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Training for volunteer instructors on using the internet in classes

Posted on October 23rd, 2012 by Anne Cardale, OLLI National Resource Center

Heather Haslem, OLLI at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Asks OLLI:

Does your OLLI provide any tutorials or training classes/programs designed to instruct volunteer instructors on using the internet in their classes?

5 Responses to “Training for volunteer instructors on using the internet in classes”

  1. In the past, we convened instructor meetings prior to the start of each term. The purposes of the meeting were to orient new instructors and provide that tech training.

    The meetings required enormous preparation on the part of staff and volunteer leadership but few instructors participated. We discontinued those meetings two years ago.

    Since then, we have extended invitations for instructors to make individual appointments with our staff that would acquaint us with their needs and provide them with training on our equipment. A greater number of instructors availed themselves of the opportunity. What we have found is that most problems encountered in the classrooms are related to compatibility of formats, programs and operating systems.

    Currently, we have “room concierges” that staff the instructor appointments, help instructors prior to the start of each class and remain on call for technical troubleshooting once class is underway.

    The room concierges are traditional work study students. That system seems to work quite well.

  2. We offer an orientation program for instructors(new and returning) before each semester begins. This fall, one of our volunteers provided a separate class for new instructors on the finer points of developing and managing powerpoint presentations - inserting video and audio files and the like. We’ll continue to offer the training at the start of each semester. We’re fortunate to have A/V staff on site and they set up the equipment and assist with connectivity issues.
    Maralie BeLonge
    OLLI at UNM

  3. We do our walk-throughs with new instructors prior to class and encourage them to bring whatever they plan on using, especially if they plan on using a laptop and want it to interface with our equipment (this often is an issue). We let them know that they should not rely on us nor campus staff since we do not always have an IT person on campus durinig the day (most academic classes are on weekends and evenings). In some cases we have discouraged instructors from using technology that they clearly are not comfortable with or trying to switch back and forth from multiple types of technology. We do not have the resources for someone to sit in a class and operate technology and require instructors to make arrangements on their own if this is how they want to have for their class. If there is a payment for this helper, the insturctor must cover the expense.

  4. We have encountered similar issues with our instructors. We set up individual appointments with new instructors to have them come in and run through the way to use the equipment. I try to do it no longer than 2 weeks before the class. Also, one of the staff visits the first class of each course, and usually the staff member with the most experience with av goes to the class with the instructor who might need the help the most.

    We have also had to tell instructors to use less av. We often find that those instructors who are not currently working within a university system have unrealistic ideas on what AV can do. Our instructors are responsible for running their own equipment so there have been some stressful moments.
    It helps if we can say that the members have complained that the instructor is wasting valuable class time in forcing them to change. If they persist, and there is a lot of time wasted, we stop using the instructor or have them stop using av.

  5. Before the start of every term, we have a general session to acquaint both new instructors with what they need to know, followed be a session where the return instructors come to hear of changes/news that may have happened since they last taught. In the past, we held individual training sessions with each instructor in the room in which they were going to teach. That was important, because the technology was not standard among all our rooms. With the grant monies from OLLI, we were able to outfit our teaching spaces with identical equipment in all rooms, which cut back on training time. So we incorporated training time with the faculty orientation. Immediately after the orientation is over, instructors are given the chance to train in the rooms in which they are going to teach. They are assisted by our “senior geek squad”, instructors in our program who are savvy with the equipment and have volunteered to help. This has drastically cut back on staff time, important because over the last two years our staff has been cut in half. If instructors are not able to come to the orientation, then we do provide one-on-one training on the equipment before the term starts. We also have “cheat sheets” in each room, explaining the operation of the equipment.

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