UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

European Documentation Centres: what are they for, what is their future?

Posted by Andrew Dunn on 9 June, 2015

Notes from European Documentation Training: Brussels June 2015

European Documentation Centres were set up to allow the citizens of the EU to participate in a debate about the EU. Their mission was to promote teaching and research of the EU and to make information on all aspects of the EU – from the economy to the environment to health – available to the wider public. Their role was not so much to provide information as to facilitate communication and their establishment was seen as good policy rather than an obligatory function of the European Union.

However, even as far back as 1985 it was calculated that an EDC cost the EU between €10k and €12k a year. In recent years, faced with every decreasing and restrained budgets, the EU has distributed more communications online and less via the medium of print, leaving EDCs with closed or very slow growing collections and a falling number of users.

The delegates at the EU documentation training event were asked to advise the newly-formed pan-European working group on the future of EDCs on ways to take the EDC forward. Over the course of 2 hours of discussions the following points were raised:

EDCs have to face the digital reality. Lots of their documentation is online, fewer and fewer print documents of significance are being sent out by the EU. Users are by-passing EDCs and going straight to Google to find EU documentation.

However, EU documentation is available from a myriad of sources. Refined and sophisticated searches are possible on these platforms though usability is not necessarily intuitive. EDCs will still have a role then in the future but the emphasis will be more on training users in online discovery. Delegates at the training event were unanimous in calling for EDCs to remain a discreet, physical space where people can seek out support in information retrieval and some still saw a role for print documents in that physical space; others envisaged a more world café type set-up with computers available for online access to information.  It has to be stressed though that some historic documents are still not online – digitisation of COM Docs, for example, has only reached the 80s so print is still essential in some cases.

All agreed EDCs need to work on promotion to increase visibility and attract users back to use our services. There was also a widely-supported call for EDCs around Europe to work more collaboratively to create a network in which to share best practice and to make open-source training materials for end users.

Advertisements

Posted in Offical Publications, Open Access, Subject Support | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

USTLG Spring 2012 Meeting – Being a Science/Engineering Librarian

Posted by selinalock on 4 September, 2012

A very, very late report on the Spring meeting that I attended and spoke at, which was held at the University of Newcastle.

Although the main theme of the event was sharing experiences of being a science and engineering librarian, some other loose themes emerged becoming embedded vs becoming generic, and the way the profession has/is changing.

Being a subject librarian – Changes to the Profession

So, what does it mean to be a subject librarian? Jenny Campbell, Newcastle University

– Recognise how our jobs are changing – teaching, marketing, web guru
– Allowed to develop more things on OA & Endnote.
– Different ways of teaching, larger groups, lectures with drop-ins
– Research support growing – workshops at Faculty level (50-60hrs to PhD students) + need to do more
– Using social media & have some engagement
– Student surveys for refurbishment of library = more study space, quiet areas, more books, power supply at every desk, more IT…

The Environment and Technology librarian: a new professional’s perspective, making the role your own, Emma Illingworth, University of Brighton

– Know my students, researchers, school staff, academics, subjects
– Social networking on the student/staff community networking site
– Twitter for the subjects – but are the students on there? Professionals are on there but students prefer FB. Are there better ways of engaging?
– Little funky business cards to give to staff & students
– Mainly a L&T role & has become embedded in some modules
– Info skills in each year – need a clear path through the modules
– Tried various ways of delivering teaching – for some groups need to change activities to keep attention
– Email before session to online noticeboard to ask what they want out of session – works well for some groups & not others
– Working collaboratively with academics & sharing successes
– Helped with open day & it was pointed out as a unique selling point to students = their own librarian
– Future – wants to be an embedded librarian

From Soviet Studies to Science and Engineering, Jenny Brine, Lancaster University

– 40 years of librarianship, but only science for a few years
– 1st degree in Russian & first post was running library for Russian & East European Studies = Essential to have language skills, hard to find reliable information, embedded/worked closely with research staff, encouraged to do a PhD, specialised, treated as member of research team and found researchers didn’t want to share data until after they were published,
– Moved to Aberdeen & started teaching IL skills (just didn’t realise that they were called IL, but had been compiling bibliographies for years so had the skills required) to a wide range of subjects, encouraged to do a teaching qualification, had to supervise students doing searches in many subjects – learned about how to find out about research/suject vocabularly,
– Lancaster Uni Library – started in ILL which gives you a good picture of research within the Uni plus contact with staff and students, could notice trends and suggest books for purchase.

– Learning about new subjects – informal (family), formal – colleagues, reading, web resources etc
– Read new scientist
– Support from sci & tech lib colleagues e.g. lis-medical, USTLG, courses & conferences
– Read the study skills/research skills books for subjects
– Talk to academics – get invites to meetings or to look around the Depts.

Widening Participation: building on the role of a science librarian, Tony Wilson, University of York

– Helps with Developing Independent Learning Day for schools & colleges network – aimed at 6th formers
– Library challenges = researching & evaluating info (other session on day about academic writing, campus tour & student ambassadors help with day)
– Quzzies about how library works
– Wanted to work closely with other Uni services to make the events more joined up – collaborated more & became the actual widening participation co-ordinator for Uni
– Extended projects may start to be taken into consideration for Uni admissions
– Develpoing a realising opp website at York – freely available resources
– Also work with local primary school projects – they liked the tour of the library! Done some sessions with school librarians and 10yr olds about evaluating websites
– Challenges – Doing on top of normal liaison post, need to be an all rounder, lack of clear leanining objectives from schools, maintaining discipline within classes
– Top tips – use student ambassadors, ensure clear understanding/agreement over what is being covered, keep session interactive, keep groups small
– Now have a relationship management team with WP as an area they deal with, share the workload – in future all liaison librarians will play a role.

All Change! Restructuring Academic Liaison, Selina Lock, University of Leicester

– I talked about our restructure from a team of subject librarians to a team of T&L Librarians (each with a subject remit for UG & PGT students) and a Research Support Team (each with a much wider subject remit for PGR and Researchers).

– I move into my new position supporting STEM researchers in a couple of weeks and I already know I need to learn more about/provide more support on our research archive, OA publishing, REF preparation, copyright, research data management… on top of the experience I already have in teaching literature searching and bibliographic software.

Becoming Embedded (in various ways…)

Embedding information literacy teaching within Engineering, Liz Martin, De Montfort University

– Moved from one induction slot in 2005 to sessions in induction, 1st yr, final yr UG, PG students
– Web-based Induction before students arrive & available all during their first year plus face to face induction within course induction

– 1st yr session = 2hr within design project module (e.g. design a remote controlled gutter cleaner), within report have to show evidence of research & IEEE referencing.

– Final yr UG as part as project briefings, big lecture to everyone as a refresher with the option to sign up for tutorials for more help.
– PG (MSc) – 2hr session
– How from one induction to embedding? Lots of chance opportunities, put together a Bb module for another subject & then showed it to other academics, Technology module leaders liked it, other links were forged through management boards (external examiner feedback), once referencing session in place led to other academics being interested & 1st yr engineering project session came through that, also worked with study support to introduce sessions on report formatting & do team teaching on some sessions.
– Future – a lot of teaching still ad-hoc/short notice, would prefer to be timetabled, see students every year of course, keep plugging for other subjects.

Making yourself indispensible – Science Community Librarianship, Steve Lee, University of Glamorgan

– Science, sport, chiropractice – too many subject to be traditionally embedded!
– Must be valued by our users – how?
– Make our users lives easier – if they value us they will fight to keep us
– Get out of the library – go to where users are
– Visit academic staff in their offices (on their turf) – what are their problems & work out action plan to resolve problems
– What are their problems? = time management, getting research time, dealing with students, accessing journals, searching easier on google, marking, admin takes time, keeping up to date etc
– Library matters not a priority, help solve their problems and their priorities – what makes their life easier?
– Visit your researchers & find out their interests – keep notes
– Plan individual strategies to meet needs – become valued member of support team
– Upskill users – you don’t loose value as they will come back when they need updating
– Takes time to set up e.g. new book lists & Journal ToC, but once up & running they can become automated
– Can then focus on individual problems- take ownership of problems & see it through to resolution instead of passing on to someone else
– Staff & students want fast resolutions to problems – want help now.
– E.g. staff member wanted to be able to borrow moe than 15 books – is it a resonable request? What do other institutions do? Present evidence to colleagues to increase loan limit & take it to senior management – agreed to put it up to 22 for a year – tiny amount took it up but had a few very happy academics.
– Periodically revisit staff to re-evaluate & find out about new needs.
– If you can’t solve the problems then at least they know you tried.
– In response to student need – sits in chiropractic dept at set times to help, as they are in a building away from both libraries – sit in student computer room so became another channel for helping students solve other problems too. Other people wanted same service & now done in other Depts.
– These surgeries allow you to get to know students, staff & researchers, can do work even if people don’t come, on average answer a couple of indepth queries each time, gather evidence for resources needed, only do in term time (exam times usually very quiet).

– Have to be pro-active so users cannot afford to loose you…

Hiding library training in other classes, Kirsty Thomson, Heriot-Watt University

– Students not keen on library training – think they already know it – even if they turn up they are not there in spirit.
– What do students care about? Getting their degree.
– Intro to Essay writing – biology students in wk 2+3, jointly teaching with effective learning tutor – saw in groups of 60-70 & got them to do group work looking at extracts of texts (e.g. journal, textbook, fiction, newspaper)
– Think about the style of writing, could they use it for essay, where/what did it come from, followed by group discussion on what is/isn’t appropriate for essay writing
– Fake essay extract with no references, talk about importance of referencing & got them to look at the essay to see whether they picked up where it should be referenced
– Class discussion on plagiarism – ‘is this plagiarised or not?’ slides
– 75% of class said info about referencing was useful & relevant
– Liked group work, working with examples
– Followed up by essay feedback class – essays submitted via TurnItIn – which librarian could see & based follow up on the kind of mistakes they’d made e.g. structuring, problems with referecing, using illustrations
– Made you realise what students don’t know! e.g. don’t realise a 70% mark =  a brilliant essay
– Go to meetings, volunteer for anything that is IL related, work with other services e.g. effective learning
– Needs to be relevant to student interest & worries
– Be convinced your teaching is interesting – if you’re not interested then they won’t be!
– Be careful what you call your sessions e.g. Avoiding Plagarism became ‘Copy & Paste: Just Say No!’ (only works if you remember Grange Hill!) – finally became ‘Using evidence in your essays’
– Don’t give up on an idea too quickly, but be ready to change classes if not working.
– Link to an assignment if possible
– Future: put shorter IL content into other lectures – build links to course content.

Posted in Meetings, Research Support, Subject Support, Training, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lecture capture

Posted by Andrew Dunn on 24 April, 2012

Tony Churchill gave a presentation at DL Forum on Tuesday 24/4/12 on lecture capture.  He talked about a project funded by Echo 360 – a supplier of lecture capture software.  The project looked at uses of lecture capture software beyond simply recording and posting lectures for students to revisit.

The project looked at taking recorded lectures and cutting them up into 15 minute snapshots which can then be used a subsequent year to support students’ learning.  The snapshots could be posted in VLEs before face-to-face lectures to provide students with background knowledge and free up time in lectures for more interaction and discussion.  Recordings of face-to-face lectures can be used to support DLs.
Short snapshots of lectures can be made publicly available and used as effective recruitment tools.

Denise Sweeny reported on a lecture capture project going on at the University of Leicester at the moment.  Using Adobe Connect and/or open source software OpenEyA (see www.openeya.org for more information) lecturers from Media and Communication and from Chemistry have captured 5 hours of UG lectures and 12 hours of PGT lectures and have posted them in Bb with no guidance or instructions on how students should use them.  This term they will measure use of the captured lectures using Bb Analytics, focus groups, an online questionnaire and extended interviews.  They want to measure how often the lectures are accessed and how students use them.  They will also gather data on student demographics and their preferred modes of study.

If you want help and advise on capturing your own teaching sessions contact Simon Kear spk7@le.ac.uk in BDRA.

Posted in Projects, Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Technology & Devices, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Visit to Gondar, Ethiopia

Posted by knockels on 27 September, 2010

I have just returned from a visit to Gondar in northern Ethiopia, under the auspices of the Leicester-Gondar Link, a long standing link between hospitals/universities in Leicester and in Gondar.     The link encompasses clinical hospital staff as well as academic and support staff, and has seen many visits of Leicester people to Gondar as well as the other way round.

I went as part of a team, along with Tatjana Petrinic of the University of Oxford and Getachew Bayissa of the University of Jimma, Ethiopia,  to teach an information skills module on a new MSc course.   The course is the first of its kind in Ethiopia, and there are courses for physiotherapists, clinical laboratory staff, midwives and anaesthetists.   The aim is to improve practice and also to have aa course that is self sustaining, with people who qualify going on to teach it.   There were 45 students, more than planned, reflecting the demand for such a course.

Ours was the first module, and ran from Wednesday to Sunday to avoid the Ethiopian New Year.   The module was called, rather grandly, “Evidence based practice and health informatics”.  We certainly covered evidence based practice (not sure about the health informatics!), along with website evaluation, critical appraisal (my favourite!), and the resources available through HINARI, a WHO initiative.  HINARI includes PubMed, as well as e journals made available free of charge to countries with low average income.

A theme in my thinking since my return is that although some things are very different in Ethiopia, a good many things are the same.  

Of course, the town of Gondar feels very different.   Very few people have their own car, relying instead on shared minibuses or autorickshaws (“tuktuks”).   We had a day with no electricity, and another with no Internet access.    But there are still students, who want to succeed.  Some of them have extensive knowledge of computers, although others have less.   We had the use of a 40 seater computer room, with digital projector.   The questions that came up in hands on practice time were not that different from what we get asked here.

And here are some photos…

Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia

Teaching in progress

Teaching in progress

Blue Nile Falls, Bahar Dar, Ethiopia

Blue Nile Falls, Bahar Dar, Ethiopia

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The complexities of Chemical Information

Posted by katiefraser on 29 June, 2010

Royal Chemistry Society London headquartersIn May I visited the London headquarters of the Royal Chemistry Society in Burlington House to attend an event entitled ‘Chemical Information for the Chemist and Non-Chemist’. As I’m new to the world of Chemical Information (albeit armed with my knowledge of information resources and an A level in Chemistry) I’d been looking out for a session to expand my knowledge and this seemed perfect. For those interested, the slides are available on the CICAG (Chemical Information and Computer Applications Group) website – just click on ‘previous meetings’, but here I wanted to talk a little bit about what I learnt about chemical information in general at the event.

Since I started getting up to speed with Chemical Information resources I’ve been fascinated by the unique search mechanism of molecular structure. The majority of chemistry-focused databases cross-reference the literature with  molecular structures.. This means you can draw a molecule, and then search for articles referring to it. As David Walsh (whose presentation has informed much of my thoughts in this particular post) noted at the event, the naming of chemicals changes constantly according to fashion, the property of the chemical that a particular scientists wants to emphasise, and according to commercial concerns (for example, using trade names, or local laboratory numbers). Drawing the chemical allows you to by-pass a large number of these problems.

Molecular structure of phenylethylamine, used under Creative  Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/

Molecular structure of phenylethylamine, used under Creative Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/

This seems like  the perfect search tool! Surely a mechanism allowing such exact searching means that the core information professional’s toolkit – define your keywords, perform the search, alter keywords, perform your search, iterate until satisfied or exhausted – seems almost redundant? Well, unfortunately for simplicity, but luckily for making information professionals feel useful, this isn’t the case. A lot of the time there’s reason to search for something that’s either more or less specific than a molecular structure.

For example, when patents are registered for chemicals they usually use something known as the Markush structure – a molecular diagram which records certain key aspects of a compound, but allows for certain points on that structure to be substituted by a variety of different sub-structures. This indicates that a lot of the time one exact molecular structure can be too specific. On the other hand, sometimes a molecular diagram is not specific enough. For example, the stereochemistry studies at the arrangement of atoms within a compound. When compounds with the same molecular structure are arranged differently, this can give two apparently identical compounds different chemical and physical properties.

RSC newsletters inside Burlington HouseThese different degrees of specificity have interesting implications for the type of keyword generation that needs to happen in searching for chemical information. In a lot of subject areas I’d advise looking to see what’s available in the literature before deciding how specific to be in search terms: in a little studied area you tend to go quite wide and gather in a lot of related literature; in a widely studied area you can afford to be quite specific. However, in chemical information you can define up-front whether you’re interested  in a wide group of compounds or just a very specific isomer and use this to inform your search. The downside being that the beautifully simple molecular structure search isn’t always the one you want.

Over the summer I’ll be thinking more about how the different kinds of information used in Chemistry affect the way it can be taught, and learning more about the different kinds of notation that are used. I’d highly recommend looking at David Walsh’s slides, entitled ‘What Makes Chemical Information Different?’ from the event to get a good overview of many of the different types of notation used. However, I think cramming all of these into a one hour session might make students cry!

Posted in Subject Support | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Teaching reference management

Posted by knockels on 22 June, 2010

Or perhaps, teaching using reference management.  I went yesterday to the second Innovations in Reference Management event, organised by the TELSTAR project, in Birmingham.   It was all very useful and interesting, but a couple of things caught my eyes and ears.  Here is one.

Helen Curtis, of the University of Wolverhampton, spoke about the University’s inclusion of digital literacy in the list of attributes of a graduate, and the opportunities that this afforded the Library.   I was very interested in how they taught and assessed reference management, trying to concentrate not on teaching one particular tool but on more generic skills.   

One example was an assessment that got the students looking at a list of references and transferring the data into EndNote.  This needs them to be able to identify what the parts of a reference are, and shows them which fields in EndNote are the most important. 

Another example was where students had to include in their project a piece of writing that reflected on their use of information sources, and this had to be submitted alongside the project and the actual EndNote library.    No more finding all the references at the last moment to make sure that no one thinks you are plagiarising!

A third example was the use of virtual reading groups (using EndNote Web).   Students had to add material to a shared folder and then add summaries and comments.  They had to indicate what they had been able to find out about the authors, as well as how they would describe the information source, as well as why the source was useful.   (This reminded me of the exercise that Sarah and I were involved in with Alan Cann, where second year biological science students had to use Cite U Like to store relevant papers and their own appraisal of those papers).

Of course, in the midst of this the students are learning the use of a particular software tool, but they are seeing it in a larger context.

Posted in Referencing, Training | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Information Literacy within our Institution: Thoughts from LILAC

Posted by katiefraser on 15 April, 2010

LILAC Tweet Wordle

Word Cloud of tweets during LILAC 2010 courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/davepattern/

Just before Easter I attended the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference, held this year in Limerick, Ireland. It was my first chance to step back and think about my new role as an Information Librarian at the university, so great timing for me.

I attended a range of different talks on areas relevant to my own personal development (on librarians’ roles as teachers, and case studies of online tool use), but in this post I’m focusing on talks which I felt had institutional significance in terms of what we’re doing with information literacy, how we’re doing it, and what else we can do.

What are we doing?
The amount and kind of information literacy teaching inevitably varies within as well as between institutions: different courses and different disciplines have different needs. However, when responsibilities for information literacy are split between different departments and services across a university there are obvious benefits from tracking who does what: to make sure students acquire key skills, and to identify opportunities for collaboration. I believe librarians, as specialists in the area, have the responsibility to make sure these skills are developed, even if we are not always responsible for delivering them ourselves.

Gillian Fielding’s presentation on The Information Literacy Audit at the University of Salford described an institutional audit as one way of doing this. The team at Salford took a checklist of key information skills to programme leaders across the university to determine what training was provided, how it was provided, at which level (pre-entry, induction, year 1, 2, or 3, or at Masters or PhD) and by which department / service. Despite difficulties with timing of the audit 70% of undergraduate course leaders participated, and it seemed like a really good way of opening up dialogues between central services and departments about what needs covering and how it can be offered. It certainly sounded like information I’d find useful, although they did have large number of subject specialists to carry out the audit compared to us!

How are we doing it?
One of the big themes of the conference for me was about how the library collaborates with others in the university. In fact, the workshop I was at the conference to lead (focusing on central services’ roles in supporting research student communities of practice) was looking explicitly at the library’s role in the wider university community. Sophie Bury from York University in Canada covered a similar theme in her presentation on academics’ views of information literacy.

The academics she surveyed pretty universally agreed that information literacy skills (as defined by the ACRL standards) were important. Furthermore, the majority thought librarians and academics should be working together to deliver sessions, a finding that she noted was echoed in some previous studies, with others suggesting that librarians should be handling this area. However, she also found a fairly even split between academics believing that sesssions should take place outside or within class time. This is an ongoing issue: sessions which take places outside of class time are not as well attended, but it’s easy to understand why academics are reluctant to jettison discipline-specific content for more general skills. How we fit information literacy into the student experience AND the student timetable is something I’ll be thinking about more over the summer as I look at my teaching for next year.

What else can we do?
Finally, as well as more ‘traditional’ information literacy, the conference also got me thinking about ways in which information literacy teaching can impact on a broader range of skills (see also Selina’s previous post about Critical Appraisal). Stephanie Rosenblatt from California State University gave a talk entitled They can find it, but they don’t know what to do with it looking at students’ use of academic literature and found that students were already competent enough at finding scholarly literature (the main focus of her teaching) but that they didn’t know how to use the academic materials. Should librarians be developing a more rounded approach to teaching information literacy? Aoife Geraghty and her colleagues from the Writing Centre at the University of Limerick discussed a way in which centralised student services could work together to support such activities.

Lastly, Andy Jackson from the University of Dundee ran a workshop on generic graduate attributes, challenging us to develop attributes such as ‘cultural and social and ethics’ into teaching Endnote and Refworks use. This was immense fun (once we’d worked out that attribution and intellectual property could be seen as cultural and social ethical issues!) and made me think about all the different angles and educational opportunities that even the most basic software training workshops offer.

Where Now?
The conference ended with a Keynote from Dr Ralph Catts talking about developing our research methods and evaluation (in time for the conference next year!). The appeal for librarians to involve educational researchers in their planning and evaluation was a little misplaced for me (I have a background in educational research, and was rankled by the implication that librarians universally lacked the ability to evaluate, rather than the resources to do so). However, I think his message about the importance of evidence in instigating, developing and evaluating our practices was sound. I definitely hope to use the research I learnt about at LILAC in the next few months, and I hope to do more reflection and evaluation as I settle in to the post.

Posted in Staff training, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Critical Appraisal & Evaluation Skills

Posted by selinalock on 14 April, 2010

We had an interesting training session on Monday, run by our colleague Keith Nockels about critical appraisal. Keith went through the session he teaches to various medical and science undergraduates and postgraduates.

We had a really good discussion about based around appraising paper on crows using automobiles as nutcrackers!  Keith had found one of the difficulties with teaching critical appraisal was finding papers which people from various disciplines could discuss, hence the crow paper.

It made us think about whether the medical/science criteria could be applied to other subjects. For example, arts might be more interested in who’s writing the paper and their reputation, over the exact nature of the paper.

We would like to place more emphasis on appraisal and evaluation skills in future. Especially as studies, such as the Digital Information Seeker Report, still suggest that information literacy skills are lacking.  Plus, search technology is still moving towards resource discovery and single search boxes to search across many resources. To user the search seems easy so we need to make sure that they look more closely at the results they are finding.

We already include some evaluation skills in our sessions but there is certainly room for more, and more in-depth skills for postgraduates. At the moment we’re going to carry forward the critical appraisal discussion in our College Teams and look at what we can offer via a subject-specific route.

Some issues I thought we might want to consider were:

  • Do people need to understand better the type of information they’re looking at? E.g. website vs e-journal vs pre-print.
  • How about new ways of disseminating information like blogs or YouTube?
  • Are critical appraisal checklists useful? I thought it might be good to encourage people to write notes as they appraise and then use a checklist to ensure they haven’t missed anything.
  • What are the most effective ways of teaching evaluation/appraisal skills?

I’d be interested to hear what people out there think. What training do you think would be useful? Or what training do you provide?

Also love this little tutorial from our Student Development service on Being a Critical Student. We need to go pick their brains and see how we can offer complementary training.

Posted in Research Support, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Browsing other browsers

Posted by knockels on 1 February, 2010

Since I stopped working at places that used Netscape, I’ve only really used Internet Explorer. Recently, though, I have come into contact with other things (OK, I admit that one of the “other things” is also IE, but bear with me!)

Firstly, I teach one student group that do everything on laptops with Linux, Open Office and Firefox.    The Library has one such machine (to help enquiry staff see things as Firefox users see them, but it has been very handy for me!).   We looked at PubMed, Web of Science and RefWorks in a recent session and had no difficulties (apart from me downloading documents and then not being able to find them). 

Then, my home laptop has Internet Explorer 8 (I installed this as part of a regular Windows Update).   It has tabs, like IE7.  But it has various features that can suggest related sites or search results to you – an enhanced search box which suggests sites to you, and buttons that suggest sites related to the one that you are looking at.  I don’t have the enhanced search box, and I haven’t yet got on very well with the button, so more research needed.  Right clicking things also allows you to quickly send Google Mail email, or blog about things.

The thing that caught my eye, though, about IE8 is the “InPrivate” facility.   This opens a new browser window which does not record any history of what you have looked at.    As long as the “InPrivate” logo is at the start of the address bar, it will not predict sites as you type into that bar, and going to favorites and history will list nothing.    According to Microsoft’s IE8 webpages, this is aimed at people who want to check personal email on a shared PC (in an internet cafe, perhaps), or who want to order presents online.   I can imagine that it might enable all sorts of things to go on, and it does not seem to be possible to turn it off.

Last of all, Google Chrome.   I recently installed Real Player on my laptop and was offered this, so thought “why not”.    I have looked at library webpages and it seems fine, and very quick, which is one of its selling points.   But when I tried to access the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch site to report results, it hung and nothing happened.    More experimentation needed.   I would be interested to hear (or read!) of others’ experience.

We may have users who have these various browsers, so it is good to see them, and hopefully to remember that the browser may be playing a part in any problems we are trying to troubleshoot.  It is fair enough to have a preferred one for University purposes, perhaps, but we need to be aware of the wider browsing world.

Posted in Digital Strategy & Website, Technology & Devices | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Alternatives to using a wiki to teach?

Posted by selinalock on 29 October, 2009

I’m looking for some advice or suggestions on alternatives to using a wiki during a session.

Last year I blogged about my experience using a wetpaint wiki with 1st year computer scientists which overall went well as the students liked the option to interact online, rather than interact verbally in the classroom. We found last year and so far with the group this year that they are far happier doing things in front of a computer!

Anyway, there are up to 70 students and I would like them to comment on issues such as the pros and concs of wikipedia during the session. The wetpaint wiki would not allow several people to edit at once so most of the students entries were lost or overwritten last year.

If anyone can recommend an alternative solution?

– wiki software that will let multiple people edit?

– chat room software that can deal with a big group?

– discussion forum software?

– would a blog allow lots of people to comment at once? Or would it fall over?

I only really need the software during the session, as I’m not expecting them to add to it afterwards, so it needs to be free and easy to use/register for. I would have used a Blackboard discussion board but this module isn’t using Blackboard!

Posted in Subject Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World Reprise

Posted by selinalock on 1 June, 2009

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Cover

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Cover

Following on from Gareth’s earlier post on this subject, here’s my thoughts & questions:

  • Information Literacy is a major component of this report – it argues that it is a growing area that students are deficient in. Recommends that it is a high priority for HEIs to train their students in & keep their staff updated on.
  • “Information literacies, including searching, retrieving, critically evaluating information from a range of appropriate sources and also attributing it – represent a significant and growing deficit area”
  • However, no mention anywhere of how to do this or that libraris have been struggling to get this on the agenda for years.
  • Q: What do we do with this report? Take it to VC? Take it to teaching & learning committees? What strategies & solutions do we suggest for training students & staff? Do we take a take roots approach with lecturers? Do all of the above?
  • Web 2.0 skills (communication, networking, sharing) are becoming employability skills.
  • Students are living in a Web 2.0 world and might expect Web 2.0 solutions in the future – though at present they expect a traditional face to face approahc in HE and do not equate social software with learning. This may change as the next few generations come through the school system.
  • Students are currently consumers of content in the Web 2.0 world rather than creators – we need to find hooks i.e. show them how the technology helps them.
  • Q: What are the hooks for staff and for students in using Web 2.0 in a learning context?
  • Three types of online space: Personal (emails & messaging), Group (social networking sites) and publishing (blogs, wikis, youtube).  Students will not want us in their personal space but there is scope for utilising group and publishing space for learning & teaching.
  • Information literacy should incorporate other web awareness issues e.g. plagarism, data protection, personal data on the web and online identities.
  • Q: How do we do this? How do we work with others in the institution who teach/train on these issues? How do we update ourselves in all these areas?
  • Upskill staff on e-pedagogy: as this will be needed for them to take advantage of using Web 2.0 technologies.
  • Q: How skilled are we as librarians in this? What training do we need in order to offer the information literacy teaching the report advocates?
  • Report suggests there are already examples out there of good practice in the use of digitised materials and online learning resources at module level. Though no specific examples included. It asks how these can be supported and used on a wider/larger scale.
  • Q: What good practice are we already using or aware of with regards Web 2.0? Does it upscale? What opportunities are there for us to work with other colleagues inside & outside the institution to provide services?
  • Take into account the prior experience and the expectations of students.
  • Q: How do we do this? Do we cultivate more links with school librarians in the UK? What about overseas, distance learning and mature students?
  • Digital divide still exists – don’t forget that!
  • “Means of access will be multimedia, mobile and pocket-sized”
  • Q: Are we prepared for the next wave of multimedia and mobile type resources?

Overall, this report is good for librarians and the information literacy cause as long as we DO something about it. Take action & not just talk about it!

Posted in Service Delivery, Staff training, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Learning and Teaching in the Sciences Unconference

Posted by gazjjohnson on 22 May, 2009

DSC01084This morning I went off to the Learning and Teaching in The Sciences Unconference.  What is an conference?  It’s one where rather than a set agenda, the participants come together and draw one up.  Ideally you run it over a day or two and aim to have real outputs at the end, but we had just a few hours.  Normally the LTS Conference spans an afternoon or so with invited speakers.  This year this wasn’t possible, but there was still a demand to meet and look at our teaching and a learning activities across the sciences. 

The focus was on assessment, and after voting on the aspects we wanted to look at fractioned off into smaller groups.  I was in a group looking at the benefits to students and staff.  After flying the flag for information literacy we came to a rough conclusion that whilst they may grumble about it, and focus on the final grade; assessment has real appreciable and demonstrable benefits to students, staff and the institution – with especial focus on the employ-ability and respect of our graduates.

We had a feedback session and then broke into new groups.  This time I was looking at work placed assessment and placement.  I spent a year in industry as part of my degree, and it was a wonderful terrifying, intensive and rich learning experience.  We didn’t have as much time here, so we perhaps didn’t dig down as far as we might have hoped.  We then lunched and discussed the session. 

One of the best outputs was uncovering one of my Chemistry academics as a tweeter and I’ve been following up on some of the discussions with @wozzza already.  More than that?  Well I hope to see unconferences like this more often at UoL.  They take less planning, and other than refreshments need little more than a room and a few hours of people’s times.  But the reinforcement of old networks and the generation of new linkages can only be of considerable benefit to the university.  Thanks to my novel networks we made the http://scienceleicester.wordpress.com/, what will come from today?!

DSC01086Well for one I introduced Alan Cann to Belbin analysis; which he’d never heard of; so felt justly smug for a few fleeting seconds.

Hopefully there will also be other blogs and formal reports too, to try and share this expertise and experience further.  A big thanks to Stu Johnson of Student Developmentfor organising and facilitating the day.

The session also used a twitter-back channel discussion which we projected to the screen.  As we were all using phones and tiny portable devices there was none of that regular clattering you might have heard in a computer lab.  Worked quite well, as a few of us were documenting the session, and we also got quite a few comments from external people interested.  And we trended on Twitter too!  You can follow the twitter feed of discussions here

Posted in Staff training, Subject Support, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »