Designing Twitter training for the terrified – the basics of Twitter for professional development

Get Tweeting - Twitter training for professional development

Get Tweeting – Twitter training for professional development

I’ve been running Twitter workshops for a year now, and it’s become a standard part of our library training offer. Over the past year, I’ve had time to refine and experiment with the training, and I’ve learned a lot.

I wouldn’t call myself a social media expert, but I’ve been on Twitter a long time (since 2008), and most importantly I was the only one of the library staff on it!

It’s not a traditional library training course, but since using Twitter for professional development and networking involves finding and sharing information, it seemed like a logical extension for us. We’d just set up our own profile too, so we had to preach what we practiced! We hoped these workshops would reach people who may not normally use the library, and we were excited to see the bookings for the first dates come in thick and fast.

The 1.5 hour training is aimed at novice level and covers the basic features of Twitter, setting up a profile, and how to ‘tweet well’. The workshops are an opportunity to find out about Twitter and how it works in a ‘safe’ space. Many people come with the express purpose to keep up with new technologies and their younger patients (or their kids).

I usually have about 10 minutes wiggle-room – either for continued exploration on Twitter, or for discussion around privacy, more advanced features, recommended accounts, etc. A month after the training I send a feedback form via surveymonkey. The reason I wait so long, is to ask an important indicator of the training’s success – have you used Twitter since?

The workshops have been a great way to raise awareness of the library service and get into people’s ‘peripheral vision’.  I’ve helped the school nursing team get their service onto social media, I’ve presented at team meetings, and I’ve brought non-library-users into the library for training.

Some challenges

Initially the training was monthly, but I found we got short notice cancellations and occasional no-shows (which is fine but obviously not ideal). So I’ve recently switched to trialing every other month, but I’ve now got waiting lists. This is something I’ll be evaluating to attempt the best balance.

A huge worry is the public nature of Twitter, and the difficulties of professional boundaries with service-users. Unless your profile is set to private, anyone can follow you on Twitter, which is a difficulty for those healthcare professionals using it. It has come up a lot in discussions in my workshops, so if you’re thinking of running some it’s worth brushing up on these issues and having some discussion points prepared.

Overall, the training has been a great success!

CILIP: Framework of Qualifications

On 19th May, I attended, along with some of the trainees, an informative session on CILIP Qualifications, including chartership and certification, run by Michael Martin from CILIP.

Michael began by explaining the difference between the two levels he would be talking about. Certification is for library assistants who have been in the profession some time, whereas chartership is for qualified librarians. Both are essentially different levels of membership to CILIP.

The first steps to either qualification is membership to CILIP, after which you register as a candidate, which costs £25 for certification or £50 for chartership. You then choose a mentor from a list provided by CILIP, and together you design a personal professional development plan (PPDP). The basis of the CILIP qualifications is building a portfolio.  This allows you to demonstrate your learning, and how you have applied valuable knowledge and skills in your workplace. For a chartership application, it would include:

  • Contents page
  • CV (longer than for a job application)
  • PPDP
  • Personal evaluative statement (1000 words)
  • aims & objectives of your organisation
  • structure charts (where you are in your organisation)
  • evidence of participation in the mentor scheme

It is similar for certification, but follows a different template, including a supporting letter.

Michael also listed the criteria that the applications must meet. The criteria for chartership are:

  • to be able to reflect critically on personal performance and evaluate service performance
  • an active commitment to continuing professional development
  • to be able to analyse personal and professional development with reference to experiential and developmental activities
  • a breadth of professional knowledge and understanding of the wider professional context

For certification, the criteria are similar:

  • the ability to evaluate personal and service performance
  • to show how your personal, technical and professional skills have developed through training and development activities
  • an appreciation of the role and contribution of libraries and information services in the wider community

Michael then gave advice to those wanting to pursue a CILIP qualification: keep everything! Using a diary, a blog, or whatever suits you, try to keep a record of your evidence to support the criteria. He also advised completing a skills audit.

After the session, an attendee from Staff Development emailed round information about how they can support staff wishing to gain certification, chartership or fellowship from CILIP. Staff can apply to get funding for their submission fee, though not membership fees. They can also provide your training record which lists the courses you have attended, and the Staff Library has copies of ‘Building Your Portfolio’ by Margaret Watson, a book recommended by Michael during the questions and answers time.

It was an interesting session, as I didn’t know what chartership involved, and the other options for library assistants who maybe don’t want to go down the Library School route.