LIBRARY and INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
Statement of Capability
Mission
Background
Sabre's Expertise
Types of Training Offered
Site Visits
Professional Meetings
Methodology
Follow-On Mechanisms
Examples of Training Workshops
Examples of Work in Particular Regions
The Benefits of Sabre
Contact
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Statement of Training Capability

Mission

Sabre Foundation's Information Technology Workshops program trains participants in the use of Internet-based tools to increase their ability to access and disseminate information. As a flexible, entrepreneurial organization, Sabre is able to customize its services, taking into account a trainee's individual background and professional needs while mindful of home-country Internet connectivity infrastructure and related issues. Sabre's IT Workshops teach participants how to maximize tools already available in their home country and expose trainees to more advanced technologies likely to be accessible to them in the near future. Carefully selected site visits and professional meetings give trainees opportunities to see the application of information technology in a democratic and market-based society.

Sabre Foundation is committed to the use of Information Technology to promote the free movement of ideas -- as a spur to economic and scientific development and as an enduring basis for democratic government. IT contributes to development by providing individuals with tools for advocacy, collaboration, communication, education, and research. Sabre's Workshops enable trainees to take advantage of electronic tools best suited for each endeavor.

Background

Sabre Foundation, Inc., was founded in 1969 with the goal of working to build free institutions and to examine the ideals that sustain them. Since 1986, Sabre has been operating an international book donation program which has made millions of dollars' worth of donated new books and other educational materials available to needy individuals in more than 50 countries through non-governmental partner organizations, libraries, universities, schools, research organizations and other similar institutions.

The training workshops build on Sabre's efforts to make individuals from newly democratic countries aware of the variety of information sources available to them. As ever-increasing amounts and types of information are available in electronic formats, it is important that trainees be aware of the available resources and able to evaluate the sources and content.

Since inaugurating the IT Workshops, participants from the following countries of CEE and the NIS have expressed interest in the training program: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine. (In addition, Sabre has received requests from Africa, South America, and Asia.) The individuals and organizations that have requested training information represent a great diversity of interests, including the environment, medicine, human rights, women's issues and legal studies.

Sabre's Expertise

Sabre's trainers teach participants various ways of using Internet-related tools, including email and electronic information sources such as CD-ROMs, to increase their capacity to access information.

The Workshops training team specializes in designing training plans that reflect the needs of the trainees. Sabre's in-depth knowledge of information resources allows the team to assess each trainee's skills and suggest the Internet-related skills training that will prove most advantageous. The trainers draw upon information provided by Sabre's network of overseas partners to understand the issues most pertinent to overseas visitors, including specific infrastructure issues in each country and region.

Sabre's full-time staff includes a trainer who also holds a Master's degree in Library Science. By keeping abreast of technological changes and industry trends in the information sciences, the Librarian/Trainer ensures that the Workshops reflect timely and accurate information resources. As needed, specialized training consultants are drawn from the larger New England educational community.

The training team also includes a Marketing and Training Coordinator who works with the Librarian/Trainer to ensure that participants' needs are met both before they arrive and during their stay. The team evaluates each trainee's skill level and adapts training modules to help trainees reach their goals. The flexible nature of the Workshop modules allows the trainers to accommodate various learning styles, and likewise increase (or decrease) the pace of training.

Types of Training Offered

Sabre offers hands-on customized computer-based training at its facility in Cambridge, MA, and at other locations as funding permits. Workshop training is relevant for professionals of different skill levels. Sabre's experienced trainers use modules designed in-house as the basis for the customized Workshops, which are finalized upon consultations with the trainees. During the design of the training Workshops, the trainer takes into account the level of technology and infrastructure available to the trainee in his/her home country. As a result, the trainee is able to apply new skills directly upon returning home and is also prepared to incorporate technological advances as they become available.

Sabre is able to provide training to professionals with diverse backgrounds and interests due to the nature of the training tools; that is, Internet tools are neither discipline- nor subject-specific. The Workshops focus on using the Internet as a tool for acquiring knowledge, disseminating information, communicating with colleagues globally, and building relationships through knowledge sharing.

The Workshops become applicable for individual trainees when trainers customize the materials to address specific professional areas of interest, e.g. "Information Technology for Librarians." The Examples of Training Workshops section which follows describes additional specialty Workshops. The trainers discuss technology opportunities and obstacles with trainees, including software and hardware availability and Internet access choices. As trainees develop their action plans, the trainers guide them to resources that aid them in making technology decisions.

Site Visits

Sabre draws upon its network of local professionals in NGOs, libraries, commercial businesses, technical institutions and universities to arrange site visits which complement the classroom training. In the course of visiting with organizations and institutions in the Boston area, participants gain an appreciation for the variety of ways in which information technology is incorporated into the daily activities of small and large American organizations. Site visits allow trainees to compare the physical infrastructure which supports the activities of NGOs and for-profit organizations. By comparing and contrasting the methods that American organizations use to assess their needs and accordingly integrate information technology into their activities, participants are able to conceptualize uses of technology in their home environments.

Professional Meetings

In addition to visits to other organizations and institutions, trainees have ample opportunities to meet with American professionals who share their interests. Prior to each meeting, Sabre's Librarian/Trainer and Coordinator provide trainees with materials about the organization, and in most cases, a Sabre staff person accompanies the trainee to the meeting.

Methodology

The Workshops are designed to accommodate between one and eight individuals in Sabre's training lab. For groups larger than eight Sabre uses other facilities in the Boston area.

The Trainer(s) typically uses a variety of teaching methods including demonstrations, small group work and individual projects. All training Workshops are hands-on and computer-based, which ensures that trainees practice the concepts introduced by the trainer. As demonstrations take place using a large-screen display, trainees are given written handouts that describe the topics. The trainer encourages questions throughout the Workshops and assigns practice activities in order to ensure that each trainee has grasped new concepts. Practice time includes both individual and group activities. For example, as trainees learn about the differences among web search engines, trainees are asked to locate specified information on two or more engines without using a URL (i.e. web address). Through this process, trainees learn that different search engines understand the user's commands differently, etc. After completing the exercises, the group discusses the practical implications for each trainee.

The trainer encourages group discussions so that trainees might learn from the experiences of peers. Through open discussion, the trainer is able to address issues of particular concern to foreign visitors. For example, high Internet-access rates in some countries prohibit "Web surfing." Sabre's trainer takes trainees through the process of acquiring web-based information by using email, which does not require full Internet access.

Follow-On Mechanisms

In the course of the Workshops, Sabre's trainer works with trainees to design an action plan to be implemented upon return. The plan builds upon the training conducted in the U.S., and is relevant to the trainee's organizational goals and level of technology in the home country. Action plans might include using Internet-related technologies to organize a conference among local NGOs, developing an online journal, creating and maintaining a website, and starting a local public Internet training center.

One of the most cost effective and quickest ways of building on the momentum created by exchange programs is by using Internet-related tools to maintain contact with other professionals. In the weeks following the Workshops in the U.S., Sabre's trainer remains in contact with trainees by email, and monitors the successes and obstacles which trainees experience as they implement their action plans.

In addition, Sabre's book program is often able to contribute large quantities of technical and other books to the trainee's organization. In this way, trainees can continue self-directed study with the materials and/or share the books, journals, CD-ROMs, etc. with other qualified organizations and individuals.

Examples of Training Workshops

Sabre has conducted customized training sessions for trainees from China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Kenya, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine, with participants representing a variety of professional areas. Each benefited by experiencing first hand the integration of the Internet in all spheres of a democratic and market-oriented society and the impact of public access to information.

Field: Library Science/Information Management
Workshop Title: Accessing Internet-based Resources and Commercial Databases for Law and Medical Librarians (Croatia)
Brief Description: (10 training days) Focus on specialized electronic information resources available to librarians. Workshops included evaluation techniques for Internet-based information and Internet Newsgroups and Discussion lists. Trainees learned how to evaluate and access electronic databases, both cost-free and member-only access. Site visits and professional meetings took place at several medical and law libraries and a New England library consortium group:

  • Countway Medical Library, Harvard University
  • MIT Science Libraries
  • Treadwell Library, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Harvard Law Library
  • Boston University Law Library
  • NELINET (network of New England Libraries)

Fields: Public Administration-Policy; Democratization
Workshop Title: Public Information Dissemination, Issues and Options (Romania)
Brief Description: (4 training days) Focus on information dissemination by a government body, and related public access issues. The trainee received training in Internet searching techniques, publishing on the Internet, HTML (language used to write web pages), website design issues, and electronic document delivery. Professional meetings included:

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Citizen Information Service, where the state's web page is maintained and designed.
  • Information Technology Division, Governor's Office of Massachusetts.

Field: Training of Trainers
Workshop Title: Training of Internet Trainers (Ukraine)
Brief Description: (4 week Workshop) Focus on the techniques for training non-specialists to use Internet based technologies. Participants honed their Internet skills in basic to more advanced Internet-related areas, designed a curriculum for a beginner audience, and practiced their training skills by delivering presentations to a beginner level audience. Internet skills training was supplemented with courses in adult learning theory, curriculum design, and needs assessment techniques. Site visits included local university training facilities and commercial (for profit) computer training centers:

  • Boston University
  • Bentley College
  • MIT, Academic Computing Services
  • Computer Learning Center
  • East-West Foundation (Computer recycling non-profit organization)
  • Software Tool and Die (Internet Service Provider, ISP)

Field: Education; Social Sciences
Workshop Title: Internet as a Research Tool (Kenya, Ukraine, China, Croatia)
Brief Description: (1-10 training days) Focus on the variety of Internet-based resources that can be used to expand the scope of one's research in academic and professional fields. Training has been conducted for students and professionals engaged in the study of literature, art history, intellectual property law, medicine, and library sciences. Evaluating Internet content, accessing Internet-based and commercial databases, and exploring a variety of web search engines were among the topics covered. Site visits for the Intellectual Property Law Workshop included:

  • Copyright Clearance Center
  • Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University
  • Kennedy School of Government at Harvard

Fields: Computers-MIS/IT; Technology
Workshop Title: Role of the Internet in a University System (Ukraine)
Brief Description: (3 training days) Focus on distance learning resources and communication aids for a university. The participant represented the Automation Department of a large Ukrainian university; skill development therefore concentrated on advanced topics such as advanced HTML, Internet Relay Chat and video conferencing. Site visits and professional meetings complemented Sabre's training in distance education:

  • Bunker Hill Community College's Center for Self-Directed Learning
  • Mediated Distance Learning Department

Field: NGO/NON-PROFITS: Development; Fundraising; Management
Workshop Title: Using Technology to Increase NGO Sustainability (Poland)
Brief Description: (2 week Workshop) Focus on the role of the Internet in a non-profit umbrella organization. The participant discussed website design issues with the trainer and with Boston-area NGO representatives. Topics included HTML, website creation and maintenance, and marketing a website. Related training focused on using the web to research fundraising possibilities, using Newsgroups and Discussion Lists to advertise collaborative opportunities, and developing an online guestbook. Several professional meetings took place with Boston and Cambridge non-profits, both large and small:

  • Action for Boston Community Development, Inc.
  • Hauser Center of Harvard University
  • Volunteer Solutions of Boston
  • Cambridge Youth Soccer Association

Examples of Work in Particular Regions

In Ukraine, through the USAID-supported Rule of Law program, Sabre conducted a series of training sessions for legal professionals on finding law-related materials on the Internet, and procured and shipped to the Ukrainian Legal Foundation library nearly 4,000 volumes dealing with virtually every major area of American law.

Sabre has also assisted in the development of Internet training centers at the University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy and Lviv State Polytechnic University. As part of a Eurasia Foundation grant in 1997, a Sabre consultant went to the Lviv Polytechnic University in Ukraine to assist trainees in the development of training documentation. Sabre staff also assisted project participants in Ukraine in producing a Ukrainian-language Internet handbook.

The Benefits of Sabre

The Training team works together to ensure that trainees' all-around needs are met. This includes transportation from the local airport to the accommodation, and helping trainees and/or their sponsor obtain accommodations in the Boston and Cambridge areas. In addition, Sabre staff can assist trainees in planning an itinerary for their stay that includes some of the area's cultural attractions. The wealth of resources in the Boston area includes world-renowned universities, museums, sporting facilities, historical sights and outdoor recreation.

While training at Sabre, trainees have access to email. As necessary, Sabre can arrange for interpreters. The training facility accommodates individuals and groups of up to eight people. A large screen display allows the trainees to easily follow demonstrations and interact with the trainer. To adhere to the customized nature of the Workshops, groups are kept intentionally small. Interaction between the trainer and trainees and among the trainees is important to facilitate the learning process, which includes both formal demonstrations and informal discussions.

Sabre Contact Information

Training requests should be addressed to Ms. Kimberly Bartlett. Email: kim@sabre.org.
Phone: (617) 868-3510;
Fax: (617) 868-7916.
Address: 872 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 2-1, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.