Koha News

KohaCon12: Training on Koha

ByWater Solution’s own Nicole Engard spoke about training librarians on using Koha.

The first point she spoke of was the issue of staff being told they are now being trained on new software that they had no decision in and may not know anything about. It’s important to go into training with a very positive attitude and put yourself in their situation. Being the first face they see means being a friendly face.

When training, Nicole starts by teaching a group about Open Source Software, and what values it brings. Knowing they are entering part of a community helps them to understand that they have a voice and a chance to become invested in Koha.

Alleviate Fears & Manage Expectations

Another key part of the introduction is to alleviate fears. These trainees are venturing into the unknown and thus have much fear and uncertainty. Focus on those people that appear to be scared or confused and help alleviate any fear or confusion.

It is also important to manage expectations. It’s easy to say you now have an Open Source ILS and you have new freedoms and the power to make changes. It’s important to educate users on the steps needed to make such changes.

One major benefit is the immediacy of implementing changes to Koha. Some ILS systems may require a day or more for changes to be implemented. Nicole’s example was switching between the various cover image sources in Koha.

Another part of Nicole’s training procedure involves asking the librarians to explain how a given task was performed in their old ILS, and explaining what parts are similar or different in Koha. Don’t lecture librarians about how their old way is no good and your new way is much better. Ask questions, create a dialog.

Provide Examples

Show users examples of how Koha will benefit them. Nicole’s example involved a previous ILS where the circulation rules required over 200 item types, and in Koha that number was cut significantly. This means the library’s patrons won’t be overwhelmed by the list of item times that can be searched on.

Be Flexible

It’s important to take into account the different learning styles. Don’t have a rigid curriculum that must be followed to the letter. Train to the “Ah! Ha! Moment”, where everything begins to click into place.

Understand that you can’t win them all. Some librarians will staunchly refuse to accept the new system. All you can do is hope that those librarians that do get will help them along.

Nicole likes to hand out a checklist at the end of training outlining everything she has taught them. She asks that each librarian try out each item on his or her own. There is a big difference between watching and doing.

Use Visuals

It’s important to provide visuals when training. Images and videos make a huge difference. It’s much better to show the user an image containing a link, rather than writing ‘click the third link down in the second row of the upper left corner of the page’.

Final Tips

  • In person is always better, seeing faces and expression makes all the difference.
  • Don’t get stuck on your outline, train to your audience, not to your schedule.
  • Make it personal, always share personal stories, empathize.
  • Be enthusiastic! If you’re excited your trainees will be too.

Read more by Kyle Hall

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