When we last met, I gave you a behind-the-scenes look at how four librarians became superstars. In this installment, I show you what the finished product looks like…
The videos turned out exactly as I had envisioned them and I am incredibly proud of all the work my colleagues and I put into them. The website on which these videos are displayed also allows students to email the videos to themselves for later viewing, which will be crucial at the conclusions of the library’s information literacy workshops.
This project was truly a joint effort. In addition to the staff in the library, I collaborated with the campus Multimedia Center to record the videos and with the college IT Division to create the website and mail form. I feel extremely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work cooperatively with these talented folks across the Lehman College campus.
I am no longer the Instructional Technologies Librarian at Lehman College but I am still on board as an adjunct. (I am also an adjunct in the library at City Tech.) I will no longer be contributing to this or the webcomic project but I am excited to see these tutorials grow and evolve. They’re like my children and this is akin to watching them grow up. It’s bittersweet.
Posted in Instruction.
– September 27, 2011
Along with two of my colleagues here at the Lehman College Library, I am currently in the process of reviewing research papers from 31 students in three sections of ENG 120 (Principles of Effective Writing II). We are examining their bibliographies to see how and whether students are applying what they’d learned in the library classes they were required to attend. A couple of thoughts came to me immediately:
- Wow, students don’t know how to cite their sources! I am appalled by their complete disregard for any convention… and I’m extremely grateful to the few who put even a modicum of effort into their bibliographies.
- A majority of the sources cited came from the web. By my count, 36.4% of the 239 citations were just websites: organizations’ websites, how-to sites, school pages, news aggregators, blogs, etc. This does not take into consideration the 63 references (26.4%) that cited nytimes.com, wsj.com, time.com, and other newspaper/magazine sites. Combined, the two numbers indicate that almost two-thirds (62.8%) of all citations came from the web and not through the library’s databases or catalog.
- Were sites like nytimes.com, wsj.com, time.com, etc. chosen consciously? That is, did students make the decision to use these sites because they knew them to be reputable? Or did they cite them just because Google pulled them in its list of results?
- Is Google getting better (or “smarter”)? If it is ranking results from The New York Times above about.com, should we let the students know that, yes, they can use Google to get relatively credible information?
- Should we be teaching them advanced Google techniques instead of showing them how to search our databases? (ETA: A colleague forwarded a link to A Google a Day, which seems to be a good introduction to this very concept.)
- What does “research” mean for these students? And how many of them really need to know how to write a paper in their first year of undergraduate school? (Side note: I placed out of the first-year English requirement as an undergraduate because of Advanced Placement credit earned in high school. I majored in Computer & Information Science so I spent very little time doing “research” [in the traditional sense] and writing papers. I learned what I needed to know as I went along and only did “research” when I entered grad school for my library science degree.) Those who never go on to grad school will probably never need to search LexisNexis or ScienceDirect. They will, however, be looking up other kinds of information that is relevant to their fields. How they search for this information is something we can teach them at the undergraduate level. Since so few undergrad students ever go on to grad school, should we focus on meeting the everyday needs of the undergraduate students?
- We’re outsourcing much of our thinking to our personal devices these days. (See Internet Use Affects Memory, Study Finds from The New York Times.) In a way, we can even begin thinking of our phones as parts of ourselves. (I do not have my phonebook memorized but it is part of my general knowledge. Just because it’s stored on my phone’s memory card and not in my brain doesn’t mean that knowledge is not mine.) So the way we learn is changing and, like it or not, we need to accept that fact. As a result, the library’s role in shaping students into effective learners needs to be restructured. We need to place more emphasis on searching effectively and evaluating results to find the best information. So instead of starting with JSTOR (or whichever database a librarian prefers) and showing students how to search effectively in there, maybe we need to start with Google. Show them the practical first so they can apply that to the academic later (if need be).
My mind’s reeling! This exercise of evaluating students’ citations is an eye-opening one. I’d be interested in seeing a more in-depth analysis (taking in all sorts of variables into account, including the professors’ individual styles and the students’ academic & personal histories) of a similar nature. There are several studies that are attempting something like this right now (including Project Information Literacy and CUNY’s very own Undergraduate Scholarly Habits Ethnography Project) and I’m eagerly awaiting their results. However, I’m also interested in seeing the cognitive and social effects our changing information world is having on academia and pedagogy.
Posted in Instruction.
– July 27, 2011
Well, maybe not superstars… but three of my colleagues (@robertfarrell, @shavelka, @jaking) and I headed over to the campus Multimedia Center last week to make use of their fancy film studio equipment and talented staff to shoot our brief instructional videos. These videos will be presented similarly to Google’s Teach Parents Tech videos: short & sweet (≤1min), easygoing narrative, screencasts where appropriate… So to emulate the great minds at Google, I isolated 16 areas/topics that needed videos, wrote the scripts, found actors, shot practice videos, tweaked the scripts, shot more practice videos, and, finally, booked the Center’s studio.
And then this happened!
Jennifer prepping for the camera!
Production control room!
Robert and Allie writing scene info on a clapperboard!
Allie and Jennifer before "Action!" is called!
We had a teleprompter and everything! It was quite exciting. Unexpectedly, a photographer from the Media Relations office came by and took photos of the studio (with us in it!) and control room for the college. So these photos may appear somewhere on the college website or in print, too! (They’ll be similar to these photos — taken graciously by @shavelka — but not as blurry or blown out. Sorry, Stef!)
So next on the agenda is choosing the best takes, making minor edits, chromakeying the green background out of the videos (and replacing it with … something — TBD!), adding text, creating the screencasts, inserting the screencasts, revamping the website that displays these videos, uploading these videos somewhere (most likely Vimeo), and launching!
…That’s actually a lot more than I thought I had left to do. Time to get back to work!
Posted in Instruction.
– June 30, 2011
Ta-da! The RefWorks flyer is complete:
Workshops being offered in Spring 2011 (PDF)
I’ve been working on this flyer with a designer friend of mine for almost 3 weeks now. It’s gone through several iterations and many edits but it’s finally finished. It’s going to be distributed through the campus-wide listserv and, after I get approval from Student Affairs, I’ll be posting this flyer around campus. I’m also planning on sending individual emails to all the department chairs.
And, actually, I think I’ll be sending emails to all the administrative and service-oriented offices/divisions on campus as well. Because, incidentally enough, while I was writing this blog post, I got a call from a CUNY CAP at the Counseling Center who wanted to know if the library offered the EndNote software. It was a great opportunity to tell her about RefWorks and the workshops I’ll be holding this semester! This makes me think that I’ve been (wrongfully!) targeting just the academic departments. There are so many other people on campus who could benefit from this tool.
By offering 4 workshops throughout the semester at different times of the day, I hope to accommodate everyone’s schedules. That means that I’ll be coming in one Saturday and staying extra late one weeknight. I’m having people register just so I can plan accordingly and not stay until 8 PM just to have no one show up.
Posted in Instruction.
– January 28, 2011
Last week, I became the leader of my library’s e-book/e-reader project. This week, I started a group here on the Commons for everyone who’s involved in similar projects on other campuses. (Was this move selfish? Slightly. I want to know how others are managing their programs but I also want everyone else to benefit from such a space. At the LACUNY Dialogues event this past Tuesday, it was obvious that others agreed.) So now when I’m not working on LibGuides or RefWorks, covering the reference desk, teaching (or preparing to teach) classes, combing through book catalogs, attending workshops and meetings, planning instructional tutorials/videos, writing/answering emails, or managing the library’s knitting group (which I started so I have only myself to blame), I have this new project to occupy my headspace.
One of the things that’s making things easier is my whiteboard! The part of the eLibrary project that’s the most time-consuming and worrisome for me is marketing. (Read all about my grand marketing plans on the group’s blog!) So this is me, storyboarding the stop-motion promo video I’m planning:
Lehman eLibrary Promo Video
Each panel is explained below:
- Student is stuffing books into her bag at the circulation desk. The amount of books she’s checked out is obscene and her bag is growing large and lumpy.
- Student is walking to class, struggling under the weight of her bulky bag.
- Student is sitting at her desk in class when she reaches for a book she needs.
- Instead of finding the books she’d borrowed, she finds an e-reader. Confused, she pulls it out and looks at it quizzically.
- Camera approaches student. It stops behind her, looking over her shoulder. E-reader is seen up close, screen showing the hefty list of books loaded on the device.
- Title card sequence explains the library’s e-book/e-reader project.
I seriously love my whiteboard. My ideas can just be thrown up there and taken down with ease. I had to make a special request because the library didn’t have any whiteboards lying around for me to snag. I’m very glad my Chief Librarian approved the request (especially in these harsh economic times when budgets are rapidly shrinking) so I can have this tool to aid me in my work.
Since I’ve already found a photographer (and because he’s my boyfriend, he’ll do the job for free!) and the storyboard is more or less completed, the next step in making this video a reality is finding a model to pose as the student. Let’s hope that process will be smooth.
Are you entrusted with creating videos (whether instructional or promotional) for your library? How do you approach the process of creating an original piece of media?
Posted in Special Initiatives.
– January 21, 2011
So I decided that I didn’t have enough on my plate and took over the role of RefWorks Administrator at the Leonard Lief Library. And, actually, it’s quite a peaceful gig, considering how underutilized this tool is on my campus. (Approximately 3.8% of faculty have created an account in RefWorks. The figure for students is at a dismal 1.6%.) However, I want to turn that around. Everyone on campus — especially those involved in research, such as graduate students and junior faculty — should know about this citation management tool.
Informing the masses, however, is an ambitious undertaking. That means that I have to offer training workshops and market them strategically (hitting up deans, chairs of departments, faculty listservs, library liaisons; putting up posters in high-traffic areas; distributing flyers; reaching out to the writing center; teaming up with the faculty commons; et cetera). And then, y’know, I have to actually teach the workshops. (Remember how terrified of teaching I am?) I don’t expect tremendous turnouts so I’m actually not quite so freaked out about teaching these sessions. I am, however, struggling to figure out the best approach to teaching them.
I’m quite aware that these workshops have to be interactive and hands-on. (How else do you learn to use a tool other than by using it?) However, even the most useful tool won’t be exciting unless the user has an interest in learning it. So how does one make learning RefWorks fun?
Very serendipitously, a message came through one of my subscribed listservs (ILI-L) today: “How do you make RefWorks fun?” My favorite response so far:
I always start by showing them how RefWorks can be used to create bibliographies or works cited lists. I use a folder that has quite a long list of citations in it and then ask the students how long they think it would take them to create a properly formatted list of x number of citations and also share with them that I think it would take me about a minute each.
So I think that’s the tactic I’ll use: prepare a folder of 50+ citations and automagically generate a bibliography at the beginning of class. That should turn some heads and pique some interests, yes?
Do you teach RefWorks on your campus? How do you make it fun/interesting/relevant? How is RefWorks advertised/marketed at your library/college?
Posted in Instruction.
– January 12, 2011
I get it now. I’m supposed to dress in business casual because it sets me apart from the students. (And when I’m younger than the average student on campus, this is of utmost importance.) Instead of people asking me, “You work here?” with a twinge of disbelief, they ask me, “Do you work here? I need help.” My attire is like a uniform, letting the students know whom to turn to if they’re having trouble finding a classroom or needing assistance with their research.
At first, I resented the notion of having to change the way I dress. After all, I’m a professional! I should be judged on my performance and not on my appearance. However, my performance is, unfortunately, sometimes judged by my appearance: patrons who come to the reference desk don’t always take me seriously because of how young I am. I can sometimes see in their eyes their incredulousness when they approach me. (At my previous place of employment, one student didn’t even try to conceal his hesitation to ask me a question. Without saying it outright, he basically told me there was no way I could possibly help him answer his Very Complex Question.) I have noticed, though, that when I don pumps, slacks, and a button-down shirt, students don’t seem as wary of coming to me with their research needs. Except some of the younger students (read: the few who are younger than I am), who are the most dubious of my role in the library. They are usually the ones who remark on my age, telling me I look too young to be a librarian.
…I still don’t know whether to take that as a compliment. I did have one older patron tell me I should be in movies rather than behind the reference desk. ”You’re like Natalie Wood!” he remarked. Now that I’ll take as a compliment ;) (Admittedly, I did have to Google this Natalie Wood person… but she died before I was born so I feel justified in not knowing who she was!)
Do you worry about what you wear to work? Do you think it matters how you dress in the classroom / on the job?
Posted in Reference.
– November 30, 2010
At the end of my ENG 110 (Critical Thinking) classes, I ask the students to fill out a survey. One of the questions is “What would make this workshop better? Why?” The best response I’ve received so far:
more videos because they seem to catch my attention.
Straight from the horse’s mouth! Students seem to be interested in the video clips I show them. (Simpsons FTW!)
The least useful response I’ve received to that question has been:
More fun activities.
That’s a totally legitimate request — I just wish he/she gave an example or two of these coveted “fun activities”!
Posted in Instruction.
– November 15, 2010
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since starting my first full-time position as a librarian is instruction. I am not, by nature, a teacher. I get terrible anxiety when standing in front of a room full of people (all those eyeballs blinking at me!). My heart starts beating uncontrollably and I lose control of my voice. My only reprieve is that I have to teach maybe one class every week. (I commend every teacher out there for his/her ability to do this on a regular — and much more frequent — basis!)
My campus, Lehman, has a sequential information literacy program with three required library instruction sessions plus whatever classes faculty from other departments request. To date, I’ve taught maybe seven classes in the 2+ months I’ve been on the job. Preparing for these classes takes up a considerable amount of time, mainly because I’ve never taught before so I don’t yet know the best or most effective way of preparing. I’ve been basically writing scripts for myself, incorporating each class’s learning objectives and re-using other instructors’ exercises and examples.
However, I have been trying to make these classes my own, too. I fear I may become known as the Simpsons-crazed librarian on campus because of my penchant for including clips from episodes of The Simpsons. For example, when I’m teaching the class on critical thinking and source evaluation, I’ll show the students this clip (to give an example of a non-critical thinker):
Computer Will Do Our Thinking Now!
I’ve ripped two more clips from this particular episode (The Computer Wore Menace Shoes) and I show them to the class when I think it’s appropriate. Based on the survey taken at the end of the class the first time I taught it (…last week), the students seem to enjoy the brief clips! I hope they’re gleaning some useful information from them, though, and not just watching them for the sake of watching them. (I question myself constantly. This is based on my lack of confidence. I do believe I’ll get better, though! I’m still way too new at this game; I just have to keep telling myself that.)
What do you do to make your classes interesting or more relevant?
Posted in Instruction.
– November 11, 2010