more than 1 million students to earn certifications.
The best part of the EDGE process is how enabling it is. No matter their age, people gain increased confidence to perform new tasks. Even a high-ranking government official, who by the way went on to become very proficient, and still uses a computer for hours on end. (Boss, if you’re reading this: Forgive me. But if you can’t, it doesn’t matter. You’re retired and I don’t work for you anymore.)
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin's goal in life is to someday smile condescendingly at someone else.