The Librarian as Trainer: Internet Training - Lessons Learned

By Bell, Hope A. | Information Outlook, April 1998 | Go to article overview

The Librarian as Trainer: Internet Training - Lessons Learned


Bell, Hope A., Information Outlook


In today's information age, many end-users will attempt to retrieve needed information without the involvement of an intermediary. Most have little experience with basic research techniques and, as a result, are neither searching efficiently nor effectively. There is a difference between searching the Internet and surfing the Internet. Surfing is very easy - just dick on the links and read what appears. Browsers promise ease of use and "zero training" as one of the benefits of using the Internet. Experienced researchers realize just how misleading this can be.

Searching is a skill that is more difficult to master. You have to understand the search process, how to choose keywords, boolean searching, the differences between search engines, etc. As part of their Internet strategy, many libraries are venturing into the new world of "training". If you haven't "officially" undertaken this task, chances are you have unofficially taken on this role by providing advice to clients experiencing difficulties. Information professionals have been providing patron training for years, but it is only recently that these training responsibilities have evolved to include Internet training and the development of training programs and materials.

OBSTACLES

Information professionals may encounter obstacles to their undertaking training responsibilities. One roadblock encountered is the belief that information professionals should not be Internet trainers. Information technology and training staff can teach the fundamentals of using browser software, but teaching users how to research efficiently and effectively requires someone with research expertise - an information professional.

Time can be another obstacle. Training does not occur only on the day it's scheduled. It requires a lot of planning, preparation, and advertising. The time it takes to design training sessions depends on the format, complexity of instruction, experience level of the author, degree of inter-activity, and the types of media used. One hundred and fifty (or more) hours preparation per one hour of instruction is not unusual.

Ignorance can also have an impact. Many Internet users doubt they need additional training. It's up to you to show them what they're missing. Show an interest. Don't wait to be asked to provide assistance. Be proactive. Talk to potential clients in the lunch room, reception area, or even elevators. Discussing the Internet can be educational and beneficial to all parties.

Asking some key questions can generate discussion and provide the perfect opportunity to promote your skills. Have you searched on the Internet? How did you go about searching? Did you find any interesting sites? These are just a few examples of questions to help get discussion rolling.

PLANNING

As with any project, it is important that you plan your training program and objectives.

Create Internet and Training Strategies

* Include training as one of the more advanced steps of the Internet strategy

* Needs Analysis. Gather and analyze information. Identify training needs and objectives, What do you envision as the long-term impact? Do I have time for this project? Will I require help with this project? Do I have the technical expertise for this project? Will our users benefit? Can we afford to do this? Do we have the necessary equipment?

* Establish a timeline

Attain Experience Level

* Be sure you have enough experience. Information specialists are already experienced searchers. You don't have to be a "techie" to search on the Internet, but you should have an above average knowledge level before you attempt to write Internet course materials. If you don't feel you have sufficient technical experience, work with your IT department.

* Attend Internet training programs given by reputable organizations.

* Obtain your Internet Trainer Certification (Current information on the status of the program will be available at www. …

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The Librarian as Trainer: Internet Training - Lessons Learned
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