At work, one of my ‘other duties as assigned’ is to train new software applications to staff. I have learned a lot about teaching adults over the past 25 years.
- Technology is something you either get or you don’t and there is a learning curve. Some people are advanced users, some intermediate, and some beginners. Then there is the group who aren’t even on the curve. I usually make them sit by me.
- Whenever possible, limit the training to a one-hour block. After one hour, their eyes roll back in their head and you lose them. This is usually when I begin talking faster and louder and they begin to groan as if in pain.
- You need extreme patience. With everyone sitting in front of a computer, the impulsivity kicks in and you are surrounded by a group of ‘mad’ clickers. Some people are more click happy than others, you know who you are.
Yesterday, I had a training session for five staff after work. The first thing I wanted to teach them was to turn off a video tutorial that launches each time the software is opened. The tutorial is wonderful the first time around, but it stalls out the program, is loud and obnoxious and I am sick of hearing it. Since everyone had already seen the tutorial it was time they learned how to shut this feature off. It is really quite easy. Once the video tutorial window opens just deselect a check box in the lower left corner of the window and click close. Simple enough. Not so. As the software launched the mad clicking began.
Me: “When you open this program you will see the video tutorial. To turn off the video tutorial feature…”
The woman on my right clicked the X in the upper right corner closing the tutorial window. Since she did not deselect the checkbox in the lower left corner, she did not deactivate this feature but I was not discouraged. I still had four staff to train.
Me: “Look in the lower left corner of the tutorial window…”
The woman on my left clicked the X in the upper right and closed the tutorial. Now I had only three chances to get someone to actually deactivate the tutorial feature.
Me: “In the lower left corner of the tutorial window is a check box.”
Staff three and four clicked the X in the upper right corner and closed their tutorial windows. Now I am desperate, I only have one more chance to actually teach this skill. I leaned across my computer toward my last remaining hope for success and spoke loudly and clearly.
Me: “Look at the lower left corner of the window. Lower left. The lower left! Deselect the check in that checkbox…”
The fifth person ignored my words and clicked the X in the upper right corner of the window.
I am not one of those people who hides their emotions well. I slapped a hand to my head, sat down in my chair and peered at the clock. We had been in class for 2 minutes. I was doomed.
How to recover? They all looked at me expectantly. I rejected the first thought that came to mind but couldn’t contain my second thought, “Okay, we need to get one thing clear here. When I am talking you all need to take your hands off that mouse!” I actually shouted that last sentence and then felt pretty bad. I don’t know why, but my response made them laugh and they assured me that I hadn’t really yelled. So we continued. And didn’t the good times just roll.