Technology Training for Women
Gardner, Traci. "Technology Training for Women." Faculty Support
for Teaching with Technology in the English-Studies Disciplines.
CCCC, 48th Annual Conference, Phoenix. Civic Plaza Convention
Center/Yuma Room 24. 12 Mar. 1997.
Training Ingredients: Explanation, Documentation, Validity and
- Focus on Audience's Needs and Expertise. Remember that
the needs may not be immediately evident. The true needs for your
audience may not even be what the participants are asking for.
- Provide Back-Up Documentation. Give participants
everything they need to accomplish the task or use the tool which
your training session focuses on. Ideally, step-by-step
instructions which use localize the information. Remember that
your participants may not be willing to ask questions in front of
the group so give them all the information they need to try the
task on their own.
- Explain How to Find Answers Themselves. Often the
difference between someone who succeeds with computers and someone
who doesn't is simply knowing where the documentation is and how
to navigate it. Something which seems basic to an experienced
user, like checking the on-line help file or searching the on-line
help's index, doesn't occur to a new user who doesn't realize that
the resources exist.
- Discuss How Participants Can Apply Their Knowledge.
Learning a great deal about creating macros in Microsoft Word or
how to create a hypertext document with a tool like StorySpace is
valuable; but it's more useful for participants to understand how
they might use these capabilities in their teaching or research.
- Address How to Record Their Experience. Talk about how
to record work and knowledge about computers on their vitas and
how to publicize what they're doing in their department and on
their campus. Part of every training session should be a
discussion of how the activity and knowledge can count toward
academic recognition, promotion, or tenure.
Community Support: E-mail, Office Hours, Mentoring
- Rely on the Ways CMC Provides More Democratic
Interaction. Set up electronic communication among your
participants and construct a safe space where nothing is "too dumb
to ask" and every question gets some kind of an answer. And
remember that you don't have to know all the answers—part of
the point is to encourage participants to problem-solve on their
- Provide Specific Assistance After the Workshop is Over.
When we teach classes, it's natural for us to offer office hours for
our students—there are always students with questions which
don't get asked in class or with personal concerns they want to
discuss privately. Participants in workshops need the same kind
of attention—offer to be "on call" in the computer lab where
you can provide hands-on help or just provide a safety net, or
simply indicate when you'll be on campus and can answer questions
or provide one-on-one tutorials.
- Encourage Participants to Help One Another. Team
participants up and ask them to work on a problem together. The
more they help each other, the more confidence they build in their
- Work Toward Mentoring. Begin gradually by asking
participants to lead discussion of relevant readings and work up
to having them teach mini-lessons. After several training
sessions, you might ask participant to sponsor a newcomer or you
might ask them to plan and lead specific sessions.
Follow-Up: Evaluation and Feedback
- Provide Formal Opportunities for Feedback &
Questioning. Be sure that your sessions include the
opportunity for your participants to tell you how you're doing—and to indicate what they still need.
- Create Systems for Participants' Reflection and
Self-Assessment. Changes in attitude and capability can
happen very slowly, so slowly that they might not be obvious.
Provide ways for participants to record and reflect on what
they're doing. You might do something as simple as asking them to
fill in a survey about their capabilities and attitudes and to
explain why they chose the answers they have. Then after several
months, give them the same survey and questions again. Ask them
to compare—they will almost certainly see changes which they
hadn't realized had occurred.
- Record YOUR Accomplishments. You'll need to prove that
your work is improving conditions, and the more concrete your
proof, the better. Use all the feedback you receive and
information you gather—and remember that the accomplishments
you achieve need not be based on participants learning to use
every piece of software ever made—simply increasing confidence
among your participants is an important accomplishment.
Based on research and work developed for the project "Empowering Women Through Practice and Training in Computer
Technologies," funded by an Affirmative Action Incentive Grant, by the Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office and the Department of English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1994-1995.