Friday, October 19, 2012

Tips and Tricks for users groups

Welcome to the new age of training. We did it all wrong in the 90s in regards to technology training as explained in my last post.

Tips and Tricks for users groups
    • Everyone must hold the time sacred. Pretend you’re paying for the session and you can’t miss it. NOTHING should get in the way of this time. Be adults and plan accordingly.
    • Set up away from your regular desks. Reserve a conference room. Participants should be completely engaged. Avoid leaving your email open and if you must check it only during scheduled breaks. Everyone likes feeling important, but if someone else needs you RIGHT NOW and one of your children is not dying, you need to set different expectations and enable people less.
    • Pull your own learning cart: come with questions and be ready to help answer the questions of your colleagues.
    • Bring wine to the picnic: arrive with your best strategies and ideas for effective use, time management and effective problem solving. Be ready to share.
    • Use some of that money you were going to spend on a class for refreshments to keep people comfortable. Brain research says people need to be operating in the larger parts of the brain to truly be learning. This means you need to be hydrated, warm and your stomach needs to be full. Otherwise your brain is just thinking about how uncomfortable you are. Working in survival mode will not allow your brain to absorb information you need.
    • Work collaboratively through the modules in small groups according to level. Stop to practice, ask questions, take notes and cement information so you can retrieve it later.
    • Have the technology ready so you can try things. Make your less technology-savvy people drive at times and be patient with them.
    • Get up and move around frequently and take deep, cleansing breaths. Switch tasks, pulling relevant information from resources outside of the written curriculum. For example, if you study pivot tables in the module and they still don’t make sense, find a YouTube video for a little more information or clarity. If you have specific questions about, for example, pivot tables use Microsoft’s website or user forums to look up the information. Use good search terms to get your answers, if you don’t find it, try something new. Your tenacity will pay off. You’ll be able to find your answer more quickly next time and the hard work will help you remember the information for which you’ve looked. It’s easy to have someone tell you the answer but you’ll forget it more readily than if you need to work to get it.
    • Avoid side conversations about unrelated topics (work or otherwise) or make them short (your brain needs them). Appoint a task master if this is difficult for your group. Make sure this person is efficient and outspoken. They’ll need to watch the clock and firmly guide the group.