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Interviews with Live Web Instructors

Stacey Syphus

Q&A with Marc Huber

Other than being able to avoid travel, what makes the Live Web format unique?
We recently started teaching multi-session classes on non-successive days, allowing students to soak in and review each session before moving on to another topic. This is truly unique to Live Web and students seem to appreciate the mental break between sessions. Also with Live Web, we can teach special topics that may take only half a day. These mini-courses would not be offered at all if not for Live Web, because they wouldn't be cost effective to run in the traditional classroom setting.

Another unique aspect to Live Web is the virtual lab. I encourage all students to make use of the virtual lab. The lab allows the instructors to quickly help students who might only need help locating a missing semi-colon.

What comments have you gotten from students about using Live Web?
Most students agree that Live Web is a great alternative to traditional classroom training. If they don't live close to a training center and are unable to travel, Live Web is a terrific way to receive SAS training. Students are happy that there is a way for them to take courses, where there was no opportunity before Live Web.

Do you have a story to share that illustrates a vital aspect of taking Live Web courses?
We have one student from Germany, who took my Statistics I class and in quick succession took Categorical Data Analysis, GEE Analyses, Fitting Poisson Regression Models, and Statistics II. I spoke with him frequently over the phone and by e-mail. He was in about his third or fourth career, now doing data analysis in his 50's. He was disappointed in the course offerings in Germany and was so excited to learn about Live Web. I know some German and so sometimes when he'd send me an e-mail question between classes or text question during class, I'd respond partially in German, which he appreciated.

Stacey Syphus

Q&A with Stacey Syphus

What makes the Live Web format unique, other than students not having to travel?
Two things come to mind. First is the opportunity we give students to perform exercises in our virtual lab, which means they are actually connecting to a machine located at SAS that is running the latest and greatest version of the software. I have had several students who still were running an earlier version of SAS on their computers, but they were able to practice with and even demonstrate to their managers the new features and advantages the new version offered. They decided to upgrade immediately.

The second thing that makes Live Web training unique is the fact that we can offer more specialized courses. Since we can invite people from all over the country to join our classes, we can offer specialized classes more frequently.

What positive comments from students have you received about the Live Web format?
Here's some recent feedback I've received:

"The best part of this course was the format of the training. I was very impressed with the technology and the ability to handle technical problems or class questions as if we were all in the same room."

"The fact that the course included slide presentations, live demonstrations, exercises, discussion questions, text messaging with the instructors, as well as other opportunities to interact really helped me to stay focused during the course. That is impressive with all the distractions happening around me!"

"The best part of this class was that it was just as effective as the classroom environment, but I didn't have to check into a hotel!"

Do you have a story to share that illustrates a vital aspect of taking Live Web courses?
We give students a variety of methods to interact with us as instructors. When students have questions, they can ask their questions over the phone or submit them privately through a text messenger. This flexibility allows students to use whatever approach is most comfortable to them. I had a student comment, "I really liked being able to privately ask a question. Usually I am very shy in the classroom and do not ask any questions. This was the perfect opportunity for me to ask questions without feeling like it might be a silly question."

Johnny Johnson

Q&A with Johnny Johnson

What's your favorite part of teaching Live Web courses?
My favorite part has to be the lack of travel - not only for myself, but for the students as well. I think everyone appreciates the effort we have put into this technology that allows people to learn from actual instructors without having to board a plane, train, or bus. I encounter folks all the time who are taking classes via Live Web because they have limited travel budget and they love the Live Web format. SAS Education would be disserving our customers if we didn't provide these alternative opportunities to learn how to use our products. And besides, it's fun. People like to hear what's going on in different parts of the country; what the weather is like, how the local sports teams are behaving, and there's a certain mystique when you only hear voices and see no faces. This medium also allows me to teach with instructors who are based all over which I would otherwise rarely get the opportunity to do.

What makes the Live Web format special?
It's special because it affords people the opportunity to learn SAS products in the comfort of their own environment; no travel, no hassle. It's special because we put a lot of time and effort into making the courses we teach via Live Web as interactive and challenging as possible.

More often than not, students say they will recommend a SAS Live Web courses to someone else. That's saying a lot. It's saying that we've put together a product that is valued, and that's the primary goal.

Where do you see the Live Web technology in, say, ten years?
Wow, I can't believe how far we've come in the last 4! I think as technology continues to advance, teaching formats will grow as well. We are continuously preparing for that reality by developing more courses and evaluating new technologies.

As far as the specific technology advancements that will occur, that's hard to say. I expect for video to be part of it, so that as a student, you will not only be able to hear my voice, and see what I'm writing on the presentation screen, but you'll also be able to see what I'm doing. I guess I'll have to start shaving for class again!

How has the Virtual Lab impacted your Live Web classes?
It can be very difficult to fix a problem in someone's SAS session when you can't see it and they can't explain it. The virtual lab eliminates that problem. If the student has a problem, I simply jump into their virtual lab session and help them fix it. Our virtual lab also provides access to the latest release of SAS, so students get to use our best product. With the virtual lab, students don't actually have to have SAS on their machine to take our Live Web courses. In fact, I teach people all the time who are evaluating SAS for purchase. What better way to evaluate a product than to use it in a formal instruction environment?

What do you think is the #1 benefit of the Live Web class format?
I have had students who needed to miss a day of class for sickness, family emergency, and even a natural disaster. I like to think that Live Web allows people to keep their priorities straight. Learning SAS is awesome, but being home when you're needed is really where it's at! It's that sort of flexibility that will continue to foster growth in SAS' Live Web technology and curriculum.

Johnny currently teaches Introduction to Programming Concepts Using SAS Software, SAS Programming I, SAS Programming II, SQL Processing with SAS, Querying and Reporting Using SAS Enterprise Guide, and Advanced Querying and Reporting Using SAS Enterprise Guide through Live Web.

Cynthia Zender

Q&A with Cynthia Zender

What's your favorite part of teaching Live Web courses?
I really enjoy moderating classes. Students can send a question (like an Instant Message) to the moderator to ask something that might be a bit off the immediate topic. The moderator sends the response and researches answers that are not immediately known. I love the back and forth of the questions, and I love hearing how students are using SAS. And since, in a previous life, I wanted to be Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set. I think moderating Live Web classes allows me to release my inner research librarian.

What makes the Live Web format special?
What makes the Live Web format so impressive is the ability to deliver quality training to students who might not be able to travel to a training center. I've had folks from England and Alaska in my classes. I think that is too cool for words! To me what makes our Live Web training so superior to "canned" or pre-recorded online seminars is the ability to interact with students on a real-time basis.

Where do you see the Live Web technology in, say, ten years?
I expect that the technology will have changed exponentially from where it is now. I'll probably be pod casting classes to terabyte-sized iPods by then. Seriously though, I envision we'll build more of the Live Web interactivity into all of our courses. And, I think we'll all be better instructors for it.

Cynthia currently teaches Creating Detail and Summary Reports and Advanced Output Delivery System Topics through Live Web. She also currently teaches a variety of Business Intelligence courses in the classroom.

Check back frequently to hear more from your favorite Live Web instructors!