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Tuesday, 4 May 2021

What I have learned from the online library training sessions


by Shorba Harkhu

The library has just completed an intensive two-week online training session for first-year students via Zoom. Sessions included training on Referencing and Google Scholar amongst other topics.

At UKZN libraries, subject librarians oversee a group of subjects and assist their staff and students which includes training on the use of various resources. In most instances subject-specific library training is carried out solely by the subject librarian, occasionally assisted by a colleague. Before the implementation of Covid-19 restrictions, the general library training sessions were campus-based.  Now we are hosting online sessions with colleagues from other UKZN libraries and campuses. Co-presenting for the first time with colleagues from a different library and campus has been an enriching experience.

Attending these sessions gives us an indication of how well we are faring in our sessions, how we need to improve, what we need to include in our library instruction sessions; also how not to present.

I have admired the different approaches taken by colleagues when presenting the content. By attending these sessions, I have realised that there are bits of information that I have not included in my training sessions. Did you know that Google Scholar has something called Google Patents and that you can also create labels for your saved items? I need to make a note of these to include in my next Google Scholar session.  

I have also learned a lot about the different styles of presentation.  I have yet to emulate the calm and collected dispositions of some of the presenters, and can only dream of having the honeyed voices of others.

I am sure by attending these sessions we were able to glean ideas for our library training sessions, whether it is to improve on our presentations or content. I have picked up the following pointers from the sessions attended:

  1. Be prepared and know your subject matter. I am sure you have heard this many times before, but preparation is key to a good presentation. 
  2. Create a lesson plan on what you are going to teach. This includes making a note of the search terms you are going to use and the areas you are going to cover. This would prevent you from fumbling should you get kicked out of a Zoom session while presenting.
  3. Be clear in what you are presenting. It is easy to forget that students may have no prior knowledge of library terminology that you take for granted.
  4. Engage with the audience. Zoom prevents you from interacting face-to-face with your audience. I liked the idea of one of my colleagues asking students before her presentation to write down in the chat what they are studying.

What have you learned from these sessions? Please share your thoughts and ideas.