Friday December 19th 2014

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Instruction 2.0 Continued

Instruction 2.0 theory is all well and good but I’m teaching 3 undergraduate seminars next week and need some practical examples! What follows is an introduction to in person or classroom based instruction 2.0 examples. But I’m not an instruction librarian, I hear you cry! Never fear- even if you do not teach in a classroom, instruction 2.0 principles apply to the creation of web pages, databases, the library catalog and other online interaction. In the final Instruction 2.0 column, I will give an overview of Instruction 2.0 in an online world.

To recap, instruction 2.0 embraces the changes in the way that we communicate and interact. How has student learning changed and how can libraries adapt to this? Randy Bass is a key researcher of 2.0 pedagogy who set up the Visible Knowledge Project to study learning in higher education. Through these studies, he discovered that student learning today was adaptive, embodied and socially situated. Taking this as a basis, what does this mean in a library instruction context?

Realistic or adaptive instruction enables students to learn new skills that can be transferred outside of the original context. This means that instead of teaching the intricacies of a particular database, students ideally learn lifelong skills that form the backbone of information literacy. An example would be learning evaluation skills. As realistic instruction, adaptive teaching also connects students with the information realities and the academic conversation around them, emphasising that learning, information literacy and academic research do not occur in a vacuum. An example of this is Anne Barnhart’s class, which asked students to use their information literacy training to buy material for the library in their subject area, an activity that is useful, practical and transferable.

Embodied learning means recognizing that many different elements affect student learning. This is more than looking at learning styles though- it also shows how the affective (emotions), prior knowledge and motivation all affect learning. It sounds kind of hippy-chic, but Bass’ research showed that it is not just cognition or the mental process that affects how we learn. Personal experience or the creativity involved in using non traditional media helps connect students to new concepts. An example of this would be using a variety of ways to enable learning, for example student creation of a video tutorial using screencasting software in order to supplement and deepen student understanding of a concept.

Finally, instruction 2.0 recognizes that learning is often socially situated and that students learn from their peers in communities of practice or learning communities. This means that we need to incorporate different structures into the design of our classes that facilitate student-peer conversations, as well as student-teacher conversations. An example of this would be asking small groups of students to create an evaluation schema collaboratively, which would then be shared with the rest of the class. Within the small groups, students can share prior experiences and knowledge to cement their understanding of the research process. Socially situated learning needn’t always be about the students either. Working with faculty to create a common vision of learning outcomes is also a form of socially situated learning, where the learning community is formed by librarians and teaching faculty. An example of this is Suzanne Schadl’s “guerilla” instruction, where she has incorporated multiple short instruction sessions into a semester long class. Even SALALM is a learning community- one of the original aims of La Cuna was to expand our own socially situated learning and foster online peer learning opportunities.

Bass’ three observations of learning fall neatly into the 5 Cs that characterize Web 2.0; creativity, conversation, community and collaboration. The final C is control. For instruction 2.0 to really work, librarians need to give up control so that the class is driven by student needs and dialog, rather than what the librarian assumes the students know or need to know. Personally, I think this is the hardest and scariest part, but it is vital in order for library instruction to maintain and to increase its relevancy in the 2.0 world.

Alison Hicks
University of Colorado, Boulder
alison.hicks @ colorado.edu

Instruction 2.0

Is nothing sacred? How far can the twopointopia wave go? If she thinks that I’m teaching a class via facebook while administering my twitter account all from the iphone 4, she’s got another think coming… In my previous columns I’ve written about how Web 2.0 can be used to help with various aspects of our profession. But Instruction 2.0 seems more populist than a Kirchner with an upcoming election. Should we really be using Web 2.0 tools in instruction sessions just because our students are? In short, no. My attitude to Web 2.0 is driven by the fact that it is more than a set of technologies. Web 2.0 is a state of mind that has deep social and philosophical implications and it is for that reason that instruction gets the twopoint-opian treatment. And really, instruction 2.0 is nothing new; instead, it’s about exploring the relationships between technology and pedagogy to truly take advantage of the potential of Web 2.0. It’s about a new paradigm of learning and collaboration; and if you end up throwing in a tagging schema or a flickr account then that’s a bonus. In this column I plan to explore the background of Instruction 2.0 before moving on to describe some of the theoretical constructs that drive its implementation.

What has caused this leap from Instruction 1.0 to 2.0? For a start, it’s important to recognise that the internet has reformed the concept of information. We produce over 2000 gigabytes of information a second and a wide body of human knowledge can be accessed within seconds from a variety of devices. Increased accessibility to growing amounts of information means that the concept of knowledge has to necessarily change too- knowledge became made or constructed and not found. It has become collaborative and less controlled; a far more creative approach. As a result, these evolving information and knowledge realities are student realities, and it is important that our teaching acknowledges these changes.

Recent shifts in technology have paralleled developments in learning theory. The 1970’s saw the rise of constructivist learning theory, which focused on the process of learning. Constructivism posits that learning is a complex internal process where student prior knowledge is key, and learning is a shared, active process. This has obvious comparisons with Web 2.0. The emphasis on participating and experiencing through Web 2.0 is a constructivist approach. Knowledge that is constructed collaboratively or understood through a combination of facts and human experiences is a Web 2.0 and a constructivist approach. Constructivism’s active, socially situated learning provides an ideal way to absorb the shifts in information and knowledge that form student realities today.

Notwithstanding, higher education has traditionally embraced behaviorist teaching theories that affirm that the environment or a teacher will cause students to learn. E.g. students absorb knowledge from a lecture. The teacher holds the power and responsibility and causes learning to occur. Consequently, there is an obvious disconnect between modern students who are accustomed to active control over their learning and these traditional behaviorist learning theories.

Instruction 2.0, therefore, needs to embrace the changes in the way we communicate and interact. While libraries have adapted to changing information realities, it is important that we also adapt to new learning realities in order to meet students where they are. This is different from using Web 2.0 tools because students are; it is adapting to the social and philosophical changes engendered in the information revolution in order to design for learning today. The structure and nature of the web means there is an increasing need for an emphasis on information evaluation and analysis and that library instruction is more valuable than ever. However Instruction 2.0 needs to participate alongside students in the creation of collaborative learning communities in order to meet student needs fully and to prepare them effectively for the information based future.

[I hesitated to write this column because there are a lot of far more experienced Instruction librarians in SALALM but this is something that I’ve been working on this summer and I wanted to share my preliminary thoughts. In the next column I’ll try and share specific examples of Instruction 2.0.]

Alison Hicks
Alison. Hicks @ colorado.edu

Screencasting: DIY visuals

Although the verb to screencast is still flagged as a spelling mistake in my word processing program, screencasting, or digitally recording your computer screen is one of the fastest growing web 2.0 trends. It’s so simple- yet so effective! Finally, an easy way to quickly provide a snapshot of your screen that doesn’t require IT support, the digestion of a help manual or weeks of planning the video fade, narration and special effects.

What makes screencasting different from more robust video tutorial software such as Camtasia? For a start, screencasting software is designed to produce quick on the fly video, narration or snapshots. Videos are normally limited to 5-10 minutes and don’t allow sophisticated annotation, statistics or other features. On the plus side however, many of the software programs are free to use, work from your browser and don’t require downloading. They integrate well with online video sharing sites such as Youtube and provide web storage too. And the programs are beautiful in their simplicity- it really only takes a few clicks to produce a brief but robust video.

From an academic point of view, the ease of screencasting provides another great way for people to interact and participate in the online conversation. Screencasting
allows for different learning styles by giving the option to view a procedure or a model rather than having to follow written instructions. And, most importantly, screencasting makes it a lot easier to communicate with people. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is probably over-cited but it certainly rings true when you’re trying to explain quickly and succinctly how the visiting scholar can get the full text of an article from their mobile device off campus.

Some of the most popular screencasting programs are Jing, Screencast-o-matic and Screentoaster. Jing is the easiest to use and the most flexible, but does require a download while Screencast-o-matic and Screentoaster work from your browser. Furthermore, Jing limits videos to 5 minutes while Screencast-o-matic gives you up to 15 minutes and Screentoaster allows you up to 20MB files. All three have web storage and the possibility of saving a local copy. Jing provides screen capture service too. The major factor in choosing a screencasting software will probably be whether or not you can download a program. I personally use Jing, and it has been so popular that I have persuaded Libraries’ IT to support it.

So what can you do with this new software?! Tutorials are the most obvious use of screencasting. These tutorials could be for patron use, for specific databases that don’t yet have their own tutorials such as Dialnet, or if you wanted to record a database tutorial in a different language. Tutorials for in house library use, for example for staff and student training, are also a great idea and serve as useful reference points throughout the year. These tutorials can also be embedded on subject guides using the ready made embedding code that is produced for each video.

Screencasting can also be used to great effect in instant messenger or email reference- instead of trying to explain where the link to scholarly articles is in Academic Search Premier, simply record your steps using screencasting and send it to the patron. You can also keep a library of most oftenly used videos. And why limit the librarians to making videos? Next semester I’ll be undertaking a pilot to allow students to make quick videos as part of instruction sessions, as part of the drive to reflective learning.

And finally, screencasting can greatly improve communication and collaboration in personal projects. Planning a project? Use screencasting to record project progress or to provide verbal feedback or comments on a shared document. Videos are stored online, so there are no lengthy downloads and because they are short, shouldn’t cause access problems. Screencasting can also be used for presenting digital exhibitions or projects. Create videos to narrate your photos or research, create a talking powerpoint or a brief introductory video for your project. All these uses create exciting visuals that draw different people in, and are easy to keep updated.

Have a go! Screencasting is easy and useful- a perfect combination!

Alison Hicks
University of Colorado, Boulder
alison.hicks @ colorado.edu

Beyond a Social Network: Using Facebook with an Advanced Spanish Class

I joined Facebook sometime in early 2008 and by July I had become more than just a novice user and saw its potential beyond “friending” those I already knew and accepting the “friendships” of those with whom I was having my first amicable meeting through their request to join their network of friends.

In experimenting with the site, I started by creating an open group (LASA Sexualities Section) for the Sexualities Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), a group for which I have been maintaining an online Bibliography for several years. The ability to upload images of book covers (and include reviews, interviews, etc) seemed a more visually appealing mode of sharing bibliographic information than the Yahoo list the group had created several years earlier to communicate with members. A brief note on this appeared in the February 2009 issue of the SALALM Newsletter.

In December of 2008 it was time to start planning for a class in the Spanish Department (Introduction to Literary and Scholarly Research) which had been redesigned and included a library component to expose students to “fuentes primarias” as part of their advanced research. This new incarnation had been taught once already during the Winter Quarter of 2007, a few months earlier. I proposed using Facebook as a way of integrating new technologies to introduce users to original/unique/special library resources.

After all, we already knew that approximately 80% of college students were avid participants in this popular social network. The materials to be consulted were non-circulating, thus having digital images of many of those resources would facilitate use of those items as they would reside in a site that would make them available 24×7, one of the expectations of the millennial library user. It seemed like a very logical way of exposing a new net generation to a range of….what word should we use? Older, Rare, Antiquarian….resources?

I immersed myself on maneuvering through the site and began to create Events for each of the sessions for which the class was to visit the Library to consult materials in our Special Collections Reading Room. The items to be used ranged from facsimile editions of Medieval texts and Pre-columbian codices to literary correspondence in its original as well alternative publications like theCartonera and Leñateros hand-made books or the controversial Memin Pinguin comics.

The process of mounting images for each class event appeared to be effortless. Simply “googleing” a topic/name like Sor Juana, and SAVE IMAGE AS via the right click of the mouse and the imaged was saved to my desktop. But it turned out to be a more complex task as the images did not load in chronological order but rather as last in/first out. REMEMBER THIS! After that “small” glitch was caught, I entertained myself during a 2 week vacation (mostly rainy days) reloading the images to fit the desired chronology and through the Edit this Photo Facebook function, I was able to add/modify text (Copy & Paste is wonderful, right?) to accompany each image of the materials to be shown in class.

On the first day of class, I went to the meeting room, held outside the library, to provide a brief overview of the library component of the course: a basic demonstration of how to search the online catalog to find items housed in Special Collections. What I hoped would be a simple “repaso” of basic OPAC searching proved to be a novelty for the students. There was something else other than Google to find library resources!

The first task was to have the students join the closed group that had been created within Facebook for their class: Span Lit 120 (see images below). They had the option of searching for the group and ask for permission to join, the group’s administrator(s) can be the gatekeeper(s). I discovered that if had their email addresses and they were not part of my network of friends, I could not invite them to join, or at least that appeared to be one of the initial logistical “pegas.” A simple step became a bit cumbersome as sometimes students had to “friend” me so that I could give them access. Not all of them followed these steps right after class, some waited until a week later, the day of the next meeting! Net user comportment does not seem to deviate much from that of those of us born before 1980, the so called “Digital Immigrants.”

How did students navigate through the site?
It became clear that for them Facebook was a social network to keep track of the whereabouts of their friends through fragmented status updates: “research paper…done” all in a brevity that would make a Twitter posting resemble an unending Joycean sentence.

One of the students was already on Facebook but assumed another “identity” just for the class, reiterating what others have noted: they use it only for social networking and connect with those with similar interests. This may change as others start to explore how to integrate Facebook as teaching tool in the college classroom.

Indeed, of the 15 registered students, few realized the extent to which the site contained multiple images (of some texts that were shown in Special Collections) with notes supplementing my class presentation. Others did not realize that the “invitation” to attend an event (a class visit to the Library) meant there was further need to consult the site for materials related to the class visit.

The “Wall” was used to communicate with the group either to give exact bibliographic citations of the materials shown in class, to suggest further reading or alert some one of an article/book/site of interest related to their final class project or simple to clarify one of those questions I had not answerer…but I had promised to check and report back. For lengthier postings the Discussion Board was more appropriate given the “Wall’s” limit of 1000 characters.

What could have been done differently?
The class will be taught again during the Fall Quarter (2009)and one of the basic changes would be to have it be less unidirectional (I mount the images and text) and be more user-centered (students coud be asked to comment on the images of the materials shown in class).

To ensure that students are conversant in searching the online catalog to retrieve non-circulating materials housed in Special Collections, having them do the actual paging of items would become a more engaging experience. Sometimes this process can be done online and at others a form needs to be completed in writing, that old fashioned modus operandi, so 20th century.

The class will have the added advantage of meeting twice of week. This should provide a more cohesive manner of presenting materials and not having to wait 7 days to meet in person. The online activities (students posting comments on the materials examined in class) can also provide more continuity that was lacking in the previous class settings.

Readings of Interest

Facebook and Academic Performance: Reconciling a Media Sensation with Data (2009)


A Response to Reconciling a Media Sensation with Data (2009)


Opening Facebook: How to Use Facebook in the College Classroom (2009)

Use of Facebook in Academic Health Sciences Libraries (2009)

Reaching Students with Facebook: Data and Best Practices (2007)


TechMatters: Going Where the College Students Are: Facebook and the Library (2007)

 

 

 

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