Guest post: My week on the ODI's Train the Trainer course

Open Data Challenge Series - Energy & environment creation weekend

Last month I set off for ODI HQ and the week-long Train the Trainer course.

Luckily I'd been warned what to expect of the schedule; don't make any other plans, I was told. Don't expect to have time to go out to dinner, or catch up with your friends, or go shopping, or take in any shows. It's going to be work, work, work all week, and then there will be homework as well.

That was all totally right; it was a hardworking week... but it was also an amazing experience. As well as the brain-stretching challenge of taking in all the models and theories of how people learn, I made new friends and picked up new information. Thanks to my course mates, I now know what microdata is and why it's used; I know that idle-sourcing is a thing, and I finally understand some network theory. I got to handle a new Apple Watch, examine fuzzy data, and every time I stand up to speak I remember to fill my lungs properly with air before I start. (Ok, not every time, but I'm getting there.)

Working in local government policy for the last 15 years, I’d already got the hang of standing up in front of people and telling them things - and thought that's all you need to be a trainer, right? Not so much, as it turns out. Just because you tell people something, it doesn't mean that they know it or that they'll remember it. There's so much more thinking and preparation that goes into creating a training course. Now I've done Train The Trainer, I've got a grip on how to get the preparation right, know what I have time to cover and what I should leave out, and make sure everyone in the room is engaged and actually learning.

A massive thank you to all the trainers and the support team at the ODI; thank you to my course mates who also taught me new facts and skills, and were so generous with feedback and encouragement when we were all feeling the stress; and thank you to my friends for grounding, good cheer and last minute art supplies the night before the big assessment. My new ODI Trainer badge may be a competence mark for me, but it’s really an indicator of the awesome people who helped me get there.

Lucy is the Policy and Strategy Officer at Devon County Council and the co-founder of ODI Devon.