- “Online Webinars! Interactive Learning Where Our Users Are: The Future of Embedded Librarianship” by Susan Montgomery
- “The Embedded Librarian Online or Face-to-Face: American University’s Experiences” by Matos, Motley, and Mayer
- How People Learn ch. 7
“Online Webinars” discussed integrating webinars as a method for embedded librarians to instruct more effectively. My experience with webinars entirely lies in professional development; almost every time we got a new system, we had to attend a webinar as training. I know I also get a lot of emails from the ALA about webinars, although I’ve never attended one. I think this article’s take on webinars is interesting because it focuses on webinars as a teaching tool for librarians, and while I knew webinars could be utilized in that way, I’ve never really thought much about it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve sat through the dreaded one-shot workshop on catalog searching and I’ve always disliked them, which is pretty bad since I worked in a library. But they lacked any engagement, and oftentimes, it was in a room while we sat at our desks; it wasn’t in the computer lab. A webinar would allow for a lot of interactive components, and I like the idea that webinars can be archived and looked at later, and I know often, transcripts are available as well. While we discovered screencasts definitely had their uses, in some situations, webinars are probably going to be a better option. Webinars are (typically) more convenient than having to travel to campus for some students, and would allow them greater access to the librarians. I appreciated the point-of-view that we, as librarians, need to change with the technology because we need to change with patrons’ needs; in this case, students are plugged in all the time, so it only makes sense to plug in with them.
“The Embedded Librarian Online or Face-to-Face” talked about the different embedded librarians at American University. One thing I particularly liked about the article was that it mentioned that librarians cannot expect to sit behind a desk all day and provide reference; that model is changing rapidly. Now, like the article mentioned, the librarian must be out and about, instructing students and faculty on how to use the resources, for example. I think this is important largely because it’s happening in every sort of library, although in a different way. Public librarians no longer sit behind a desk all day either; they’re programming, doing outreach, and many other things. The same is true with school librarians. I think the idea of embedded librarians is an interesting one, and an idea that I admit I haven’t thought a lot about. The difference between the two embedded librarians presented in the article piqued my curiosity; while at first, I thought that embedded librarians with a physical office space was probably the best way to go, at the end of the article, the business librarian brought up an interesting point: while the music department is used to having an embedded librarian, the business school isn’t, and so many of the undergrads are more comfortable emailing. As the librarian, you have to be cognizant of the technology your audience would want. I would be interested to see if the business librarian were to get an office in the school of business, then would the rate of email questions increase/decrease and would the amount of visitors to his office be enough to justify that office. The idea of an embedded librarian intrigues me, and something I’ll have to read more about. I think I myself would prefer to have that physical space so that I could interact with students/faculty every day (a little 638 school librarian coming out in me there, I think) and I think in departments that are smaller, it would be an invaluable way to get to know students. At the same time, in a part-time MBA program where students attend classes at night, that wouldn’t be very useful, and so there, a more virtual embedded librarian would probably be better.
Chapter 7 of How People Learn showcase effective teaching in math, science, and history. Right away, the chapter grabbed me when it talked about Barb Johnson’s classroom: about how she asked them at the beginning of the year what each student’s questions were about themselves or the world, and then they decided as a class what the class’s collective questions were after working in groups. Then, she would take those questions and map them on to a topic (i.e., if someone asked if they’d live to be 100, they’d study genetics). Now that is effective teaching. But like the chapter points out, that requires a wide range of knowledge. I’ll admit, while the history example was an interesting read, that wasn’t where my curiosity really was, largely because I’ve had stellar history teachers who fit the bill of effective teachers, and so I’m lucky enough to be able to say, “Oh, yeah, I recognize these teachers because I’ve basically had them.” Where my interest was was in the math and science examples, and mostly in the math one. Science was saved for me by AP Biology senior year of high school, but math was never recoverable from freshman year (sophomore and junior year math classes are a blur, really). I think the last really good math teacher I had was eighth grade, where we celebrated Pi Day by bringing in pie and learning radius, circumference, etc. while using the pies. He also taught us Binomial Benny (long story), but I can factor binomials and trinomials like a champ. I think it’s interesting that the section notes that how teachers look at math directly affects how they teach it, which really makes sense. My eighth grade teacher looked at math as not something abstract, but as something we’d use every day. He’d admit that we weren’t going to maybe use the Pythagorean Theorem every day, but he’d give us an example that wasn’t climbing a mountain that we, as eighth graders, could relate to. My ninth grade math class consisted of the teacher giving us the answers every day, and then we went home and (attempted) to do the homework. But since we hadn’t learned the concepts, we couldn’t duplicate the results. I think Annie Keith’s approach of group work is great; it’s collaboration, and it’s forcing the learning of concepts. As for the science section, I have to admit it took me awhile to get through it, because anytime my brain sees the work physics, it goes “nope” and moves right along. In all seriousness, though, I think a lesson of the two carts colliding would have been helpful since I’m such a visual learner. Instead, my physics class was mostly worksheets. Overall, I think the reading was just an important reminder that while content knowledge is important in teaching, so is understanding how students learn.