Monday, February 24, 2014

another ppt tip

I was reminded of the importance of an agenda recently.  The presenter for this particular presentation neglected to mention what she was going to discuss during the session.  I found that during the presentation, participants were constantly interrupting her with questions; most of which, would be answered with information that was coming up...

An agenda lets the presenter control the dissemination of the information and not the participants.  I am not saying that participants shouldn't ask questions, or that the session should not be interactive - but that having an agenda lets the audience know what to expect and it keeps the presenter organized.

quick ppt tip

I was looking through my notes on my iPhone yesterday and I stumbled upon a great tip that I had written down while watching a presentation at CHLA 2013 in Saskatoon.  One of the presenters had a breadcrumb navigation across the top of every PPT slide.  It showed all of the agenda items, and highlighted the slide that she was on.  I thought this was a great tip to help organize the presentation.

For example:
Introduction >> Slide 1 >> Topic 2 >> Slide 3 >> etc.  The slide that she was on, was captured in bold font so that it stood out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Encourage Discussion

Last week I taught 4 times in 4 days.  This may not seem like a lot but for Engineering it is a lot.  One particular class, in a discipline that I have noted a lack of willingness to participate, they again refused to answer any of my questions.  I waited the required 7 seconds for a response and nothing.

The next day, I had another class in the same discipline, which I had planned on completely relying on active learning techniques for my instruction.  I was terrified that the class would be a huge disaster.  I had nothing else planned, nor any time to prepare anything else.

I employed two strategies to encourage discussion.
  1. I brought along a bag of prizes, just in case I need to bribe them to talk [I am happy to note that I didn't need to hand out a single prize]
  2. I simply stated at the beginning of the session - Plan A: we have a 50 minute instruction session with group work and class discussions as well as Q&A, but you have to participate.  Plan B: we have a 50 minute instruction session where you are forced to listen to me for the whole 50 minutes.  I promise you that you want to choose Plan A!  No one can be exciting and interesting for a full 50 minutes.
The professor stated after the class that usually at least 1/3 of the computer monitors during guest lectures are on social media sites, etc.  He stated that during my class, he noticed that everyone was engaged and participating!

Head Over Heels...

Head Over Heels in love with flipped teaching that is.

Recently I had an opportunity to try flipped teaching methodology in a class that was being offered for the first time for GEOE students.  This opportunity came about when the instructor initially sought assistance with her own query, wondering how a librarian would search for information on that subject.  I showed her a couple of techniques that might help to improve the relevancy of her results and she immediately asked if I would be willing to create a video documenting this process for her students.  She then suggested that we experiment with flipped teaching.  If you know me, you know that I instantly agreed!

This process ran from October to January.  I sought the assistance of the library's new instructional designer, hoping for more information on this methodology.  I also spent a lot of time pondering what the instruction the video portion would provide and then what information would be covered in the in-class segment.

I created the video capture in December as the in-class segment was scheduled for the second week of classes in the winter semester.  Students were assigned the video, which was embedded within Blackboard on the first day of class.  They were to have watched the video and answer two pages of questions created by the instructor by the following Monday.

During the in-class session, we reviewed the pre-assignment and I asked further questions to clarify the information and encourage critical thinking skills. We then employed pair-shares and group discussions for students to start working through their research project.  I also used a comparison technique which asked half the class to look at Google Scholar and the other half to look at USearch.  They then had to convince the other group why their resource was superior!

The feedback from the class was very positive.  Students enjoyed the ability to pause the video and re-watch sections when necessary.  There was also a positive reaction to the in-class session as they were able to ask questions, seek advice and review suggestions.

The success of this project was due in large part to the enthusiasm, support and involvement of the instructor.  She created an opportunity where there was a direct tie between the library instruction and a class assignment.  There was buy-in from students and eager participation because of it.

I look forward to flipped teaching taking the library instruction world by storm!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Confessions of an Unintentional Rule Breaker


I provide instruction for a class that is offered to all Engineering students in their 2nd or 3rd year of study.  In the past this class has been taught in person, but this year the instructors asked if it was possible to create short online modules for students instead.  I spent August and part of September creating 5 individual modules ranging from 6 minutes to 15 minutes on topics including RefWorks, USearch, Chicago Author Date citation style, publication types and plagiarism.

One of the instructors had a random copyright inventory of her class materials performed in late September.  I was advised that one of my modules showed too much of a scholarly publication that I was using to demonstrate the characteristic of this type of publication.  I had literally flipped through the contents so that the student would be able to identify how scholarly publications are different from a trade or popular publications in the format that they use.  The copyright coordinator went so far as to count the pages that I had flipped through and stated that the clip was a violation of the 10% rule, even though the contents would not be legible or identifiable to the viewer and the video was only loaded on Blackboard, which is password protected and only available to the students registered in the course.

I had several choices: either remove 3 seconds of the video clip to comply with the 10% rule, re-do the video, or seek permission from the publisher.  I chose the last option and immediately sent the publisher the offending video and a request to use their journal in my instruction via email.  Within 24 hours I had the permission that I required.

Ultimately, it was an excellent learning experience in awareness.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Old Habits....

How many times have I walked out into the stacks, armed with a call number and nothing else.  How many times do I have to return to the catalogue to look up the title and/or some additional piece of information because I can't find the book on the shelf?

Yesterday my daughter wanted to search online for information about fairies.  She was treading dangerously close to discovering sensitive information about the tooth fairy, so I shut her down.  I suggested instead that we search the catalogue at the Saskatoon Public Library and promised to take her there should we find some good books.  We found one in the library, and another that we placed a hold on.  She wrote down the call number and we went to the library.

Initial browse found nothing.  Library assistant thought it might be interfiled in the adult section, but it wasn't.
Catalogue search #1: daughter suggested a possible name - nothing
Catalogue search #2,3,4: tried subject searches, keyword searches - nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing
Catalogue search #5: tried my initial search for fairy information and guess what, we had the title wrong. Found the books in the kids section and while browsing the stacks found another one.

My advice, always write down the call number AND THE TITLE!!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Have prizes, will instruct

Every class is different.  You cannot predict how much the class will participate.  Some classes shout out the answers and students willingly put up their hands.  Other classes sit and stare at you and refuse to spit out an answer, any answer at all, ever. 

My advice, have prizes constantly at the ready.  If you encounter a class where the students are refusing to participate, then bring out those prizes.  Perhaps some prizes will entice them to be more engaged.

If you lack prizes, but rely on participation in your instruction, then you are going to have to learn to patiently wait for responses.  I find this part pure torture! 

P.S. if any students read this post... don't be scared of the friendly librarian.  She is not trying to trick you.  You will most likely get the answer right and even if you are wrong, I highly doubt that she will do anything to embarrass you.