I recently did a training event on social media for librarians and I wasn’t particularly satisfied with how it turned out. So I’ve had a think about some of things I did wrong/could have been better and thought I’d blog about it, so that you won’t make the same mistakes I did. (isn’t that a song?) and by the way, yes, with my experience of training, I SHOULD have known better.

Mistake 1.

First things first. If the course outline has been sent out, don’t add anything extra.

Even if the organiser asks you to.

I added extra topics into my session and it just didn’t work. I ran out of time because I was trying to cover 5 things in 2 and half hours. I ended up asking the room which topic they would rather I cover, blogging or youtube? The majority voted for youtube but I still feel I let those down who wanted to learn about blogs – after all that’s what I said I’d cover in the course blurb.

You end up trying to cover too much in too little time. After all, there was a reason for your original lesson plan and timings and people signed up for that original plan and are expecting to get that. If a course organiser wants you to cover extra stuff then you can always provide extra handouts to ‘plug the gap’ or re-negotiate the timetable so that you can fit everything in.

Learning outcome 1. Above everything else, always match what you are teaching to what the attendees (argh) are expecting and don’t try to do too much.

Mistake 2

Now for the real rookie mistake. Remember if you are the only trainer and you are doing hands on, that your maximum limit for participants is 12. TWELVE. Not 24.

You simply cannot get around to checking that 24 people are all ‘getting it’ and helping all those that aren’t. You also end up running around the training room like a lunatic which is not a good look. AND exhausting. It is also really easy to ‘lose’ someone when there are so many people in the room, which means they won’t have a satisfactory learning experience, they won’t ever book on one of your courses again and your evaluation won’t be great.

Learning outcome 2. Always place a maximum limit of 12 on all hands-on training, if you are the only trainer. (This could be even lower if your personal levels of becoming flustered are high! Or if all else fails – get someone to help!)

Mistake 3

I always tell people to check the venue and the equipment if you are training in an unknown location – as I’ve been scuppered by this in the past. I still remember getting to one room and there not being a projector. Or a teaching pc. Luckily our slides were on Slideshare and so everyone could look at them on their own pc. Even knowing this golden rule, I forgot to ask about sound. And that library induction video from Brigham Young University which is a parody of the Old Spice ads – NOT funny without sound. For those of you who do have sound – New Spice: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ArIj236UHs]

Learning outcome 3. When checking venue/equipment/software – look at what you are planning to do and remember to ask about sound! If there’s no sound – re-think your lesson plan.

Mistake 4.

I’ve done similar sorts of social media training before probably about 3 or 4 times now, and one thing has happened every time. Twitter crashes. Seems to be if 15 or more people are all creating accounts in the same room at the same time.  (Or if Wills and Kate announce their engagement, but then NO-ONE could create an account) This means at least 2 or 3 people won’t be able to do the exercises properly.

Learning outcome 4. Not completely sure yet. I have thought about where possible getting people to do some pre-workshop work and come to the session with their new twitter account created but I am concerned as to whether people will do it. I know it really does only take 5 minutes but will they? Is this just lack of training confidence on my part? My other plans are to ask other social media trainers what they do and also to ask twitter and see if anyone else has reported this.

So those were the out and out mistakes, but I also didn’t feel that everyone was prepared to share their thoughts and ideas and I think I need a better (but not groan inducing) ice-breaker. So I’m going to do a little research and see what I can come up with. Something short – that can be done just after the intros, that gets everyone into the spirit of things! Any ideas gratefully received.

So there you go. Judging by the evaluation it wasn’t a disaster – but it certainly felt like it at the time. But then I am a bit of perfectionist – so there’s another learning outcome – don’t be so hard on yourself!

  1. Lisa

    I ALWAYS do my pre-course work now – even if it’s just rushed on the train on the way – and I bet I’m not the only one. I’d give pre-course work a go. It can’t hurt!

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