New Technologies

Image

Browsing around on the home PC, I came across this photo.

I took this in a bike shop in Hastings last year as this is the bike I had when I was 12. I asked for a bike for Christmas and my Birthday (they’re one and the same for me…) and this is what my folks bought me: a Raleigh Saffron. Now, not to sound ungrateful, but what I really had wanted was a ten-speed racer…fast-forward some 30 years and I had a new road bike last year for Christmas and my Birthday. The Saffron in 1982 would’ve probably cost my parents a month’s wages: a Rose Pro WSL Lady cost the best part of £900. http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/bike/rose-pro-wsl-200-2014/aid:666623

And this got me to thinking about new technology. In 1982 I wanted a ten-speed racer and got a three speed shopper. In 1993 we implemented our first library management system that was computerised at Wolverhampton Libraries (the DS system that was the precursor to Talis). Now, most of my job is working online, either through emails, with the LMS or on our VLE!

So,how do we use these new technologies? How can we exploit them to their utmost potential? I wasn’t going to win any races on that Saffron (which, incidentally is still in my Dad’s shed!). I probably wouldn’t have won any on a ten-speed either, but I would have been more than likely to have a go. Giving me 27 gears has driven me to heights on a bike that I would never have aspired to even five years ago. Along with some friends, we’ve covered almost the length of Britain this year alone!

Given that new technologies are the drivers of the changing information environment, where can we go with them? I believe that there isn’t any limit on what we can do with them, except our imagination. And I have an over-active imagination! Watch this space…

Discovery and more…

Earlier in the Summer (and how glorious? Lots of cycling miles done this year!) I attended the InfoLit and Summon Conference, held in Manchester. I found it really inspirational and came away with some great ideas around how discovery tools can make teaching information literacy even easier and more engaging.

http://summonil2013.wordpress.com/

As we all know, it’s very easy to lose your students when the material is dry…a few years ago, we experimented with using a different presentation platform for our inductions but it didnt quite work out. So, if using powerpoint is the only way to present your material, how do we engage the students and move away from death by powerpoint? This got me thinking…and it got me thinking about the ‘flipped classroom’.

I really like the idea of turning the traditional ‘teaching’ role on it’s head, where the students are given the material for the class before they come and you effectively do their homework with them. But I realise it wouldnt work for all subjects, only those really where the emphasis is on traditional study skills. But, that got me thinking too…what about games? We all start our learning journey as young children through play, so why should that be any different as adults? And also, our students are coming to us from a world of games (WoW, Angry Birds, CoD etc…). Why not teach them through a medium they are used to and enjoy? Well, when next I have to design any kind of learning resource, there will definitely be an element of ‘play’ about it! Watch this space…

MOOC(h)ing around in the Library!

It’s a big thing at the minute, the MOOC. My institution hasn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon, possibly due to a number of reasons around restructuring courses and so on. However, it’s a distinct possibility in the future and it’s something that all librarians are going to be thinking about regarding how we can get involved and support delivery of MOOCs.

Of course, it’s not just going to be Academic Librarians who are affected. Anyone can sign up for a MOOC – you dont have to be at University to do them, and lots of private companies are offering them too (http://www.educause.edu/library/massive-open-online-course-mooc). So, public sector and college librarians are also going to be affected, with possibly little or no knowledge of how to support the students! However, we librarians are nothing if not helpful and there are many resources and opportunities to develop skills and knowledge to support users.

Problems arising for librarians however, abound. How do we engage and support people participating in MOOCs? How do we get ourselves into a position in our institutions to show that we can be an asset to these courses? The courses themselves present problems: in a study of learning communities and online resources within the neurological module of the BSc Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham, one of the key issues raised was the disparity of information literacy and IT skills (Davies, Ramsay, Lindfield and Couperthwaite ‘Building learning communities: foundations for good practice’ British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 36 No 4 2005 pp615–628).

Of course, as librarians, this is where we come in with the offer of teaching these skills. But how do we do this when the students are only learning online? Cue the VLE. Host podcasts and video training on your institution’s VLE (we use Moodle). Put links to these on all of the MOOC course sites. Embed them in the teaching modules. Use webinars and get them embedded in the MOOC as part of the course. 

So. How do we progress? In my opinion, libraries, as ever, are well-placed to support this development in learning and teaching and should be promoting themselves as viable partners. It may be scary; change ever is! But we’ve proved before we can rise to the challenge (PN, development of online learning, VLE’s etc) and will do so again! Watch this space…