I recently completed a course in search engine optimisation through GetSmarter, which offers an online platform for short-course training from the University of Cape Town.
My statement of results is in, and so is my certificate.
My pieces of paper made me happy. As did the 10 weeks of being a student again (one of my most recurring dreams is that of returning to university). I’m a serial over-achiever in exams, motivated to learn and driven to do well. I know that this kind of marks-driven learning is only one way in which knowledge is gained and shared – but it still matters to me, as one part of the lovely process involved in learning something new. Continue reading
Assume you are capable of learning new things. Picture: Stephen Tainton, freeimages.com
My first foray into the world of training could not have been more fraught.
It was the mid 1990s and the afternoon newspaper on which I worked as a sub-editor was about to make the change from one production system to another. Editorial staff were already working on computers (the Atex system) but the newspaper was still being made up by human hand. Now, people were going to move to a fully electronic system, on Apple Macs, using the Quark system.
I volunteered to be part of the transition project, specifically as one of the people who would train colleagues to use the new system. We had a small training room (with Arctic air conditioning), six Macs and hope in our hearts. Continue reading
I spent last week training a small group of interns, teaching them to use my company’s multimedia tools. It’s a long time since I trained a group of people, in a room, with the luxury of time and a training plan. And I realised again how much I enjoy it.
Reflecting on the week, there are some things I did wrong and some things I did right. Perhaps a short list of those would be helpful for anyone else who has the privilege of being a trainer.
Three things I did right:
* I knew what I wanted my group to learn to do, and I had a written plan, with times attached, working though the building blocks we needed to cover to get them where they needed to be.
* I had exercises aimed at getting my trainees to do things, rather than lecturing them
* I asked them at the beginning of each day, and at the end, if they had any questions about what they had already learned
Three things I did wrong:
* I talked too much. I always do. It’s important to leave spaces for the people in the group to have their say.
* I went too fast for some of them, and too slow for some of them. A perennial training issue – and one I still don’t know how to solve.
* I didn’t have the supporting notes ready for them, and they still don’t have them. I plead the pressure of my day job, getting in the way of customising my existing notes for this particular group. But – they should have had the relevant notes at the end of every day, and they didn’t.
I’m engaged in writing training materials for a bunch of people who are about to get to grips with a new web content management system. I had forgotten how boring and satisfying – all at the same time- that is. So much detail, so many places where you can forget one crucial detail. And the overwhelming feeling of being helpful…