October 8, 2008

Tech Fair 2008: How to Get Users Excited about SEARCH

I am a proud member of my organization's technology team. In the past I have done trainings on Web 2.0 basics, advanced search strategy, and social bookmarking. I usually give out Google posters with search tips as prizes and incentives. Our team's upcoming training (which was supposed to be a "back to school" activity but will now have a Halloween theme) is a "Tech or Treat" afternoon with five tech stations and trainers throughout the office to help staff with various technology or research tips and strategies. Here is how we're planning it...

In late August, each member of the tech team decided on a specialty and then started keeping notes on FAQs about that topic among our 25 or so staff members, as well as popular shortcuts and tips. We will be covering web searching, Microsoft Office, preparing web-ready content, Blackberry troubleshooting (we do not have real phones), laptop tuneups and Constant Contact, our mass mailing software. 

Next, the tech team met to decide on a few key points to emphasize about each topic. In the coming weeks we will be doing informal "walk-around" surveys to ask staff what they feel their comfort level is (low, medium or high) with each topic, and we will use this information to group teams for the Tech Fair, which is now scheduled for October 28th. Luckily, we have the endorsement of the Executive Director, so we expect that all staff in town that day will attend. 

The event is scheduled for 2-5 PM. We will all meet together in our main conference room to kick off Tech Fair 2008 and introduce staff to our new tech wiki, which features links and FAQs for all equipment and software that we use. The staff will then split up into their pre-assigned teams and go station by station on the half hour. Each team will have to ask and answer key tech or search questions to compete for some final prizes, and we will have Halloween candy at each station.

By integrating search training into general tech training, and by having the librarian on the tech team, I feel that our office is growing toward being more savvy with information AND technology, and all of the various ways that they go together. It's an easy way to get people excited about search.

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