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Continuing Education in a Virtual World

This article was published in the March-June 2020 American Library Associations's LearningExchange Newsletter and co-written by Nathan Curulla, Owner & CRO, and Jessica Zairo, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator at ByWater Solutions.

Continuing Education in a Virtual World

We believe that it is not only important to provide continuing education to our partner base, but also in making it easy for the partner to create and share their own content independently.

As librarians, we all know that continuing education is extremely important to our development, both personally and professionally. From learning a new technology skill or attending a seminar on customer service, the growth we experience as individuals helps the patrons that we serve as a community.

The majority of our staff worked in libraries prior to transitioning to ByWater to provide partner focused support and ongoing educational initiatives focused on technology ownership and empowering libraries. For this reason, ByWater has been particularly well equipped to provide ongoing education for both our customers and other libraries and vendors in the community.

When COVID19 caused a worldwide pandemic, the staff at ByWater realized that our individual skill sets could be shared with our partner libraries to help adapt to the challenges faced by this new normal. Topics such as content creation, computer science, community outreach, ILS management, and working from home are all areas that we as individuals have significant experience with and could easily and openly share with the library community.

As a company, we have been a 100% work from home institution since our inception in 2009. Because of this, we have considerable experience in working remotely and have overcome the challenges of managing a remote staff of 30 employees. We felt it important to share this knowledge and expertise with our library partners and conducted various town hall meetings and produced blog posts and other content in order to pass that knowledge on. This initiative was extremely successful and well attended.

An important aspect of continuing education is the end user’s ability to access the content available. Successful continuing education initiatives need to have materials that are free and easy to access. It is imperative to ensure that the content you produce is engaging and accessible so that the barrier of entry is as low as possible. This will ensure the most successful outcome when trying to spread knowledge over a diverse user group. We ensure that all content created is easily found on our website, free to access without ads and that the “sessions” are relatively short.

We find that people are much more interested in viewing 10 five minute videos at their leisure, as opposed to one 50 minute video.

Breaking content into chunks helps lessen the anxiety over having to sit and engage with a computer screen, especially when the audience is used to in-person training interactions.

We believe that it is not only important to provide continuing education to our partner base, but also in making it easy for the partner to create and share their own content independently. Truly successful continuing education results in the recipient not only being the student, but also being enthusiastic enough about a topic to then pass that knowledge on to others. We believe that true collaboration and community building works most successfully when it becomes viral.

Continuing Education comes in many forms, either in-person instruction or virtually through live webinars. The content used to facilitate these sessions should be engaging, easy to access, and free to share. This empowers libraries to become their own trust agents and pass on knowledge learned during their personal and professional interactions to others in a way that also promotes future dissemination. □

About ByWater Solutions

ByWater Solutions is a full service, high-quality Open Source support and implementation company dedicated to providing libraries with a lower cost, more advanced level of support for their systems than a traditional proprietary solution can offer. ByWater Solutions has a proven track record in the first-rate implementation and support services with library systems of all sizes for the Koha ILS, Aspen Discovery, Folio LSP, Coral ERM, and Libki PC Management.

Our highly ranked, comprehensive support is what sets our company apart from any other vendor in the industry. Partnering with ByWater Solutions not only lowers the cost of implementation and maintenance of OSS but more importantly empowers libraries by giving them the flexibility and freedom they deserve. For more information please visit https://bywatersolutions.com.

Read more by Jessie Zairo

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