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Client training on-line

The Library has just launched a set of new and updated Online InfoSessions, that is short, interactive, audiovisual, thematic online tutorials. They aim to teach our clients how to use our resources for their research, which source is best used for what type of information. They are part of a long running project on e-learning that we feel our clients would appreciate.

Although very keen and willing to answer individual enquiries we have always tried to help our clients become self-sufficient in finding good quality information. We provide training sessions on our premises (InfoSessions) that show the use of different sources directly on the screen and provide some tips and tricks how to search more efficiently. We also developed “advanced InfoSessions” in research strategies and searching for specific types of information (e.g. EU sources, country information or news) and on specific policy areas. We also started inviting guest trainers from some organisations to provide more advanced training (e.g. Eurostat, Westlaw, IHS Jane’s). Altogether the Library is providing more than 35 different InfoSessions on a regular basis.

This is all very nice and could be seen as a success story, if it wasn’t for the continuing issue with participation at these training sessions. The European Parliament is a very busy place with rather hectic business, numerous events and activities going on at any given moment. So it is quite difficult for many clients to find the time to come to the Library and stay for at least an hour. Often (especially for Assistants) it is just not possible to leave the office unmanned. Or for some it is just too much of an inconvenience to get to the Library.

That’s how the thought came to prepare some online training sessions that could be watched from the office, at any time, in short modules. Although this seems rather simple, the examples we found on the internet had one common problem: they were quite boring. This is why we decided to make something that is audiovisual, interactive, short and informative: the Online InfoSession.

On the basis of the policy related InfoSessions we started developing the new product in 2010, first in the area of Economic and Monetary Affairs, then Employment and Social Affairs and Environment. For production we used Camtasia as the software to record information search methods demonstrated at the different sources on our computer screens. This video recording was synchronised with the voice recorded previously by our English native speaker colleagues. Highlights, zooms and links were added to the film that was then saved in flash format. The separate modules were then merged in an html frame for easier use. As the production of these 30-35 minute sessions is very work intensive, the next round was only produced after two years, on: Library services and sources, Legal Affairs, Third country information and Energy.

The task of keeping these sessions up to date turned out to be a much larger task than expected as websites tend to change very often. For this reason the Library is now looking into possible new ways to provide online training to our clients.

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