Thursday, March 26, 2009

Final Day Thoughts

I am writing this at my desk back in DC. Because I was just too darned burned out to write earlier.

4 days is a bit long for a conference vendor conference when you are not part of the technical team. Can't begin to decribe the number of "upgrade" sessions that started with "Here's the issues when converting to UTF-8 code." and continued with a litany of jargon and acronyms.

Actually got surrounded by an army of Sungard folks after walking out of 1 session after 5 minutes. "Why did you leave?" Um...I'm the trainer. Not only do I have absolutely no control over the configuration, I have no clue what they are talking about. No point in wasting my time. I wound up in one of those "instructional design" sessions where us non-technical people with no say over how anything works belonged.....

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One practice I've started has been validated by more than 1 presenter:
Short intro - let them work on their own stuff.

Ever since I converted the Banner Navigation Fundamentals course to this format - I've gotten much better student response.

We make getting the Banner ID a pre-requisite of the course (backwards, I know). As a result, the students have already spent some time in the system. My main fear with each course is that I am not adding anything of value.

At the end of the course, I ask whether the time has helped and what was most useful. The 3 things I hear:

- They don't feel like they are stumbling around in the system quite so much as they did before. Banner is not user-friendly. At. All. If I can get them walking out of my classroom not feeling stupid, I've done a good job.

- Customizing the My Banner folder is great stuff - "Wow! I can put the forms I use where I can access them rather than try to remember them?!? Sweet!"

- Most of the students liked the quick list of "most popular forms" I developed as a result of some custom trainings I did last summer. These were the forms that were most requested. I've started incorporating these processes in the training as examples. Because really the students are more interested in how to perform a particular task. NOT how to navigate the system. That will come as part of performing the task.

About 80% of my students do "student stuff" - looking up student information and class rosters.

The other 20% do things that are "staff stuff" - HR, payroll, etc. You can look up a staff member the same way you look up a student. The tasks you perform on that staff member are different.

That open time allows them to ask questions. Just being able to give them a resource or next step will be incredibly helpful.

So the big project, for me, will be creating those resources and formalizing / confirming those next-steps for each area. A lot of institutional knowledge has been lost since our last upgrade. Now's the time to recreate it.

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If you are going to hear "the engine quit working" on any mode of transport - being on a train is a good place. Restrooms, dining car, no threat of falling out of the sky. Of course, the "engine quit working" in the middle of nowhere between Elkton and Baltimore. Thankfully, they got it working in 20 minutes. Still faster (and less aggravating) than driving.

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I am happy to be home.

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