An unexpected outcome

By software training expert Karen Roem

Karen Roem

Back in May, as the pandemic put an end to face-to-face training and the Network took all its activities online, I was asked to share some of my top tips for Microsoft Office with Cambridge Network's PA Forum peer group and a wider audience of Network members.

The resulting hour-long Zoom session, in which I demonstrated some of my favourite ways to save time and effort – via fewer mouse clicks, or by using keyboard shortcuts that mean you don't need the mouse at all – was so well received that it has led me to create a whole new series of training courses.

My '60-minute webinars for a wealth of quick wins' have now been requested by several Cambridge Network members. And consequently, I've delivered webinars to staff in local organisations, as well as to many individuals who have appreciated the opportunity to enhance their skills or tackle specific software issues.

I'm now offering a session that covers all the basics (60 Minutes of Microsoft Office Hints and Tips), as well as hour-long training on the individual Microsoft packages – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

The webinar also led to work with Cambridge Network's Learning Collaboration and I have developed several new virtual courses. Two are for Excel – Hints and Tips and  Hints and Tips: Excel Further Use – and another focuses on Document and Email Management. The first will begin later this month. These are distinct from my usual sessions because they are longer (90 minutes or two hours) and include access to a month's free support on any of the topics learned.

“Our administrators at the Wellcome Sanger Institute benefit hugely from being part of Cambridge Network's PA Forum. Back in May, some of us joined a session Karen Roem was running for the group. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. Word got round to our colleagues who had been unable to attend, and I contacted Karen to ask if she could run a webinar for Sanger staff. This went so well we have had her back a further four times since then to deliver more training.” - Karen Cafferkey, Administration Network Manager, Wellcome Sanger Institute

The virtual reality

Online training is not such a novelty for me. I've been running training courses to global audiences via the internet for years, way before it became fashionable and years before the pandemic prompted the rest of the world to jump on the bandwagon. One of my blogs from 2005 was picked up in IT Training Magazine:

Extract from IT Training Magazine 2005

I hope to resume face-to-face training as soon as it becomes feasible. But in the meantime, the benefits of online courses are clear – you save time and money because there's no need to travel, and (time zones permitting) participation is possible from anywhere on the planet.

Tame your computer with top tips

It may be a cliché, but you don't know what you don't know! Most people only use a fraction of the capabilities of their desktop software packages. I've made it my mission to expand their knowledge and help them find new ways to tackle time-consuming and frustrating day-to-day tasks.

Since I started my company 20 years ago, I've been writing and publishing them on my website. And since 2005, I've been producing a regular column for Cambridge Network Tame your computer with each edition featuring a top tip.

My website includes a complete list of all the tips I've produced to date – more than 600. I'm still enthusiastic about helping people to make the most of their software and intend to continue. And I am still adding to the list, creating new tips either through my own training work or through ideas and suggestions from my course participants.