Learning to Instruct

It seems like I keep having weird weeks that leave me feeling like I haven’t had much time for reflection by Thursday afternoon. After my crazy 50 hour work week last week, I woke up Saturday to a nasty sinus infection that knocked me out for 4 days. We had our first “Meet Your Librarians” event planned for Monday, which was essentially my chance to introduce myself to the faculty with food, and of course that’s when I got sick. Luckily we were able to postpone it, and now I have a fridge full of hummus, pimento cheese and cucumbers! When I got back to work yesterday I found out that 4 of my co-workers have had the same illness over the last week, and two of them aren’t here today. I’m glad to be on the mend, but I’m still not 100%.

These were the first days I’ve missed since I started and it has definitely thrown me off for the week. Yesterday I spend the day in webinars and meetings, so today was really my catch up day. I read a great blog post by Lauren Pressley about building an online course, a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot since the NC3ADL conference. She is a fantastic library blogger, and I’d highly recommend her to anyone interested in library instruction. I also started reading Hybrid Learning: The Perils and Promise of Blending Online and Face-to-Face Instruction in Higher Education by Jason Allen Snart last night, and this is a topic I’m really focused on right now.

At the conference I went to a session by some of my colleagues about their work funded by a Title III grant to get faculty teaching online/hybrid courses to make use of technology to enhance their instruction. One of the presenters was Susan Jones, a math instructor here. She talked about how she has been slowly incorporating the technologies (iPad, tablet PC, video recording, etc) into her online and traditional classes. She was fascinating and really showed how technology can enhance student learning. If anyone is interested in seeing their Prezi, you can check it out here.

All of this focus on instruction has led me to have a desire to get more involved with the Instruction half of my title. I think I’d even like to teach a full semester class if the opportunity is presented. I’ve heard talk of a new Web Design AA degree program being started, and I’d love to teach Information Architecture or HCI or even basic HTML. I get the impression that as I show my skills to the campus I may be asked to teach as an adjunct, and I’d love that opportunity. Today I was asked to teach a professional development session to our faculty on using Softchalk during our Professional Development Day in April and I was both honored and a bit overwhelmed, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity.

I realized that I have a good place to start in honing my instructional skills, and that is with our library instruction sessions in the basic skills classes required by most programs here. I had about a month to get prepared for these once I started, and I turned what we had been doing into a Softchalk tutorial. I spent a few hours today analyzing the results of the pre & post test and a survey we had the students complete to get an idea of how I can make improvements. I already knew that I wanted to re-write the learning outcomes, and I’m planning to design new learning objects/activities based on the new outcomes. The results were very positive. We saw huge improvements in skills based on the comparison of pre and post test results. For example, only 36% of students reported that they knew how to search our catalog before the instruction and 92% reported that they did after instruction. The survey results were also great. 95% of students agreed that the instruction was easy to follow/understand, 98% agreed that the instruction helped them gain new information about using Library resources, and 97% agreed that the instruction will be helpful for other classes. I feel really good about that!

We had a space for extra comments and got 40. 1 was silly (“needs more cowbell”), 20 were positive or said nothing should change, and the other 19 made suggestions. A few were about computer speed and a few were about time, both of which are things we can’t control. Several students asked for more hands on and more opportunity to do things on their own. I know this is the biggest weakness of the current instruction, and I’m hoping to find ways to engage the students more within our time limits.

It’s funny, I didn’t plan to write about instruction today (or anything really), but it’s clearly on my mind. I’m really surprised with how much I like teaching, and especially using technologies to enhance teaching and learning. I thought my Digital Libraries concentration would lead me to something more behind the scenes, but so far I’m applying that knowledge more to instruction and curriculum support activities.

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One thought on “Learning to Instruct

  1. I think it’s cool, Carrie, that you have ended up applying your digital library skills to teaching instead of focusing on an ILS or other systems tools! I hope that the DL programs are covering public service applications as well as the old school purposes.

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