Are you looking for ideas for technology instruction services in your library? Tips for how to offer public technology assistance? Ways to improve digital literacy in your community? Then look no further. This is the first in a new TechSoup blog series to explore examples of successful technology training programs, and to give practical advice on how to create similar programs in your library.
Edge Benchmarks Project
Technology training is a service in high demand in libraries across the United States. In 2011, 87% of public libraries offered some type of formal or informal technology instruction. In that same year, a group of library and government based organizations, including TechSoup, came together to develop the Edge initiative, including benchmarks for technology in libraries. The benchmarks will be launched in their full form later this year, after nearly a year of research and testing. The Edge benchmarks are a tool for libraries that can be used to assess, plan, and advocate for technology access and services.
Technology training (also known as computer classes, digital literacy training, or technology instruction) is included in the benchmarks under the Community Value section. The benchmarks recommend that libraries provide technology training through scheduled classes and individual assistance. The benchmarks also place value on providing access to technology and information resources, but it is not enough to simply have access to technology if people do not know how to use it. Technology instruction is essential to intellectual freedom and equal access to information.
Nine Technology Training Models
Over the next few months we will examine nine models for tech training currently being used by libraries across the United States. These models have been successfully implemented to meet the specific needs of individual library communities. Through each blog post, we will take a look at some of the success stories to see what makes each of these models successful:
- Individual Instruction
- Open Lab
- Multicultural Learning Lab
- Computer Classes
- Mobile Instruction
- Volunteer Trainers
- Community Partner Classes
- Gadget Assistance
- Online Training
The Four S’s of Successful Technology Training Models
Each technology training model has several key elements that define it. These elements will need to considered when planning technology training at your library:
- Service: What is the service being provided? Classroom instruction or individual tutoring? Targeted at beginners, intermediate, or advanced learners? Inside the library or offsite?
- Staff: How will you staff tech training? Paid employees, volunteers, or a combination? Will staff be dedicated to technology instruction, or will it be just one facet of their job description? How will you train staff to be prepared to be a tech trainer?
- Schedule: When will you schedule tech training? How do you reach the target audience for instruction? How will the schedule of the service impact staff and library schedules?
- Subject: What topics will you address through tech training? Basic skills or topics of interest? How do you determine what topics your community needs or wants?
Use these tech training models as a way to gather new ideas. They may help you plan formalized tech instruction for the very first time or improve existing tech instruction services. These posts will offer practical tips on how to plan and implement tech instruction and design a service that will best serve the needs of your community. Adopt a single model, or combine multiple models to customize technology training services in your library. Every community is unique, and serves a diverse variety of needs. Take some of the guesswork out of planning by using these models as a starting point in your planning process.
As a trainer and consultant at the Colorado State Library on the Public Computer Centers project, I have seen many of these tech training models in action, and have watched them develop over time. I have experience developing technology training programs in public libraries, and have developed a highly successful “Train the Technology Trainer” workshop series. I have written and presented on technology training in libraries, including a presentation for a WebJunction online conference, Trends in Library Training and Learning, and am very happy to be sharing this TechSoup blog series with you.