How a SAS Training Course is Made – Part 1

August 11, 2010

This post was kindly contributed by The SAS Training Post - go there to comment and to read the full post.

Editor’s Note: Meet Rick Cornell, SAS Training Course Development Manager. In a multi-part series, Rick will tell us about how a SAS training course is born. In this first installment, learn where a course comes from, what new courses are in the works and Rick’s desert island list of albums.

1) Describe your job at SAS.

I’m the manager of the group that supports course developers and maintains the course development process. The group consists of project managers, editors, and production specialists. I’m an editor by trade (after an earlier life as a middle school teacher), and I still spend a great deal of my time editing course materials.

2) Where do the ideas come from for creating a new SAS training course? An instructor? A customer? From software development or product management; to support a new software product?

Let’s see: yes, yes, and yes. And several more yeses. Ideas come from all over: product managers in R&D or Sales & Marketing; student comments during classes or customer requests at user group events; instructors in Education; country managers in Europe and beyond; industry experts outside of SAS for the Business Knowledge Series program; and elsewhere. If my friend Tom Baker in the RFC (SAS’ Recreation and Fitness Center for employees) has an idea for a course, we’d love to hear it.

3) Is there one particular course development project that stands out in your mind?

That’s a tough one. It feels like all courses have their own quirks and personalities – and you love some courses because of those things, and some, well, you don’t love so much because of those things. The foundation course revision efforts for both SAS 9 and 9.2 both stand out just because there were so many people involved and they were such huge undertakings. The larger the project and the more people who are involved, the more crucial the role of a support team is. I’d have a much better answer if you asked me my all-time top ten favorite albums.

4) Okay, what are your all-time top ten favorite albums?

Now that’s a question I can answer with some degree of authority. Thanks for asking. In no particular order…

The Clash – London Calling
R.E.M. – Murmur
The Replacements – Tim

Those three above long ago cemented their spots on the list. The other seven kind of come and go. If I were packing for a 10-hour road trip tomorrow, these are the other seven I’d put in the case:

James McMurtry – Live in Aught-Three
The Band – Music from Big Pink
Warren Zevon – Warren Zevon
Uncle Tupelo – Still Feel Gone
Counting Crows – August and Everything After
Various Artists – Take Me to the River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-1977 (kind of cheating because it’s a 3-disc set, but still…)
Nick Lowe – Pure Pop for Now People

5) How many new courses did your team develop last year? Do you think you’ll produce even more this year?

In 2009, 229 course development projects were completed, almost half of which were new courses – including classroom training, Live Web, e-Courses, e-Lectures, and even a couple custom courses. The other half was revisions to existing courses. It’s looking like we’ll be in that same ballpark again this year, between 200 and 225 when all’s said and done.

6) What new courses are in the works now?

How much time do you have? Let’s see, there’s a bunch in the platform administration world as well as the whole business intelligence universe. There are also a host of solutions courses, ranging from Risk Dimensions and Fraud Detection to Customer Analytics and Merchandise Intelligence. They’re not new courses, but the latest round of revisions to coincide with a new version of JMP is gearing up. We’re in the middle of two especially exciting projects. One is Advanced Business Analytics, with Cat Truxillo in the Statistics Group serving as the chief developer. The course is designed to be a semester-long offering at universities, and Cat is getting ready to meet with over 30 professors to prepare them to teach the course in the fall semester of 2010 or spring 2011. The other is a blended learning course, so called because it blends various training mechanisms (Live Web classroom and self-study time), that covers advanced SQL topics. And then there are the Extended Learning Pages, but that’s a whole other blog topic….

This post was kindly contributed by The SAS Training Post - go there to comment and to read the full post.


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