Category Archives: training

Six Years of Instruction

About six years ago through a mix of luck and being willing to say ‘yes’ when opportunity appeared I taught my first computer class at my library. It was Internet Basics  – aimed at people with some basic mousing and keyboard skills, but no knowledge of the internet.

Since then I have offered classes on ‘Advanced Internet Use’, Microsoft Word, Excel, library databases, ebooks (ebooks and more ebooks), social media, privacy, and more.

Technology classes offered by public libraries are weird beasts. Very rarely are our classes about ‘library use’ or ‘library website use’ (although I have done those as well), but more about helping people develop the skills to participate in the digital world. This can involve buying and selling, job hunting, creating resumes, creating a digital presence, and searching effectively.

I like to call the skillset of ‘participating in the online realm’ Digital Literacy. This is a contentious term, some like to think digital literacy is just research based skills, others, coding skills. In my organization we also have used ‘Digital Life Skills’ as an umbrella term.

But, whatever we call it, the goal is to help our community members access content, and participate in the world. And the amount of time, and expertise that many public libraries are able offer suits the needs of our community members.

When I started teaching at my library I had zero instruction experience and very little public speaking experience. I had worked at a circulation desk at a different system for two years previous and had held a couple of customer service jobs beforehand.

So going into a session all I had was a brief orientation on the space and a set of outlines and handouts.

sometimes you feel like you might be straying from the path.

Then it was me, and twelve eager learners.

With very little it is possible to do a lot! You will make mistakes, there will be questions that you don’t know how to answer, but with patience and a loud voice you will be able to do it!

Instruction became of of my favourite activities, and something that I discovered that I am skilled at. Which I, as a shy teen, never would have guessed about myself. Instruction has allowed me to connect with my community, help fellow staff members, and develop a love of public speaking.

So, think about what opportunities that you might take advantage of, even if you don’t necessarily have any experience in them. You never know what you might discover.

Share and Share Alike

One of the things I love about libraries and library workers is the sharing culture. We collect and curate content in order to share it with our communities. We share books between libraries, share our resources with people living outside of our communities when we can, and we’re really good at sharing our expertise and opinions.

Sometimes we are not so good at sharing resources we create for the public.

Luckily, the Alberta Library and the BC Libraries Coop are here to help us share.

This is a forum for sharing handouts, class outlines, videos, powerpoints, and other resources created by library staff for training and programs.

The potential of this resource  is great! You should use it. If you don’t train you should share it with someone who does.

I’m a little biased. I’ve uploaded as many outlines and handouts as I have been able to update, and I really want to mine this resource for new programming ideas.

It isn’t hard to add content, and it is fun! The interface is clean, and searching is easy.

Add to the Toolshed! We need your expertise.

Staff Training and Home Servers

There is a computer sitting next to my television, it doesn’t work, I’ve been working on it a couple of days at a time for the last few months. I came into possession of the almost complete set-up before I came back from school, it only needed a hard drive and an operating system. Unfortunately, the CD Drive isn’t recognized by my BIOS, and every time I try to boot from USB it stalls as soon as I select the operating system.  Right now it seems to be an issue with either a graphics driver, or maybe something else. I will tackle it again soon. It will work – and act as a home server that will help me learn new skills, as well as help me develop a deeper understanding of networks and the internet.

My non-start of a home server – and the knowledge that eventually I will get it is a bit like staff training.

Almost since I started my current position I have been working on a staff technology training project. We started with a solid foundation, created training plans, schedules, looking at all of the topics that were important to our staff, our library, and hopefully the community. We’ve had about five months of different training sessions at this point, dealing with all sorts of different topics, with more planned all the way to December.

A lot of it has been fun. Introducing staff to our new catalogue interface was great, and I had several ebook converts walked out of our ebook training sessions. The “Ah-ha” moments that have occurred have been amazing, and have been due to careful consideration of the key messages, and ensuring that there is active learning.

Consistency is key, and so is keeping people going! There are laughs when I tell learners that there is homework. But the activities that follow up training sessions are there to help make connections and gain skills. While I don’t force people to complete it, those that do all come back with great ideas, and a new eagerness to learn more.

There are still points of frustration. For me it looks like the issues are mostly due to motivation. Some people don’t see the point of learning about certain types of technology and, despite my attempts, you cannot force people to learn. But, you can continue to offer opportunities.

But if there is anything I have learned over the past few months is that when embarking on a staff training plan there are two important things to do:

  1. Keep up the momentum when you get it- let people take home practice gadgets, and encourage learners to come to you with follow-up questions, and comments.
  2. Have refreshers – offer multiple sessions, repeat them, etc.

Hopefully I will have more to share on this topic throughout 2013 – but if anyone is reading this and have specific questions, please let me know!