Workshopping by the seat of my (bike) pants

When I deliver a training package for the first time, I always expect a few wobbles along the way. Yesterday was no exception. I’m not entirely sure if I managed to demystify some of the processes on the Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) website or not.

My workshop on getting the most out the CAN website covered both the potential uses of the website, editorial policies and associated issues, along with practical guidance on how to use two key functions.

Running a website to support collaboration, outreach to the public and committee support (to name a few uses) is a big undertaking. CAN are a small grassroots organisation with national membership, so there is a lot to gain from having an active network.

During the workshop it was made pretty obvious the team responsible for the website is juggling alot, including invisible maintenance. As Stephen eloquently said, if people expect him to answer all the questions raised then he’ll be heading down the road.

Despite my uncertainty, I’m actually really pleased with how things went. Alongside the aim of giving people more knowledge and confidence so they can use the website, I wanted to promote an expanded self-help approach to support.

The “Sand pit” I set up for people to practice in will become a permanent resource for admins to use. It will also be a place to ask questions and share knowledge.

Creating a repository of answered support questions makes so much sense. If the same question comes up again, you can point to a pre-existing answer (as long as you can remember it’s already been answered).

Quite a few hands were raised when everyone was asked if they’d be willing to be involved in supporting other admins. We didn’t note down names, but I’m sure that will be coming.

The teaching resources I prepared included a simple screencast with a recording and video of me creating a new article. These can act as a model for creation of similar tools in the future.

Unless you’re aiming at really high production values, screencasts can be created quickly, using free tools (eg CamStudio) and hosted freely as videos (eg Vimeo, YouTube). These tools seem a pretty good match for meeting community group website support needs.

It also occurs to me that using screensharing (via Skype, Yuuguu, etc), would be pretty useful as a way of allowing more experienced users to walk through some of the content creation processes with new admins on the other end of the line.

Now that I’ve worked out the notifications (after spending hours trying to working out how to simply convey to set-up and managed these) it’s going to be easy for me to keep in touch with how  the website to continues to grow. I’m looking forward to seeing how things go.

Resources:

A screencast showing how to create content (on Vimeo)

Workshop presentation, from SlideShare available as slides, or from Vimeo as a video (including screencasts)

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