Technology: Staying Relevant in Changing Times

Technology: Staying Relevant in Changing Times

By Jessica Hammer, Instructional Designer and Tech Specialist

I have a confession to make. I’m a millennial. There, I said it. Whew. Now that that’s over with I have another confession. I love reading real books. Listen, I know eBooks are so convenient and instant and you can take a whole library with you wherever you go, but there is just something about a real book. I love the feel of the pages, the weight of a hardcover, and wandering through a bookstore for hours to find just the right book. This is why I enjoy the precious ritual of reading for fun.

Hammer Residences Training Team’s Goal for 2018.

However, there are books I would never buy in printed format. I wouldn’t purchase a set of encyclopedia’s like my parents or a book about a computer program because they become obsolete as soon as the ink dries.

It’s all about balance.

Hammer had this problem in a major way. We had manuals upon manuals that we need as an organization in order to succeed and to comply with licensing. The issue was that as soon as the ink had dried, we would have to reprint pages because a law, or technology, or a process had changed.


Karen: Buried in a paper avalanche

Karen Trygstad, our Training and Education Coordinator, said “enough. She was drowning in reams of twenty-pound paper looking up at me as the pile engulfed her. Through the rustle of the stacks of papers I heard her cry “there MUST be a better way.” Fortunately, my computer had recently been switched from a PC to a Mac and I went to work searching for ways to relieve my officemate. And there it was. Sitting in the applications folder was the beautiful orange and white iBook’s icon that would eventually change the way we handle manuals at Hammer.

Mac’s iBook lets anyone create an electronic book at no cost, so I got to work creating our New Employee Orientation manual, embedding videos and quizzes to make the iBook an even more interactive experience. Then, with the expert guidance of Sean Henderson, I created a manual for Hammer’s electronic Health Record System, NetSmart. The only problem was how to update the entire organization’s manuals, at multiple locations all at one time…without leaving the Central office.

L to R Technology Team: Michael Shay, Sean Henderson, Dan Bottiger, Corey Hansen

Never fear….Hammer’s Technology team is here! Our Information Systems team can push out a manual to all of our Hammer iPads in all of our homes and apartments exclusively, without ever leaving the Central office. So, every time I have to update a manual, they just push out the latest and greatest version of the OSHA, NetSmart, HammerU, or the New Employee manual without wasting time or paper.  

The Training and the Technology side of Hammer may not be as widely known to the outside community, but I want to say it is such a joy to work on a team that strives every day to keep the essence of Hammer’s mission in every project, while constantly finding new and innovative (and free!) ways to support our staff members.

Yes, it’s all about balance.



  1. Kristin Pyka

    Both the Training and IT teams do such an amazing job! In my 11 years at Hammer, you have transformed the way we do business and allow Hammer to maintain a leadership role in the disabilities community. Thank you all so much for everything you do to make all of our jobs easier.

  2. Suzanne

    Wonderful article! What a talented group of individuals we have working at Hammer!!


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