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Frances Pigott's Design Narrative

Training library staff to use the circulation module of a library management system (LMS).

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Frances Pigott
26 March 2013


Software trainer.


On site training in client's place of work, therefore no idea beforehand of the training space. Client would be advised that a pc would be required for each person receiving training, software was pre-loaded and tested before training commenced. Training groups of up to 8 people. No prior knowledge of individual's IT capabilities. The library staff would generally know each other very well, and it would often be a mixture of management and staff - which could affect the dynamics of the group depending what relationships were like eg. it could be difficult to communicate with some members of staff who were intimated by the presence of their manager. Some staff members would be hostile to the introduction of a new library management system, expecting their workload to increase or change.


To provide an overview of the circulation module, to enable staff to create, edit and delete user records, issue and discharge items, create, fulfil and remove reservation records. 


1. Before training day, check the system was correctly configured, if data not loaded create some test user records and dummy bibliographic records so that items could be issued and discharged. This will result in a smooth flow to the training session - preferable not to display any glitches in the software!

2. Talk to customer over the phone to check whether there is any particular area of the circulation module they want me to focus on ie. if they follow certain procedures or don't want to use certain aspects of the system.

2. On the day of training, arrive at customer site and check that all the pcs have been set up properly and are logged into the LMS. You don't want people sidetracked right at the beginning of the session with problems logging in, especially if have any negative feelings to the training from the outset.

3. Introduce myself and short background info on the company I worked for. Quick overview of what we are going to look at.

4. Talk the staff through creating user records - they each create user records on their own pc - talk through all the available options and what each of the different fields within the user record is for. Deal with any issues/ questions as they arise. Once user record is created, practice issuing and discharging dummy records I created earlier, creating reservations etc. If users throw up any questions I can't answer there and then I make a note of them and will answer them in follow-up correspondence. Often the new software doesn't work in exactly the same way as their old system so use this opportunity to show how they can redesign their work practices to fit with the new technology.


At the end of the session all members of the group are comfortable with the creation of basic user records, they know how the circulation module operates in relation to the rest of the LMS. Objectives are met, although it is not always possible to get them to like the new software - often the choice of software is not a decision they have been involved in. However the opportunity to show off new functionality that will make their work proccess easier is always positively received.


The more prepared you are the better the training session. Talking with the client beforehand about particular issues, having a structure to the training and  examples already set up, helps the session run smoothly. Having an idea of the IT capabilities of the people attending training would be useful, as very poor IT skills can be disruptive to the training session, equally very IT literate users could pick up the basics very quickly and want to move on to more complicated areas that you may not have prepared for. Being honest if you don't know the answer to a particular question, but promising to get back to them and following up on this, is perfectly acceptable.

Extra content

PPC Designer - Customising Procedures – Learning Outcome – Application

To What End: Re-design a procedure or structure to cope with the introduction of change in the environment or practice

By what Means:  Eliciting the problem and its context, collating own experiences of procedures or structures,  Redesigning procedure or structure to take account of the change,

Total session time: 335 minutes.


TLA 1: Eliciting the problem and its context time allotted =45 minutes

Trainer discusses procedures with staff to identify how  the circulation process will work with the New Library Management Software system (Produce -  15 minutes)

Trainer makes a short presentation on the software and workflow procedures for using the circulation module within the New Library Management Software system (Read Watch Listen -  30 minutes)


 TLA 2: Collating own experiences of procedures or structures time allotted =200 minutes

 Students work individually using the software to get a feel for how the circulation module works, and to get a feel for how their existing practices will need to be redesigned for use with the new software.  (Practice -  180 minutes)

Each member of the groups gives feedback on issues they consider most important.  (Produce -  20 minutes)


TLA 3: Redesigning procedure or structure to take account of the change time allotted =90 minutes

Trainer suggests solutions to identified issues presented on how workflow can be altered to fit in with the circulation module of the New Library Management Software system. (Read Watch Listen -  30 minutes)

Staff makes notes on changed workflow for using the circulation module to take account of the issues identified when using the New Library Management Software system. (Practice -  30 minutes)

Trainer facilitated group discussion, using the issues arising from the design activity, and guides discussion, feeding in any issues not covered by the staff, deriving from theory and practice of the effects of using the circulation module within the New Library Management Software system. (Discuss -  30 minutes)

Frances Pigott
23:07 on 10 April 2013

Embedded Content


Avril sweeney
4:02pm 2 April 2013

Hi Frances,

In your reflections 'having a structure to the training and  examples already set up, helps the session run smoothly'. I agree with that, it brings me back to the elluminate sessions with Dave, having an agenda and setting up the rights on elluminate so that students can engage because the session is 'structured'.  I found with my design narrative it was somewhat structured but I had to allow for the'unstructured' element where the colleague was busy, on the phone etc and could not fully engage with the training but i got around this by making contact throughout the day in a staged approach to achieve the learning outcome. 


Dave Martin
10:54am 3 April 2013

Hi Frances

What I like about your design narrative is the flexibility within it that enables you to adapt to the needs of your learners and take account of their particular work place context and culture.

later in H800 we discuss how the learning that ensues is in part/wholly a consequence of the actions of the learners in response to the learning design.

Joe Monaghan
3:26am 6 April 2013

Hi Frances, This sort of training scenario is something I am very familiar with; I echo the point regarding the importance of adequate preparation for a smooth session. Do you use pre-course qestionnaires to measure learner proficency/skills? (I think you hint at this). Joe

Maxine Armstrong
8:16pm 9 April 2013

Hi Frances, from your narrative I can see how the group dynamics can have an impact on the training session. How do you deal with these? I am usually familiar with the teams I work with so I have an advantage in knowing the participants.

I can understand how people can feel hostile to a system when they have no say in the choice of software. Does this hostility impact on their learning? We use Blackboard as our VLE and sometimes people can be quite negative towards it.  

Frances Pigott
11:20pm 10 April 2013 (Edited 11:21pm 10 April 2013)

Thanks everyone for reading my narrative and for your comments.

Joe - we do make use of pre-course questionnaire, but having said that I think assumptions are sometime made by trainers on levels of IT competency ie. they assume that people wouldn't be attending a software training course if they didn't have good IT skills. Whereas the customer wants all staff members trainined (not wanting to exclude anyone) and doesn't necessarily check whether they will all be capable (or get the most out) of undertaking the training.

Maxine - I found that if you are positive and enthusiastic about the software then this does help when training. I always try to pinpoint any hostility especially if it relates to a specific workflow and then try and show how the software would deal with that particular situation. Sometimes though you just have to try and ignore hostile comments where there is an underlying issue that you have no control over. You just do your job as trainer and come away thankful that you don't work there!!

Julia Killen
5:26pm 11 May 2013

Frances, setting up and preparing the data before the sessions is vital in my experience and where possible I use a pre production environment so that users have a safe environment to train in before they use real cases. If the IT doesn work, it doesn't make for a smooth learning experience. Like you, I love technology and if the instructor isn't positive about the tools they are training then that attitude can influence the users perception of it too.

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