Rough transcript of a phone call received today.
I talked to you a while back. Our office needs to learn Adobe.
You know - Adobe!
What are you trying to do with "Adobe"?
We use it for pictures and stuff. You know - adding text to pictures, that sort of thing. I know The Desktop Ap trainer doesn't teach it and the online tutorials are not available.
OK - so you are using it for editing pictures. Photoshop, right.
Yeah - Adobe. We want to start using that.
You have a project in mind?
Well - we need to learn how to use lots of these desktop applications. Our manager is trying to get us more computer savvy.
I have learned from hard experience that if I try to learn a new application without having some sort of use in mind for it - I've wasted my time. The application goes into a mental library of "things I might use one day." I think I've pulled 2 items out of that library in the 5 years I've been doing the "Instructional Technology" thing.
Case in point - Microsoft Access. I figured it would be useful to know how to use Access and put together a database. Mind you, I didn't actually have anything I needed to database at the time. 4 years later - I STILL don't have anything I need Microsoft Access for. I know its available. I also know I will have to re-learn Access. I think it's gone through 3 or 4 major versions since I last looked at it.
I know that the Desktop Ap trainer has been out to this site multiple times since I've been here - teaching various applications to this group. And that conversation set alarms off in my head - was that time actually well spent?
Here's what I did in my attempts to help.
- Since I know the online tutorials won't be available for another month or 2 (and I'm not sure this would be the best approach), I sent them a link to the Visual Quickstart guides. I found these to be very well written, easy to follow, and serve as a useful reference for when they need information on particular items. My argument to them was that they could work on their own projects while they followed the book - essentially killing 2birds with 1 stone.
- I informed them (both during that phone conversation and in e-mail) that they really need to think about the types of things they wish to accomplish with these tools and to focus their training on mastering the applications they need right now for the projects currently on their plate. I offered our assistance if they needed advice on accomplishing particular tasks and possible tools available within the organization.
I'm not feeling entirely confident about that 2nd piece of advice. First, I don't want to discourage anyone from learning something new. Second, I'm afraid it sounded like I didn't want to help them (the Desktop Ap trainer has them very spoiled, but that is a whole 'nother issue).
Should I have handled this differently? Is there a better way?