How Basic is Basic? – Kathleen Stacy
She is talking about one-shot reference sessions. It was nice to see her say that it’s better to have the students come to a one-shot reference session without much of a plan than for them not to be brought at all. I’ve heard some people say “I won’t teach a general library session that isn’t tied to a library assignment!” You can suggest to professors that they tie instruction to an assignment, but I’d certainly rather see students get some introduction to the library than none.
There are so many things you can teach when you’re doing an information literacy session and you can’t cover everything in an hour.
Important to have —
- clear objectives: it’s nice to have learning objectives to make sure that your one-shot is meeting the needs of the users and will keep you on track. It means showing what the learners will be able to do when your class is over.
- Tied to a task: this is SO important! Tying the learning objectives to a task allows them to practice what they’ve learned, applying the skill immediately. Practicing something helps an individual to better absorb information. She recommends having a lot of hands-on instruction so that people can not only practice their skills, but so that the librarian can
- Tangible results:
She mentioned a product, I think it was called LAN School, that locks down the computers while teaching so that students don’t surf the Web while the lecture part of the instruction session is going on. We SO need this at my school!
What to include in presentation:
- Lots of “how”, some “what,” minimal “why”
- Smallest number of steps to perform the most basic tasks (simple search)
- Get the students through a task successfully and then ask them why
What to leave out: Jargon, advanced features, personal information, evaluation of resources and results (just this is a book review, not why this is relevant to the search). A lot of info like accessing stuff from off-campus and advanced searching should really be on the handout (how about on a Web site? Don’t students often throw away handouts?).
She usually leaves the stuff about being critical of information resources out of the session because it means that she can spend less time on the library resources. She tells the professors not to allow students to use stuff from outside of the databases. Hmmm… not sure if that’s the best way to do things. Should we be telling our students that Google is bad? I can see requiring some articles from databases, but suggesting that students not use Google at all is just as silly as saying that students should only use Google. Google has many things databases do not — esepcially government info — and it’s a bad idea to give students the impression that everything worthwhile is in the databases.
Wikis in the Classroom: Powerful Tools for Library Instruction – Chad Boeninger
Chad works at Ohio University where he is the liaison to the college of business (1700 students). He usually teaches 15-20 classes per year and information literacy is not a standard requirement in the curriculum. All of the classes he needs to teach are on a variety of subjects (popcorn industry, paperclip industry, SWOT analyses, etc.).
Most libraries have research guides or pathfinders. As they grow, they start becoming completely unmanageable. Chad created a wiki that he uses to describe business resources and make them well-organized and searchable. A lot of the information described here was described in his session on Wikis, so I’m going to leave it out. Chad did a tremendous job and really inspired me to consider how we can use Wikis instructionally at Norwich.
>locks down the computers while teaching so that students don’t surf the Web while the lecture part of the instruction session is going on. We SO need this at my school!
I am of two minds about that. Of course I hate it when I see that students are on Facebook or playing solitaire when I have been talking, but I tend to do the same kind of thing myself in large meetings. I think of what Liz Lawley said in her keynote at Internet Librarian–“attention is a form of capital–we’re going to have to start earning it, not demanding it.”
Thanks for all the great CiL posts.
Commenting on the same thing as Steve….
I discovered, quite accidentally, a solution to this. Start teaching at the back of the class where you can see the students’ screens. “Okay, everybody go to this page….” and walk around to see that most people got there. Do that for the first few steps and it gets everyone in the mode of following along. Then you can go to the front and they will generally keep going with you.
This was an accident because I did it once out of sheer desperation–the podium stopped working and I started class while the tech folks were fixing it. But starting off at the back worked so well, I did it again the next time.
While I am not currently teaching BIs, or whatever instruction goes by these days, I agree with Steve. Actually, I do teach workshops on HTML and related basic web topics to LIS students so I guess I’m entitled to an opinion.
But that comment seems so antithetical to pretty much everything I’ve read about L2, the current younger generations of students, and so on. Your agreeing with it makes you sound like one of the “old school” librarians so many rail against. I have my suspicion that after your initial agreement with it brought on by (valid) frustration that you’d really not be in support of it.
And as Steve pointed out Liz’s comments, many of us do it too. I honestly feel bad about myself when I start checking my email (or whatever) in class, but sometimes the instruction is so boring, pedantic, banal, etc. that they don’t deserve my attention at that moment.
And just because much of this current generation is being drugged into attention doesn’t mean that their attention doesn’t have to be earned.
Would you advocate the rest of the library’s computers being locked down in a similar way? I sincerely doubt it.
I do like Joy’s suggestion though. Another suggestion, if you have the staff available, is to use a second person to assist. We did this at my previous academic library. The assistant didn’t help instruct, but assisted students as they got stuck, lost, sidetracked, or whatever. Some will still do what they want because they will for a multitude of reasons, some of which might even be legitimate. For those who have no desire to learn what you’re offering, despite your honest efforts to make it relevant to them, well, you cannot force them to learn.
I have experience with the “locking down” computers while teaching and don’t like it because we will lose students regardless of whether they can surf the web or not. If the content and presentation isn’t engaging enough and designed appropriately for the audience, they’ll zone out in other ways.
The concept of locking the computers down was nice in the beginning. And I like how, with a hardware solution like KnowledgeWeb from COMWEB, you can have a student’s computer project onto all the other computers in the lab so people aren’t straining to see the overhead screen. This is great for group work and for “teaching moments” when someone has a question that would benefit the entire class. Not to mention being able to project from a student computer onto the overhead screen when the instructor’s computer crashes 😉
I just got back from DC (after a delayed flight) but I did want to speak to this issue as soon as I had an Internet connection. I think there is a false dichotomy being set up. It’s not either you engage students or you find ways to force them to pay attention. It’s about serving the students in the best way possible. And it requires creativity, flexibility and a focus on the people you are actually serving that very day. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to providing instruction. My school has many unique issues, strengths and limitations. The student body is particularly unique. The area in which we teach classes (which only came into existence recently — before there was only the multipurpose room which involved the students looking at a screen for an hour) has many unique limitations that would make it advantageous for me to take control of their computers to show them things. We are not lucky enough to have an actual classroom in to teach classes and our set-up was the best my colleagues could do with the money and space they had.
I am willing to try different things in working with our patrons at Norwich. Some things may be successful and some may not, but I’d rather find what works best for them than just do what other people have found success with at their school (though I do think success stories offer us great ideas and can help us come up with new approaches for our patrons). I appreciate hearing the experiences other people have had working with their patrons (thanks!), but what works at one place won’t always work in another. Heck, even different classes at the same school have a different culture and can respond differently to a class taught the same way. Flexibility is key.
Personally, I’m happy not being L2 or being “old school” if that means I will work to figure out what works best at Norwich and not reject things without trying them with my patrons.
Hi, Meredith and all,
Thanks for your nice comments on my talk. I really appreciate the positive and constructive feedback – good information nicely delivered! I forwarded the blog entry to my boss for my performance eval.
Just to clarify and couple of things (and don’t I love the opportunity to do so!). The product we use here at Montgomery College is indeed called Lanschool (www.lanschool.com). It does lock down the student computers, but it does so by broadcasting the instructor’s screen to each student desktop. In our classroom, the 18 PCs are sunk below the worktops, with a clear window with which to view them. So an instructor could not stand in one place in the room and see all, or even one, of the screens. The instructor can also view the individual screens remotely, and all at once on the instructor’s PC, but not while broadcasting, only when the broadcast is turned off. And the instructors PC display can also be shown on the giant screen behind his/her head, at the front of the room.
Like anything else in the library instruction world, there are pros and cons to this, and what works here may not work elsewhere. We got Lanschool(through no effort of my own, BTW, it just showed up on the PCs one day, courtesy of those higher up in the org.) after I’d been here for about two years, so I’ve had a bit of experience now teaching both with and without it. The one thing I have found to be true is that students who are determined to ignore you, will, whether they can surf the web while doing so or not. Before Lanschool – websurfing, email, solitaire, IM. Since Lanschool – talking, sleeping, doodling, and texting on cells and other devices. Zoned is zoned, and a student who is disengaged will find some other way to occupy his/her time. All I ask is that they do it quietly and not bother the other students.
I think the discussion about engaging students, what works for NetGen or GenW or whoever, different learning styles and teaching styles, etc. are all good – fascinating, really, and I could go on all day. I only mentioned LanSchool in my talk because it’s what I have and make use of, and my talk was really kind of a “how I done it good” thing. I’ve found it to be useful, most of the time. Some classes it seems to really help – some…. nothing helps.
Also to clarify a point in my talk – the reason I encourage the exclusive use of Library databases in assignments is that, well, I’m doing LIBRARY instruction. One of the themes of my talk was the enormous amount of material one has to leave out of basic one-shot LI sessions. And Googling is the big one that I usually leave out, for various reasons. Not in any particular order (and by Google I mean any internet search engine):
– Profs. want the students to know what the library provides exclusively for them. Books and databases. Google is not a library service or product.
– Students almost never evaluate in any way what they find on Google and the like. First five results, print… it’s Miller time.
– Profs. complain long and loud about the crap that students submit as “research” for their assignments that they found on Google.
– I’ve yet to meet the student who doesn’t consider him/herself a total expert on Google. If I spent anytime on how to search/use Google, the eye-rolling could rotate the earth.
In short, I spend Library Instruction time on Library resources. Google is great, and I use it all the time myself, and many profs. assign specific websites or types of websites for classes, but I feel like I should spend my limited time introducing the students to resources they probably aren’t aware of, rather than boring them with a resource they know all about (or at least think they do.) I certainly don’t think that everything is in the databases, any more than I think everything is on Google. I take the approach of, “you know Google, you love Google, here’s what else it out there, here’s what your prof wants you to use, here’s what you can only use because you’re a student here.” Not excluding Google all together, Or saying it’s bad, just talking about other sources of info they probably aren’t aware of yet.
That said, some profs ask me to spend LI time discussing how to evaluate the resources found using Google or other internet search engines. And I am happy to do so. Though I don’t think much of it “sticks,” at least I’m throwing out the concepts of currency, authority, relevance, etc. But, as I said in my talk, it takes the place of other LI topics, so most profs. want me to stick to Library exclusive resources.
Anyway… sorry to be long winded! Thanks again to all for the comments.
I just saw your comment over at Walt’s post, “Taking the bait.”
Let me sincerely apologize for how you took my comment! I did not mean it how you took it. Here is what I said, “Your agreeing with it makes you sound like one of the “old school” librarians so many rail against.”
Makes you sound like (and I should probably have added “to me”) is NOT the same as IS old school. I certainly do not think you are old school, nor do I think you are “L2.”
I really do appreciate your voice and the positions you take. I was only trying to question whether and how much (you know, nuance) you really meant by what you had said, and if you really did, why. Because I had no doubt that if you said, “Mark, I do believe it and I stand by it,” that you would have very good reasons for doing so.
Again, I sincerely apologize. I did not mean it the way you seem to have taken it.
I’m just getting back to this thread, too. Just to be sure that I’m clear here, I meant it when I said “I’m of two minds about that.” We have looked at a classroom control program that lets you blank all the screens. I think if I had regular access to that, I would use it sparingly–like have them come in to blank screens and try to get all their attention before setting them loose.
I also practice what Joy suggested–just yesterday I said to a student “once you finish that email, you are going to join us on this page, right?” And I’m glad I wasn’t too snarky about it becuase I think he was responding to someone who had just told him his stuff had been stolen out of his room.
So anyway, yes–do what works for you! But I think that “attention economy” is an interesting thing to keep in mind. In that same class there was a student who kept falling asleep; wish I’d had in-seat shockers to wake her up! 😉
Mark, I totally didn’t take the L2/old school thing seriously! You have nothing to apologize for. That’s why I was joking about it on Walt’s blog. It was more the point that I couldn’t care less whether I’m Library 2.0 or not. All I care about is doing what’s best for my patrons and always trying new things in order to serve them better.
And yes, Steve, I am definitely of two minds regarding any technologies like that as well. I’m sure as I do more instruction I will find my own ways of engaging students and will discover what works and what doesn’t at our school.
OK, I think I realized that *after* I got worried I had offended you. I somehow missed the smiley and I often miss satire in the electronic media. I do pretty well with it face-to-face, but I miss it on the web with others and when I use it myself in electronic venues it usually ends up biting me you know where.
Glad to finally realize I hadn’t offended you!