Effective Instructor Quote

I’m quickly skimming through Jessamyn West’s outstanding new book, “Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide,” and ran across this statement that is important for any trainer teaching any level of technology to any group of students, especially those uncomfortable with technology. In a lot of ways it’s common sense to anyone who’s worked with anyone learning technology, but it’s still always good to have the reminder.

I hope you take it to heart as much as I have (and read the whole book!):

Part of being an effective instructor is about putting technology use into perspective for people and helping them find a place for it in their own lives as something other than an insurmountable obstacle” –p74, Without a Net

From Podcasts to Blogs and Beyond! Session

Scherelene Schatz, New Jersey State Library

JerseyCat ILL training online. What is it? It’s the statewide virtual catalog and ILL system. 700 multi-type libraries (school, special, academic, public; 95% of public libraries use JerseyCat).

Target audience? 2,000 people trained on the system. Webinars are really good way to quickly update & reach more people, because they can’t leave the library to go to training. Training reference librarians who deal with customers. Training of catalogers — who want to download the MARC records from the system.

In the past what was used? Went to hands-on lab in the state in person, and went through the particular lesson that day.

Now, using webinars. JerseyCat listserv.

Also, using Blog for the project. Slides shared there for presentations. Archiving webinars to view webinar later. Registration links provided there.

Why are webinars a viable option? Started with searching; workflow; tweaking search screen’s default settings; attaching journal articles to the ILL requests; vendor upgrades.

How do you set up, prepare, and conduct a webinar?

  • choose a vendor & platform — Scherlene used GoToWebinar
  • schedule the webinar: title, description, date, start & end time
  • how to provide audio? conference call on phone — provide a 1-800 number; OR VOIP
  • set up registration form that participants’ will fill out
  • evaluation form setup as well, to pop up on the screen at the end of the webinar or emailed to participants to ask for feedback for the session.
  • after setting up registration form, email & link generated for participants; also sends out reminders about the session, so no one forgets

How are the webinars going?

  • compared hands-on training to webinar training: very comparable; not much difference.

Performance reports, post-webinar?

  • shows participant info
  • polling questions answered
  • post-session survey responses

Final Tips

  • mark your calendar for the sessions that you as the trainer set up; you need to be at those sessions.
  • nothing substitutes for good preparation
  • have session participants mute their phones, etc.
  • send handouts to participants ahead of time; some people need pieces of paper in front of them.
  • use your polling questions (if you notice people wandering away, esp)

Jason Puckett & Rachel Borchardt Section

Podcasting for instruction librarians

Adventures in Library Instruction podcast

What’s a podcast? RSS + MP3

Like a radio show; it’s free to produce, create, and share, through the Internet.

Blog that has attached media files, almost always MP3s (but also PDFs, video files)

Don’t need a portable media player to listen to podcasts. Many podcast listeners view through a computer; more starting to listen on their smartphones or other devices.

RSS feed: if you just put the file up on a blog without RSS it’s like a monograph, no subscriptions. If you have RSS, it becomes like a serial and you can subscribe. People get this analogy.

Gearing up. A lot of money can be put into the equipment. If your campus has a media production lab already, take a look at those labs–you might be able to use those labs. But there’s also much cheapers way to do this.

Blue Snowball microphone (about $100) — records in 360 degrees + laptop + audacity. Great for portable podcasts. If you have a Mac, use GarageBand to record & edit; software comes with Macs. For music, use creative commons-licensed music to not spend much money.

Once you record and edit the file, you post the file.

WordPress has a plugin called PodPress. Other ways to get the files online.

Jason & Rachel’s first podcast: Library Survival Guide Podcast (original one; Jason & Rachel no longer at Emory; at different universities now). Did short episodes. Best practices: short episodes (5-10mins); never read from a script — sounds like you’re reading from a script; one person talking is a lot less interesting than 2 people talking; conversation instead of lecture; kept re-iterating why important.

Instructional Design & Marketing

Students not necessarily going to subscribe to the podcasts. Supplemental material during in-class instruction sessions. Put on library website; libguides.

How a podcast can succeed or fail is in the marketing. Let the students know about it, but also let the instructors know about it. Partner with the marketing department. Podcasts can be used for teaching and also for advertising what’s going on at the library.

Evidence of success

iTunesU shot the podcast into success, getting it to a broader audience. Podcasts can be difficult to assess. Can get the number of times the files have been downloaded, but don’t know who downloads. Always ask for feedback, but don’t get any.

Moving onto other jobs

Jason: “Library Insider” @GSU — learned you have to do this with others. Hasn’t been able to do one since August 2009. Hoping to revive it again.

Podcasts are free like kittens, not like beer. Have to feed podcasts, and take care of them.

Third podcast effort: ALI: Adventures in Library Instruction. Kept informal. Conversational style. Anna is the third person in the podcast. The podcast was started because Jason wanted to listen to an instruction librarian podcast — none out there, so that’s why the podcast started. T is for Training is another library podcast out there.

Tools to collaborate produce — no budget; all tools free

  • Skype
  • SkypeCall Recorder — or supposedly Audacity will record Skype calls (not sure if this true — heard this)
  • Audacity
  • Blogspot (publish)
  • FeedBurner
  • DropBox — to share files — ESSENTIAL — music shared there; interviews
  • Archive.org (file put there)
  • iTunes


  • 300 subscribers to the podcast
  • Facebook presence
  • Never get enough feedback
  • No one isn’t necessarily responding

Other libraries out there using podcasts

  • Arizona State has great podcasts (video included); model podcast
  • Public Libraries doing this, as well, on various topics
  • University of Toronto used to archive events that occurred at the university; not doing this any more.
  • DeKalb County Public Library archives events.
  • Hopkinton HIgh School, Isinglass Teen Read Award BookTalks
  • Tours at Ohio University Libraries

Training in the Cloud Session

I went on a DC exploration adventure this morning with Jodi and Earl, instead of attending the morning sessions. We saw the monuments and went through the Library of Congress. We all ended up requesting and getting reader room cards. We used the library’s computers and tried to request a few books before discovering how long it would take to get the books, so we gave up and came back.

As a result of those adventures, I missed the Training in the Cloud Session, but am grateful to Bobbi & Maurice for posting a link to a web site for their session. I will definitely be checking it out!

Virtual Learning and Training

Teaching and Learning with Drupal
Meredith Farkas, Norwich University

Transferring face-to-face classes straight to online classes doesn’t work. They are boring. Something is lost in translation?

What gets lost is the before- & after-class interaction; the in-class interaction; this hasn’t always been transferred to online learning.

Web 2.0 ideas for the classroom.

  • age of participation
  • the wisdom of crowds
  • social constructivism
  • instructor is facilitator; everyone learns, even the instructor

Meredith used Drupal, an OS CMS, in her instruction, instead of the school’s current learning management system.

  • multiple blogs
  • wikis
  • forums
  • static html
  • lots of options available in Drupal

She has taught three semesters of classes online so far. The important part has been the class participation, and the commenting that has gone on in the class.

Why blogs?

  • faculty communication with students — “housekeeping” category posts
  • familiar medium
  • builds student sense of ownership over the medium (with forums, you don’t own the space; you just post there; with own blog, it’s your space)
  • community-building: students interacted and connected online, much more human medium where they be themselves, informal.
    • “this was probably the most engaging class i’ve taken because were were required to interact with each other every week…” –comment from student
  • Reflective learning: reflect on the experience of reading, process it, and write about how it affects you. Reflect on other discussions.
  • Discussion and debate: when you have to critique or justify your ideas, you are able to start to clarify your own ideas better and own them.
  • Writing in public: gain experience writing for an outside audience, while in school, not just your class reading your stuff; professional blogging beginning already
  • Everyone is teacher and learner: reading and teaching not as important as the conversations that went on in the class, so everyone learns and teaches.

Blogs can:

  • promote critical and reflective thinking
  • enable collaboration and knowledge-saharing
  • create an informal environment for student discussion and community-building
  • encourage dialogue and debate
  • encourage students to teach as well as learn and co-construct their learning experience

Using blogs for teaching brings in much more real-world experience.

Blogging at the American University in Cairo
Joan Petit, Portland State University

Worked at the American University in Cairo for two years.

It’s a US-accredited institution; has a required info lit class; mostly Egyptians; English as 2nd or 3rd language; no libraries there; no critical thinking taught in high school; no research papers in class before college. This situation presents challenges for the information literacy course that’s required.

OLD LALT 101 class

  • research project
  • Quizzes — graded automatically
  • WebCT
  • PowerPoints — instructor would read through the slides
  • 20% increase from pre- to post-test
  • Light workload for librarians; not much prepwork

New LALT 101: class wiki

  • Strict attendence — if you came to class & did the assignments, you’d pass.
  • Easier to pass
  • All students had to blog
    • weekly posts
    • assigned topics
    • political blogging in Egypt
    • Final project in blog — just a blog entry
    • Student Blog #1
    • Student Blog #2
      • Students could have public or private blogs

WordPress blogs resulted in for staff:

  • near-disaster
  • platform is not-so-simple
  • technology issues
  • instructors thought the students hated it

Student feedback

  • they loved the blogging.
  • the instructors couldn’t back off the blogging approach because the students hated taking the rest of the class. Since they bought into the blogging portion of the class, it had to remain.

The Lessons

  • Looking good on paper isn’t enough
  • Take advantage of key moments
  • Own your disasters
  • Define success
  • The most exciting technology isn’t always the best for users
  • Ill-considered hastily implemented can be a great success: if this had gone before a committee, it wouldn’t have happened.

Comments at the End

Meredith: students felt ownership of their classroom through the online structure of the class.

Joan: you find the technology that works for the students, play around with it, even with engineering students.

Meredith: so many different ways to engage your students in learning; you just have to find ways to engage the students so that they learn.

Joan: hear what the students are saying in response to what’s being used.

Meredith: how to get students to comment on each other’s stuff? not sure if an environment caused this or if it was the students themselves.