Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Teaching Translitearcy with EBSCO and ProQuest

Today’s post will be about something I love to use. That is, technology. I am an avid user and teacher of the stuff. Sharing some new tick, be it with a database, mobile app or desktop app is one of the key aspects of my job. As librarians, we need to be fluent with technology. After all, we teach students the concepts behind databases, web interfaces and working with file structures. 

There are some great tools out there, which interact with other apps. (Zotero being one such option. ) Being an iPad campus, my institution has purchased a notability license for our students.  This is a nifty little app that works with cloud storage to allow PDF annotation. As a librarian, I view this as an opportunity to teach students how to interact with file structures, save PDF’s, import them into the app and annotate them. 

These types of apps and tools require a student to really understand file structures and user interfaces. They need to understand that a PDF is more common for scholarly articles, whereas a word document is better suited for a working document. An understanding of common UI elements is also required. The larger concept here is transliteracy. 

Translitearcy, for those who do not know is “… concerned with mapping meaning across different media and not with developing particular literacies about various media. It is not about learning text literacy and visual literacy and digital literacy in isolation from one another but about the interaction among all these literacies” (Ipri, 2010).

This is not an easy thing to teach. Students need to draw concepts between interfaces and develop and intuition for graphical user interfaces (GUI). I believe most librarians are transliterate. The nature of our jobs require use to interact with different interfaces, to get desired outcomes. Students are often lost in new interfaces and require a guiding hand. 

Transliteracy is far too large of a literacy to teach in a single library session. It is something that is developed over time. They need experience interacting with lots of GUIs. In my sessions, I have developed a simple technique to get across a basic translitearcy concept.

The interfaces of EBSCOhost and ProQuest are not all that different. Sure, they use different color styles and somewhat different wording, but they both send you to a PDF. They both offer you the ability to refine your search with boolean operators. There is even a way to refine your search based on peer-reviewed status.

In class, I have the students find one article in EBSCO and ProQuest. Usually I leave 5-10 minutes each. If the articles they can find are related to a paper they are required to write, that is all the better. Once the time is complete, I ask which was their favorite. Most of the time, the class is split down the middle. 

After that, I bring up EBSCO and ProQuest on the same screen. I point out how both interfaces have that three search box interface. I mention the boolean operator drop downs. They are shown how to refine the searches with the peer-reviewed/scholarly article check boxes and how to refine the searches by timeframe. 

By showing them the common elements in each database, they are learning (hopefully) to look for familiar interfaces. In much the same way you or I would look for a left facing arrow to go back, I am hoping they are learning to use the drop down menu in either database to refine their search with boolean operators.

When Someone Teaches Me a Formatting Shortcut

Find more fun gifs from When in Academia at http://wheninacademia.tumblr.com

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ask the Masses: Grading for Embedded Classes and One-Shots

This week's AtM question relates to something I've been spending a lot of time doing lately: grading/assessment.

My question is:

At what level are you involved with grading and formally assessing student assignments/projects in the classes you work with? Do you provide feedback, but leave grading up to the course instructor? Do you grade library assignments? Do the course instructors count library assignments or activities for course credit? Let's have a conversation about assessment and grading!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Web Quality (or Primary Sources) Game

For the longest time I've wanted to figure out a way to spice up my instruction regarding web evaluation. I wanted to do something that would emphasize the evaluation criteria and the need for students to dig deeper into their evaluation and reflection process when doing online research.  I have used my Wikipedia example in the past (found on slide 12 in the presentation below--you may wish to make it full screen to check out those circled parts; that definitely helps students think about the changing nature of information on the web--especially community edited information), but wanted something more interactive.

That's when the idea to do "Telephone Pictionary" or "Teletionary" or "Pictaphone" came to me. Though it's really well suited for explaining primary resources, this activity can also hammer home the importance of knowing where your information is coming from, just as a general concept.  I typed 8 different sayings into a table in MS word and cut the pages in half lengthwise (below).

Then I cut squares out of folded in half cardstock (I used construction paper for my first semester with this game, but it just didn't hold up so I switched to cardstock) so that only 2 boxes would show.

Every student starts with the given prompt and then draws a picture. They cover up the prompt so that just their picture shows and pass it along to the next person in the line, who then writes a new caption based on their interpretation of the drawing. They cover up the picture so that only their caption shows and pass it along to the next person. This continues in a cycle until all boxes are filled.  We then discuss how the messages and pictures changed over time (usually with lots of giggling as some of the changes can be pretty silly...), and then we tie it back in to research and web quality (outlined in the presentation below).

After we go through the web evaluation criteria I show the students how to use Google's advanced search tool, and then they're off to complete the web evaluation checklist (digitized using Google Forms--the link is on slide 18) for 2 websites related to their paper topics. Usually this activity works best with classes that are 80 minutes long (our Tues./Thurs. classes), but with a few modifications we have made this work in 50 minute classes. 

I have had several professors compliment me on this activity and note how their students' web search skills improved noticeably after this lesson. I think the activity helps students remember that they really need to look more closely at the resources they are selecting.  

What fun games do you use in your library instruction? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ask the Masses: No student left behind

Time for another Ask the Masses question. Looking back at some of the responses for my teaching evals last week, one comment in particular stood out.

A faculty member said that sometimes my instruction tends to "favor the folk who pick up on things quickly," but that I'm sure to try and not move on until everyone has caught up.

The comment has gotten me thinking. How do you go about doing IL instruction, which tends to be hands-on, with a group of users that has skill levels across the board? I realize I try to teach closer to middle and get students going on the project and try and pick up the stragglers one-on-one, but that doesn't always feel like the best way to go about it.

So I turn to the rest of you, ideas??

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bringing the flipped classroom to library instruction

I suppose I should start this post with the note that I am by no means an educational pedagogy expert. Nor do I have any hands on experience with 'flipped classrooms.' But then again, if you've read any of my other posts, you know that I've taken my instructional inspiration from way weirder places. So without further adieu, Becky's version of a flipped IL classroom.

The basics of a flipped classroom for those of you unfamiliar with the idea include having students read or listen to the lecture or traditional class content outside of class and spending in-class time working on problem sets or what would traditionally have been homework. In essence, content is introduced outside the classroom walls, and class time is used to reinforce the ideas and concepts learned.

My version grew out of two different places. First, I had an instructor who gave me two full periods with his first-year students concerning his Journal Article Review assignment. He originally thought I'd spend the first hour doing a "basic library overview" and then the second date teaching them more specifically about the assignment. I agreed to the 2-date setup, but I politely reminded the instructor we don't really do a overview tour of the website, but I would find a way to use those class periods productively.

Secondly, I'd been playing around with an idea for while. Just trying to find a place to put it into practice. What if we had the students do the searching outside of class and did the rest of the assignment in class? Because let's be honest, the students are coming in more and more capable of typing words into a search box. Getting them to that point...and beyond that point. That's the issue. Why take precious time in class letting them search?

This assignment was perfect for this approach. It required the students to find a scholarly article and write a critique and review of it. Simple on the surface, but SO many skills and topics incoming students would need help with. After talking with the instructor and my backup in the class (Both sections of this class have approx 30 students.), we decided to split up the instruction this way.

Day 1

We started the day breaking the assignment down and figuring out just what we needed to find. Along the way we realized this 'journal' article might not be the kind of article we were used to, as the assignment talked about study participants, methodology and future implications. So we spent the next portion of the period talking about scholarly articles: what, why, who, and how.  Once we figured out what we needed, we moved on to how we searched for it. This class is a 100-level introduction to a major that has 3 distinct tracts: Sports Marketing, Pre-Professional Health, and Athletic Training. So to both take advantage of and explore that, we brainstormed topics about football. We created a topic web on a piece of paper all branching off the basic topic. Each tract was represented and we talked about how many different ideas and research studies might exist out there. And before we were done...we had a bunch of different keywords ready to dump into SPORTDiscus. This left us with about 10 minutes to demo the database and how to request the full-text.

The Homework

The students' job was to come to the next library session (about 3 weeks away) with a print or digital copy of a scholarly article that fit the criteria of the assignment. That's it. Do the searching. Read the abstract. Request the full-text. And bring it with them.

Day 2

The second day is all about using the article and assisting the students with whatever part of the process they need help on. The class activity to start is the "parts of a scholarly article" activity I've talked about previously. After that, we'll set up 3 "Ask-The-Experts" stations in the classroom. One will be staffed by a library staff worker (who is an MLS student). She'll cover APA citations and formatting as well as any searching as we expect a student or two to come in without an article. I will staff another on how to read a scholarly article and where we will find each piece the assignment requires. And the instructor will cover questions about sports terminology, statistics and graphs, as well as any specific questions about the assignments.

A few of the students in this class are upperclassmen. Part of the goal of this instruction is to meet the students wherever they are at skill and experience-wise. If the students are comfortable or have done this type of assignment before, then they basically have work time. Other students will have the opportunity to ask questions in a less intimidating arena than the reference desk or office hours. And it also empowers the students to recognize the skills they already have and hopefully legitimizes the process of asking questions.

We did the first library session already and it seemed to go pretty well. I've seen a few of the students since asking if they had to do anything now that they had their article. I told them they had 2 choices, just bring it with them to the next library date. Or get ambitious and start reading it to see if they can figure it out before they see me again. The next library date will be Oct 14. I'm excited to see how it goes.