Thursday, March 13, 2014

Web Developer / Trainer

My job title is IT Coordinator: Web Developer / Trainer. It's long because that's how we do things at UMD. I usually just call myself either a "Web Developer" or a "Trainer" depending on the circumstances.

Today I was a Trainer. Once every quarter, I put together 2 hour-long presentations to teach staff members of my college how to contribute content to our websites.

The first training, which I present via webinar, always on a Tuesday, is for absolute beginners. It covers everything they need to know, from logging in, to all the many best practices that keep the websites from being complete chaos. It always spills over an hour. And that's usually with me forgetting to cover at least one topic.

I have done this training at least 8 times over the past year, and it never gets any easier. Two days before I present it, I always do a run-through in my office with the door closed. Every time, I make massive changes—cutting parts out, moving parts around, updating the parts about features that have changed since last time. And then, if I've changed it significantly enough, I do another run-through the next day. Every time, I imagine that this is the time I'm going to get it all in under an hour! Every time, I am wrong.

Next time, I am going to change the description of the Basics training to say it will take an hour and 15 minutes. I have finally resigned myself to the fact that you just can't teach people both how to do things, and how to do things right, in just an hour.

In fact, that's why I always follow the basic training with an advanced training two days later. The second training covers a different topic each time. This quarter, it was a closer look at the different types of content people can create on the sites. Last quarter, it was a deep-dive into the features of the text editor. With the advanced training, every presentation is a new beginning. I get to choose whatever I want to talk about, and there's no pressure to cover everything. Nor is there any pressure to make it better for the next time around (because there is no next time around, at least not for the foreseeable future). I just pick enough material to fill the hour. I always enjoy this training more than the Basics, because it is more relaxed.

Nonetheless, I spend the days and hours before both trainings feeling cranky and anxious. Today, I am happy that it's over. Let's just face it; I'm a hardcore introvert, and I'd rather be puttering around my computer than talking to other people about theirs. I finished my advanced training this morning, and now my time is mine again! This afternoon, I'm going back to being a Web Developer for a while.