I have a Yahoo email account (honestly I don’t check it too often). But Trillian (IM client) sends little “reminder” messages to me once in awhile that I have mail in the inbox of my Yahoo account. So I decided to go clean it out today.
When I did, I was greeted with a chance to try the beta version of their new email app. It’s very nice – lots of Ajaxy goodness, like dragging and dropping emails into folders, single click/double click things, etc – it pretty much works like the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook.
But when I chose to use the beta product, I was immediately dropped into a brief training session. And that’s what I’m really blogging about today. ‘Cause they did a great job in the training session!
Take a peek at the screenshot to the left. They provided a little animated guy that guided me through the training session, complete with easy-to-do tasks (ie., dragging and dropping email to a folder) that quickly taught me what I needed to know about the beta product.
There was also a bar at the bottom of the screen that showed me how far along I was in the training session (presumably there so I could see that I was almost finished), and the animated guy was nice – he “said” encouraging things as I moved along in the tutorial.
I think libraries could learn a few things from this little moment in my life:
- Make training fun! – The Yahoo session provided training, but did it in a light, fun way. Can our library training sessions and our online training sessions and tipsheets be fun, too? I think so
- Celebrate success – Yahoo encouraged me by telling me I was doing a good job during the session, and celebrated (by dancing and confetti) after the session. Not sure our bibliographic instruction librarians should start dancing after a training session… but I think we CAN make our materials and our teaching moments positive. We can be encouraging – in person, on paper, and online.
- Offer Proactive training – This Yahoo session popped up before I entered the new email app. We need to make sure we offer training on a new product BEFORE it’s released! That goes for OPAC upgrades, new blogs, or even offering RSS feeds for the first time. Make sure to train both your staff and your public, so they know what to do with the new product or service.
- Offer help when needed – Yahoo figured some people would need a little more guidance, so they created a way to offer that guidance – when it was needed. They also provide a Help link if I need more help later on. Again, I think libraries can do this, too.
- Provide “just enough” teaching – This training session lasted 2-5 minutes, and provided just enough information so that I could read and manage my email. They didn’t include the history of Yahoo, show me changes to Yahoo email over time, etc. They gave me just what I needed and nothing more. Library training can do much the same thing – for example, why not create a quick, 5-minute screencast on how to do a basic search in the catalog – and then provide pointers to further instruction if needed? That way, everyone gets just what they need to do a search, and they’re given the option to get more help if/when needed.
Just some thoughts (mainly caused by that little dancing dude from Yahoo…