WJ Online Conference

Beyond 23 Things: Enhanced Self-Paced Training

By Jennifer | August 11th, 2011 | Comment?

Julie EricksonJane HealyThank you to Julie Erickson and Jane Healy for their presentation, Beyond 23 Things: Enhanced Self-Paced Training , the penultimate session of the WebJunction/Learning Round Table hosted online conference, Trends in Library Training and Learning.

A few years ago, the South Dakota state library offered self-paced “23 Things” training based on Helene Blowers now well-known model that helped library staff become familiar with a host of online tools.

Jane and Julie thought, why not use a similar model, but for training staff on state library subscription databases? This would take a rather dry, often intimidating subject (databases) and blend it with an interactive training approach that also encourages staff to make use of Web 2.0 tools. They also were excited that this training could reach out to many different types of learners, in different types of libraries and staff roles and with different ability levels. Their proposal was accepted, and they have done three rounds of the training.

They gave us lots of tips about how they put the program together. A key point they noted up front: they used free tools for the whole things, including:

Google Docs
online handouts
vendor tutorials

They stressed that these are not the only free tools available, and other examples were shared by the audience in Chat, such as WordPress, Jing, WikiSpaces, and more.

Their steps for launching the program included:

- Publicity. They used listservs, in-person announcements, andtargeted emails to people who had taken live e-resources training before, and previous challengees.

- Registration. They used a form on Google Docs, created a pretest and post-challenge survey on Survey Monkey

- Lessons. They created 10 lessons, which were released each week for 11 weeks. Each lesson contained a brief intro to provide context, info about the e-resource, and a discovery exercise

- Blogs. Participants created blogs, which added to the trainers’ RSS feed readers and the state library blogroll. These posts included answers to participants’ discovery exercises and comments about the challenge.
- Completion. Post-challenge surveys, analysis, and tweaking of the program based on feedback and results.

The costs associated with the program were really associated with staff time. Time to set up, promote, manage and monitor the program. Because they incorporated into their workday, so it is hard for them to say how much total time it took.

Setup took the most time, to decide structure, but this effort has decreased with each new round.

Advice and Caveats:
Don’t go it alone–have a team of 2 or 3 people.
Setting up the blogs was a difficult step for many participants
Technical issues could create hiccups, such as authentication issues that prevented access to databases.

Participants reported new knowledge and especially their confidence with e-resources. This led to increased enthusiasm and advocacy about the program went talking with stakeholders in the community. They showed some graphed results from their pre and post surveys that dramatically demonstrated the shift in comfort level.

They’ve opened up the program to school teachers in the summer, who gave additional perspective about the training and considered how they wanted to incorporate into the classroom. The audience asked, why not adapt it for patron and student training as well? We’ll be curious to see if anyone takes that ball and runs with it–let us know your results!

In the Chat and on Twitter, the audience pushed back on the time thing: those who had tried to participate in 23 Things programs found they couldn’t keep up with the challenge under competing priorities. The presenters said that how much the libraries support the program, if they deliberately permit staff to set aside time for it. CE credit is also a motivator. Individual staff’s intrinsic motivation for continuous learning can also be a factor.

The stumpiest question asked during the Q&A section at the end was “Why 23?” The answer, provided by someone in the audience, was “It was based on Stephen Abrams 43 Folders”…I am surprised there wasn’t a follow-up question, “Why 43?” ;-)

The audience was asked, What immediate next step can you take based on the information you learned in this session? Lots of responses: we suggest you look at the Chat to get inspired to action for your library!

Wow, just one more session to go!

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