I attended two workshops at Lee Wee Nam Library recently. One of them was about making interactive story maps on StoryMap JS, and the other on designing using Canva.

Surprisingly, my biggest takeaways were not what I had learnt in class.

It was about the effectiveness of learning in a physical group setting.

To be frank, those tools are actually really simple to pick up. I’m saying this as a Photoshop greenhorn—the most complicated function that I have ever used in Photoshop is the wand function. As I walked out of both workshops, I even felt that I could have picked up those tools on my own.

If that’s the case, why had I not done so?

Crunch period does sound like a reason. However, I know deep down that I wouldn’t have made my way to those websites even during the holidays.

This led me to one conclusion—self-learning, at least for me—requires mammoth motivation.

I also realised the effectiveness of having hands-on activities. You have to focus on what’s going on. You have to follow instructions and produce something, lest the teaching assistants notice and devote special attention to you. Attending the workshops had forced me to experiment with new softwares, and it brought me out of my comfort zone.

In addition, help was easily available! There were a few assistants walking around guiding attendees when needed. You never know when something can go wrong with softwares, and having someone resolving it right in front of you can be a huge relief. This is particularly so when the technical skills involved come with a steeper learning curve.

So, if you are keen on picking up a new skill, consider attending some library workshops here at NTU or at NLB. Who knows what you might end up learning?