EEP! Totally almost forgot to write this post. I was so ready to be finished with all my schooling that I spaced on the fact that I still had homework. Ah well, I remembered, so here is my sign off post, and the last piece of writing of my grad school career! WHEEEEEEE!
I really enjoyed watching the webinars. Everyone had such different topics and they were all very relevant and important. Webinars are not my favorite format for learning, I would much rather be learning in person, and I tend to space out during webinars, but I am glad we had the experience to create one and use the Elluminate software. I found it difficult to participate in the chat if I was listening, so it was kind of frustrating if the presenters would answer a question without repeating it because they assumed I was reading the chat. I often found the software annoying; I didn’t like the fact that I had to re-download it for every webinar and I occasionally ended up in the wrong webinar. I thought everyone did a great job though, even with occasional technical difficulties such as sound loss.
The readings this week focused on professional development, which I believe is an integral part of our profession. If librarians are to stay current and avoid becoming out-dated, be must be at the forefront of new technologies and innovations. Once you have a job it is very easy to become complacent, but it is very important to avoid that. On a minor note, can I just say how much I dislike the term “Web 2.0”? I’m not sure why, but mainly I just think it silly.
Looking forward to Monday and the last class of my graduate career! Woooo!
Ok, I’m going to be honest here, my memories from class are pretty hazy. I remember being really grumpy and exhausted, but that is about it… O wait! No! Now I remember. We were upstairs in the room with all the sunshine. All that sunshine must have boggled my brain a little. Anywho, I am glad we were able to have such a knowledgeable guest speaker to come talk to our class about Google Books and other issues with digitization. I am really interested in seeing where these issues end up going and how they will eventually be resolved. I feel like no one really has an answer at this point, so I think the next few years with definitely be important! I also liked our discussions about embedded librarianship. Everyone seemed to have mixed feelings about the concept, but agreed that it takes a strong level of commitment to work effectively.
I have held out for the past several years on opening a Twitter account. Not for any philosophical reason, but simply because I feel like I have enough procrastination methods in my life without adding one more. Well, after joining, I feel that my concerns were completely justified. It has only been four days and I have already spent a really unhealthy amount of time on that site. It is definitely a good way to keep up with the online library community, though. Some of these librarians post so much I am concerned about their actual work habits… It was also really nice when a few of the bloggers I followed followed me back! I was not all that excited when David Lee King followed me, as he follows over 2,000 people, but some of the others made me feel a little more important, haha. It also seems like a great way to keep up with conferences, as there is currently a lot of tweeting going on regarding ACRL. In other news: Does Paula Poundstone follow everybody on Twitter? Because she totally started following me, so, I had to follow her back. I feel like if someone more famous than me starts following me I am obligated to return the favor, even if they follow over 36,000 people.
PS. Agnostic, Maybe retweeted one of my posts. I’m totally moving up in the world!
I thought the workshops were very successful and, in general, flowed very smoothly. Everyone had very interesting topics for their portion, and I appreciated that people kept better track of their timing for this class than they did for the book clubs, because we did not end up as cramped for time at the end. I thought it was interesting to see the different ways people went about the workshops, and the various techniques they used. Some people used more of a lecturing format, while others were more interaction and discussion based. Emily and my workshop was on the issue of libraries breaking Netflix and Kindle terms of service agreements, and whether this was a problem. Our topic generated a lot of lively discussion and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. I’m a little sad we have to change our groups for the last project, because Emily and I were working so well together!
Readings, pre-class prep:
I thought the most interesting reading this week was the one that talked about the concept of embedded librarianship. Essentially, these are subject liaison librarians that work closely with the departments they serve. For example, the music librarian in the article actually had an office within the department she served, so she knew the faculty well and was very involved with the professors and students. While I knew about subject librarians, the idea of an “embedded” librarian was fairly new to me, but I really liked how involved these people were within the schools. The librarian observed that requests for presentations and workshops increased dramatically as she became more involved with the students and faculty in the department. By being embedded within the music school, the librarian was able to reach out the people, and quickly anticipate their needs, as well as make them more comfortable and aware of what she had to offer.
In addition, we had to watch a webinar this week in order to prepare for our next assignment. I watched an archived webinar entitled “Using New Media to Enhance Student Writing.” The presentation was fairly interesting, and several different presenters spoke about integrating technology within the classroom in relation to writing, such as blogs, videos, googledocs, and screencasting. There presentation was mainly lecture based, with only a few viewer questions at the end. I would have appreciated if they engaged the viewers a little more, but with two presenters and only an hour of time, I can see how that would have been fairly difficult. The idea of making a webinar makes me a little nervous, but the opportunity to watch one made me a little more comfortable with the idea.
So, since we do not have any readings assigned for this week, this post will reflect solely on yesterday’s class. I really enjoyed having Bobbi Newman talk to our class, so we could get the perspective of someone with a significant voice and following in the library community. I have had these kind of webinars in a few of my classes, and I do find the whole “Voice of God” nature of them to be a bit disconcerting when I am unable to see the other person’s face. Nevertheless, they are very valuable and I think it is beneficial to be able to communicate with people using this method. I thought the essence of the talk was very interesting, and I am glad that she was so willing to engage with our questions. Sometimes it was a little difficult to keep up, since I was attempting to read the questions and listen to her responses, but on the whole it worked out well. Bobbi was very restrained in her view of the situation, and though you could tell that she had strong opinions on the matter, she did her best not to vilify anyone or question motives. I thought this was helpful, as much of the discussion around this issue has been clouded with heated emotions. I agreed with her point that the main problem with what has been happening is that librarians have been left out of the discussion. Though we may not currently have a good answer to how to deal with ebooks, we want to be a part of the discussion, and not just accept whatever the publishers tell us. I think this issue is especially important because public libraries are now really starting to face the same problems that academic libraries have been for many years with digital content. Though public libraries also subscribe to journals and databases online, they do not do so to the same degree that academic libraries do. It has now become apparent that these problems with leasing and prices are issues that all libraries will have to soon deal with, so it is in the interest of the libraries and our patrons to be an integral part of the discussion with publishers.
I thought today was one of the best classes we have had. The book groups all seemed to go really well, and a lot of people were very engaged in the discussions. It was beneficial because I was able to hear a lot of people speak whose perspectives I do not usually hear. There were a few hiccups, and some presenters were more adept than others (as one would expect), but overall I thought the group went very smoothly and I enjoyed the varied stories and readings that we were able to enjoy. One of the issues that I did notice was the varying levels of intervention that the different group leaders used. Sometimes it was difficult to balance a good level of intervention with allowing the group to lead the discussion. This is probably just something that takes practice. I did not really expect to actually develop a deeper understanding of all of the readings, but I was able to have a new appreciation for many of the texts.
I am really excited about the Overdrive discussion that we get to have next week, and I found the librarian blog posts to be particularly interesting. I was also quite pleasantly surprised to read about Neil Gaiman’s support and his position toward allowing access to his works, as I had not really expected many authors to take as strong a stand as librarians. I also read a post from The Analog Divide, which seemed fairly in line with the position many librarians have been taking in regards to this issue. The main argument that many are taking is that the policy is simply unfair to users, which is who librarians have to fight for. In general, vendors and libraries are still struggling with how to handle digital resources, with a constant push-and-pull between libraries and publishers. If publishers continue to limit access to their products, it is only going to hurt users, and possibly themselves, because they will limit exposure to their products. As Neil Gaiman pointed out, his book sales actually increased when he provided free copies of his works. By facilitating access to products, publishers can create customers, who will return and buy more products. In order to have a more balanced view, I also read Jason Griffey’s blog, which was less opposed to the Harper Collins action. It seemed to be essentially because it would not affect his library very much. He is an academic librarian, and his books do not circulate as often. He said that there were only 126 books in the library that had circulated more than 26 times, so it would not be a significant strain if they had to purchase these books multiple times. I thought this was incredibly short sighted, because for many libraries this is a hugely significant problem. Public libraries have very high circulation rates for many books, and their budgets would be significantly damaged by the prospect of purchasing all of these books multiple times. Several commentors on the blog pointed this out. Overall, I think it is very important that this issue has come to a head, as there needs to be a significant discussion about how digital materials are handled, which existed even before the Harper Collins/Overdrive kerfuffle (yes, kerfuffle).
I really enjoyed this class. The guest speaker was fairly knowledgeable about book clubs and the best ways to implement them. She had a lot of good advice about how to run clubs and how to make people more comfortable, such as having prep questions for people, so they would not feel suddenly pressured by a question they did not have time to think about. In addition she had interesting ideas about how music, playlists, and movies might be integrated into book clubs. I also found the Socratic seminar interesting. It seemed to work well for some people but others seemed shy and intimidated by the format, especially since occasionally they were specifically asked to answer a question they might not really be comfortable with. This just reinforces my opinion that though Socratic Seminars might useful in an environment where people have had a chance to adjust and become comfortable with the style, it could be difficult for others.
I loved getting to read short stories this week! I hesitate to write a lot about the readings since we will be discussing them in depth in our groups. My group chose a Roald Dahl short story, and I have always loved him as an author because he is rather dark and can really twist an ending. In addition, I have always been a big fan of fairy tales, so I really enjoyed that someone chose Hansel and Gretel. The Jonathan Swift short story also had an entertaining twist, and was a fairly funny and dark satire from the period it was written.
I wish to preface this post by apologizing if anything seems like it is rambling or nonsensical. I’m doing my best but I’m also fairly doped up on cold meds at the moment. : P
I thought the debate regarding transfer was interesting, mainly because I had not really expected people to think that it was something that was not important for librarians. Whether or not we spend a lot of time with individual patrons, most of librarians spend at least a portion of their time teaching. As a result, it is important to understand the most effective ways to make sure people understand information. This may require librarians to try and make people tap into past experiences that may be applicable to learning within the library, and it may also mean teaching people in a way that they can then apply to future situations. The lack of time we often spend with our patrons may make these ideas more difficult to implement, but does not make them invalid to our careers.
The readings this week primarily centered on book groups and Socratic seminars as a teaching method. I really enjoyed the pieces on Socratic seminars, and how they can be used to facilitate deep reading comprehension. I think it is very important for students to be able to guide their own discussions and discover their own ideas in reference to literature and other readings. Margaret Metzger, who wrote extensively about applying the technique within her classroom, seemed very happy with the results and argued that they helped students immensely when it came to understanding passages from literature. One criticism I have of her article is that I do not think she focused enough on any potential drawbacks of the method. While she did talk about problems she faced initially, she overwhelmingly seemed to the Socratic seminars were only positive. In the section on student reflections, the three questions she asked students were completely skewed toward positive responses, such as asking what students learned, and how the class improved. While these are important questions, she should have also offered less biased questions which would allow students to express issues they had with the format. As someone who has participated in a Socratic seminar in the past, I can say that while in general I think they are effective, they can also be widely intimidating, especially for students who may already be intimidated with speaking in class. The small group format would seem conducive to inspiring conversation, but the fact that you have an outer circle watching, analyzing, and critiquing your discussion can make it difficult for people to speak up. I would suppose that in the format used in the article, in which she used the format regularly for several months, students would become more comfortable, but in the situations I was in its use was isolated, and so students simply felt intimidated and judged by the inner/outer circle format.
In other news, I would like to join one of those new, exciting sounding book clubs. I never wanted to participate in one in the past because I don’t like being told what to read when it comes to pleasure reading (I already get that regularly from school), so the idea of a thematic club where I could choose my own book appeals greatly to me.
In class last week we talked mainly about assessments, including different forms of questions that can be asked and their purposes. One note on the slide struck me: “If you don’t plan to change the workshop/presentation in the future, don’t ask!” This mainly struck a chord because, as a seasoned college student (six years straight so far!) I am very experienced with end-of-the-semester professor evaluation forms. I have felt less hostile to them at Michigan than I did at my undergrad, mainly because I feel that more people actually pay attention to them, at least to a certain degree. It was always frustrating in college because, though younger professors might pay attention to them, those seasoned professors that had tenure never listened to any sort of feedback. You could always tell the professors that had been teaching the same way for years, and you knew that no matter what you said on your evaluation it would not matter because they would just keep teaching the same way. It is thoroughly annoying when professors, who spend their life assessing you, refuse to adjust their teaching style to make it work better for the students, and makes me question their commitment to teaching.
This week’s readings centered primarily around how to teach students in a way that allows them to transfer what they learn to new context and experiences. When I was reading I actually became a little confused at times, because it stressed the idea that abstract concepts are easier for students to transfer, but at the same time noted that context helped students learn. Too much context, however, inhibited transfer, because it was difficult to understand the underlying ideas in a new environment. How does a teacher balance out the idea of too much vs. too little context? Is this just an art form that must be mastered? I remember as a student I always hated word problems in math. In class we were always drilled with formulas and functions, and I was a great test taker because I could memorize these effectively, but if you asked me to apply them to real-world scenarios I had lots of problems. It is important to try and teach the underlying concepts behind a math equation, or it will never be useful. Maybe this is why my favorite days in physics class were when we got to play with Frisbees and Slinkies (though how effective these methods were I cannot vouch, since all I remember from two years of high school advanced physics is F=MA). I guess my question is how do we reach a balance in teaching facts vs. teaching ways of thinking and application? It seems difficult, especially since everyone I know seems to think and learn in a slightly different way. I think this is why I have always been good at school: I can operate and learn in the “standard” education environment, while many people I know who are just as smart, if not smarter than me, struggle in that same situation. It is difficult to cater to everyone, especially in a system that bases success so strongly on standardized tests. I have no answers right now, only lots of questions…
In class last week we talked extensively about the process of researching, and the different levels of confusion, stress, and understanding that learners go through. I found it very interesting, primarily because it was something I had never really thought about, yet it seemed so obvious after seeing the different models in class. One of the problems librarians face when dealing with patrons and students is that they do not have the ability to work them through these different steps of the process of research. Frequently, students are simply brought to the library once or twice a year and taught how to search for information using databases or the library catalog, and then they are left to their own devices in order to search for information. The other frequent occurrence is that a patron is struggling to look for information and a busy librarian points them in the correct direction, and then never interacts with them again. If we are trying to create a culture of information literacy (or transliteracy, or metaliteracy, or whatever you kids are calling it these days) librarians must figure to be present throughout the research process, rather than simply a brief intervention before students begin research, or when a patron is trying to find a book. The major problem is how to make that happen.
In this week’s reading there was a lot of discussion about the process for teaching people and whether you are trying to simply teach people facts to memorize or whether you are trying to teach a deep understanding and the ability to analyze information and make conclusions. I found this to be very applicable to librarians’ struggles with teaching information literacy, and how it has evolved in the past several decades. Information literacy in its older forms (such as bibliographic instruction) focused primarily on the idea teaching people specific skills in using library materials, such as a card catalog or searching a database. Even today, that is often the form that librarian intervention takes with students (I know in my undergrad years the only interaction I had with a librarian was when my professor brought us to the library so the librarian could show us a database and tell us how Boolean searching worked). However, as with other forms of learning, it is important to teach students not just specific skills, but how to think about information, how to analyze what they find, and make deeper assessments than simply knowing how to search a library catalog. One of the struggles here is not just creating a learning centered environments where these concepts can be implemented, but in making teachers and administrators see their benefit as well.
Goodreads.com screencast tutorial