Training as we know it is broken
The training market for librarians and information professionals that we’ve known for years is broken. Courses are too expensive, both in terms of the cost of the course, the time out of the office, travel to a course and in some cases, overnight accommodation. Organisations are having their budgets squeezed and top of the list is training. If you are unemployed or a one person bad, you can’t afford it.
Too much is packed into a day. Since time is limited, its all about throwing information at you, and you don’t have time to digest something or try it out before it’s onto the next thing. By the end of the day you’re tired and confused and what should have been a fun day was trying instead. Of course your notes end up in the drawer, despite your best intentions.
There’s no followup. You make connections with delegates, but never get a chance to get back to them, you lose contact with the trainer, there’s no-where to go if you have extra questions and if you learn something new that would be useful for your course colleagues you can’t get that information to them.
A training course is a silo. Yes of course there are great courses run by great trainers, but even so, it’s all about that 7 hours. Training in the UK in 2016 is, as the heading says, fundamentally broken, and it needs to change. I want to change it, and I want your help to create an entirely different training map.
How we can change things
I spent a lot of time talking to trainers, attendees and organisers. Everyone wants that face to face networking element; in all of my research this is a key element. So the courses that I’m going to be running will have that - between 2.5 and 3 hours worth, depending on location. You’ll be able to learn, try out new things, explore practical real world issues and connect with colleagues. Yes, I’ll be teaching, but a workshop really will be a workshop.
That face to face time is going to be supplemented however, in a couple of different ways. First of all, delegates will have access to a wiki, which will provide more information. They will be able to add in their own information, share their own experiences, ask and answer questions and continue that networking process. Secondly, since video streaming is easy to do these days there will be bi-weekly sessions for each training course. Delegates won’t have to book, they can just drop in, ask questions, join in the conversations and continue that networking experience.
Each course will come with a minimum of 40 online videos that are practically based. Each one will be stand alone, so delegates can chose the one that they want to view when they need it, at a time they need it. Delegates choose when and how they want to continue their education and they will learn what’s necessary in a ‘just in time’ rather than ‘just in case’ situation. Videos will be added to the collection as I create them, so there should always be something new and interesting to look at and to learn. Learning won’t stop just because the course is over - it will be ongoing. Once you have paid for a course you’ll be able to access the materials and all the new information from then on. There will be no extra charges; if I’m creating new material I’m not going to want to limit access to it. So rather than a course lasting 7 hours, it will last a lifetime. (Well, mine until retirement at any rate!)
So using this flipped classroom model delegates learn what they want, when they want, and how they want. Networking will be ongoing, new information will be made available on a regular basis and delegates can assist colleagues by adding to that pool of information.
Let’s ensure that delegates are in charge of their training, and let’s make it an ongoing, enjoyable experience!
All well and good, but what’s the cost?
My courses will cost £99. There’s no hidden extras, no booking fees, nothing. I can do this because I don’t have overheads in the same way that training companies do. The courses are going to be no frills. You bring your own device (tablet, laptop, even your mobile phone if that’s what you want to use) and all the materials will be made available electronically. The course will cover the entire training period of 2.5 to 3 hours, and if you want drinks or snacks, bring your own! For the cost of the course you will get:
- Face to face training with me as your trainer, but also working with other delegates
- Access to a course wiki with further information
- A minimum of 40 videos online that you can access 24/7
- Any new videos or material will be included - your course fee is for LIFE; you’ll be able to update yourself quickly and easily
- Access to a 1 hour online chat every two weeks. If too many people want to get into the chat, I’ll schedule another one.
- If you really want to get involved, and add new material yourself, and ask/answer questions you can do - the more the delegates can share, the better off everyone will be.
I decided on a figure of £99 because my research showed that was a price that most people would be able to work with, it’s not out of the reach of people on limited budgets (either personally or organisationally), and it’s enough for me. Obviously I need to learn money to live, but I’m not looking to get rich on the backs of other people.
Locations and onsite?
I’m starting with 2 days of courses in London, but that’s simply because it’s easier for me. The courses will be held at a central London location within a few minutes walk of Euston. However, if you’re not within easy reach of London I’m happy to come to you. I’’m happy to hold courses in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, York, Exeter, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin - anywhere that I can get a training suite for a reasonable price for the day. If you have a training venue that you can make available to me for no or reduced costs, then I'm happy to have you and some of your colleagues on the course as well.
If you want an on-site day I can do that as well. I’m happy to come to you, and can set up specific resources tailored to your organisation if necessary. I’ll train as many staff as you want, and we can work together on a price that works for us both.
Dates for the course are October 7th and November 18th 2016.
There are going to be two courses initially, with more to follow.
Apps for Librarians will look at a variety of different apps that information professionals can use in their daily work. It will cover browsers, search engines, productivity tools, scanning apps, creating multimedia resources, guiding tools, reference and news apps. Although I’ll be using an iOS device, the course will also work if you use Android apps. At the end of the course - well, there won’t be an ‘end of the course’, because it will be ongoing. Delegates will be able to explore these tools, work together, try things out, and learn practical things to help them in their jobs.
Advanced search for Librarians will cover exactly what you would expect. How to search the internet quickly and effectively using both Google and a variety of other search engines. Delegates will learn how to get the best out of Google, and will also have an opportunity to explore other search engines. Videos in the series will look at ways to do other advanced searches, such as reverse image look up, in-depth data mining, and in-depth looks at many different search engines.
On October 7th, the courses will be
08.30 - 11.00 Advanced search for Librarians
11.30 - 14.00 Apps for Librarians
14.30 - 17.00 Advanced search for Librarians
On November 18th the courses will be
08.30 - 11.00 Apps for Librarians
11.30 - 14.00 Advanced search for Librarians
14.30 - 17.00 Apps for Librarians
I’ve arranged the courses this way to allow the maximum amount of flexibility. If you are an early bird, come to a course first thing in the morning. If you want to schedule a course over the lunch period, try the middle of the day, and if you prefer to leave work early, go for the last course of the day. Of course, if you want to attend more than one course, you’re most welcome!
Is it really £99? Yes. I’m keeping it simple. No booking fee, no hidden extras, that’s it. I can do this because other than paying for the venue hire, equipment hire and my travel expenses, the fee comes to me; it’s what I live on! Unlike companies or other organisations that use the money to pay lots of staff, or use it to help keep their coffers filled; by cutting out the ‘middle man’ I can offer the course at what I think is a fair fee.
You mentioned for life? Yes, you pay your fee, and you can access the materials for as long as you want. I’ll be adding new material, updating older videos and so on anyway, since that’s a job I have to do. Consequently, if I’m already doing it, why should I ask for more money. You come on the course and you’ll never need to go on another one, and you’ll be able to keep fully up to date with what’s going on. Of course the ‘for life’ is my life, or rather ‘until I retire’ but that gets a little long winded!
Can I get a discount if I book two courses? Well no. I’m keeping the costs as low as I possibly can do as it is, and there’s no real room for wiggle. Don’t forget that as well as the face to face element, you’ll have access to the videos, the wiki, you can pop into the online chats when you want, AND you’ll never pay any more, so I think that’s a good deal.
When will you run the online chat sessions? I hope to do so every other week, for about an hour, and will advertise this on the wiki. If more people want to attend than seems sensible, I’ll arrange another one.
When can I book? I’ll start taking bookings when I have created all the videos and done the wikis for the courses. I’ll take bookings via a ticketing resource, PayPal, BACS or cheque if you prefer.