We have started our summer tech training workshops, classes that the IT staff and our media arts instructor teach on topics that our employees select. These require a lot of time and preparation from our staff, but our employees highly value the opportunity to learn. Our offerings this year include workshops on desktop publishing, Excel, iPhoto, Picasa, Mac OSX and Windows XP Pro. I am pleased that operating systems were a popular choice this year, given how overall proficiency with basic features is pretty low. I blame the software companies for annually rolling out new eye candy that help them market the products while underemphasizing fundamentals that help people work better. I wish that more people wanted to work on web technologies in the classroom, but we will have more opportunities to work on that once the school year begins.
One challenge is the wide range of skill levels present in each class. Each teacher handles this challenge in her own way. I make the workshop highly project based and let the curriculum emerge from student interests and questions. This does leave me scampering around the room a lot answering questions and solving problems, but it keeps everyone working all the time at their level. This disappoints some students who come to the class expecting a lot of direct instruction, but most participants leave happy. I will teach the MacOS and iPhoto workshops. Do send any killer activity ideas that you have organized or encountered.