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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • You should warn your students that followup is necessary to really learn things.

    When I first started using vi, I found that it was extremely useful to me.  But, every 6 months to a year, I would read through the entire man page.  Every time, I would find half a dozen "aha" items that provided a command that simplified a process that I would have been doing in a more awkward fashion.  I would then plan to add them to my repertoire.  Usually 2 or 3 would stick, and the others happened just rarely enough that I'd forget about them before an opportunity to use them came along - they would often be an "aha" moment again the next time I read through the man page.  This continued for a couple of decades (and now, with vim adding more features, I'm finding it useful to do this again).

    So, make sure your students know that your course (even a full week version, but especially the one day one) will be more than they will fully absorb, that after using the material for a while, some portions will have been used enough that they are very comfortable with them, but other portions will have gotten forgotten or hazy in the meantime.  They should plan to review their course notes regularly - initially every week or so, later every month, etc.  Then, they may find it valuable to take the course again in a year or so, to pick up the subtle items that aren't fully covered in the notes but which come out from the discussion, or the working examples.  The important point, though, is that the learning you get in a course has to be used effectively and integrated into the students ongoing work environment before it will become ingrained; and there is a limit to how much you can retain of the body of knowledge you learn in a course.  While telling students to take the course again sounds somewhat self-serving, assigning them the task of doing the refresher process themselves will give them an opportunity to discover how much they forget and how useful the reviews are.  (Perhaps, you could even have a periodic email suggesting that it is time to review their notes; where these review messages have a gradual backoff in frequency.)