The Story

In a previous life, running workshops was a big part of my day job and something I really enjoyed. Putting modules together didn’t just challenge my creativity; it was also an exercise in organisation. For each course, Learning Objectives were organised into spreadsheets, lessons flows were written into timelines and we always had mixes of “back-up” real-life anecdotes. The last one we’d whip out whenever people started looking bored. My favourite was a data visualisation course. We’d gather, watch Hans Rosling videos, sketch graphs with color pencils, discuss examples, and watch more videos. There was a lot of wire framing behind each class, although usually only us instructors knew about it.

As an instructor, I like structure. I like to see students marching nicely from A to B to C. In fact, guides suggest teachers break down what they want to teach into concept maps, and make full use of guided practice and faded examples.  On a broader level, designing a course that flows well is an art in itself. That is, I waved the flag until this format stopped working.

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Image caption: Post-its and planning

We were in the middle of our AIAP and we needed to adapt, and quickly. The step-by-step approach worked fine for training events or workshops; but our team was no longer in workshop-mode. In fact, we were in full-on project development mode. We were planning Agile sprint tasks, hosting clients and drafting design documents and mapping tech stack requirements. Like most projects in inception mode, there was a lot of back-and-forth. On top of that, we were still learning to function as a team and learning how best to manage an ML project (something, by the way, that there isn’t a lot of literature about, the subject of a future post!).

 

We had to adapt. Over time, we settled on some techniques that melded better with the more unpredictable, jazzy rhythm of a job. We wanted to share them here so people can give their input and feedback, and of course, make use of them in their own teams. It’s part of our philosophy of sharing. We’ve done this before, releasing our syllabus through our AIAP Field Guide. These techniques are

Call them design patterns, call them recipes or call them back-up plans, we hope they are useful

Technique 1:

Sharing real-world war stories are just as good as case studies.