Life and Instruction

Next week will be my first week back to normal after several hectic weeks starting with ALA. I took of Friday of last week and Monday of this week to spend time with my parents in New York. I try not to be negative or too personal here, but I think sharing is helpful for me to move forward. The main reason I went to see them is because the day after we moved to Florida, my Dad had a major stroke. This was the first time I’ve been able to see him since that happened, and it was difficult. The day before I arrived he moved from an intensive rehabilitation facility to a nursing home. His speech has improved but is still affected. He can’t swallow and has a feeding tube in place. He has very limited movement on his right side and is essentially wheelchair bound at this point. He will still be getting several hours of therapy a day at the nursing home, but we have a long way to go. I am trying to use this uphill battle as a way to keep the rest of my life in perspective.

When things start to feel stressful or make me impatient, I remind myself that I am lucky to be in good health, have a job I enjoy that improves people’s lives, and have a supportive network of friends, family and colleagues. I also look forward to coming to work each day and having time where I am too busy or focused to think about what’s going on with my Dad. This bloated introduction is basically my way of saying that I don’t have much to blog about today, but I have been kicking around some ideas about instruction that I am looking forward to implementing in the Fall. I can’t really plan sessions yet because I don’t have any standing instruction requests here. I am the first UCF Librarian full time at this position and a majority of my faculty are new or adjunct, so I am going to cross my fingers that I can introduce myself in a way that helps faculty see the value of library instruction for their courses.

In no particular order, here’s a list of ideas I’ve been mulling over, articles I’ve read, and websites that I’ve bookmarked relating to instruction since I started at UCF.

For Business classes – Have students work on a company profile: pick a company they currently/want to work for, find their annual report, find news/articles, and then compare the information between the two – works for individuals, pairs or groups

Send out a survey before the class meets to assess what is troubling students about their assignment/project/paper – This will allow me to better tailor my instruction & to generate a word cloud to present at the beginning of class. Speaking of word clouds, I found a neat little app yesterday called Textal  that generates word clouds from URLs, Twitter and documents.

In class activity – Find a popular article with uncited references to research studies and show students how to find them using combination of web and UCF sources. If the instructor is willing they can do an assignment evaluating the actual research vs. how it’s presented in popular media.

One of my new co-workers does this icebreaker activity at the beginning of class – Put questions/statements on whiteboards (ex. “I’ve had library instruction before”) before class; when class comes in give each person sticky notes to place underneath statements they agree with. This is an in person version of my survey idea. I like it because it anonymizes the process (better than raised hands) and is low tech.

Assessment – Faculty evaluation of sessions is something we didn’t do in my previous institution, but is something I think I’d like to implement here. It’s a little scary to put myself out there, but I know that I can’t improve if I don’t get feedback. It’s nice starting with a fresh slate because I can do things without hearing “That’s not how we usually do it.”

Team Based Learning – Many of the exercises I currently use, and some of my ideas fit the concept of Team Based Learning (adapted for a one shot). A great resource on the fundamentals of this practice is the website for a presentation on the topic given at LOEX in May titled Fine Tuning The Group Activity Using The 4S Structure.

Interactive Learning – One of my goals is to always include some type of interactive activity in my instruction sessions. Some topics in particular lend themselves well to this, and give students the chance to create while they learn. Char Booth wrote a blog post in February about what she calls collaborative sabotage, and I want to use some of this process in a workshop I’m planning for the Spring on presentation skills. A colleague I met recently as part of an informal distance librarian chat group I was invited to join sent a great article to our group yesterday on incorporating interactivity in the online classroom. The article is titled “Innovation in the Academy: Creating an Online Information Literacy Course”. Here’s the citation: Clapp, M. J., Johnson, M., Schwieder, D., & Craig, C. L. (2013). Innovation in the Academy: Creating an Online Information Literacy Course. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 7(3), 247-263. doi: 10.1080/1533290X.2013.805663



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