Elle's design narrative: A web training session
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7 April 2013
I was working as a web editor at a University.
The situation was that I was required to deliver, at short notice due to staff absence, a training session on a recently implemented CMS to various members of staff from across the university to enable them to maintain their own areas of the website. I was specifically required to deliver training on writing for the web while a colleague from IT took care of the technical side of things.
The majority of those I would be training were not well known to me and some had negative views about the recent restructuring of the website.
The aim of the session was to help these users understand the reasoning behind the web standards we had implemented and enable them to take control of their content.
The measure of success was whether they became confident users of the CMS and took on board the advice we provided around standards – ie reducing the workload for myself and my team who had previously taken charge of all content.
I first spoke to the colleague I would be delivering the training with – she had run several similar sessions before and had acted as a key point of contact for many of the attendees so knew more about their background and competencies than I did so this helped me establish the most appropriate level to pitch the training.
Luckily, given the short notice of the situation, I did have access to some training materials that had already been written so used these as a basis. However, had I had the time I would have preferred to devise my own material as I feel I would have presented this more naturally.
I worked through this material and added, removed and edited certain sections based on my own experiences of editing other users’ content – ie common mistakes and misunderstandings I had encountered.
I wanted to make the session participatory so I found an appropriate piece of written text to use as an exercise in how to adapt copy for the web. I prepared a ‘model answer’ to talk through with the participants once they had had a go themselves.
I also prepared a handout with key points to take away as there was a lot to remember and it was likely to be a while before some attendees put their learning into practice.
I then read through the presentation with a colleague to check it made sense and fitted the time limitations.
I then presented this material the following day – as expected I did encounter some negativity and was somewhat put off by two members of staff who were clearly not paying attention and were talking among myself. In hindsight, I should have stopped the session and called them up on this as it did affect the quality of the presentation and my interaction with those who did actually want to learn.
I believe the objectives were met to a certain extent. I did receive positive feedback from several attendees and many were keen to take over web editing responsibilities. Unfortunately however, due to extensive internal restructuring, the project was put on hold so it wasn’t possible to properly measure the success of the training.
Overall it was a positive experience – it was my first real experience of delivering training in a formal session. There were some lessons to be learned – namely that I perhaps relied too heavily on the materials provided to me – while delivering the session I did feel that some of it was perhaps a little over-long and complicated in places and I would have felt more comfortable and natural delivering a presentation in my own words.