The last sentence I wrote in my previous entry was “I’m looking forward to next week when I’m planning to immerse myself in re-designing online instruction for several classes.” Almost four weeks later I can report that I’m almost done with the major online tutorial I wanted to build! I actually spent the majority of the two weeks following my post to read and fully engage with the book “Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators” by Char Booth. I read it word for word, actually did the activities & reflections for each chapter, took copious notes, and used her USER method to plan for the online tutorial. The fact that I took the time to do this should tell you a bit about how valuable I find this book! I’ve mentioned here before that I learned very little about instruction during my graduate school career. This book spoke to that need, and was exactly what I needed to prepare me for getting materials ready for the fall semester. I also read a good blog post during the same time about how common this lack of instructional development is in the library profession titled “Developing Your Teaching Skills“.
I spent about a full week building the online tutorial for our ACA classes this fall. I used Softchalk, which is not my favorite tool, because I wanted to create something that could be placed into each section’s Blackboard course and linked directly to the grade book. Unfortunately, when I tried to upload my finished course to Blackboard last Thursday it didn’t work. I was out at a conference Friday and I’m still waiting to be contacted again by their support. I even broke the first section of my course that’s all text based out into its own lesson and tried to upload that, but was unsuccessful. I’m taking the day off from troubleshooting today, and my plan tomorrow is to try to re-install Softchalk on my computer. It’s incredibly frustrating to work so hard on a project and not be able to complete the final (and most crucial) step.
I am proud of what I created. I used a storytelling format where I introduced two students with different information needs, one that had a newly diagnosed heath problem and one with an English paper. I wanted to engage students with different needs, and point out that the research skills they are learning can be used outside of an academic setting. I made three videos, several activities, annotated images, and quiz questions with photos and real applications. I used the student with health problems for my instruction, and asked the student to “help” the student with her English paper as the quiz questions. I’m really hoping to get my technical issues sorted so that students can actually use my tutorial, and so that I can have a few colleagues test it!
As I mentioned above, I went to a conference on Friday. It was the AppState Summer FreeLearning Conference in Boone, NC. It was a free conference with limited attendance, so I signed up before I knew what the sessions were. This was my second experience attending a non-library conference, and I really enjoy attending sessions with people that have other roles in higher education and are at different types of institutions. I attended a session on screencasting that helped give me some ideas for our library, a session on Team Based Learning that was fascinating but not something I can implement in a one shot, and a session on using Twitter for professional development. The Twitter session encouraged me to get started with HootSuite, and I think that will help solve some of my Twitter anxiety issues. The keynote speaker was a theater professor who talked about collaboration and using improv techniques to foster collaboration. This can be a real challenge in a one shot instruction session, but I think it’s still doable. Now that I’ve finished the online tutorial I can start looking at the library module for an online course that we make faculty take before they can teach a class online, and get to work on revamping our face to face instruction for ACA and English.