skip to Main Content
Around The Province

Fostering Community at Carleton through Monthly Tech Talks

By Joel Rivard

Computer screen showing a Tech Talks presentation slide
Tech Talk sessions have become a popular avenue for staff to learn how to use new technologies at Carleton.

In the spring of 2019, Carleton University’s MacOdrum Library started a monthly community gathering activity that brings people from across the library to participate and learn about a technology topic of interest. Born out of my interest and conversations within the Professional Development Committee, the Tech Talks began as in-person sessions and then moved online once the pandemic started in March 2020. Below is an overview of the topics and format of the Tech Talks for you to consider for your University/College.

We identified topics for Tech Talks from conversations with colleagues, staff from our Library Technology Services (LTS) as well as from members of the Professional Development Committee. We’ve covered numerous technology tools and topics of interest during these Tech Talks. Some of these were done as a matter of interest while others were done as a matter of necessity, depending on adoption of various technology tools at our institution (ie. OneDrive/SharePoint). We’ve covered most Microsoft software tools, Confluence, a variety of productive tools (ie. Trello, Meister Task, etc.), alternative presentation tools and several mobile apps. When we holdTech Talks upon the adoption of a new tool such as OneDrive or Confluence, we notice that staff adopt the tool much easier, as they are able to learn from one another and ask questions.

Once we identify a topic, we reach out to potential colleagues who have knowledge about this particular tool and could lead the session. This is an important point because we want these Tech Talks to be led by colleagues within various library departments outside of our LTS team if possible. At the beginning, I was often the person presenting or co-presenting, but as the Tech Talks became more popular, it has become easier to solicit colleagues to lead upcoming Tech Talk sessions. About half of the sessions have been led by one person, while the other half had multiple presenters as part of the session. The sessions vary between 30 minutes to 1-hour , which includes time for discussion or questions. The average number of participants is typically around 15-20. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve held exclusively virtual Tech Talk sessions as we discovered that attendance is much greater while hosting it on MS-Teams. The other advantage is our ability to record the sessions and create an archive of past Tech Talks for others to view. This has been valuable for those that can’t attend the live session, but also for onboarding of new staff that aren’t familiar with a specific technology tool that our institution uses. Recordings are hosted on MS-Stream and linked on the Professional Development intranet space. In certain situations, we’ve used some video editing software to blur sensitive information (ie. people’s names, schedules, etc.).

The library’s Tech Talks have now been around for 4 years and they are still going strong. Most of the work involves soliciting ideas and volunteers to present. But, I can confidently say that the time is well worth it as we’ve received wonderful feedback from members of the library indicating that this initiative is helping to build a community of technology learners at the Carleton University Library.

Joel Rivard is the Head of Research Support Services at the Carleton University MacOdrum Library and can be reached at

Back To Top