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IT Training Camp

The Fall semester schedule of Faculty and Staff Development Program (FSDP) workshops has just been announced. There is an array of professional development workshops, including Technology Training seminars, that seem really interesting. There’s even a new workshop on using Box cloud storage that intrigues me because I use it with only moderate competence.

I know should attend a seminar, but to be honest, I haven’t taken one yet. “Why not?” you may ask. The truth is that I can generally muddle through on my own. If I don’t know how to do something, I Google it or ask around. Plus, I find it hard to make the time.

But recently, I sat down with IT Trainers Vernon Franklin and Mark Mercier to ask why a busy, moderately tech-proficient person should make time for an IT workshop; they made a pretty convincing case for why I should register for a class this Fall.

It’s a quick, convenient way to learn.

If you’re trying to figure out how to do various tasks in an application on your own, you’re wasting more time than you realize. It’s so much more efficient to just take an hour or two to learn it all at once. Instructor-Led IT Workshops give you hands-on training, the opportunity to practice new skills using training computers, and helpful handouts to reference when you get back to your office.

Plus, it can take a lot less time than you think. There are one-hour quick reference workshop sessions that will enhance your technical skills. “It doesn’t need to involve a big time commitment to learn a lot,” Vernon Franklin tells me.

It’s easier to learn when you’re not starting from scratch.

You may think technology workshops are for total novices. Turns out, having some familiarity with the software is really helpful. Someone with no experience will likely need to practice on their own, frequently review the reference materials, and perhaps even reach out to the 24/7 IT Help Desk a few times before they can use the service with ease.

But if you’re already comfortable with the user interface and the menus, you’re primed to learn other things. “Many participants tell me that the class was extremely helpful in understanding new features that made performing tasks more straightforward and faster,” Vernon explains. “If you learn even one feature that automates a task you’re currently doing manually, taking the class is worth it.”

You don’t know what you don’t know.

I recently discovered that Microsoft Excel has a function that counts the number of characters in a cell. I write social media posts, and that feature could make it really easy to write copy that fits within the character limit. So why didn’t I know about LEN? Turns out, you can’t look up how to do something that you don’t even know is an option.

Technology workshops teach many of the most convenient features, so you can get the most from the application. “Pitt IT is aware of the more common pain points and the most beneficial uses of the applications we support. We use that information to include the most valuable training topics in the workshops,” Mark Mercier explains.

See how others use it.

Pitt IT Service Owners are responsible for administering the application and supporting its University user community. They play a valuable role in helping develop workshops that are tailored to Pitt faculty and staff. “The service owners can provide information about interesting ways that various units across campus are using an application in their department,” Mark says.

We’re stronger when we work together, and the training workshops give you the chance to meet or learn about other people who are doing things similar to what you are trying to do. You can network with people to talk about their plans and concerns. Then, you can share the information with your coworkers to move your department forward.

Take your development into your own hands.

OK. I’m sold. What about you? What technology training topics would be most useful for you? Tell us in the comments below.

By Karen Beaudway, IT Blogger