Overall summary of unCOILed experience

Overall, I was quite thankful I came down for unCOILed. Always good to meet librarians from other areas and states. As continuing education moves more and more toward a distance or online environment, workshops like this one, focusing on distance education for academic librarians,  are really needed for those in continuing education or who do a lot of training.

I’m beginning to learn and see that there are methods that work and methods that don’t work. People have different learning styles, and I think because many times you’re on your own learning, you have make much more effort to address each learning style in your online/virtual instructions. At least in F2F environments, people have the opportunities to do, watch, see, and hear. But online, if one learning style is left out of the approach that person is much more so alienated.

Thanks again to the organizers who put this together. I took notes for the four sessions I attended, and picked up the notes for a fifth. I’ll look through those later and write a separate post at that time (it was on LibGuides). Here’s all my notes to these sessions:

  1. Keynote Panel
  2. A New Look at COIL: Customizing Online Information Literacy
  3. If You Widget It, They Might Use It
  4. Teaching with Chat
  5. LibGuides (coming soon)

Teaching with Chat

Using the IM reference exchange to teach information literacy skills

Kathryn Plunkett, SOSU

“give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” -chinese proverb

I took some notes on this session, but I honestly was tired by the time this one rolled around, and had a hard time staying focused by this point. Presenter was great; I just was overloaded by this point. As a result, I’m not posting all my notes here. They really won’t make sense (they barely make sense to me!).

Session Summary

Chat reference can be more than just a way to quickly answer ready reference questions. Especially for distance students. If the process is thought out, information literacy skills can be taught. When answering the questions, keep the ACRL Information Literacy standards in mind.

Some best practices to keep in mind:

For Students

  • Determine what the student already knows.
  • Build search strategies together;
  • aim for student independence;
  • describe each process step by step;
  • ask questions during each step;
  • ask the student to describe what s/he found;
  • define library terms.

For Library Staff

  • Know the importance of regular training.
  • Set policies and procedures.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice.
  • Show you are approachable interested and listening.
  • Use scripts when appropriate.

Market the service was briefly mentioned. Some extra discussion on just needing to go where the students were. More and more, people are not coming into the library; accessing information online. But that doesn’t mean they’re accessing “good” information, as ReadWriteWeb posted today, citing a new study out by Northwestern University.

This session definitely makes me want to think further about how NEKLS has implemented its new online chat service on our newly designed website. A few people have used it and have been well-served, but how do we get more librarians to use it? I know not everyone is comfortable with this interface and email or call us instead. But, for those who this might be helpful at the point they have questions, how do we reach them?

Sidenote: good discussion happened between the three Kansas librarians present at this workshop at the end. Brad Fenwick from Hutchison Community College and Carol Matulka from Pratt Community College and I talked at the end about reaching students who need access to the library’s services after their kids go to bed (after 9pm) or early in the morning (4am-8am). Almost every library is closed at this point, but chat service isn’t available to them at all. What might fill this gap? We talked about maybe about tapping into a worldwide network of librarians who at least could answer basic reference questions and get people started in the right direction. Is anyone aware of a service like this? I’ve heard of it for a text service for librarians, but not for online chat reference.

If You Widget It: They Might Use It

Building Library Widgets for your Online Learning Platforms

Amanda Lemon, OCCC & Toni Hoberecht, OU-Tulsa

Presentation webpage

From the presenters’ setup, it looked like it would be fun, even though we’d be talking about HTML some. 🙂

Presenters are at two different institutions; two different learning platforms.

Widgets are small boxes of code that can be embedded in websites.

Explanation of a widget using a bottle of wine, using a Prezi presentation & live props.

  • Bottle of wine–>decanter–>wine glass.
  • Bottle of wine–>winery aerator place in glass–>instantly funnels the wine into the glass. (This is a widget).

Widget::Wine analogy

  • Bottle of wine (rich): this is the resources, the OPAC, the databases
  • Decanter: URL/hyperlinks
  • Glass of Wine: Your End User

The aerator acts as the widget. They get the information direct where they want it in the glass. No separate container needed.

Discussion of More Than Two Hours of Daily TV, Video Game Time Can Cause Attention Problems and Hooked on Gadgets and Paying a Mental Price.

  • The end users aren’t going to just go to a different site.

The default Resources page in the OCCC Angel interface has built-in boxes for Wikipedia and Google. Where’s the library??? It wasn’t there.

They got a presence there first by having a widget built for the library catalog. Ongoing issues getting a database widget placed there.

The widget simplifies the search for the end user.

Creating the Widget

The widget parts:

  • title
  • description of what it does
  • a graphic
  • the search box
  • button;
  • link to the site

Don’t use Word to write the code. It adds “helpful” code. Use notepad, naming the file, “name.html” — using .html allows you to open the file in a web browser.

We’re making a little segmented area to put our widget onto an already existing information.

Div tag = container

At this point the presenters walked the audience through building a widget. Their presentation discussion thread works through some of this process. A couple of notes

  1. Finding the unique searching URL can be complex.
  2. LibraryWebchic.net/mashups can help out.
  3. Presenters suggested to look at others pages & source code to start get possible ideas.

The steps in summary:

  1. Make Widget in Notepad.
  2. Save as HTML file.
  3. Email file to LMS admin.
  4. Admin does the rest.

I really enjoyed this session. Even though I’ve been doing HTML coding for years, off and on, part of being self-taught means you do miss out on certain things. It was good to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. Also, watching someone else teach this was quite helpful for seeing other methods to teach the same times of hardcore techie skills to people who aren’t hardcore techies. I definitely learned some strategies. Analogies (like the wine bottle) are the key. The biggest thing that techies need to remember is to watch the terminology and if you’re told that people don’t understand, step back and think of an analogy of the techie skill you’re teaching that your audience can relate to. For non-techies, the biggest thing to remember is to ask for clarification if you’re confused.

A New Look at COIL: Customizing Online Information Literacy

Went to this session; honestly, I don’t like being critical of session, but I’d hoped it had been a lot more than it turned out to be. Presenter focused on using a hardcoded tutorial and talked a lot about code. More fruitful discussion was when she started talking about direct contact with students. Point mentioned that younger faculty thinks students can use everything online (Not true) and don’t send students to the library as much. She hands out her business card so students can contact her directly more and more.

Notes from this session are below.

Presenter: Elizabeth (Beth) Jones (OCU)


Modules use quizzes to show what students are learning and retaining the information. Grade doesn’t matter. Stickiness is the point. The quiz is designed to hold the answers if students need to click on the information areas of the tutorials to review the answers.


  • research instruction sessions
  • graded assignments
  • distance learning

Design considerations

  • first set should be generic or for lower level English courses
  • What types of info will be standard across the disciplines?
  • What areas will be different?
  • Keep it short.


  • Using Desktop software: Adobe Dreamweaver; FTP Commander; HTML; Javascript; Visual Basic
  • Another suggested tool to use it working with a CMS?
  • Access Database reading — Visual Basic.


  • What is different about this area/discipline?
  • Change all examples or excerpts to discipline specific ones.
  • Change all citations to the approved style for the discipline.


  • Uses spry method within Dreamweaver


Pre-test/post-test used to compare progress? Hasn’t been implemented yet?

Right now correct/incorrect displays; eventually go back and put in more information for why choice was wrong.

Jquery mentioned as an alternative to straight Javascript.

unCOILED workshop Keynote panel

The keynote panel is comprised of the presenters of the different sessions today. Interesting idea. A way for everyone to hear at a least a bit from each of the sessions:

  • Elizabeth Jones, OCU
  • David Oberhelman, Hui-Fen Chang, and Helen Clements, OSU
  • Dennis Miles, SOSU
  • Amanda Lemon, OCCC and Toni Hoberecht, OU-Tulsa
  • Kathryn Plunkett, SOSU
  • Casey Ashe, TCC

Describe the project you will be talking about today, and the biggest roadblock you overcame on the way to implementing it.

  • IM chat: not just supply the answer and but teach those at the other end how to find the answer; had to learn from others
  • Widgets: Will be able to build a widget after this session; had to learn to code
  • LibGuides — faculty embedding these in their courses online. Just getting started. What it is and what it can do to help reach out to distance learners.
  • For-credit IL class online: Difficulties teaching in an online environment; switching from F2F to online environment; challenges were working with administration getting the course set up.
  • new look at COIL: customizing IL for different subject areas and designing it to fit the different professors’ need.
  • Second Life: facilitate teaching within it; challenges: takes a year to get used  to the environment (not like WoW)

Is it easier or harder to provide library instruction for DL than F2F students? Why?

  • Toni: Distance ed lacks the human component. Hard to compensate for that in teaching. We’re going to have to make it work but it’s hard. (Comment: How can this challenge be overcome? Live video cameras? Live voice? Blogging? What types of interaction? Has research been done on what the students think?)
  • Helen: Agrees; students said being f2f did make a difference, even if it’s just once.
  • Casey: engaging them in the different parts of the process is difficult.
  • Kathryn: it’s hard now bc it’s new, but it’s the future. It’s forcing us to be really relook at our teaching. Have to look at different ways of learning to reach different learners. Creativity & flexibility.
  • David: competition from online universities; humans interact better f2f. Find ways to bridge that gap online. How to bring in the in-person interaction experience?

How can libraries most effectively connect with Distance Learners?

  • Casey: much more important now to connect with the faculty in this environment; collaboration with the faculty much more significant
  • Toni: Proximity is everything. Try to insert your access to students when they need you. Predict when the assignment begins; cooperation with faculty.
  • Kathryn: chat is perfect example of this; students were there first and then we adopted it. They are already comfortable with this platform.
  • Beth: marketing is important; make sure students know how to contact us. Make the library’s name prominent and easy to find.
  • Amanda: online option to ask questions is important. Majority of her libraries’ reference qs come online. Students are so appreciative of the online interface to ask questions because they don’t like the phone.
  • Text message reference experimentation: OCCC uses (not marketed much); it’s what’s next.
  • Google Voice # for text chat and then shows up in the chat interface. Google Voice can be used for receiving texts in a chat <– will have to look into this.
  • AIM hack through Meebo text chat is a free way. (but doesn’t work well)

What Web 2.0 technology do you think is the most overrated for distance library services or libraries in general, and why?

  • Twitter (many on the panel don’t like it; don’t get it; Amanda sees both sides of Twitter’s uses)
  • Facebook
  • Library tutorial videos; Amanda spends a lot of time on them, but feels students don’t use them. Thinks they get used because professor sends link out. How to gauge their effectiveness? BYU video mentioned as a great video; many others are boring. Too long. 4 minutes; but that’s way too long, still. ASU library Minute videos are good. The length is the key. People show those in their instruction sessions. Atomic learning ones are really quick too. XKCD on library websites. In Plain English videos by Common Craft

What do you think Distance learning library instruction will look like in 5 years (at your institution and beyond?)

  • More of it for sure
  • Half f2f/half online in 5 years
  • 5-10 years will be doing much more on cell phones & touch screens (5 years?? sooner than that!!)
  • working from home.
  • Digital divide discussion. Rural vs. urban? How are you going to provide distance learning to those in the rural areas who don’t have decent Internet access at their homes, remotely? Even the public libraries where these students could go are struggling to keep up with technology (fund it; pay for internet access; have enough computers to meet all needs).

Open Discussion

  • Bring the legislators into the more rural areas and show them the reality of the broadband and cell phone situations. That’s a really really good point.
  • Instructional content packaged for textbooks. Rather than giving them a website to go to, give them packaged content in a DVD. (Comment: schools, blocking social networking sites (wikis, youtube, etc.), this isn’t a good idea; issue here is working with the schools to show them how these tools are good and why they need to be accessible)
  • Discussion on info lit teaching; missed some of the discussion.
  • Web camera usage: open class period to talk over the web chat. It’s coming. The exchange is so much richer. It’s available now. It’s just getting the camera to use. Someone has used Skype and Dim Dim with her students. “Ignorance is nice.” “How did you do that? I don’t know. I hit the button and it works.”