Why new tech can be hard to learn (and what to do about it)

I got very cross with Canva the other day. I have the paid version, which has all sorts of new AI tools, and in a fit of laziness, I convinced myself that I could use these AI tools to do a new design for my CV.

I had already asked ChatGPT to shorten said CV to one page, and I had edited the shortened version to my satisfaction. What I wanted, at the end of a long day, was for Canva to take the text and input it into a template and make it look pretty.

Long story short: I was simply not able to make that happen (probably because it just doesn’t work like that).

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Why training is so expensive

Training is big business. From online courses to workplace workshops, skills development is a Big Thing. But why does it cost so much?

The price of training comes down to time.

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Trainers – how to tell the good from the bad

I’ve spent the last couple of days preparing for, and then delivering, a three-hour online training session about social media.

And as always I was in a state of low-grade nervousness right until I hit the leave button at the end of the training session.

That’s because I have never liked public speaking. And because I’m always convinced that the training I have prepared won’t meet up to the expectations of the trainees. I keep doing it though, because I love helping other people to fly and because there’s such satisfaction in having someone say “I get it now – thank you!”.
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Learn how to run an online newsroom

The flyer for the course

The flyer for the course

To non-journalists, the word newsroom is probably only mildly meaningful. A room where news is written about and edited is the thought that probably comes to mind.
To journalists, a newsroom is the centre of life. It is where your desk is, where your computer is, where your friends are – the place you spend many, many hours of your working life.
Traditionally a newsroom comprises the reporters (people who write articles) and their management team, headed by a news editor. Then there is the subs room, where there is another team of people who edit those articles and turn them into a laid-out newspaper.
There are still newsrooms produced in the traditional way – but there are also now online newsrooms, in which many things are done differently.
And those different ways of doing things require some new ways of managing the production of content.
I’ve spent years working in such an online newsroom, and in thinking about ways to do things.
And I’m running a course on the subject, under the auspices of the Institute of the Advancement of Journalism. The course runs from May 22 to 25 in Johannesburg, South Africa. If you are interested, please contact the IAJ (email gugun@iaj.org.za or dimakatsom@iaj.org.za).

Who cares about award ceremonies? I do

Renee Moodie SEO certificate

My certificate

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

How to learn new things

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

Rights and wrongs in training

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.