Breaking the ice, ending on a high note

We started thinking about the quality and consistency of our WICshops about a year ago. Our frequent WICshop attendees may have noticed that we have a lot of different presenters. Our staff have become closely associated with their favorite topics – David Toccafondi with PhotoShop, me with Excel, etc. Each year, we welcome three graduate student interns, and many staff from around campus are frequent presenters. We have lots of presenters teaching lots of topics and a mix of attendees that changes from day to day.

Last October, I started asking the advice of my colleague Rashmi Kumar. How do we better connect with people attending our WICshops? How do we handle the staggering differences in prior levels of expertise? How do we negotiate different learning styles – of freshmen, doctoral students, faculty and staff – who might sit elbow-to-elbow in the same session, but expect different levels of attention. How do we engage students sitting here because their professor requires it, but deeply convinced they need no help with new technologies?

After several great conversations, I invited Rashmi to spend this spring observing our workshops, talking with all of us, and giving us her expert advice on simple ways to improve and standardize what we do. Today, I’m very happy to announce the results – available for general public use – the Tools and Technologies Instruction Model. We began following her advice almost immediately. It is quite amazing how simple ideas are often the most powerful. One idea I use frequently now is to end on a high note. I describe what I taught that session instead of bemoaning everything I had planned to do but did not get time to cover!

I’m glad Rashmi has recently joined the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL), one of our Program Partners, and I am looking forward to her presentation here at Penn Libraries this September.

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