The other day, I posted a great EDUCAUSE video on lessons learned from online teaching. That same advice has implications for library services as well. Here is how I would apply those lessons to libraries:
High-Touch is More Important than High-Tech
- Voice and body language can make a big difference in the interactions a student has with a librarian.
- Are we really experiencing a drop in high-touch reference because students don’t need traditional reference services, or is that we have made reference less of a priority and it’s actually turning students off from coming to the reference desk?
- I believe high-touch reference services are important as ever. And for distance students, telephone and web conference offer a higher-touch reference experience than text, e-mail or chat.
Establish a Social Presence Using Digital Storytelling
- The classroom is a community of students, and establishing a social presence in an online class helps to establish that community.
- The library is a community too, and librarians need to establish a social presence on and off campus in order to give students the feeling that they belong to the library community.
- Digital storytelling is a great way to establish a social presence through the library’s web site and social media.
- Here are a few suggestions:
Use Technology Intentionally
- This seems like common sense, but sometimes technology enthusiasm takes over common sense.
- Technology use should always be based on an objective(s). So instead of trying to fit cool new technologies into library instruction and services, ask yourself:
- What technology will best meet this objective or solve this problem?
- It’s also important to assess technology periodically to determine whether it is meeting your objectives (we do this all the time for database subscriptions).
- I think most librarians utilize external resources regularly for both instructional and service-related ideas.
- Bottom line, don’t reinvent the wheel!
- This is particularly important for library instruction.
- When teaching, students should always be informed of the learning objectives at the beginning of the class session. Why are you there? How will they benefit from the objectives?
- Research strategies should always be taught explicitly (this is true for any metacognitive skill).
- In online courses, avoid the ‘ask a librarian’ discussion forum (you probably won’t get much participation) . Instead, your discussion forum should explicitly state what you want students to do. For example, you could have them list 2-3 things they learned, and 1-2 questions they still need to answer for their research projects.
- If you want students to participate in peer review, you must also explicitly state the guidelines for that.
Fun and Unexpected
- This is my favorite ‘lesson learned.’
- Research assignments don’t have to be boring. Here’s a list of alternatives to the traditional research paper that promote both digital and information literacy:
- Digital storytelling
- Fan fiction (i.e. based on literature, movies, historical events, video games, etc…)
- Research wiki instead of paper (e.g. in the style of Wikipedia)
- Glogster posters
- Student-created learning modules (e.g. Storify, Learnist)
- Set your guidelines for what ‘regularly’ means, and let students know what those guidelines are (e.g. 2 times a day).
- Also, establish and communicate your login times for remote reference.
- For embedded librarians, this might mean feedback that includes a podcast, screencast or screenshots.
- Remote reference services should also be personal. Instead of giving the student a list of databases and search terms, use narrated screencasts or screenshots. For most students, screencasts and/or screenshots will be easier to follow than purely text-based instructions.
- Personal feedback could also be in the form of a phone call.