portal: Libraries and the Academy 3.4 (2003) 698-699
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Teaching Technology: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians, D. Scott Brandt. (How-To-Do-It Manuals for Librarians, no. 115). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2002. 215 p. $55 (ISBN 1-55570-426-3)
This manual uses innovative educational concepts and techniques to "give structure, form, and function" to the process of teaching information technology and information literacy. It applies the philosophy of instructional systems design to developing instruction sessions, emphasizing learners' needs and preparing readers to create effective learning from start to finish. Brandt is Technology Training Librarian and Professor of Library Science at the Purdue University Libraries, and he writes the "techman's techpage" column for Computers in Libraries.
The book is divided into three parts. Part One guides the reader through five steps in the creation of a training session—analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation—devoting a chapter to each step. Part Two addresses building technology training programs and making them work. This section also includes a valuable survey of successful technology programs in academic, public, and corporate libraries, examining type of technology training, most popular classes, target audience, class size, frequency of classes, facilities, successful techniques, and "proudest achievements." Brandt's final section provides sample technology training materials from successful programs, including instruction guides and handouts for a variety of types of sessions and courses, ranging in length from one to sixteen hours.
The first part of the book is best read sequentially, as each chapter builds on the previous. At the end of each chapter, there is a helpful review section that can be used as a checklist for developing training sessions. I found Part Two to be the most effective section, filled with practical and direct guidance. In a brief discussion on budget requirements, for example, Brandt points out that even if there is no budget for training, time is money, and should be accounted for in developing and implementing training. He explains in a clear and concise manner how to calculate the cost of training, including development, production, and staff time, and includes a sample budget. Also in Part Two, he addresses scheduling, registration, marketing and promotion, making each program applicable to its audience, and evaluating the overall training program.
The fact that this book appears in the How-To-Do-It series is a bit misleading. How-To-Do-It Manuals are the guides one chooses to read when one does not have the time to read through a full text on the given topic. The first section of Brandt's work, however, comprising half the book, contains very valuable information and guidance on creating training sessions from start to finish following instructional systems design methodology, but the text is dense and the process is rather daunting. What is the best way for busy librarians and information professionals to integrate some of these techniques into their training? What can librarians without much time to follow the detailed and lengthy steps do to improve their training? [End Page 698] Brandt provides excellent suggestions and examples throughout the first section, but the reader has to wade through a considerable amount of text, some of it quite repetitive (due in part to the iterative nature of the instructional systems design process), to cull out important details. Part One would be greatly improved, and the whole book strengthened, by adding a final chapter that compiles and further summarizes the review lists that are provided at the end of each chapter. This work would have been better packaged with a more descriptive and accurate title.
This book will be most useful for library and information professionals who currently conduct training and who want to improve their training programs. The book will be less useful for people new to training who need to start a training program quickly. Parts Two and Three will benefit the latter audience, but the first part does not provide any quick or easy guidance. And perhaps that is the main message of this book—...