Stress and time are reduced if training has a long tail
Life seems very busy at the moment, busy good, but busy none the less so slow posting I’m afraid (no cheering at the back).
One of the busy things I did last week was spend a day(ish) with a group of editors from UK newspaper group Trinity Mirror. TM are really ramping up their online presence at the moment. Their hyperlocal sites in particular are picking up a lot of notice in the UK.
Anyway, as part of that digital thing the editors where doing a course called ‘Creating Effective content’ and I had them for a session that fell under the broad heading of ‘multimedia’.
I spent a good part of the morning showing them Windows Movie Maker. Not because it’s what they use - they have a mix of things – or what I think they should use, but because it’s such a quick and user friendly way to illustrate the process. Within half-an-hour they where happily plugging away at creating a picture slideshow.
This is one of the most instantly popular things I do. The genuine excitement that comes back at just how easy it all is is very nice to see. Suddenly this multimedia stuff is not so hard and if video is part of the plan, perhaps it doesn’t look so out of reach. Baby steps
But I’m not telling you this to relive the warm fluffy feeling.
That evening the eds went out and used N95′s to shoot some interviews with the public about the way they consume sports news. They came back the next day with a brief to put together a kind of multimedia ‘report’.
What I noticed as I flitted round the room was that the flush of excitement they had with the technology had lost a little of its shine. As they battled with the limits of movie maker, for some, the frustrations and fears came back.
The training rollercoaster
I see the same thing with my students and the practical training I deliver. A basic overview of a bit of software or kit can give people enough of a taste to get them fired up. But give them a project to go out and try it and the fear factor is ramped up again. Of course the value is in using the experience of that first project and incorporate that in to follow up training. The stress can be very quickly reduced and people move much faster. We all know that’s how we learn – guided experience.
But it’s surprising how much training in the new digital skills forgets that last bit. A lot of the time it deals with it in a FOFO way – You’ve had your training now F*** off and find out yourself.
So if you are thinking about the training for your journos ( and no, there is no other way to get it right other than training) here are a few things to think about:
- Define and test your workflow
Training isn’t an opportunity to define a working process. Get someone who knows what they are doing to make sure your workflow is fit for purpose. It doesn’t need to be tested to breaking point. Most importantly make sure that it is as consistent as it can be across all centers in your org. Training isn’t fault finding.
I’ll mea culpa here. When showed WMM to the TM eds a I completely missed a problem with the MP4 video that the N95’s produced – not directly compatible. So I needed to source a bit of software to sort it out*. An easy solution but introducing the new software shifted things back in to feeling ‘technical’
- Get kit in place
Many orgs still buy in training before all of the centers have kit in place. Ideally they should be taking their kit to the training. Yes, skills will be transferable – you can busk your way round most cameras having used one – but there is a level of confidence gained in knowing you are working with the same kit you will use day in, day out.
- Split your training in to two parts:
The first part should be quick, directed and aimed at confidence building – simple, directed examples. Avoid letting the training simply be about serving the workflow. Remember this isn’t the chance to define things. It should end with a definite project to work on. The second part should be based on a review of the project. More specific skills can be introduced. This stops that first ‘hump’ of stress from being too steep a mountain to climb.
- Build in mutual support
Support the training with an online component – a blog or forum. Keep the forum private for delegates only. The forum should be moderated by the trainer or by a qualified member of staff who can answer questions quickly but more importantly push information and ideas out. Better still, if you are all under one roof, assign mentors or buddies (I hate that word but you know what I mean). If you’re the boss, maybe even spring for coffee for them so that they can meet once in a while.
- Permission to fail.
A long with the idea of playtime (think of it like googles 20% time), permission to fail is a really important concept in training terms for me. I hear a lot of talk of editors demanding content from people the day after a course – no pressure – and of course it hardly ever works out. The school of hard knocks is a romantic throwback. It is not a good model for encouraging staff in what may already be a sensitive working environment.
Feedback always welcome.
*A neat little bit of windows shareware called WM Converter