Week #14: The finale

So this is it, the last week! Looking back, I’m amazed at all that this class has done: we’ve created our own screencasts, we’ve hosted one-shot workshops, and we hosted our own webinars as well. That’s really something to be proud of, my fellow 643-ers! All of those activities will prove useful in our future careers, whatever they may be, I’m sure. It was nice working with you all.

But now what we’re all here for, the readings:

“When Teachers Drive Their Learning” by Semadini discusses a program that his school uses, called Fusion, that encourages professional development by allowing teachers to pick what they’d like to improve on, and through study groups and mentorships, the goal overall is to improve their teaching skills. As I was reading this, a thought struck me: at my high school, we had (and they still have) Late Starts. All I knew about them was that I got to come in at 9:45 instead of 7:45 one Wednesday a month, and that was amazing. Now that I think back on it, though, in the fuzzy recesses of my mind, I think the reasoning for that was for teacher professional development. Interesting. Leave it to me to never question 2 more hours of sleep, though. At any rate, the article was interesting because it seems to me that this sort of program relies on the motivation teachers have to continue to improve, which I think is kind of amazing. The Fusion program is clearly a lot of work: the teacher picks their topics they’d like to improve on. Then, they’re assigned to a group of teachers that are also working to improve in that same area, and they’re given reading assignments to complete before they meet as a group several times to discuss their findings. After that, they observe a peer (a master teacher in that area) and then they themselves will  be observed as well. When it’s all done, the teacher submits evidence of improvement, and they get a stipend ranging from $50 to $500. Like the article stated, that’s a lot of work for $50, so it’s obvious that the teachers are really looking to improve. I think a program like Fusion is a really fantastic idea; it allows for teachers to continue their professional development without having to go elsewhere. It also encourages mentorship and collaboration, both of which are great in the teaching environment. Since the program also offers a lot of choices, it means the teachers can really work on what they want to, instead of being forced to work on a particular subject. It also allows teachers, who may be somewhat inexperienced in teaching overall, to become a “master teacher” in a particular area; that way, all teachers feel valued and included. After reading, I’m curious to know how unique a program like Fusion is.

“Planning an Online Professional Development Module” by Fontichiaro talks about creating professional development modules for a school district concerning technology. I really don’t have a lot of experience with modules in a professional sense (I’ve done them for school), but the way they were described in the article was really interesting. For six weeks, there were 17 “explorations” (like TeacherTube, Flickr, etc.) that teachers would experiment with and then reflect on their blog about how they could utilize it personally and professionally in the classroom. I think overall for me, the strength of this module idea was something Kristin brought up almost immediately: I learn best by experimenting with technology myself, not in a classroom. Granted, having some groundwork isn’t a bad idea, but the actual learning’s going to occur when I’m in a no-pressure setting and can just experiment with the tool. When I had to learn InDesign for yearbook, we had classes on it where we had to complete in-class assignments on the topic of the day. It really made me nervous, and while having the teacher there did have its advantages, I largely learned InDesign sitting in my bedroom, doing my own assignments. Also, like Kristin mentions, I really began to talk to my fellow students and we began to learn from one another, which is invaluable. That these modules can be reused from year to year is also a bonus. Continual professional development is really important, and these sort of modules are a no-pressure way to ensure continual professional development.

“The C’s of Our Sea Change” by Blowers and Reed discusses the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County’s (PLCMC) Learning 2.0, a similar “exploration”-based module program to Kristin’s that is based on four core competencies that the library had developed. Library workers were asked to use a certain Web 2.0 site and then blog about their experiences (anonymously, if they so chose). I really like that this article was based on change; libraries, and technology, are constantly changing, and so we have to create ways to keep up with those changes. And the authors are right; librarians need to know how to troubleshoot computer hardware, for example, or help a patron with Flickr because there’s just not the time or the resources to call in special help for things like that. As such, then, the trainers developed the core competencies through their program Learning 2.0, because that approach taught the lifelong skills needed to tackle new technology instead of the new technology itself (because let’s face it: in a year, it may be obsolete or completely changed). Like with Kristin’s program and Fusion, Learning 2.0 depends a lot on motivation; the author say it best when they state: “Libraries are full of high achievers.” (I think the LIS group here proves that as well!) When you have people that are continually willing to professionally develop, it’s important that programs like the modules, Fusion, or Learning 2.0 are available so that they can do so.

I think this week’s topic was planned because we’re at the end of our road in this class. It’s up to us now to continually develop while at SI, but also once we’re out of here and working as well. Hopefully, we’ll work in environments that have programs like these, or we’ll be in positions where we can plan programs like these if there isn’t!

Week 12: Twitter “travels” @exlibriskrista

It’s probably pretty obvious by my blog that I’m a verbose person. If I can say it in 30 words, I’ll somehow manage to take three times as many words to say it. It’s something I’ve always known about myself. So having to write something in 140 characters? That, my friends, has proven to be quite the challenge for me.

I’ve tried Twitter before, but I wasn’t really that into it. Part of it was the limit of characters, but another part was because previously, I was just talking about my life, which can only take me so far. Using it professionally never really occurred to me before, to be honest. Focusing on my future career interests and things to do with libraries/books, which I can talk about all day, definitely interests me more than my past Twitter endeavor.

I think one of the greatest things about Twitter is its amazing ability to disseminate information quickly and then enable people to band together and do something about that information, if they so choose. My first little Twitter “crusade” was the news that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget would cut the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services), which provides the primary source of funding to over 123,000 libraries (and thus privatizing libraries). The ability to tweet him my opinion and then encourage others to do the same is one of the amazing powers of Twitter. I’m not sure if I would have heard about the Rep. Paul Ryan situation as fast as I did without Twitter.

Another observation I had was that I don’t think Twitter is tremendously user friendly. Mollie was nice enough to tell me how to retweet and add something of my own, which entails copying and pasting that tweet into a new one and then adding RT and the person’s handle who you’re retweeting from. That just seems completely backwards to me. Also, I have yet to figure out the difference between RT and MT. (RT is retweeting, but MT? No idea.) I’m also not sure how to handle retweeting when you want to add something to someone else’s tweet, but theirs is a 140 characters already. Lastly, why random Twitter accounts are just following me is something that I will never get. I guess I’ll just have to get used to that part and Google the rest!

I’m not sure that Twitter will ever be the social forum for me. I enjoy tumblr most of all (and ultimately blogging) probably because I’m so verbose. Perhaps the limit of characters is something I’ll get used to, but for now, it just endlessly frustrates me. When I have something to say, I have something to say, and I hate being limited to 140 characters. However, I think that it’s important for librarians to always keep up with what’s going on in the profession/libraries all around, and Twitter is a great forum to do that. Social networking is obviously important in the library world;  we spent quite a bit of class time on library/librarian branding as proof. I don’t want to brand myself, obviously, but the fact that it’s so popular in the librarian world merits some of my attention. Maybe in two months, my somewhat apathetic opinion will change, because I’m really going to try to keep up with Twitter for professional reasons. Because let’s face it, who really cares what I had for breakfast this morning?

 

Week #11 readings

“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.

Week #9 readings

I thought it was interesting to me when, the other day, I was talking to somebody about this week’s blog post and how it was on ethics in libraries. She looked at me and said, “What ethics do you have to worry about in a library?” I scoffed at her, but asked someone else, and they basically gave me the same answer. Maybe I have ignorant friends. (Well, ignorant of that particular subject.) But it just seemed to me that for whatever reason, most people don’t think of librarians having to deal with ethical issues when, in fact, many librarians deal with them quite regularly.

I think (believe?) that we were required to read the Code of Ethics in 647, so for most of us, we’ve seen this Code before. Whenever I read it, I always get this sense of…responsibility, I suppose is the right word, when I think of what we do as librarians. I know a lot of people just think we sit around all day and read, while others do have a broader view and realize there’s a lot more to our jobs than that. But I think my favorite part of the Code is when it states “We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.” Because, ultimately, isn’t that what we’re all about? Making sure that information, whether it be contained in a physical book, an eBook, or online, is able to be freely accessed by everyone in the present, and in the future as well. For me, that line just sums up very concisely what we’re all about. I think another important point is that we, as librarians (and information professionals in general, really) are responsible for the “dissemination of information.” People are still constantly controlling information and what people can see or can’t see, and it’s been going on LONG before the internet was ever invented. (Book burnings, anyone?) As a librarian, I can’t control if the information is disseminated in that I can’t stand on a street corner with every answer known to humankind right at my fingertips. I can, however, make certain that everyone has equal access and help them if they need help in their quest for information.  The last thing I’d like to point out about the Code of Ethics is the last part before it begins the list: “These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.” I think this is important because there will always be unique situations where you, as the librarian, are going to have situations that aren’t going to be covered in the Code of Ethics. In 647, we were given situations that were extremely sensitive, and not really covered by the Code, and so while the Code is obviously important, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

Speaking of case studies, “Dangerous Questions” by Lenker was definitely an interesting read. Lenker talked about “virtue ethics,” and as far as I understand, it basically means considering what virtues you’re espousing when making an ethical decision. I’m not sure that the case study with Clark was perhaps the best one Lenker could have chosen simply because it’s something that’s now outdated; medical marijuana is now legal in several states, and so for a patron to come up and ask for a book on how to grow it would simply not even really merit a reaction other than helping him or her find the information. However, the situation with Hauptman provides a much clearer moral dilemma. If a patron were to ask for information like that, maybe he or she is writing a book and needs that information. Or, maybe, they want to build a bomb to destroy a suburban home. It’s really impossible to know. So what do you do? I’ve come across a few ethical situations working in a library, and every time, it’s been a struggle between my personal beliefs, the library’s beliefs, the patron’s right to information, and my duty to perhaps protect a patron or others from harm. I think Lenker has some points with his virtue ethics; of course, you always want to consider such things when making a moral decision. I think he also made a fair point that reductivism seems to have a place in ethics, but at the same time, Lenker never really says how to deal with situations where you simply can’t satisfy fulfilling your duty to the patron, others, the institutions and yourself. I think there are situations where you’ll never be able to balance them all. I suppose Lenker is saying that as a librarian you should consider all of those things and not simply the consequences of your actions; I’m not clear. I think I’m also a little unclear as to why my (my being the librarian involved) ideals are being considered. Lenker points out that perhaps you work in a community with ideals vastly different than your own, and in that case, he’s correct; you simply shouldn’t work there. In Clark’s case, he feels that drugs are a waste of time, but that view should never be known by that patron because it doesn’t matter. Maybe he’s doing it for a paper. Maybe he’s a medical grower. Maybe he lives in a state where it’s legal. But that patron should never know Clark thinks it’s a time-waster because librarians aren’t moral police. Some argue that an attitude like that lacks integrity, and argue they may, but you can strongly believe in something and not let it affect another person’s right to the access to the information involved. However, like I said, I think the Clark example isn’t great, so let’s go with the woman and her kids. (I was sort of unsure of what he meant by ‘cattle-roping’; apparently, he means it literally.) Let’s say instead of a book on cattle-roping, which seems a bit unlikely, she asks for a book that you know says that physical force is okay when disciplining children. That to me presents an interesting dilemma, because you as the librarian might disagree. So what do you do? Just because a parent spanks their child might spell abuse to you (or not), and the legal line is gray between physical force that constitutes abuse and what doesn’t. There’s no easy answer to that. And people say being a librarian is easy!

This is definitely an interesting week because I  think ethics is an incredibly important part of a library science curriculum, and one that’s sometimes ignored. I’ll be interested to see what other people thought!

Week #8: Book Clubs galore!

Next class, we’ll be doing our book clubs, so here’s my thoughts on the readings:

“The Duration of Life” by the Brothers Grimm is a sort of etiological story; it explains why man lives seventy years, and why it is that man endures certain stages as he ages. I’m sort of surprised I’ve never run across this from the Brothers Grimm because this is right up my alley, but I’m glad that this was chosen for one of the book clubs. Like I said, I’m interested in the etiological aspect of it because many myths/fairy tales/legends/etc. originate from a deep-rooted need to explain something. I found the ending particularly interesting, where it describes the stages of life in terms of the animals that “gave” the years to the human. (The dog comparison…yikes!) It’s been a really long time since I’ve read many of the Brothers Grimm tales, so I’m not certain if religion plays a large part in their tales; in fact, I wonder if this was really even meant to be a religious tale at all, but rather a metaphor. (The librarian in me itches to research this more, but I’ll refrain and see what other people have to say Thursday!)

“The Fisherman and His Wife” by the Brothers Grimm (an authorial trend…I love it!) was a completely different sort of tale. This answered my question up above; it seems like God does play a least some role in some of their tales. (Not surprising, considering the time they were written in.)  This fairy tale was a sort of cautionary tale; don’t be greedy, and be content. The wife was never content, and the time in between getting what she wanted and then wanting the next bigger and better thing got shorter and shorter. Finally, when she asked to be God, the flounder took everything back they had gained. Each time the man asked for something else, the sea got more and more violent, until it was practically a hurricane on his last time out. If she just hadn’t asked to be God, she could have lived as Pope, but she just couldn’t be content with what she had, and she was punished for it. I love a good cautionary fairy tale!

“Parrot Land” in The Brazilian Fairy Book by Elsie Spicer Eells is another cautionary sort of tale, but is much more explicit about the advice it offers than the previous one: “be virtuous and you will prosper.” I found this tale interesting because I expected the guards to be punished in some way, but ultimately, this tale was about the virtuousness of the prince and how he unselfishly completed all the tasks so that he could get the parrot to heal his father. He could have taken a ruby-encrusted sword, a gold cage, or a strong horse but instead he took a plain sword, a small cage, and a weak horse. But that was okay, because once he returned home and the oil from the parrot healed his father, the cage was polished, the sword cleaned, and the horse healed. Because of the prince’s unselfish act, he was rewarded. Like I said, I find it interesting that the guards weren’t portrayed as antagonists; I suppose I’m used to fairy tales where there’s a clear protagonist and a clear antagonist, and this story didn’t have that clear antagonist; in fact, the guards, although having had the prince complete the tasks, were thankful to the prince and let him have the parrot. The story was all about the prince’s good actions and the ultimate “reward” of those actions, and so it was a different kind of fairy tale than I’m used to where the villains are punished.

“The Man Who Built Catan” by Adrienne Raphel describes Klaus Teuber and his board game, The Settlers of Catan. (Did anyone else feel themselves itching to get their hands on one?) I have to say, I feel a bit out of the loop because I can’t recall having heard of The Settlers of Catan. I think the premise is really interesting, and I enjoy the point that the article made that Catan can be played over and over again because it changes with every game (and with every player), while some videogames can’t be. (I’m still going to play KH2 over and over, but I think I can fit Catan somewhere in there, too.) What a brilliant mind Teuber has, though, that he can come up with some many board games; I always thought being a board game developer would be extremely difficult. I really liked how Teuber emphasized the social aspect of the game (as did the players interviewed) because I think that is a really important aspect of card and board games. (Think of how many Dungeons and Dragons tournaments there are!) People connect over all sorts of things, and Catan is something that has the ability to bring people together.

I’m getting excited for book clubs!

Week #7 readings, or, a really long post where Krista gets riled about some things

“In the 21st-Century University, Let’s Ban (Paper) Books” by Prensky discusses the idea of ridding college campuses of physical books and replacing them with ebooks. Let me start out by saying that I am unequivocally for ebooks. I think they allow for many great opportunities, many of which center around better accessibility. So here’s where I discuss how much my feathers were ruffled by reading this article. I think ebooks on college campuses are a good thing; with the rising costs of textbooks, I appreciate the cheaper e-versions that don’t require me to live off ramen noodles for the first month of the semester. Prensky doesn’t even mention this as an advantage, though, which struck me as weird. Prensky’s argument centers around the fact that getting rid of physical books and replacing them with ebooks is moving education into the future; that books are “artifacts” that belong in museums, like scrolls. He further says that “the physical book is, in many ways, a jail for ideas–once a book is read, closed, and shelved, for most people it tends to stay that way.” He extends his argument by stating that he has heard the arguments for physical books (“the feel of the page,” for example), but those arguments don’t stand up against the advantages of getting rid of physical books. I think Prensky has completely missed the point of books. For him, they seem to be a physical object that contains information. And sure, they are. But isn’t an e-reader the same? The same person who doesn’t crack open that physical book probably isn’t going to put it on their e-reader, either. A physical book has, and never will be, a jail. He says that “they [ideas] have been held captive for too many centuries” by physical books. I’m just curious how that is, since many ideas have only survived because of books. The written word is incredibly important and a part of history. But even if one looks past that, and says, “Hey, you know, let’s keep physical books in the library and out of the classroom.” (Prensky’s point about the value of worldwide annotations is a good one.) What about his audacity to say that universities should confiscate physical books if that’s how someone chooses to read them? (Heck, why not just burn them while we’re at it?) I pay an exorbitant tuition, and if I want a physical textbook, then that is my right. He compares me wanting to use the physical book in comparison to using tablets or papyrus. And so what if I wanted to order my textbook on 37 clay tablets? Maybe that’s how I learn best. Maybe that’s how I want it to be. Maybe I should be allowed to choose how I want to learn. Moving education forward is always a positive thing, but not at the cost of pushing and forcing people into a trend they don’t want. Prensky also mentions that my generation is “inculcated since birth to appreciate the value of physical books.” Perhaps that’s because there is value? Again, I see the value of ebooks, but to say that physical books, which have survived for 500 years, have none is, quite frankly, ludicrous. Most of my problem with Prensky doesn’t lie in the fact that he wants to install ebooks more firmly in the world of universities, but is in his insistence that physical books have lost value.

I suspect this article’s purpose was to goad, and I’m goaded. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought that this was an article from The Onion, since it was so far-fetched. The fact that it’s 2 and some years old and still hasn’t come to fruition proves that it isn’t the great idea he thinks it is. Prensky states at the end that by moving your university to ebooks only, you’ll be remembered. Yes, you sure will. Remembered for taking away a precious resource and forcing another when the advantages for doing it are flimsy at best.

“Socratic Seminars” by Tredway talks about the advantages of the Socratic Seminar, a method in which students are taught to actively engage in their learning by interacting, debating, and discussing with fellow students a topic that has real-life meaning. In this way, students are able to connect what they’re learning to their real-life, thereby increasing the chance of transferring what they’re learning to other parts of their life. Tredway discusses many advantages, including self-esteem boosts, experience in analyzing, synthesizing, and and reasoning, as well as intellectual and emotional maturity. Socratic Seminars are quite the adventure the first time you’re involved in one, at least it was for me. My professor never said it was a Socratic Seminar, but by the middle of the year, I realized that was what it was. There were ten of us, sitting around a round table, and we’d all read a few texts and come to class ready to discuss them. The second week of class, my professor asked a question about how one author would respond to another’s view, and a classmate answered the question. But then my professor asked how he knew that, and to support his answer, and the entire class stared at him. From then on out, it wasn’t enough to know the answer; we had to be prepared to defend it. By the end of the year, my teacher only played the part of the coach, ready to jump in if clarification was needed or to give some more insight, but we ran that class. We questioned each other, debated with each other, and pushed each other to reason out our thought process. We didn’t always agree; in fact, we largely didn’t, but that was okay because as long as the person could talk us through their reasoning, then it was enough. I can’t tell you how many times someone would state their view and someone else would say, “Wow, I never thought of it that way.” What a fascinating way to learn, and the greatest part about it is that it doesn’t cost any extra money, but just some extra training, both on the teachers’ and students’ parts. I don’t know if teachers are trained in the Socratic method, but I know as a student, I wasn’t really trained properly until the latter parts of college. The Socratic Seminar pushes students to engage in their learning because it simply isn’t enough to state, “Person A thought this way.” Nope, you have to have reasoning for that. “Person A thought this way as evidenced by…” And then another student jumps in and says, “When I was reading Person A, I was thinking about how that his opinion contradicts Person B’s because…What did you guys think?” The Socratic Seminar is difficult because it does take more time, but the benefits from it are great, and it’s really a shame more schools don’t take part in it.

“The Book Club Exploded” by Hoffert discusses how book clubs are taking on new formats, subject matters, and themes in the last few years. I really like Hoffert’s ideas because she identified the problems I’ve had with book clubs in the past. I always disliked when I went to a book club and they chose a book I didn’t like, or one that I had already read (that’s okay every once in awhile, but when all they choose is up and coming fiction…I work in a library; I’ve probably read it). The idea of a thematic book club really appeals to me for those exact reasons. Never again will I be stuck with a book I don’t like, or one I’ve already read. Additionally, like Hoffert points out, everyone can introduce a new title (built-in readers’ advisory…I love it!) and also bring with them unique perspectives. And just from a library worker’s point-of-view…having 24 copies of the same book is next to impossible for many libraries. Ann Arbor District Library has those great “book clubs in a bag” that Hoffert mentions, and that’s fantastic, but…a  lot of libraries can’t do that. But it would be really great if a book club calls and says, “Hey, our theme this week is biographies. Can you pull some for us?” instead of “We need 24 copies of the new Steve Jobs biography by next month.” (True story, at a time when getting one was difficult.) I think the closest I’ve ever come to a thematic book club was to choose an award-winner, and it was great; it was such a varied discussion, and I left with a list of about 8 books I wanted to read based on our discussion. I also think Hoffert’s push to include nonfiction is great; sometimes, people would tell me, “Oh, yeah, I wanted to do book club, but they’re doing The Devil in the White City and it’s nonfiction, and I hate nonfiction.” And I would tell me them how great of a book that is, but the entire genre of nonfiction turned them off. Like Hoffert suggests, a really salacious biography is a good way of easing readers into the idea that nonfiction isn’t all dull, academic writing.

“The Evolving Book Club” by Dempsey focuses on how to cater book clubs to the users and what the users want. I think this is such an important point, because book clubs in the middle of the day aren’t probably going to be successful. Book clubs with too narrow of a theme are similarly going to run into problems. (There are only so many Jane Austen books.) The library I worked at always struggled with book clubs until one of the librarians started hosting them in the evening, one day a month, at a restaurant. The month he held it at the local brewery? Best-attended book club the library had ever had. People loved being able to come to a comfortable atmosphere and enjoy each other’s company while talking about books. I think a lot about book clubs for young adults; often, there are none, and I think that’s largely because people don’t know how to create one with their needs in mine. Another local library had one for teens, and the librarian there did so well in analyzing the needs of the young adults. For example, she hosted it about a half-hour after school got out, which meant kids could come straight from school and it wouldn’t eat up their entire evening. She provided a snack and beverage (food rules went out the window) and allowed the teens to provide their own books no matter the format. She had quite the run on graphic novels for awhile, but they eventually deviated into so many other genres and formats as well. She had a Facebook group where they talked about meetings or questions they might have before the club, and if they didn’t read a book that month? That’s fine. Just come and chat with the group. (Dempsey’s no-pressure policy point is a great one…I often feel that when I do book clubs.) I especially liked Dempsey’s point that book clubs are therapeutic because I have always thought that is a great purpose of book clubs. Of course the scenario she described of outreach in correctional facilities is a great example, but I think in any scenario book clubs are therapeutic. When you get a group of people together talking about a book that may touch on issues personally affecting their lives, the discussion that results is almost always therapeutic.

“Teaching reading: beyond the plot” by Metzger talks about how to use the Socratic Seminar to help students understand books at a deeper level than just the plot. Like I stated earlier, Socratic Seminars have huge advantages; they allow students to bounce ideas off one another, to engage in group discussions (where group etiquette has to be followed), and encourages them to have reasoning and logic behind their ideas. However, I’m not entirely certain that I’m sold on the inner circle/outer circle method; perhaps that’s because I’ve never had a class that way. Maybe it’s also based on the fact that I know I would have hated and resented the outer circle in high school. I suppose I see some benefit, but I think it could get out of control fast, and Metzger admitted it did, at first. High schoolers (and especially high school freshmen) can be brutal, and having an open forum for them to criticize is asking for it. Granted, teaching them the difference between criticizing to be mean and constructive feedback is is an important lesson, but the first time a student hears everyone thinks they talk too much might shut them up for the rest of the semester. Maybe I’m missing the point of the outer circle. I understand it’s about summarizing and observing and analyzing others at work, but I don’t know if it’s necessary to have them take notes about what someone is doing while they’re involved in the inner circle. If I had known I was being observed, I wouldn’t have said a word in high school. (Now…not so much, but as a high school freshman? Definitely not.) I guess I’ll have to ponder on the outer circle more. But the idea that Metzger basically ended up sitting back and not really being involved in the discussion is an important one, because I think that’s the ultimate goal of the Socratic Seminar: teaching students how to actively engage in their learning with each other. (Although laughing at an interpretation? Speaking of brutal…Interesting that students noticed she grimaced the day before and told each other to ignore her.) I think working through difficult texts together is the best way to do it, and the Socratic Seminar is a great platform to do that.

Apologies for the long post, but…don’t mess with my books, man.

Week #6 readings

“Put Understanding First” by Wiggins and McTighe discusses the need for not only teaching for acquisition, but meaning and transfer as well. We’ve talked about this a few times in class, and it’s always interested me because I think that many schools are edging out meaning and transfer because that isn’t tested on standardized tests, and as a result, schools are churning out poorly prepared students. I was glad to see the authors give examples of how to successfully plan a unit in acquisition-meaning-transfer and especially glad to see the examples were math and science, the two subjects I think are probably the most difficult to do that sequence in. Their discussion of rethinking the instructional sequence caught my attention because the way that education is set-up now, if students are disinterested in the content (or don’t understand), they won’t/can’t climb up that metaphorical ladder to transfer and understanding. I had never considered that acquisition shouldn’t be first, because even the classes I feel I’ve had that emphasized meaning and transfer as well have always started with acquisition. It’s definitely something to think about. The math example hit home because I remember the mean/median/mode unit and I remember hating it. I think the idea of having students figure out which is best to calculate their grade is such a good one; I would have probably actually cared to learn it if I knew my grades were at stake.

I think one of the best classes I’ve ever had that really emphasized meaning and transfer as well as acquisition was United States History in eighth grade. All the history classes were split into boys versus girls, and those who wanted to could campaign to be generals (I was one of the girls’ generals, and man, was I proud). Each side had three generals, and throughout the semester, we engaged in “battles,” (i.e., teachers hid trivia questions around the eighth grade wing which required us to learn how to use databases to find the answers) that gained us victories, and we also were given “hypothetical” battle situations which we worked out as teams (they were based after real battles, but we didn’t know that). They also let us reenact battles with water balloons, which in addition to being fun, as also a learning experience because we had to go through the battles and answer so many correct questions before they just allowed us our fun. At the end, those with the most points or “battle” victories won, and well, not to brag, but the teachers said they had never before seen a trouncing like we did to the boys that year. But at the end of the day, not only could I tell you dates of battles, but I knew the cause-and-effects and the larger social contexts. Everyone did phenomenally on that unit, even those that hated history, because it was fun and engaging and gave us a wider contexts to place the facts in. However, that took place over an entire semester, and was rigorous for them to plan/carry out and took a lot of cooperation, and that might be difficult for some schools to do because of lack of staff and money.

Ultimately, I’m relieved that there are educators that realize our educational system is in trouble. I think we’ve painted ourselves in the corner, so to speak, with assessments and this relentless drive to get the best grades. Schools are producing ill-prepared students who fall flat on their faces in college because they don’t know how to critically think. Something clearly has to be done.

Chapter 3 of How People Learn discusses factors that lead to successful transfer of learning to other contexts. The chapters introduced several factors, but there were a few I thought were pretty interesting. The first is the factor of initial learning. Later on in the reading, the chapter brings up the idea of mastery of foundational concepts, and I think the two ideas really tie together; if, for example, a student is unable to grasp the foundational concepts, it’s going to hinder their ability to learn further, and ultimately, the ability to transfer it. I think a good example of this is math; if a student can’t master algebra, it’s going to make trigonometry really difficult (this is, perhaps, based on personal experience). Or, even, if a student isn’t understanding math, chemistry is going to be really difficult (hence prerequisites). I think another important point the chapter introduces is learning vs. memorizing. We’ve discussed this idea in the past, but I think it’s such an important one, and maybe that’s because I feel like in certain subjects, the only reason I did as well as I did is because I have a good memory. I wasn’t learning anything. If I’m just memorizing facts, the learning isn’t being transferred, and that is, as the chapter says, the ultimate goal of schooling. I was also particularly interested in the section of transfer between school and everyday life. What good is it to learn fractions if you can’t figure out a tip? Where I often got tripped up in math (I think everyone that has read a few posts of this blog now realizes that I was really atrocious at math) was that I saw absolutely no reason for sin, cos, and tan. Nobody ever put that into context for me, and to this day, I still have no idea what good that was. Acquisition is important, as is meaning, but transfer is what should be the ultimate goal of education.

I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it (it may have been for this class or 638 or one of my other classes), but I was reading recently that American schools were built upon the idea of preparing workers for factory work, and that is why it’s largely based on rote memorization. I’ve been stewing on that and it makes sense, because that is perhaps why transfer has never been emphasized because it wasn’t necessary. But now it most definitely is, and so it’s interesting that the educational system isn’t evolving with the times.

Week #5 readings

“While formative assessment and summative assessment serve the same learning goals, the former is an ongoing process and the latter is a finale: the finish line at the end of the race.” This observation made in “The Fundamentals of Formative Assessment” really resonated with me. The chapter discussed the benefits of formative versus summative assessment, and I think that quote really sums up the difference between the two for me. I’ve never heard of formative assessment before, although now that I’ve read about it, I think that many of my teachers (and often many of my favorites) used these sort of methods.

The first point the chapter makes is that formative assessment is student-focused and although I think some people think that student-focused teaching in classrooms is intuitive, it’s not always. Some teachers don’t realize that students learn differently, and don’t adjust accordingly. The second point the chapter makes is that formative assessment is instructionally informative. I think for a long time I thought those “pre-assessments” were a way of shaming us into paying attention because our attention was now centered on how much we didn’t know. Later on, I realized the teacher was gauging what we knew and what we didn’t, so that he or she wouldn’t repeat what we obviously knew (and waste everyone’s time) and really concentrate on what we didn’t. The third point the chapter makes was that formative assessment is outcomes based. Formative assessment is all about achieving goals rather than determining if the student met that goal. If students don’t know what’s expected of them, it’s difficult to do well. It’s also difficult to do well when a student isn’t getting feedback on their work. How are they to know how they should improve if the teacher isn’t telling them? Along the same lines, how does a student know they’re doing well and should continue with this sort of thinking if the teacher isn’t telling them so? I always thought it was backwards when students took a test and they didn’t do well, and teachers gave no feedback and spent no time making sure the obvious problem was corrected. It was often blamed on the student (and although there may be times the student should shoulder the blame), sometimes teachers simply didn’t realize the students weren’t grasping the concepts. Math tests for me were only easy if they involved memorization; the study guides had a particular type of problem, and if I could memorize the pattern, then I was good to go. I got the A on test, and that’s the goal, isn’t it? But shouldn’t the goal be that I learned how to do that particular type of problem, and if I hadn’t gotten that A, what would have been done to fix it?

One thing I’m glad this chapter addressed was standardized testing because I believe that it’s hard for teachers to incorporate formative assessment when there are benchmarks they have to meet. For example, in Mrs. Chavez’s English class example, I think those activities were great; they engaged the students and make them critically think about what they read. But that may take a lot of time; a few class periods, depending on how long she plans. A state test might ask for an example of a character trait, but it’s not going to ask what events led to Holden being a sardonic and misanthropic cynic and that it’s all about cause-and-effect. I’m not saying that there aren’t teachers who can’t teach in a formative assessment style and still get the job done, but there are a lot that can’t, and therein lies the problem.

How People Learn, chapter 6, had a quote that stuck out to me right away: “Everyone expects much more from today’s schools than was expected 100 years ago.” I think people expect much more from today’s schools than they did ten years ago, let alone 100. I had kids coming into the library asking me for books on citations and they were in elementary school. I didn’t learn citations until eighth grade, and that was standard. So even though we bemoan the state of our educational system, sometimes I have to take a step back and examine the fact that our schools and educational tenets are changing so rapidly (do they even teach cursive anymore? because I had to learn that in fourth grade and it was the bane of my existence) that it’s difficult to keep up, both on students’ and teachers’ parts.

This chapter focused on having a learning environment that is learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered and community-centered. First, in regards to learner-centered environments, I’m really glad this chapter addressed students’ prior understandings, beliefs, cultural values, etc., and how teachers need to respect that and “build a bridge” between that and what they’re learning. So often, I think that students are taught they are to be a tabula rasa, so to speak, when it comes to school, and bringing in background experiences can be an embarrassment. This is also connected to the knowledge-center environment in that students build new knowledge off of prior knowledge, so it’s imperative for teachers to realize what prior knowledge students already have. An interesting point I came across was that of students becoming “metacognitive” in the sense that they know that new information should be making sense, and if it isn’t, then they should ask questions. Asking questions is difficult for a lot of students because they feel embarrassed, and by emphasizing that asking questions is part of a process, and it should feel second nature because they don’t understand, is something that I really hadn’t thought of before. Students shouldn’t just be learning math; they should be learning to think mathematically. Assessment-centered environments emphasize students’ goals when it comes to assessments, and that feedback and revision are critical. Feedback has always been important to me because how am I supposed to learn if I’m not being told that what I’m doing is good or not? My tenth grade English teacher used to give us vocabulary quizzes every week. We had to not only tell the meaning of the word, but spell it correctly and use it in a sentence correctly based on a grammar rule we were learning that week. If we got it incorrect, we had to fix it and then explain why it was incorrect. There was simply no way I wasn’t going to learn unless I didn’t do the revisions based on his feedback. I thought an interesting point this chapter introduced was community-centered environments and the effects of classroom and school communities. Everyone can probably relay a story of not asking a question for fear of seeming stupid, or having boys say you shouldn’t be in that class (I was told that freshman year of high school, when myself and another girl were in a drafting class of 24 other boys). How discouraging are those two scenarios and how detrimental are they to the learning process? (Very, would be the answer.) How much a student feels a part of the classroom, school, and wider communities is going to effect how they learn. Ultimately, though, and I’m glad the chapter addressed this, is that it’s hard to align all of these together. It’s not just going to have to be at only the classroom-level, either; it’s going to have to be a school-wide overhaul as well. And that is always a difficult thing.

Week 3: Information literacy

So for this week, we were tasked with finding three articles on information literacy/transliteracy/information fluency in our field of specialization. Because I want to be a young adult librarian, I focused my articles on teens and information literacy and was pleasantly surprised to find more than I thought I would.

“Teens, Virtual Environments and Information Literacy” deals with “digital natives,” or people born after 1989. While this generation is constantly “plugged in” through things like texting, email, Facebook, and Twitter, the report discusses that many in that generation lack information literacy (in short, we text 3000 times a month and use Facebook like breathing, but God help us if we have to look up information for school). The problems cited in information literacy are issues with deciding what’s a good source and what’s not (i.e., is it a reputable source and is it the correct information the student is looking for), and exactly how to search (i.e., what search terms are appropriate). This article calls many digital natives “information illiterate.” The article’s solution to this information illiteracy is to create a VRLibrary. The basis for this is VEs (or Virtual Environments, which the article defines as a “computer-generated experience obtained by and through an interface that engages one or more of the user’s senses and almost always includes visual sense” (Behesti 56)).(A common example of a VE is World of Warcraft, for some reference.) Researchers have found that VEs are motivational to students by appealing to the “interactive [and] stimulating […] environment” that things like video games and computer games provide. Researchers have actually built a VRLibrary for a study on teens; it was designed as a physical library (because studies have found students are still familiar with libraries) and the user can “walk” around from shelf to shelf and pick-up “books” (which in actuality are websites) that they can get information from. After the study was complete, the researchers found that the students had almost no problems in selecting the right kind of sources for a project on Canadian history. The researchers also found that students would like an “avatar” librarian to intercede when they need help. I think this is an interesting idea. It engages the “digital natives” (I guess I’m one of them) in an environment that appeals to them. It’s certainly one of the more unique solutions to information illiteracy that I’ve heard, but I think I’d have to see more to really make a determination on its usefulness. It seems as though it would be expensive to buy and upkeep, and it had a lot of unanswered questions (like the VRLibrary used had information on Canadian history, but who selected the sources already there? And if no one does, aren’t we running into the same problems with selection as before?). I definitely think it’s an intriguing idea, though, and the students involved in the study were enthusiastic about it. I think one of the interesting things the article did was basically say: “how is it that teens are so immersed in technology but have a really hard time using it?” I’ve always found that really interesting myself.

“Information Literacy as a Department Store” focuses on how teen librarians in public libraries can help in increasing information literacy in teens by working with the schools in the area. The author of this article emphasizes that instruction in information literacy  in public libraries should be a supplement to what’s done in schools, and that teamwork between school and public libraries is key. She cites a school and local library in Denmark in which the teen librarian spent 27 hours a week in information literacy at the high school. This is great, but problematic, especially when considering only 33% of public libraries in the U.S. have a teen librarian (thanks 647 for that statistic!). The author suggests doing information literacy instruction (on the part of public librarians) on a “limited, but consistent, basis,” by keeping in contact with teachers about upcoming assignments (for example, by putting books needed on hold and creating reference interviews that center around the assignment) and by visiting public schools so that students know all the options public libraries can provide. She also suggests students visiting the public library to get the same effect. However, the author warns that teen librarians should only do information literacy instruction “within the context of their own history, purposes, and environments” (Gilton 42). I think most people that know me know that I love the idea of school and public libraries working together to help students to get a more well-rounded library experience. We don’t want to duplicate what the school libraries are teaching, but rather supplement it. I’m a huge proponent in visits to libraries (both to the public and to the school) and anytime students know they have a variety of resources in multiple places is a positive thing. This article was interesting because it discussed what, exactly, is information literacy. The author says that many define it as “the teaching of information searching skills” (Gilton 40), but she thinks that oversimplifies it. She instead pictures information literacy as a department store: the basement and first floor are tours and library orientations; the windows and doors are the books, pathfinders, and web sites; the second and third floors are the advanced instruction in information literacy (usually done in academic libraries or schools), and the fourth and fifth floors are the administration that observes and evaluates everything else. In public libraries, many don’t get past the first/second floor, but that’s okay, because you can’t make it to the fourth or fifth floor (which students might encounter in college, for example), without going through the first or second floor. I think the department store analogy is a little strange, but I like what the author is getting at. She’s saying that information literacy isn’t simple; it’s a journey, so to speak (I guess I’ll get in on the metaphors), and that public and school libraries all play a part in that journey. Public libraries can help lay the base, which school libraries and academic libraries can build off of. I appreciate that Gilton recognizes the complexities of information literacy, because I often think people try to oversimplify it, when it is, in fact, a complicated subject.

“Children + Young Adults + Information Literacy = Cooperation between public and school libraries” discusses  the importance of the link between public and school libraries when it comes to instruction in information literacy. This article brought up some challenges in maintaining the link between public and school libraries, including lack of staff and money, and what the author calls the “insularity” of librarians (which is that librarians don’t realize what other librarians are doing, i.e., school librarians don’t really realize all that public librarians do and vice versa). I found this interesting because it’s…well, true, I think in many instances. Before I took 638 (School Library Media Management), I really didn’t have a clue of all that school librarians do. This article is written about libraries in Spain, but American libraries have the same problems: most especially, the lack of young adult (and in some cases, children’s) librarians in public libraries to maintain these sorts of relationships between public and school libraries. In Spain, a study was done that showed that students often migrate to public libraries because their school libraries are underfunded and understaffed (a familiar situation here, unfortunately). Because of this, students are having a difficult time participating in the “Information Society” and lack basic knowledge when they get to universities. The author suggests the solution to be a concentration in school libraries (because in Spain, like in the US, education is compulsory, so everyone is guaranteed some sort of information literacy education) with public libraries complementing the instruction. Both the school library and public library have unique advantages that work together to give a student a well-rounded education in information literacy. The author cites an example called “Bibloteca-Escuela” that has a problem called “Publicar en la web es…”, which is an information literacy course lasting a semester, in which the teacher brings the students to the library to complete a project in which students are taught how to select and analyze appropriate sources by building their own webpage about the topic of their choice. For example, 3 weeks are spent on basic reference materials like encyclopedias, yearbooks, dictionaries, and a few weeks are spent on online sources and the library’s catalog. After gathering the information with the help of the librarian and teacher, the student then builds the webpage with their information. So far, it seems to be a success, but it hasn’t had widespread use in many different environments. I really like this model because it engages the students in a topic that interests them and has both the librarian and teacher as support systems in their research. Not only is it teaching information literacy, but it’s showing how the public and school libraries can work together. The articles cites that “One of the most important institutional relationships for a public library is that with the local schools and the education system in the service area” (Serantes 1) and that is basically my library bread and butter in one sentence.

Overall, the articles presented some interesting points, but the overarching theme was this: promoting information literacy in young adults is hard, and so both the school and public libraries need to work together to ensure that students are getting the best education in information literacy they can so that the transition to university won’t be so difficult.

Week two: Screencasting 101

It occurred to me as I was doing the readings that I really don’t have a lot of experience with screencasts in libraries. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a screencast from a library (I’ve watched them on other topics, however). After completing these readings, I couldn’t help but think how useful online videos could be in a library setting.

Bowles-Terry, et. al’s article discussed the pros and cons of using online videos as well as their effectiveness in the area of instruction in libraries. The emphasis on both the usability and findability of the videos is important; if a user can use the video effectively, but not find it, then it’s no good; the same is true if a user can find the video, but it can’t effectively instruct on how to complete a task. The link to the videos on the University of Illinois’s library’s website no longer existed, but after digging around, I did find one. The summary at the end of the article brought up some of the concerns I had about the video, including the fact that I didn’t find the videos at all in one place. That could be the library has discontinued their use or they’re still having findability issues. The “inverted pyramid” technique also caught my eye; I’ve always been a supporter of the “inverted pyramid” technique when doing how-tos because I am that person that will skip over the context/introduction just to get to the instructional portion (shame on me, I know). I think the solution to that is a table of contents so that people are able to navigate to what they really want. Ultimately, I think that online videos might be useful in that they provide an efficient, fast, and convenient way for library users to find a how-to guide on how to do simple tasks. Sometimes, I found that public library users were almost embarrassed to ask for help on simple tasks like how to use the library catalog (even after being assured that they shouldn’t be embarrassed), and having an online video they can look at from home would solve that problem. I also believe that libraries need to offer their tutorials in more than one format; although a video is helpful, a step-by-step guide written out is also helpful because it allows people to go back-and-forth between steps without having to pause the video or back it up. Nothing annoys me more (well, perhaps there are a few things, but this is pretty annoying) than when I’m watching a screencast on how to do something technology-related, for example, and my computer lags and the video zooms past, which then requires me to try to back-up the video to the point I was at before. Printed-out instructions solve that problem and could be great complements to the videos.

Creating the One-stop Library Workshop discussed how best to construct one-stop workshops with a method called ADDIE. This interested me because the public library I used to work for hosted a fifty-minute technology workshop once a month; each month had a different topic (for example, Facebook, Kindle Fire, and Google+ were all topics). We didn’t, at the time I worked there, host workshops on how to do library-related business, like searching the catalog or doing ILL. The five ADDIE components  discussed consisted of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Although ADDIE was used for workshops in the reading, it works for screencasts, too; first, you have to analyze who needs it and why, second you have to design the screencast (with the ideas from the paragraph up above), then third, you have to develop it (actually make the screencast), fourth you have to implement it by putting it up on the library’s website or inviting patrons to try it out, and then lastly, you have to evaluate the screencast to see if it worked. I think the ADDIE process is interesting because it has so many advantages: a template for later workshops (a massive timesaver), a way to train both old and new instructors, and having people’s input on the actual workshop or screencast itself. I also definitely see some of the concerns that were raised as well; it’s both time-constricting and financially difficult, and most libraries are short on both staff and money. Especially for something like technology that changes so often, taking four months to design a workshop wouldn’t be that effective because by the time you designed everything, the technology changes again. I suppose that by designing the workshop the goal is to be able to factor in tweaks made, but I’m not certain that a patron wants to wait an extremely long time for a workshop to be designed to be instructed in their new Kindle Fire. However, ADDIE is helpful for library business like searching the catalog because that generally doesn’t change too much too often, and if it does, the changes are usually minor (unless you’re switching OPACs completely). Choosing when and when not to use ADDIE is something libraries have to consider.

We’ll be creating our own screencasts very shortly, so it made me think of what I wanted to pull overall from these readings: first, the screencasts need to be short, sweet, and to the point. They don’t need to be flashy; they just need to be practical. The screencast should be short, so it wouldn’t be effective to have a screencast for a really complex topic; they would be more suitable to basic searches on catalogs, how to log-in to accounts, and how to place a hold. A table of contents is a huge advantage because it allows people to skip to what information they need quickly. (Do we wish they’d watch the whole video to get the proper context and introduction? Sure. But as a person that frequently skips anything that isn’t the actual instructional portion, we should attempt to design them with that in mind.) Although we’re not putting our screencasts on a big website, they also need to be easy to find; if a person has to search through the entire website to find the video, it isn’t that effective.

So who’s excited to start some screencasting?