Sabre's Workshops teach skills that are useful for trainees in their home countries. By consulting with trainees in the weeks prior to the Workshops, the trainer is able to assess current skill level and customize the training materials based on that level and the goals of each trainee. Click here for a representative list of subjects and skills. Here we describe some of the most popular topics requested by trainees.
Constructing a Website
You and the trainer work together to determine who are the primary audiences, what are their needs, and what are your goals regarding those audiences. Working through those start-up questions helps you to address the more specific website creation issues including: designing a site appropriate for a variety of web search engines; registering your site with browsers; layout and design of your text, background, pictures and other graphics; using HTML-the language used to publish webpages; and creating a guestbook to keep track of visitors. Since Internet access and use is increasing every day, websites can be the most pervasive outreach tool for many types of organizations and individuals including libraries, NGOs, corporations, teachers, and students. Since webpages are increasingly used as marketing tools, you will learn to consider marketing principles when creating sites.
Evaluating Information on the Internet
Sabre's trainer teaches you to question Internet sources critically, gives you techniques for verifying what you read, and trains you in the distinctive research methods appropriate to web search engines, databases, and library resources. Since individuals across disciplines rely on the Internet to keep abreast of news, trends, events and announcements, it is crucial to know the value of the information. Armed with good evaluative skills, you will make more effective use of your research time.
Networking with Colleagues
In order to identify appropriate contacts and prospective partners using Internet-based resources, Sabre's trainer takes you through the process of finding and subscribing to relevant electronic discussion lists as well as the pros and cons of starting and maintaining such lists. You will also compare Usenet Newsgroups and chat rooms, and determine if either are applicable for your organization.
When you use tested research methodology (and evaluation tools) your research can yield useable results while economizing your time. Research is about finding the "right" information in a minimal amount of time. Workshops include tips for identifying the source of the information and instructions for citing your findings. Hands-on research practice activities include locating a foundation's grant submission procedures and searching library archives for a paper published in a journal several years ago.
Conducting Needs Assessments
Sabre draws upon its experiences in conducting needs assessments for overseas institutions to impart helpful techniques to trainees. What are the important questions to consider as you evaluate your technology needs-organizational size, budget, staff skills? The decisions of one organization may not be right for another, due to different clients, different tasks, and different plans for expansion or restructuring.
Working through the assessment process requires an understanding of technological trends in your country, costs associated with technology, your organization's vision for integrating technology into your activities, and a sense of the obstacles and potential problems. Discussions and site visits cover areas such as: hardware and software choices; Internet Service Providers (ISPs); Intranets; maintenance; and the allocation of limited resources.
In addition to building the skills of trainees, Sabre's Workshops help trainees apply the skills directly to their activities, as in the examples below. Customized materials serve as useful references for self-directed study following the Workshops, and [site visits] are chosen to complement the classroom lessons and stimulate further thought.
Relevant training issues for researchers include how to use different search engines, be a good evaluator of what you find, and reference Internet-based information. While some databases are for subscribers only, Sabre's trainer guides you to the ones that are freely accessible, and presents the differences among them.
The Workshops explore techniques for finding other people and published work in your field. If you choose to share your research with others, it is important to understand the issues surrounding on-line publishing. The Workshops answer questions such as: "How do I copyright my on-line work to ensure that no one claims it for their own?" and "How do I cite web-based information that doesn't have an author named?"
Sabre's "Train the Internet Trainer" Workshops build both Internet skills and teaching techniques. By designing curricula for your audience at home and practicing delivering lessons at Sabre, you will cultivate a teaching methodology, refine your materials and skills, and learn how to use instructional equipment to meet specific objectives.
In order to communicate effectively, a trainer must not only be knowledgeable in the subject matter, but also possess an awareness of the needs and abilities of adult learners. Participants gain in-depth knowledge of basic to advanced Internet skills, and learn how to stay up-to-date on evolving training techniques.
In October 1998, Boston became the first large urban school district in the U.S. to network every school and library. An important part of the Workshops includes visits to area schools to meet with teachers and administrators who understand the role of the Internet in schools and enjoy sharing their experiences with others.
You learn how to use the Internet to sign up for free email, communicate with students and teachers around the world, and post your syllabus for the semester on your own webpage. You will be in a position to teach your students to be similarly creative. Sabre's Workshops also address ways to keep pace with technological changes, and to make the most of limited institutional resources.
Sabre's Workshops help librarians to serve their clientele. Training topics include: accessing on-line databases; evaluating the quality of information on the Internet; and using File Transfer Protocol to download software. For the administrative aspects of librarianship, Sabre's trainer introduces the basic techniques of evaluating your library's technology needs, creating and maintaining a website for your library, training your staff, and determining the best internal means of communication.
Librarians who have participated in Sabre's Workshops have enhanced their training experience by visiting area libraries including Harvard University Law School library, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government library, Massachusetts General Hospital Treadwell Library, Tufts University Health Sciences library, and several of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's science libraries.
The Third Sector...NGOs
The skills learned through Workshops are applicable both for NGOs starting out and for those that want to expand their use of technology. Sabre's own experiences as an NGO have enabled it to design Workshops that are sensitive to the technological and financial challenges that NGOs face. Topics and discussions include: applying marketing concepts to attract "business" online; creating a website; communicating with clients using electronic discussion lists and other interactive tools; and putting your publications into an electronic format. Sabre also conducts briefings on issues especially relevant for NGOs, such as the legal procedures involved in becoming a 501(c)(3)-equivalent organization.
Whatever their area of activity, NGOs share the need to advocate on behalf of their causes and constituents. Using the Internet will help NGOs stay aware of their competition and act effectively by reaching out to a wider audience. Nonprofit organizations depend on Internet-related technologies to research, network, fundraise, advocate, and publish, and this is only a partial listing of the many ways that creative NGOs have made use of the Internet. Here are brief descriptions of the ways that interest groups use information technology:
Communicate with field offices using an Intranet, and use the World Wide Web to inform constituents of recent research.
Disseminate your findings, news reports, and personal stories to appropriate newsgroups and electronic discussion lists.
Inform voters of candidate positions and voting dates by electronic bulletin board. Set up an interactive webpage to engage voters in the election processes.
NGO Resource Center
Evaluate another organization's technology needs based on their scope of work, size, and budget.