Proactive Software Training

Session 1 – The Trainer


(90 seconds each, otherwise, all you will learn in these two days is a list of what everyone hopes to learn)

  • Name
  • Title
  • Location
  • What I hope to learn in these two days

Why is a title important?


Some areas don't even have a title for language software consultant/trainer, and no open spots on the needs list.Is the Consultant/Trainer title recognized in your area?Are their open positions for such people?


The people in your entity will know who to go to for help. (You're not trying to hide, are you? Image


If training is important, we need to make sure it happens. That means putting someone in charge who will be accountable to make training happen.Unofficial, part time consultants are helpful, but have no accountability.


Although having a warm body is a good start, there are definite criteria we can use to determine someone's status and ability as a Language Software Consultant/Trainer

Africa Area’s growth plans

Language Software Consultant Growth Guide.docLanguage Software Consultant Growth Worksheet.doc

  • Evaluate yourself
  • Show to your supervisor
  • Plan to grow in your areas of weakness
  • Plan to mentor others in your areas of strength

Session 2 –Determining your consulting style

Take the free online test to determine your preferred role

(Sorry, no longer available)

Group exercise

  • Divide the class into the 4 major consultant types
  • As a group, discuss what you feel are the primary and secondary roles of the language software consultant.

Change Agents: (8,1) Thinker/Challenger & Catalyst/Developer

  1. Enabling people to make their own decisions and do their own work with the tools available to them
  2. Keep abreast of current software tools, technologies and practices in order to make relevant recommendations.

Partners: (2,3) Involver/Facilitator & Listener/Counselor

Practitioners: (4,5) Researcher/Analyst & Supporter/Developer

  1. Assess the needs and help the user to determine a match.
  2. Continue to assist the user by facilitating their training and continued support
  1. Empowering the users to do the task at hand
  2. Recommending the most appropriate tool/s that will do the task
    • Build relationships
    • Mentor them to mentor others
    • Keep current

Experts: (6,7) Instructor/Enforcer & Lecturer/Director

  1. Enable translation/linguistics work through effective use of software tools
  2. Introduce improvement to the work process with new software tools and practices

Presentation of group discussion

A. Change Agent

Perceived strengths & weaknesses in training others

B. Partner

Perceived strengths & weaknesses in training others

C. Practitioner

Perceived strengths & weaknesses in training others

D. Expert

Perceived strengths & weaknesses in training others

The relationship between language software and strategy

What are ways that strategy has influenced language software development?

What are ways that language software has influenced strategy?

Your sphere of influence

Who are the players?

How do they learn about technological advances that can have an impact on their strategy?

You've heard of a lot of new innovations here at CTC. It is your job to bring these back to the field and interface with the strategy makers in your entity.

You are the Technology Consultant.

Promoting appropriate technology on the field

Session 3 –How to align training with strategy

Reactive training vs. Proactive training

Reactive Training

Training based on:

  • What users feel they need to learn

Those who shout loudest for help, eventually get it.

  • What uninformed administrators feel users need to learn

Training is planned based on the number of users who need help with a tool they are already trying to use.

  • An analysis of the current problems that users are experiencing


  • Solves immediate problems
  • Process focused
  • New software is difficult to introduce when it does not answer a felt need.

There may be strategic benefits to using a new piece of software, but if it doesn't solve known problems, it can be ignored.

  • May not achieve strategic results

Proactive Training

Training based on:

  • What informed strategy makers feel users need to learn.
  • An analysis of the tasks users must perform to achieve strategic goals
  • An analysis of the obstacles that prevent users from carrying out these tasks


  • May not solve immediate problems
  • Result focused
  • New software is introduced when it fills a strategic need.
  • Aligns itself with entity strategy

Discussion groups

  • Do you have personnel who can do language software training?
  • How is software training planned in your entity?
  • Who makes strategy decisions?
  • How integrated is software training with strategy? –or, to put it differently, has the software that is being used been chosen for strategic purposes?
  • What are some of your entities’ strategies for
    • Language learning
    • Word collection
    • Consultant checking
  • What technology are you aware of or have recently heard about that could impact strategy planning in your entity.

Software that influences strategy (main group discussion)

  • Adapt-It, Our Word
  • WeSay
  • FieldWorks (DDP)
  • Phonology Assistant
  • Mercurial, Chorus
  • Your suggestions

Who are we aiming to influence?

The End Users: Strategic planning Sessions

“Language Technology” is one of the language program service groups.

If your entity does not operate in this way, you need to explain to the leadership why this is necessary to achieve their strategic goals.

Interact with teams during the planning process

  • Discover the state of their equipment.
  • Suggest software and hardware upgrades that will help them achieve their goals
  • Discover what training needs they have in order to meet those goals
  • Discover what tasks the teams need to accomplish and recommend the appropriate softwares

The Leaders

  • Language Program Managers
  • Directors
  • Domain Consultants

How do we influence leaders to bring about change?

  • Share new ideas with the domain consultants in a non-threatening way.
  • Have debriefing time or open forum with entity members after CTC
  • Train the domain consultants in your entity. They have a lot of influence.
  • Invite the consultants to attend courses as a resource person. Helps to keep the task oriented focus.
  • Invite people who don't feel they need to be trained to act as teaching assistants. Then they end up learning the new tools without having to admit it.
  • Get invited to a task-focused domain workshop. You help with the tools, but the focus is on the task.
  • Provide modular tools that simplify the task of communicating with leaders (Powerpoints, white papers, etc.)


Write a report to the strategy makers in your entity, explaining what you learned at CTC and how it can advance the strategic goals of your entity.

Session 4 –Treating technology as a tool

Building a better birdhouse

Hammer or nailgun?

Being proactive about hardware

What is the single most mission critical piece of equipment for your language projects?

Introducing the x-year replacement cycle.

  • Big Corporations: 2-year cycle
  • The Seed Company: 3-year cycle
  • Less aggressive: 4-year cycle
  • Danger: no cycle

But there’s no money!

Used equipment.

Problem: You just purchased it from a company, who, for the sake of maximizing their productivity, decided it was too risky to continue supporting this old hardware.Problem: 2 of its 4 years are already expended.

Computers are tangible gifts.

Our supporters have responded quickly to purchasing computers for national translators.

It often comes down to budgeting.

Ye have not because ye ask not.

Being proactive about software upgrades.

The Status Quo - If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

We already know that this logic does not apply to Windows updates and antivirus software.But there is some truth. If the upgrade is not straight forward and has risks, then it should only be applied in the event that its fixes will resolve a problem the user is likely to encounter.

The rationale for early upgrades.

Reduce support headaches for developers

Standardize for support and training.

The case of Paratext

  • Paratext 5. Backup was not at all intuitive and didn't get done
  • Paratext 6.0 & Service Packs
  • Paratext 6.1 - Who is not using? Old bugs still being reported…

The case of Keyman

6.0 had a number of bugs and they were continually being fixed.Either you wait for known bugs to be encountered and deal with them on a case-by-case basis, or you upgrade across the board.

Same for Lexique Pro, Adapt-It, and others.

The danger of alpha and beta upgrades

Beta versions may work flawlessly, but they often will create problems when upgrading to the release version. Usually, the program must be completely uninstalled before upgrading to the final release.

Extending existing tools: localization

Localization is the responsibility of the Areas

Localization paths for various software

If you want to see it in other languages, you need to offer to help. This is always the best way to get the ball rolling.

Obstacles to effective deployment and how to overcome them.

  • Old hardware
  • The way it's always been done
  • Fear of new technology
  • Misinformation
    • Rumors and half-truths
    • Examples: USFM 2.0 doesn’t exist
    • Paratext 6 doesn’t work with legacy fonts

Day 2

Session 5 – Elements of an effective training program

Change Agent

Software training is not like other academic disciplines. Rarely will you be able to teach the same course two years in a row. As software is constantly changing, someone needs to play the role of the change agent, to introduce these changes in a positive light.Often, the enthusiasm of another is sometimes the only thing that helps people overcome the hurdle of the strangeness of the new tool.If you have someone like this who is an incurable optimist, the best medicine is to put him or her in the situation of having to support their recommendations.


These are people who are comfortable in front of a group and can demonstrate how to use the software according to the training materials he or she is provided with.The bar for a trainer is set relatively low. The trainer does not need to be the expert in the software, but needs to know how to teach the training guide and where to go to find help.


These are the people who support the trainers. It can be the same person as the trainer, but not necessarily. Need someone who can handle the tech support that arises during training sessions.

Teaching assistants

A rule of thumb is to have one TA or trainer for every 4-5 students.What you are looking for is an experienced user who is able to help others to stay on track. You will rarely, if ever, find enough available people to take on this role, and the first workshops I taught, I went solo-with up to 20 students. If you are in a situation like this, it is critical to insist that the advanced students pitch in and help the slower students. You will be fortunate to have a few advanced students in every class and the exercise builds community


A good consultant/trainer is always mentoring someone else.


What experiences have you had with student/ teacher ratios? What worked well? What didn’t work so well?

Session 6 –Planning the training event

Task-oriented training.

In planning with entity leadership, determine what tasks the teams should do well. These tasks, then, should be central to your planning.

Avoid being software centric.

Negative Examples:

  • Learning Lexique Pro
  • Paratext for Beginners
  • Paratext Advanced Features

Training should not normally follow the menu structure

Be task centric

Draw attention to the tasks you want users to perform. The software is only a tool to facilitate those tasks.


  • Dictionary Publishing with Lexique Pro
  • Dictionary Development Process (Prerequisite: Computer capable of running FieldWorks)

Establish prerequisites

Users must know how to use a mouse, must know basic file management principles, and must be able to navigate the Windows interface to launch and switch between programs.However, establishing prerequisites assumes that you have a way to provide this training. It may be best to focus on the tools that only we specialize in and to outsource the basic computer skills training.

Workshop frequency


  • Software will change significantly in two years, and will require periodic learning of new and updated techniques.

Rule of thumb

  • Translation tools, two-week course to be recycled every two years
  • Lexical tools workshop, two-week course to be recycled every two years.

Train in stages

Just-in-time training is the most effective

If a user is not going to be using advanced features of the software in the next year (even in the next 3 months), then any training received would be largely a waste of time.

Break courses into smaller units according to skill-level and task

Rather than leading a two-week course, break it into two one-week courses, with increasing levels. Two shorter courses that are matched to the individual's skills are better than one long course that teaches everything.Week one, How to make a draft translation inWeek two, How to revise and check your translation

Avoid common training mistakes

Don’t put people of varying levels in the same course.

Assess the training goals and divide a course into smaller, progressive segments. That way, users can decide which parts of the course they want to attend. You don't waste their time while explaining simple tasks when they are only interested in more advanced tasks.

Don’t cover more than they can handle

Better by far to teach a single program thoroughly, than to teach several programs poorly.

Don’t do menu-based instruction

Your goal is to demonstrate the software as a tool to accomplish a task. The user must organize his/her knowledge of the software around tasks to be accomplished, rather than around the menu structure, which may have no rhyme nor reason.

Don’t forget to specify prerequisites.

A complete computer novice will substantially slow down the course, causing frustration for the novice, the trainer, and the rest of the class.

Don’t fail to supply printed or electronic documentation

Unconfident users will try to write down every step that you tell them. Beat them to it and supply all of the steps in advance. Then they can give their full attention to the course.

Don't fail to provide concrete exercises with sample data

Don't forget to specify hardware/software requirements in advance

Training Tips

Ask: What are the skills without which these people will fail in their task? Have students ask the person on their left and right before asking the teacher. Hold the advanced course before the basic course, so that you can 'beg' for TAs for the basic course during the advanced course. If you will be passing files around via flash drive, consider using an SD card instead, one with a lock (a read-only switch). Also, you can block autorun viruses by creating a non-deletable folder named autorun.inf. See: http://extratopics.com/security/prevent-viruses-from-deleting-the-autoruninf-folder-created-on-your-usb-flash-drive.html

Session 7 –Creating the training plan

The Course

See the following presentation on the steps below for creating a training plan: link

Define the purpose of the training and the target audience

The first step to designing training is to become clear about what your training needs to accomplish. For some training your purpose and audience will be clear determined by funding or professional development needs. Or you may need to sort through and prioritize a spectrum of training needs before determining a focus.Once you have a clear sense of the training purpose and target audience, write it down! Then use this description to promote your program to prospective participants.

Determine the participants’ needs

There are several ways to find out about needs and expectations of potential participants:

  • Have potential participants complete a brief, written survey to collect general information. Survey a random sample by phone to collect detailed information from a few people. Review evaluation and feedback forms from past events. You should collect the following participant information: current roles and responsibilities previous training on this topic reasons for attendance specific needs and expectations for the event Do this early enough so you can use the information to design your training.

Define training goals and objectives

After assessing the needs and expectations of participants, you are ready to define goals and objectives for the training. This provide criteria for:

  • clarifying expected outcomes outlining training content planning specific training activities selecting/developing materials designing evaluation procedures communicating program intent to the training participants and others (such as program administrators and supervisors) Making sure training is realistic and appropriate for intended purposesA training goal should be broad, spell out who will be affected and what will change as a result of the training.Sample Goal: To increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS among health educators in your cityObjectives are more precise, specifying a path for achieving the program goal(s). They should state as specifically as possible the after-training result that you are trying to achieve, including what will change, who will change, under what conditions, and to what extent. Sample Objective: By the end of the training, participants will be able to identify three ways that HIV is transmitted.Sample Objective: By the end of the training, participants will be able to list five ways to decrease the risk of becoming infected with HIV. When developing your objectives, ask yourself what you want participants to know, say, and be able to do after leaving the training, and/or what actions you’d like them to take.Then follow these steps, adapted from Jeary and Gerold’s Training Other People to Train: A Workshop on Training Adult Learners (1999):Remember to develop both overall objectives (for the entire training session) and separate objectives for each segment and/or day of the training workshop. Present the objectives to participants at the start of each segment and/or day. Having a clear direction helps to frame the segment and/or day.

Outline training content

A training outline is an outline of the course content, without necessarily going into all of the details.

These materials are often hard to come by. Many trainers have different styles of training and are not comfortable with someone else's materials or pace of teaching.Often, however, a teacher knows the material and does not feel the need to produce a training outline, or doesn't make the effort to make them public.

The outline should contain:

  1. List the ways you would like the training to benefit participants these are desired outcomes.
  2. Work these desired outcomes into written objectives, keep in mind that participants want practical, usable knowledge.
  3. Check your objectives from the perspective of participants. Will this objective meet their needs? Will it help you meet training goal(s)?
  4. Set training priorities. Rank objectives according to importance - you might not be able to cover everything in one training session.
  5. Topics, in order of presentation Breakdown of topics on a timeline to show the length and pace of the course. Exercises for independent work

Make your training outline available to others

Know where to look for others’ training outlines

Develop instructional activities (included in outline above)

Prepare the written training design

Prepare participant evaluation forms

Determine follow-up activities for the event

Student training manual

This should be the training content outline of the course, but with step-by-step instructions and screen-shots, if possible.Screenshot tools:

  • Gadwin Printscreen MW Snap

Planning your workshop

Basic planning information: 
Workshop Title: 
Target Audience: 
Programs used: 
Leaders to contact: 
Resource people to contact: 
Training materials exist? 

Session 8 –Technology and Class Interaction

Live documentation site (Dokuwiki)

  • All students have Internet access for the course The daily schedule is posted on this site and modified as necessary All example files and training exercises needed for the course are also uploaded.
  • This eliminates the need to pass around thumbdrives thereby eliminating a huge virus threat. Students are not frantically taking notes during the course because they know they can access the site if needed. Students are encouraged to correct the materials where necessary and further elaborate additional steps. An export mechanism is provided for students to download and print the documentation in open office or Word Advanced students have at their fingertips everything the trainer used during the course and can in turn use them to train others.

Post-course Interaction


students should have the trainer's e-mail address, as well as a general support address for the software.

Skype or phone

If feasible, the trainer's Skype ID or phone number.


the trainer should be set up as a Bomgar (network streaming) representative so that he or she can direct the students and solve problems by distance after the course.

Mailing list

you can create your own support group among the students in course and assistance by setting up a mailing list.

Know the latest software technology offerings

Know when they are ready for prime time

Mistake when training in Mali with buggy software.  

Contributors to this page: keyesk , dhigby and System Administrator .
Page last modified on Wednesday February 12, 2020 21:58:45 GMT-0000 by keyesk.


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