Flashcards for training

| September 26, 2013

Earlier this year we implemented a new staff-side training tool at the Gottesman Libraries: flashcards. That doesn’t sound progressive (it’s rote learning!), but we’re using a very cool tool developed by Teachers College alum Andrew Cohen: Brainscape.

Our library has a public knowledge base (FAQs), and a staff knowledge base that is more extensive, but with the variety of services we offer, it’s difficult to include nuances (even very important ones!) in these resources. So we use flashcards to extend and deepen staff knowledge of key services.

For example, the library hosts and supports the TC community blogging on Pressible, which is built on WordPress. There are a myriad of details that a library patron might want to know, especially if they are familiar with WordPress. Since our system includes many customizations, flashcards cover issues such as:

  • Q: “How do I get an image on my bio page?” A: Pressible uses Gravatar.com — a tool built and run by the company that supports WordPress. If someone has a Gravatar, Pressible will use it automatically.
  • Q: “Can anyone sign up as an author on Pressible?” A: No, only individuals with TC or CU emails can sign up. However, site administrators can manually add anyone (with any email) as an author using the “Add User” menu.
  • Q: “Why is there a big empty gray bar across the top of my site?” A: This is automatically filled with links to posts when authors use Categories (displayed as Topics).

Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions has helped staff better understand our tools (we’ve confirmed this via various anonymous surveys). Anything that makes staff more confident in correctly answering questions is very helpful—more responsive staff means a better (more accurate and speedier) experience for our learning community.

We’ve already developed dozens of flashcards on a variety of topics to date, and our experience with Brainscape has given us the confidence to continue to develop flashcards as key staff training tools.