Thursday, April 23, 2009

Agenda? What Agenda?

EMail is not an application that really requires "training."

Most people get a hold of a new email ap, fiddle with it to make sure they can do basic tasks (send email, receive email, add attachments, etc), then they want to be left alone.

Still - we have to be prepared for the group that expects to be walked through the entire process.

The group we had earlier this week was not that group.

Young. Self-motivated. Computer-savvy. Curious.

They had already been fiddling in the new system for a week.

Smartest thing we did - went around the room and asked what their problems / issues were with the new system.

We then chucked the agenda and moved forward as a Question / Answer workshop with their own accounts in Live.

Understand that none of the trainers (including me) had ever been through training on this product. And this group uses BlackBerries (which I have touched once - for the Executive Vice President of Academicky Stuff's training).

Things we knew, we shared.

Things we didn't know, we wrote down and, time permitting, we figured out together as a group.

Things the students discovered, we let them share and wrote down and encouraged them to let us know if they found other cool tips.

Of course, in any group - there is always 1 person who is much slower than the rest. And, of course, this person is the highest ranking person in the room.

Most of the time, our strategy is to make sure we have 2 trainers or a trainer and a tech person in the room to "isolate" the person requiring extra care and feeding.

In this case - he didn't want the trainers to mess with him after he got his initial answers and worked with the team members sitting next to him if he had further questions.

At the end - problems they were having (mostly with Calendar and the BlackBerry) were solved, a few "we need to figure this one out" takeaways were given, and everyone thought the time spent was useful.

The "workshop" format (students bring in their own projects / issues and work on them in real-time) in the classroom seems to be working so much better than the old school talk and practice using "my" examples.

So the next challenge do you train old-school trainers who are used to having an agenda how to facilitate this sort of session? Throw them to the wolves (the way I learned how to do it)? Come up with a "system"? So many of our projects over the next year are going to demand this sort of give and take. How do we get them ready?


Janet Clarey said...

I'm reasonably certain this won't be too helpful in 'real life' but what immediately came to mind was to flip it: how would you train new-school "trainers" who are used to having no agenda how to facilitate a(structured) session? Tell, show, do, debrief maybe? 9and the reason this might night be helpful is that everyone has experienced 'old school' even 'new schoolers' but not the other way around. Did I tell you I've been up since 3:30 AM?

Wendy said...

Janet - you work too hard.....

You may be right. Had them participate in the planning sessions (Tell). Have them sitting in on these "new style" sessions to observe (show). We may be hesitating too much on the "do" step - for fear of scaring the trainers. Because it isn't what people think of as "training."

And the trainer is put in the position of not being the "sage on the stage". More of the "I'm 10 minutes ahead of you and here's what I'm seeing so far." Not a comfortable place for an old-school trainer.

Janet Clarey said...

Yes, it's that discomfort that is hard to get around. I'm sure you're showering them w/ positive feedback..

Just think how good it will feel when they're up and running.

Wendy said...

How good it will feel for me or them ;')

Janet Clarey said...

Well for you of course. If they feel good, well bonus. : )

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Wendy!

I wonder on what you say about most people get a hold of email. And I agree with you when you say we have to be prepared for the group who want to be walked through everything.

It's coincidence that I wrote a post the day you wrote this one and just happened to use as an example the attach and email function. I've been in training and teaching a few decades, and you're right about young people being into it before you start. That's the nature of young people and it's great. But scratch the surface and you may be surprised how little more they would have learnt from a session than the group who want to be walked through it all.

Catchy later