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Ten Tips for Technology Trainers in the Trenches

In honor of our program today at SLS, I've been pondering some trainer's tips...

Be prepared! Prepare the training materials, such as updating notes, URLs and facts and remember how quickly things change in the technology world. Prepare the training space: set up computers, test equipment and test software. Get to know the room if it's the first time you've been there.

Know your audience. Who are they? Plan for specific groups: Students, Faculty, Seniors, Novices or Teens. A class for seniors will be different than a class for your teen users. Check out all the stuff you can find about learning styles, presenting technology to various groups and successful program planning.

Know your training equipment. Understand the workings of the PC or Mac and the projector set up. Be wary of cool presentation technology JUST for the sake of technology. Your folks in class may just be confused about the sudden breakdown of a Bluetooth/USB/touch pad/smart board/wifi.MP3/whoosits in the middle of class.

But - don't miss a chance to show off new technologies. Adding circulating MP3 players to your library? Host "Meet the MP3" night at your library and give folks a chance for hands on contact and time for questions. Do the same for a new wifi initiative. Use your wifi savvy staffer who can explain such technology to folks and bill it as "The WiFi Wonder" will be available for support and questions in the library computer lab on Wednesday night" --- a darn nice thing to do to promote such a service.

Enjoy what you do! Have fun with teaching and bring your interests & life to the class. Do you collect Fiestaware gravy boats by buying on eBay? The group will love to hear about it. Enjoy training and don't sweat the glitches with technology...it'll always be something!

Rehearse and know your outline but don't just read the script. No one wants to see you standing stiffly and hiding behind notes. We want to engage learners with an easy style, patience for snafus and an environement that does not threaten the technoterrified. Be comfortable with the topic so you don't seem nervous.

Know your topic well or find a staff member, faculty member, volunteer or contractor who does. Assign the class to someone with an affinity for the subject -- your staff eBay guru can teach the auction class! Embrace new technologies like Digital cameras, PDAs and MP3 players. Farm out stuff that you just don't have time to master. Photoshop class?? Find a consultant that teaches such and work out a deal!

Feel out of the know? Read blogs, monitor RSS and seek out anything in the media that covers the tech world. It'll filter into your training soon enough. I always grab USA TODAY when they have an extra TECH section!

Promote your classes: Use your library's Web site & blog, e-notification and RSS feeds, create fliers and brochures, and alert the news media.

Listen to your audience. What classes do they want? What are they asking about? Ask, take note of trends and develop new and exciting training sessions as the technology world grows ever bigger!

Bonus: I repeat: HAVE FUN!

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