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By Darren Ilett
This academic year, I’m excited to be working as the first ProQuest Student Trainer Intern at San José State University, where I’m also a student at the iSchool, finishing up my MLIS with an emphasis on information literacy instruction.
The ProQuest internship is an excellent opportunity to gain professional experience in providing online training. Since the SJSU iSchool is entirely online, so are all of my training sessions, which cover the ProQuest Platform, and ProQuest Flow. So far, I’ve trained students and faculty all over the U.S., from Florida to Washington state, and I’ve gotten to work one-on-one with people whom I might not have met otherwise.
The experience as a ProQuest Student Trainer Intern has already taught me invaluable lessons about online training. First, you can never practice too much. The chance to refine my skills during the training this summer at the ProQuest headquarters in Ann Arbor was invaluable. After returning home to Albuquerque, I kept practicing with friends and my faculty advisor. Nevertheless, the first “real” session was a little rough around the edges. I hadn’t ironed out all the tech problems, nor had I refined and narrowed down the things I wanted to emphasize.
So my tips are:
1) Make sure that all the applications you’ll be using during a training session work smoothly (Try everything out, multiple times!)
2) Test that your Internet connection is fast and working properly, and
3) Narrow down what you want to get across during a session, and learn it well, so that you don’t have to think about it too much when you’re training. Once I worked out these issues, I was more able to focus on the trainees and their needs.
That leads me to the second thing I’ve learned; namely, the importance of connecting with trainees. The benefit of having a synchronous training session is that it allows you to talk with the trainees. The best sessions I’ve had have been more a dialogue than a monologue. All my trainees have been LIS students and faculty, so we share a number of interests. And they all have needs that the ProQuest products can help them with. It feels great when we can figure out ways for them to be successful in the research they’re conducting, or by honing their search skills so that they can then serve their library users more effectively.
If I focus on a preset agenda and forget to engage with trainees, I feel much less successful and am less certain that I’ve addressed the trainees’ needs. I recommend taking a moment at the beginning of a session to learn about why they chose to attend a session and what they hope to get out of it. Further, conducting real searches based on their interests is another way to engage trainees.
I’m sure there will be much more to learn as I continue with the ProQuest Student Trainer Internship through next May. I’m looking forward to continue working with the SJSU iSchool students and staff, my fellow interns at other universities, and the folks at ProQuest to improve my skills as an LIS educator.