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Here's a short excerpt from "Time travelling with an SAP instructor: Journey to a new kind of learning," from our recent e-magazine, Learning @ the Speed of Change.   For fun, we've recruited two classic cartoon characters from "way-back" in the 1960s (a gold star for anyone who can guess who it is!).  The first scene in our Improbable History of IT Learning takes place about a month ago...

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Joel Gilbert is sitting in his office talking about the latest turn in his career.  Over the past 20 years, he’s seen his share of changes.  Corporate mergers.  The Internet bubble.  And something we’ll call “The Learning Revolution, versions 1, 2 and 3.”  Joel started his career in the 1990s as an application engineer.  He was responsible for implementing software and then training the users.  It didn’t take long to figure out that he liked the training part of his work the most.

“I like the immediate feedback that you get from students, that you’ve actually added value.  Earlier in my career I was in a support role, and the disadvantage is that every communication starts with a negative presumption.  They don’t call you because things are going well.  With education, people are hopeful.  They come to the class with the attitude that ‘I’m going to learn something.’  You’re always starting on a positive note.”

These days as an SAP Education instructor, he delivers courses in business analytics, including SAP BusinessObjects software.  He spends about half his teaching time on the road, leading in-person classroom classes (either at client sites or at an SAP public training facility); the other half is spent delivering virtual live courses.

Like so many SAP instructors, it’s easy to see why Joel is good at what he does.  He’s happy to share what he knows and genuinely wants to help learners.  He listens carefully to questions – even the most basic ones – and answers them with the kind of patience that makes you think, “that wasn’t such a dumb question after all!”  And he doesn’t mind being the center of the conversation.  In short, he belongs in the classroom.  But technology and learning models march on, and so do SAP instructors.  This year, Joel is helping to drive the latest revolution in learning.  

But more about that later. Now let’s have some fun.  We'll go back in time to see how teaching and learning have changed in 20 years, and how Joel has always found a way to stay on top of his craft.  To ensure a smooth time travel experience, we’ve enlisted the help of that noted cartoon genius, Mr. Peabody, his boy Sherman, and their “WayBac Machine.”   Peabody instructs Sherman to set the WayBac to the year 1998, and the city of Greenville, South Carolina.  In no time at all, we’re at the New Horizons Computer Learning Center, where instructor Joel Gilbert is standing at the BACK of the classroom.  That’s odd.  Has he suddenly become shy?

To read the rest of the story, please check out page 6 of Learning @ the Speed of Change.