Skills Development: On Retraining

Recently, a colleague of mine asked me to well “retrain her” on web development skills, as she knows about my web ventures with GeekOut South-West. Naturally then, I figured this was a perfect opportunity for me to retrain her not just for her benefit, but for my own. As such, I figured I’d write an article about what I’m doing to retrain her – and most importantly, how this can benefit anyone with any skill.

My colleague is really looking forward to getting on with retraining, as she wants to get back into web development. I had the fortune of checking through her previous code and noticed that she’s not really had any form of training since the mid 00’s, which makes her practices somewhat out of date, including CSS embedded within her HTML files. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this with everyone, but effectively I know that I can help her improve her previous knowledge, as well as provide her with more.

But the joy of retraining someone means I can cement my own knowledge, allowing me to work on my own flaws. I’m no expert; I’m a hobbyist, but I know that I have a good training style, as I worked as a systems trainer for several years. With this in mind then, it’s fair to say that this is almost second nature to me – But I wanted to share with all of you some tips on how to get the most out of being retrained on something.

I have developed a learning strategy that I call the Three R’s Strategy, which is specifically for retraining. The Three R’s are as follows:

Retain, Refresh, Rehearse

Let’s go through my Three R’s Strategy in order.


ome people will swear not to do this, but I can assure you that it’s hugely important for retraining. Before you go in for your retraining, retain as much information as you can. Remember whatever you can and be ready to relearn the same stuff. You’ll see why this is hugely important later down the line of training, however, the long and short of it is that it shows your existing understanding.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re never expected to go into retraining with the mindset of “I remember it all already”, but whatever you can remember will come in handy. It means the training can be adapted to help you with what you need a refresher on, as opposed to having to reteach you everything. As my colleague came to me, she assured me her HTML knowledge is good – So I’ve prepared a HTML quiz for her.


Now that you’ve retained as much knowledge as you can, along with showing your current understanding, it’s time for you to actually get retrained. During this period, be prepared to have some questions about why you remember some things one way and you are being taught things a different way – That’s natural, unless you’re retraining with the person who originally trained you. A good example is the difference in learning to drive between instructors – You get the same rough end result, but the methods of getting there are different.

As you go through your training, question everything you know. If your refresher training matches up with your retained knowledge, then make sure you keep that information and question why it is how it is – What made this stick? Once you’ve considered this, think about what you’ve not remembered from before – What made you forget this? Was it simply time, or was there something this refresher has taught you that you didn’t think about before?


Finally, the last step with any form of retraining is the rehearsal; I.E putting what you learn into practice. The rehearsal is probably the most important part of maintaining your knowledge, once you have finished it. This is simply the bit where in most training you get a quiz, or a test of some sort. Perhaps you have to do a practical to finish your course – But whatever it is, this really helps you cement that knowledge.

Because of the type of training I’m doing, I’ve been creating web pages which my colleague is going to have to fix. As well as this, I’ll offer simulated situations, where they have to fill out the correct keywords. Ultimately, although this is simply just what we’d call a test, the rehearsal at the end is the most important

Now that I’ve shared my personal strategies for re-education, perhaps you should now put this into practice. If you have a different strategy that you feel is a better solution that the Three R’s, then let us know what you do in the comments below. Make sure you drop Kevin a line over on Facebook and Twitter as well – and hopefully, we’ll catch you over on GeekOut South-West in the near future too.

Happy learning re-learning!

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Looking to make the South-West of England a more "geekified" place.

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