As we are now unable to go out in person to deliver training in people’s workplaces and our training room is currently full of furniture removed from the library to ensure social distancing we realised that our only option was to deliver our training virtually.

We attended some virtual seminars and had a practice among ourselves and then decided to bite the bullet. We have advertised our virtual training through our social media (library blog, Twitter, Facebook) via the Trust global staff bulletin and by adding promotional signatures to our emails.

Although we’ve only carried out a few sessions so far we have learnt a lot. We have created a ‘form email’ that now gets sent out to anyone booking a training session. It includes instructions on how to join the meeting, tells the learner what equipment they will need to have (a PC or laptop with internet, a headset with microphone and a quietish corner to work in) and instructs them to have their Athens Username and password to hand.

We’re learning what some of the barriers as we go and are finding ways to deal with them:

  • Some of our Trust are using MS Teams and some are still on Skype for Business. We’ve amended our email to reassure staff that they do not have to have MS Teams to attend our training and that the invite will include a link that will allow them to download the MS Teams App

  • The text can be small and difficult to see when sharing the screen. We tell the learner to let us know if they can’t see their screen clearly and we enlarge it at our end

  • There may be technical difficulties at the start of the meeting as the learner works out how to log in to the meeting and get their headset etc working. Make the session slightly longer, allowing time at the start for the learner to get set up and overcome any issues they are having at their end

  • There are no webcams on Trust PCs (including library staff PCs) To make the virtual sessions a little bit more personal, have a photograph ready to show on your screen so the learner can see who they are talking to.

A potential barrier for staff attending training is in finding an available computer in a location that is conducive to learning. Making sure that staff know that they can use their own PCs or laptops for the training may help as well as being as offering as wide a range of possible training dates and times.

As yet we haven’t been asked to conduct a group training session, so that’s a new challenge to look forward to…

Yvonne Stubbington
Clinical/Outreach Librarian
Library & Knowledge Service
St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust