I’ll say it again- although I’m not the sort to identify with management gurus, I keep finding the Brazen Careerist insanely pertinent! And it seems like I’m not the only one- after Jane and I talked about Penelope Trunk’s dues-paying post, she sparked a sizable blog discussion about it.
So, today, BC in joint venture with millenial-geared Employee Evolution, has Ryan Healy saying, “Throw away e-learning”. Because it’s cheap in the worst way, impersonal, and generally insulting. Because it doesn’t do what hands-on, applicable learning, guidance, and mentorship does. Because it’s over-used and abused. Does this sound like libraries and archives? Yes and no.
I’d be hard pressed to find an entry-level librarian these days who hadn’t experienced at least some e-training. Graduate programs in LIS almost universally use online classes, some do so exclusively. On the job, I’ve seen online classes, webcasts and other permutations of teaching-facilitated-by-the -internet ranging from nuts and bolts tech training to management and patron service.
Both in grad school and on the job, I’ve sat through totally useless programs, and had my perspective changed by really effective ones. The distance programs at UW and UIUC seem to be among the best in the field, regardless of their delivery, and have solved a long-standing need in underserved regions. And word up to Five Weeks to a Social Library.
But my own frustration is so very similar to Healy’s. As a new librarian served with some heavy-lifting tech related tasks and working in an environment with not a lot of built-in support, I knew what I wanted to do, had a vague idea of what I needed to learn, and absolutely no clue as to how I could learn it, much less implement it. E-learning was posed as a panacea for the basic tenets. But I also needed context, guidance, and mentorship in my job.
So here’s what I’m saying to library and archives leaders: dose new professionals’ e-learning with check-ins, goal setting, mentorship and community support. Make peer mentorship an important, evaluated part of our jobs. If there aren’t possible mentors where I work, find me one in the community and pay them for it, if necessary. If I want to learn more about something related to my job duties, help me find training, but also help me figure out how to use and implement whatever it is that I’m learning, so that it’s valuable to our organization. And most important, don’t make me sit through anything you wouldn’t sit through yourself.