Today feels slightly unproductive when I consider the extent of my week so far. Here’s how it went:
- Meeting with my OLA presentation group to discuss some of the finer points of the presentation
- Set up some student research consultations
- Met with a prof to talk about possible involvement in a conference I’m helping organize (Canadian Network for Innovation in Education aka CNIE) that will be held on campus this May
- Office hours in the Classics department, complete with a student drop-in consultation and chatting with faculty
- Worked on a prezi version of a presentation I’m giving to a Communication Studies and Multimedia class. I’ve given this presentation a number of times so I thought I’d try something new. I’m not convinced I won’t make someone ill with motion sickness…
Yes, I will admit it. I just didn’t have the energy yesterday to post my LibDay6: Day 2, it was, after all, a 12 hour day with 6 hours of teaching. So today, you get two days in one!
Libday6: Day 2
- Started the day checking email and social networks (from now on, assume this is done at the start of everyday)
- Attended a liaison meeting where we learned the basics of systematic reviews. They’re big in health sciences and seem to be increasing in popularity recently. We’re even getting requests from social sciences. I’d love to learn more about the differences, if there are any, between health sciences and social sciences systematic reviews. I’d also love to learn why social sciences has started using them. Add that to the research list pile of things to do.
- During this meeting, having taken my laptop, I had a few IM chats with faculty and students. Note to self: I must remember to turn on my away message more often. I am really excited to see people using my IM widget though. I’m in 14 classes (9 are sections of the same course) in our learning management system and have included a private google IM widget. I’m surprised by the amount of up-take. The just-in-time help I can provide seems to be working well and I hope it continues.
- Student dropped by my office for a consultation – it was only afterwards that I realized that it was during my office hours. I have only placed this office hours on my liaison contact page and don’t promote it very well. I’m not certain that the student came because of the posted hours, but it is nice to think that students are finding me.
- The rest of the day was spent teaching. This is the second time I see this class and it’s an interesting session, as I get to go over web searching and evaluation, talk briefly about new media, copyright, and finding creative commons images. These are things that I don’t get to teach very often. On top of it, half of the class is spent creating videos in the new media centre. We’re seeing more options for digital projects on campus and this session introduces them to the space they can use to create them. Some of the sections of this course will have the option to create videos or graphic novels as the major project, so it’s exciting to offer this session to them.
Libday6: Day 3
- The day consisted primarily of teaching (7.5 hours of it) – the same inquiry class as yesterday.
- Contacted the Centre for Student Development to make accommodation arrangements for an online quiz that will be offered in a couple of weeks.
- Teleconference – introduction to a new committee I’m on, the Technical Advisory Group for Scholar’s Portal
I recently read an article in University Affairs, co-written by my university’s new president that calls for more emphasis to be placed on learning than teaching. I think there is merit in this argument, but there are implications for library instruction as well as regular classroom instruction.
I’ve been lucky to be involved in inquiry courses (social sciences inquiry, arts and sciences inquiry) that place the emphasis on the learning and questioning process. Even the classrooms have been designed differently, so there is no front of the classroom, no sage on the stage. With the emphasis on questioning and research, I am able to do more with the students in terms of research skills – it’s not the standard rushed one shot library instruction session. While inquiry is not the only method to emphasis learning, it has offered me opportunities that other instruction librarians may not as easily achieve.
If universities moved to learning-based curriculums, rather than teaching-based curriculums, what would the impact be for library instruction, if any? What if all classes were inquiry based, problem based, or some new form of learning style? Would there be a huge impact? Many librarians already incorporate active learning in instruction, which would presumably align with learning-based curriculum ideals. I would hope to see more integration of research skills into programs and less one-shots, but librarians are actively moving in that direction as well. I believe that learning-based rather than teaching-based universities might offer us some new opportunities and am still trying to discern what these might be.
What are your thoughts ? I’d love to know! Is your library instruction learning-based or teaching-based? How would you fit it into a learning-based curriculum? What would a learning centered library session look like? Do you see much difference for your instruction if the change were made?
Now that much of my teaching is done for the term, I seem to be reading more about instruction now. A recent post from Iris caught my attention. In the post she writes about one shots and the idea that she should approach them as a lecturer might – not teaching everything in the limited time given but getting students excited about the topic instead. I kind of love this idea. It does seem impossible to teach all the skills we’d love them to have in an hour. At best, I hope that they remember where they can get help when they’ve forgotten everything I tried to teach them. I like the idea of using that session to teach them a few basic skills but using that time to also get them excited about research. I hope to try to incorporate this into my teaching and this will mean approaching it in a whole different light.
Another post I recently read discusses a phenomenon I’ve been noticing in my research consultations. In a post related to the recent release of the latest Project Information Literacy report, Barbara Fister talks about students drowning in information. Students can find information – in fact, they find too much information. The problem often lies in not understanding what they’re trying to find and thus they find too much. They need to find the right resources. I’ve seen an increasing number of students looking for help before they even know what the research question means – starting is the issue, finding is not. They don’t understand the topics well enough to identify the best places to start, let alone which items are best in the thousands of items returned. I’ve always tried to steer students to the best starting places in my classes and it seems there may need to be more emphasis placed here and on identifying the best sources.
So in light of these two posts, I’m starting to rethink my instruction approach, as well as the conversations I need to have with faculty. Many professors expect a one shot to be enough to pass on the skills they need for research for their entire academic careers. We may have some convincing to do to make them see us as lecturers, who won’t teach everything they need in 50 minutes, but I think it might be worth the fight. As a librarian who’s no longer on the reference desk, I’ll also have to figure out what this change in approach might mean for me in workload – if I can’t get all of the skills covered in class (a feat which is difficult even in the traditional one shot), will I have more research consultations, what will be the impact on the research help desk? Instead of skills, can I concentrate on starting research and the things you need to consider, including starting resources and best resources? The new term may be an interesting instruction term!
Insider Higher Ed recently had a post on Edupunk, something I first got interested in about three years ago (and from there my interest in Libpunk). This article intrigued me with the idea of flash seminars. You’ve probably heard of flash mobs coming together to do a dance or some other group activity. Flash seminars are an attempt to bring students together for a seminar in a prof’s house.
I’d love to know if this type of seminar is working. I’m not convinced that it needs to be in a prof’s house but announcing an interesting topic through social media and having students converge on one spot moments before the talk kind of appeals to me.
I also wonder if we could do flash instruction. Wanna know how online resources like zotero and delicious can help research and your job search, meet in the cafe at 2pm! (not really, but I do wonder if this kinda of thing would work). Could we create enough of a buzz to generate interest? I’m very tempted to try it out.
Have you ever participated in/organized any flash mob/seminars/instruction? I’d love to know how and if it works!