Beyond workshops – how can we *really* help you?

As Christmas is closing in, this Autumn’s public workshop programme has been wrapped up and we’re all back at the Newcastle HQ. It’s time to round up the troops for reflection.

In the past eight weeks we’ve run workshops on ten different topics – digital storytelling, e-learning, web writing, blogging, screencasting and online facilitation to name a few. We’re been in Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and online and helped over 90 people acquire new skills.

face to face training

But we don’t like to rest on our laurels. The time has now come to adapt our traditional approach to training because of changing demands from our community and the arrival of new technologies.

Changing training landscape

We’ve been training people to use technology in education since the early days of the internet. Ok, not all of us, but even the newest ones of us have seen big changes happen both in the worlds of education and technology during our time at Netskills.

For a long time, a lot of the training was focused on using different software, writing code…  ‘do this and this will happen’ sort of training.

In the past few years, this has changed dramatically. We still do some of that, but even in software training, there is an increasing demand for something more. It’s easy to learn to push the right buttons, but how to use the system/software/approach well? How to make the best of it in your particular context?

Training has become as much about best practice, reflection and supported development as it used to be about which buttons to push.

What did they learn?

The standard length of our workshop (with a few exceptions) is one day. Usually, a nice day, by the end of which everyone seems to have learned or achieved something new.

But from the trainer’s point of view, sometimes one day just isn’t enough.

The best kind of feedback we get is when an attendee gets in touch months or even a year later to say ‘look, this is what we did after your workshop’. Whether it’s selfish or altruistic, we want to know we helped make something real happen. That the attendees got more out of the workshop than just a nice lunch.

So lately, we’ve been doing something a bit different to try to meet the new demands of the changing training landscape and make good use of the new technologies that have become available to us since our early days.

online training

Hybrid approach

Taking the learning one step further, we’re increasingly arranging a short online session after the workshop – to give people a chance to try things out for real and come back with questions and reflections.

Depending on the topic, we’re also there to give feedback if they’ve produced a podcast or written a blog post for example.

We’re also looking at ways of helping teams of people within the same institution more effectively. It’s an alternative to them sending a few people on our public facing workshops and then feeding back to the rest of the team.

Instead, we can work together with the whole team in a more tailored way. Making it a mixture of facilitation and supported development rather than just training. And with an online follow-up, we can help to implement the skills in their real working environment as well.

So far we’re doing this with topics like blogging and digital storytelling but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work with our other workshops as well.

The ‘hybrid’ (f2f/online) approach is also being used on two of our newest workshops as well, Excellence in Online Teaching & Training and Are you an Online Visitor or Resident?.