Becoming a Thomson Foundation trainer

Posted on June 25, 2009

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Just back from a Thomson Foundation ‘Training the Trainers’ day at the Oriental Club, an old-school gentleman’s club in London.

It was a jam-packed session enabling practicing journalists to learn the skills they need to share their skills with others in the industry.

We were introduced to the tricks and techniques that help people to remember what they’ve understood and to make sure that they way that we train stimulates learning.

The key to all of this is to change the trainees’ behaviour. It’s all well and good putting on an entertaining show but if people who’ve attended your course go back to their working environment and cut put into practice or worse can’t remember what you’ve talk then it’s you the trainer, not them who’s failed.

After a few hours of introduction and learning we were put to the test, split up into groups of tv, print, radio and online people. Needless to say I was the only online person and found myself with the unenviable prospect of being in a group of one!

Many of the others had the advantage of not only having decades of experience in the trade but also having been on training courses and some had even been trainers before.

Well where the hell could I start on that one? Literally everything I know about the world of online I’ve taught myself. It’s not even like I had a distant memory of a course that I could repurpose.

Do you start with SEO, podcasting, online video? Seriously I was on the edge of an anxiety attack as I sat there pondering what the hell I could tell this assembled panel of legendary journalists including the likes of Robin Oakley who on average had more experience in the trade that I did on planet  earth.

In the end I decided to hone in on the basics. The likelihood is that most journalists won’t have entered the train to work online and while buzz words like social media are flying around the newsroom, it may not necessarily obvious how or why they can you such tools to their advantage in the world of work.

So the learning objective of my course was to teach journalists how to use social media to create a conversation with their audience. Ultimately I think that’s where the real value in stuff like twitter, flickr, social networking sites and blogs lies.

It was a really useful experience, but to be honest I’m still shaking from nerves two hours on. Not a bad experience, less than 24-hours after learning that I’ll be jobless.

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Posted in: media