Technology Training Tips


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presentation given at the Technology Speed Dating event, January 14, 2014 at Parsippany Public Library

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  • Introduce myself and explain my qualifications: Excel and FoxPro trainer for DJ; Technology Training at PPL; Train the Trainer Class via LibraryLinkNJ; and currently trainer at SCLS MJL; Prez of ET Section.
  • Ok, so today I am going to start with the basics of training—these apply for tech training, or any kind of training. The basic process of Planning, Creating Materials, Trouble Shooting, & Evaluation have been around a long time and work very well with tech training. So I will talk a bit about each, specifically in relation to training with technology. Then I will cover training the trainer—providing resources for best practices and for gaining skills. And if I start talking too fast—please, someone speak up and let me know. That is my training challenge and I would welcome your help in recognizing and fixing that issue….So, let’s get started!
  • Many people have a basic tech class and never think about it again. I don’t think that is the best way to prepare for training, especially with tech training. As with all teaching, the teacher has work to do before, during and after the class. The before and after are often given short-shrift because there is no time. However, I will say that creating classes, refreshing classes, and improving your skills as a trainer are enormously dependent on the before and after. By taking sometime before your class to really consider what the class is will help to focus you and prepare you for the class. Many questions are quickly answered—who: library patrons; for me these are adults, usually with a variety of skill levels. Reminding myself that is the case, helps me to remember the strategies I will need to employ when dealing with an uneven class. Where—will I be at public computers, in a TTC, or in a room one-on-one? When—it matters, we all are different at different times of the day. I know that by the end of the night, my energy is lower. In the morning, the people I am dealing with are likely to be riding a coffee wave—which produces alert people and often helps people focus, but it also can make the class more aggressive. Why? This is very interesting to consider—why are the students taking the class. In my situation—these are classes largely taken by choice. Or so I thought. However, lately, I have had a series of students who were in class because their spouse had insisted. These folks were not happy, didn’t think they could do it, didn’t care about it, and much harder to reach. The what and how are where the more quantifiable work begins.
  • Yes, you can run through these three questions in under a minute—adult learners, MJL program room, Tuesday at 7:00pm. However, doing that—or answering these once and never even considering them again—will cause you to miss a real chance to grow and get better at training. For example—my who will always be adults, but before I schedule any classes, I think about this again, usually in conjunction with when. I review who came to classes in the past, what the classes were like/how they went. This keeps me informed about my patrons and reminds me that maybe instead of doing the normal night class, I should do one during the day and see if I get more seniors. Or on a Saturday. Everytime I reflect on the Who, I feel guilty I haven’t done a weekend class that might accommodate working people who simply can not get to the library during the week. I don’t want to work more Saturdays, but if I really want to get a training program happening at my library, I have to do this. If I want to get seniors at my library, I need to start the classes earlier than 7:00pm, but working people want the 7:00 start. Who actually shows up for my classes—the seniors and the weekend people. Working people show up about 50% of the time. I also do understand that the when might be dictated, in which case, you can move past this quickly. One I would caution you about skipping is where. My library does not have a TTC—so computer classes have to take place on the Public PCs….or so I thought. We had six public PCs, they are right on-top of the reference desk and it was hard to teach using them. Plus, taking away four of six machines left a big chunk of our patrons without a resource they needed. When people didn’t show for a class, it was terrible—people wanted to sit and use the machines, talk on the phone or where headphones, etc. But what could I do? We had no TTC. Well by considering this question—really thinking about who I’m teaching and how they use technology, I realized most people had laptops. If I made the class BYOD, then I could teach anywhere. I now run all database training classes this way. I lecture and show using my laptop, give exercises and walk around to each participant using their own machine. For databases, it works great. For cloud computing it works great, for e-books it works well, for Word, Excel, etc.—it is good, but hard. But my point is this—think about these questions every time.
  • Now we are getting to the heart of the planning—what and how. By answering these questions in a systematic way, you will have created a blueprint for the class and the supporting materials. In essence, you will plan your work, then work your plan….
  • Title: I’m all about a snappy title. I think it helps to grab attention in your PR, and that is important. That said, I don’t like cutesy and I believe for classes, it should be pretty straight forward—Basic Excel, Introduction to Pinterest, etc. You want your title to match the skill level need to take the class—so by using descriptive words like beginner, advanced, introduction, etc. you are signaling who the class is best suited to—but a title alone is not the be all and end all.
    Description is also equally as important. This BRIEF statement provides some more information—and I must say my pet peeve, please include the length of the class in your description! Either the start and end times or class runs 90 minutes. There is nothing more disruptive to a class than someone leaving 30 minutes early because they thought the class was an hour long. It sends the class over signal to everyone and it is hard to regain focus quick enough to not loose your end game. Likewise—if there is a specific platform or device or software, this is where you want to make that clear. For example, Basic Excel is a fine class title, but in the description you should say what specific type of Excel will be covered. If you are doing BYOD, this won’t stop people with different versions from attending, but it does give you some space when someone arrives with XP on their old laptop. I let these folks stay, but tell them, yours will be different and I won’t be able to give you the one-on-one attention your might need.
    Objectives: This is actually where I start planning for any class I do. I got this from the wonderful Sophie Bookover when I was going to do a webinar on Financial tools for librarians. She had me create 3 Objectives which had to be specific, clear, goal oriented, and measurable. After this class you will be able to: These serve as my blueprint for the how by giving me specifics of what to teach; they keep me honest during the class—I know what has to be covered and if I am getting away from it, I know to pull it back in; and finally they let the student know what they will actually be learning in the class. This is the blue print—this is what your handouts must show, what your ppt should cover, what your exercises are focused on etc. Once you have a good set of objectives, everything else flows from them—including title and description. So let’s look a bit closer at Objectives.
  • Keep them brief
    Keep the total number reasonable—the more basic the class the shorter and fewer the goals should be. My preferred # is 3 (and I never do just two because it looks wonky—always have an uneven number).
    Actions words—create, manage, operate, These are your verbs, NOTHING PASSIVE about the objectives of your class. Goals are big picture, Objectives are specific and small….
    Once you have Objectives in place—you create your presentation, your exercises, your promo materials, your evaluation materials, your handouts or take away items. They are in essence the destination—where the class is supposed to get to before the end….
    Now we can talk about the specifics of how you teach….
  • By thinking about and answering the question How, you really create the roadmap—the objectives told you were you want to be, so this is how you get there.
    So will you simply talk and demonstrate, or will students have a chance to do activities? Will you do both? Is the training going to be in person (back to where) or online? If online is it a static video that students will passively watch or is it an interactive webinar using a tool like Adobe Connect? This is where you make the choice of what materials will you use—will it be PowerPoint, will it be Prezi, etc. Personally, I prefer a combined lecture and hands on for tech training. I create a VERY short Powerpoint (unless I am teaching a different presentation tool like Prezi, in which case I use it). As I mentioned earlier—I like PowerPoint for whenever I do training at an unfamiliar location. I have yet to find a place that doesn’t support a ppt presentation, but there are plenty of times I have seen alternatives suffer from technology issues. Once I go through these four or five slides—generally just saying who I am, what the plan is for the class, and a little tour, I switch over to projecting my screen and doing hands on work. I don’t think that people can effectively learn and retain tech stuff without hands on. As for materials, I think this is really important to consider—will you go high tech or low? Low can be really powerful—a flip chart and some sharpies have the advantage of working without power or compatibility. And flip charts are fantastic for creating a parking space—a place to hold ideas/comments/issues until a later time….
    And this leads right into the next two topics—supplementary materials and trouble shooting
  • I am a big believer in a take-away. They really help students to re-apply what they have learned once they leave the classroom. That is why I tend to make my handouts screen shots—they will remember what they saw, they can take specific notes on the screen they had trouble with, and they can be updated and created super easily. One note, I never give my handouts at the beginning of class. If a class starts drifting (and don’t they always), you can give out handouts which will help re-focus the students. If you give them out right away, they can actually be a distraction as people are so busy looking at what you left on the desk, they aren’t listening to you.
  • This is the reality of the future and the future is now. No longer do we have the luxury of teaching the same Basic Word class on library machines. Now we must meet the patrons where they do computing – on tablets that vary, at least a little, by manufacturers. The good news, with the exception of Apple products, most Android based platforms are sort of the same across brands. The bad news, the words most and sort of the same….
  • 28% of cell owners own an Android; 25% own an iPhone; 4% own a Blackberry As our computing unplugs, so must our training. This is not easy. You can limit your classes to one type of device, one operating system, or even on specific device—someone will attend with a different device. You can create your class prepared to deal with multiple devices—this is my choice. I always qualify this with a pre-req of basic competency in using their device. That doesn’t work, but it helps. Tell stories here.
  • It would be great if all classes were as polite and well behaved as this one. However, there is often a person that disrupts the class—it doesn’t have to be someone being really bad. Some people will talk to impress the teacher or class, some will be angry about being there or frustrated because the skill set is above their abilities, etc. Even asking questions can become problematic if there are too many, or the same one is repeated. Try to refocus the person and the class, or if need be, ask to set aside the topic or issue until later—at the break, at the end of class, etc. Often when people are in a class of mine where they simply do not have the basic skills needed, I generally offer one-on-one training at another time. I was going to use a keep calm image—because that is the most important thing to do—stay calm, it will be ok.
  • I was going to use a keep calm image—because that is the most important thing to do—stay calm, it will be ok.
  • Ok, I’m going to tell you my dirty little secret—I skip this step most of the time. I want to evaluate, but I find it hard to get real feedback. All my verbal and written evaluations gave me the same feedback—your great, we love this, will you offer more classes. That’s sweet. It feels good. It provides me with zero information from which to build. Most of all, I think that was the feedback because it is hard to be critical of someone you see every week. These folks know me—both professionally, and for many, personally. I live in the town I work in. That said—I wish there was a way to get anon feedback, because I know I need it.
    Evaluation of what and how is something I do on my own—I regularly evaluate what classes I offer, how I teach them, and where can I go in the future. For example, many people want classes on Microsoft still, but my library no longer offers Microsoft products to the public. So I have to create a new series of classes, but what? What do I have that I can offer? Or many people want classes on social media, but then they don’t show up—what’s up with that? My evaluation Is more top level….
  • There are less funds, less time, and, even if that is getting better, this is not a 9 – 5 task. This is life-long learning. These are not only skill you need in your career, you will need a high level of technology skills in life as well.
    My library does not fund Apple products. I didn’t have an iPad, but I kept getting more and more questions on iPad e-books. I also was getting several requests for basic iPad classes. What did I do—I went to the Apple store, explained my problem, and they were awesome. They sat me down and trained me on using an iPad. They gave me links to places with great tutorials. They explained some of the problems with Overdrive at the time, showed me the Amazon Kindle & Nook Aps. Did this happen on work time—no, of course not. I went on a random Tuesday night—it was quiet at the store, which is probably why they were so helpful. Don’t do this at noon on a Saturday.
    My point is—the most often asked question I get about technology in libraries is what do you do if you don’t have a Doug? (that would be Doug Baldwin, the amazing ET Librarian for Piscataway Public Library). Well, what you do is you train yourself—no one is training you every month on the new books that come out, you have found methods to do that for yourself. This is no different. You have to be responsible for sharpening your own pencil folks. So here are some resources I hope you will use…..
  • First up—you are doing the right thing by attending events like this one. I can not stress enough the importance of the opportunities these three organizations provide you with on a regular basis, often for free or very little cost. I am biased, but I am going to pitch NJLA ET Section—this is an amazing group of tech oriented librarians doing really amazing stuff. Get involved—you will meet people who will inspire and will help you sharpen your skills. This, to me, is the ultimate in networking opportunities if you want to work with technology in the state of NJ. And yes, Doug Baldwin is an active member.
    The NJLA Conference has numerous opportunities to learn about technology. The State Library provides mobile devices to libraries for 2 months at a time via their Mobile Device Discovery Program—you will have no excuse that you don’t know a specific mobile device, at least the basics, after participating in this project.
    Your best resource is your fellow NJ Librarians—ask, and 90% of the time, you will receive the help you need….
  • Most software makers have created extensive training materials. Unlike the old manuals—these are usually web-based, visual, interactive, and free. Microsoft tutorials are amazing. If you are giving class on MSFT applications, you should be using this resource. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I generally base my classes around the basic classes offered on Microsoft and I ALWAYS give my classes the links to the training modules so they can practice at home.
    Overdrive, via the ‘partner’ portal provides a variety of training courses and also offers webinars fairly regularly. This is another example of go to the source.
    You Tube can train you on anything—do it.
    College websites have tons of on-line tutorials available for free that are meant to teach their students, but there is no reason you shouldn’t watch and learn.
  • Codeacademy is currently kicking my butt—boy, the amount of stuff I don’t know. That said, everyday that amount is getting smaller. And yes, I do this entirely on my own time.
    Google Education is really great—everyone who works with finding information should take it. is the only not-free resource I recommend and I do so because it is THAT good. Check with LibraryLinkNJ for access that might actually be free—found this out while giving this presentation, see Joanne R. for full details.
  • Well, few things are as cute as a cat smelling flowers—thank you all very much!
  • Technology Training Tips

    2. 2. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING • Training Tips • • • • Planning User Materials Trouble Shooting Evaluation • Training The Trainer
    3. 3. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: PLANNING ho W ? at h W ? How? Wh ere ? When ?
    5. 5. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: PLANNING WHAT? HOW? This is the heart of your
    7. 7. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: PLANNING OBJECTIVES Clear Specific Goal Oriented Action Measurable
    8. 8. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: PLANNING: HOW? • Lecture • Hands On • Combined • Q&A • On-line • • • Materials • • • • • Static Interactive K Your eep H ands to Yourself! PowerPoint Handouts Projected Computer Screen Flip Charts BYOD
    9. 9. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: USER MATERIALS Handouts Screen Shots very helpful provide focus easy to create bring ‘back’ a class distraction You Don’t H to S ave tart fromS cratch
    11. 11. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: USER MATERIALS BYOD Pew Internet & American Life Project
    12. 12. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: TROUBLE SHOOTING WHEN PEOPLE ARE THE PROBLEM • Acknowledge • Re-Direct / Re-Focus • Look To Others • Free Parking
    13. 13. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING: TROUBLE SHOOTING WHEN TECHNOLOGY IS THE PROBLEM Do take a moment Don’t Ignore the Class Be Prepared to Change
    15. 15. TRAIN THE TRAINER….
    17. 17. TECH TRAINING: TRAIN YOUR BRAIN • Go To the Source • Other Libraries • Books • College Web Sites • For Dummies Cheat Sheets • You Tube
    18. 18. TECH TRAINING: TRAIN YOUR BRAIN The Tech Community Wants People to Learn Technology
    19. 19. TECHNOLOGY TRAINING Cynthia M. Lambert SCLS, Mary Jacobs Branch 609-924-7073, ext. 4 LibraryCynthia on Social Media CynKnits on Ravelry
    20. 20. PHOTO ATRIBUTION All photos except slide 5, 7 and 8 were found using creative commons. A complete copy of the license can be found here: Slide 2: Photo by Derrick Bostrom via flikr, Slide 3: Photo by ores2K via flikr, Slide 4: Photo by Ha Designs via flikr, Slide 5: free wallpaper from that I made a screen shot of and then cropped in PowerPoint. Slide 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, & 15: Microsoft ClipArt Slide 11: Cell Phone User, Microsoft Clip Art; iPad; Kindle, Slide 12: St. John the Baptist Catholic School, Jordan Minnesota Slide 16, 17, 18, & 19: all photos come from the company webpages.