July 2007

Thanks to Pete and Gail for inviting me to add my words of wisdom to this blog (whatever those words may be I’m not sure yet!)

At SOLINET, we are busily creating asynchronous classes using Adobe Captivate.  We used to use a product called Toolbook and unfortunately when the one person at SOLINET who knew how to use it and update it, left the company, we decided it wasn’t worth our time to re-learn it.  So for a couple of years we haven’t really had any asynch training.  It has been an interesting road to deciding on a product.  It took a long time to finally decide on Captivate – and most of it was a money issue.  I personally wanted something a lot more robust and complex but those cost a lot.  So we did a lot of testing internally and finally decided on Captivate.  There is a new version coming out (#3 to be exact) in August and I have high hopes for some of the quiz functionality.  I’m curious to see if anyone has any specific tips to share about creating content with Captivate.


Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past year (or inside of a cave, like my office here at work), you have undoubtedly heard of Nintendo’s new videogame system, the Wii.  Nintendo eschewed cutting-edge, next generation graphics to focus on creating an integrated gaming experience. Instead of gamers using a remote control with upwards of 16 buttons and two joysticks, the Big N introduced a proprietary, motion-based controller with fewer buttons so that users can interact more fully with the game.  The end result?  This little system that could has everyone from toddlers to grannies experiencing videogames like never before.  Entire families that never played games together are crowding around the TV to teach each other how to use this new toy.


I plan to follow Nintendo’s lead when my library system launches our new podcasting initiative later this year.  See, we’ve been examining how to improve the tried-and-true reader’s advisory staple for quite some time.  Sure we could toss another training course and some handouts at it, much like Sony and Microsoft tosses high-definition graphics at stale games, but what fun would that be?   


As a former frontline staff member turned trainer, I’ve repeatedly heard how trainees wish that their learning opportunities were entertaining experiences.  New technologies give us a chance to do this, especially with collaborative learning initiatives.  Setting up a portable podcast studio and letting staff members loose to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a given genre for the month gets people involved and provides a forum for sharing knowledge.  Along with having a blast, staff members are promoting system-wide awareness of the collection and building a background in fiction and non-fiction.  The learning goals haven’t changed.  Only the medium has. 


I get the feeling that Wii in the continuing education field will learn a lot from Nintendo in the year to come.

Competencies are a hot topic recently. When the Library Revolution blogger wrote about minimum competencies for library staff, she touched a nerve. Her post spawned a flurry of comments and other blog posts. With Houghton-Jan’s new publication on Technology Competencies and Training for Libraries and WebJunction’s Competencies for Public Access Computing Programs, there is a growing body of standards to lay a foundation for staff training.

“While competencies aren’t the sexiest topic in libraries today, they are certainly one of the most practical,” says LibrarianInBlack. Okay, not exactly sexy, but there is a distinct sizzle around the topic of staff training. The buzz was manifest at the CLENE events at ALA this year. The Showcase was so well attended that the exhibits and visitors flowed out into the hallway, causing passers-by to drop in just to see what all the excitement was about.

Another CLENE event, Learning When There Is No Time To Learn, filled a 200-seat room to over-flowing. Not only did attendees listen avidly for the 2-hour session, they shared tips and strategies from their own libraries. It’s clear there’s a lot of energy and creativity going into staff training at all levels.

When library staff embrace a lifelong learning attitude for themselves as enthusiastically as they promote it for their patrons, we will all be stronger. If you haven’t seen PLCMC’s video 71/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners, check it out. And don’t forget to have fun learning!

These tutorials have also made the rounds but are still worthy of note here for library training. It was Marianne Lenox’s Training 2.0 ning group that first turned me on to them. Produced by CommonCraft, they are called paperworks, a name whose appropriateness will be obvious as soon as you see one.

Currently, there are three of them: Wikis, RSS, and Social Networking –all of them “in plain English” and on plain white paper. I’m a great fan of low tech explanations of technology, not to mention the irony of using paper and crayon to explain electronic communication.

As the newest tutorial, Social Networking is not getting the rave responses of the previous two. Seems to be lacking that “wow!” factor. Is it perhaps that social networking is too complex for this format or, as one commenter suggests, it’s a no-brainer and doesn’t need a tutorial? I’ll let you decide.