Getting to Know Our Speakers: An Interview with MS Office Expert Mitzi Gibson Katz

December 5, 2013 Excel  No comments

Desktop Training Academy is proud to present our next interview in our series “Getting to Know Speakers.” Today, we had the special privilege of sitting down with MS Office expert and trainer, Mitzi Gibson Katz. Mitzi has trained thousands of end users and developed curriculum for over twenty-five years. As a consultant, she specializes in the Microsoft Office suite including Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Word, Outlook and much more. After teaching a variety of special education classes in Kansas, Montana, and Alaska for the early part of her career, Mitzi became interested in technology as the first personal computers were introduced to the market. She made the change in careers from public school education to private computer training and has been teaching students how to use software applications ever since.

What inspired you as an instructor?

I am constantly inspired by student’s enthusiasm and dedication to learning. I taught a community computer class one dark cold winter night. It was pouring snow, and I expected to be the only one who would show up for the class. I was pleasantly surprised to have a full attendance of students eager to dig in to the information. I love learning, too, but I had to ask myself if I had been the student that evening, would I have ventured out for the class? I hoped that I would.

What would you say was the most rewarding experience you’ve had as an educator?

I was part of a group who provided computer classes at night to a group of teens who had been expelled from high school. We paired “mentors” from a variety of corporate clients with the kids to work one‑on-one. A few of the students exceled very quickly and became so proficient within such a short time that we were able to find computer-related jobs for them. They have continued learning and working successfully in the computer field.

What experiences in your professional life made you so adept at explaining tech tools and language to those who aren’t technology professionals?

I have a Master’s Degree and eight years of teaching experience in special education. My training emphasized task analysis – breaking activities down into small pieces. That has been very helpful to me in presenting information in workable pieces. I also learned “wait time” in education training which I have found helpful. When I do onsite training, I try to “tune in” to the students, to watch and listen to their reactions / responses and tailor the instruction accordingly.

Where do you see the importance of mastering Office applications going in the future?

Unless another company steps up to challenge Microsoft, I think learning Office is essential for anyone in the workplace. I have heard many students asking for shortcuts, tips and tricks to help them speed their work; reportedly to better compete with their co-workers.

How do you see your teaching efforts affect those you teach?

Helping people save time with their work, provide solutions, is what I aim to do. Students frequently comment that they wish they would have had the instruction months or years earlier. I offer ongoing support at no cost and with no time limit to my students to give them a resource in case they are ever stuck or uncomfortable asking support questions in their work (or home) environment. I strive to continue to find the best way to present the training in the most simplified manner; how to make sense of complex topics.

What do you think are the biggest challenges people face when confronted with needing to use technology?

Unless users have the opportunity to use the features of a program frequently, they are likely to forget the steps and techniques. That is one of the values I see in webinars – shorter instruction time focused on more specific topics; learning made available in smaller segments.

How would you characterize your time working with Desktop Training Academy?

Desktop Training Academy has been a great opportunity to reach many students on several levels. I strongly support their approach for the detailed materials development, for extending the training time to include a lab, and for providing testing and certification. They are thorough, professional and yet are friendly and very enjoyable to work with. I believe they truly care about their students!

To hear more from Mitzi, check out her upcoming training session with DTA, “Mastering Excel Charts: Tips and Tricks to Create and Organize Your Charts” on January 9.

Liked hearing from Mitzi? Have questions? Leave your comments below; we’d love to hear from you.

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Vince – Desktop Training Academy

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