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First Online Workshop

This past month, Mary and I taught our first fully online synchronous workshop through Amigos Library Services.  Although, I have developed and taught online courses in asynchronous formats, both Mary and I learned a lot about the dynamics of teaching synchronously.

Transforming our in-person workshop to the online format took a considerable amount of time because we wanted to avoid the common pitfall of believing that what works in the classroom will work online. So, much of our time was spent in creative designing and brainstorming.  Our face-to-face workshops are fun, lively, and collaborative events where participants are constantly talking and bouncing ideas off each other. To replicate this online, when we  designed the online version of the workshop we stuck to the following:

  • Short lectures:  We didn’t want to bore participants with long lectures, so we kept them short and sweet (we hope).
  • Visuals:  Even short lectures can be boring, so we added life to our PowerPoint slides with engaging and thought-provoking images of the marketing campaigns to which we referred.
  • Student interactions: We peppered our hourly workshops with multiple opportunities for students to chime in and show examples of their own work.

The result?  A great experience for instructors and participants alike.  Participants came up with the beginnings of some great campaigns.  I loved Kelly’s idea of promoting her Southfield Public Library’s homework help service by offering parents the reward of more quality supper time with the family.  Lanee’s idea of “Professor Approved” databases for University of Arkansas students also stands out as a favorite.  Frances from the University of Washington came up with some great ideas of images for her Veterinary Medicine students. And finally, Sarah from Yuma Public Library came up with some great ideas for getting parents to use the summer reading online sign-up service.

Mary and I learned a whole lot about delivering classes synchronously. I am not sure I will ever get accustomed to lecturing online, telling a joke, and then just silence; it can make one quite self-conscious.

Making Amigos at Amigos

A great day in Texas. Mary and I gave our presentation/workshop to the Amigos folks in Dallas this past week. The workshop, “Can Libraries be Sold Like Soap?,” was similar to our CARL presentation but we did make a few adjustments. What’s great about the way we have structured the workshop is that we can easily tailor it to fit any size group. We’ve worked with groups as small as ten and as large as fifty. We can also easily cut or add activities to accommodate for time constraints. One hour workshops work, but they’re not as effective as the three hour workshops we have given.

“Can Libraries Be Sold Like Soap?” is constantly evolving. At the core is our commitment to offering a workshop that is engaging, practical, entertaining, and of course, educational. Still, we are always updating it with analyses of new social marketing campaigns and new activities that really allow participants to come out of the workshop with the beginnings of a campaign. The folks at Amigos came out of the workshop with some great ideas including the “Take One for You and One for a Friend” school library campaign and the public library campaign “Steal Music for Free at Your Library.”

We got to meet some great folks from the area including Nancy Hill from UTEP and Betty Long from the New Mexico State Library. We hope to see these folks again and develop workshops aimed at their particular staff and needs. Only regret is that we had to leave so early. Mary to Chicago for another workshop and me back to Tucson for work and three-year old play.

Thanks to Eddy and Laura at Amigos for all the help behind the scenes. Presentation and travel went off without a hitch thanks to their support. And again thanks to our guru, Katya Andresen, for continued inspiration via her book and blog.

One last thing. If you doubt Mary’s presence and stardom, just click here: http://genneaux.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/i-am-a-tool-of-engagement/

The gal’s a rising star!!!