Applying the ‘8 Lessons’ to Libraries

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).

External Resources

    • I think most librarians utilize external resources regularly for both instructional and service-related ideas.
    • Bottom line, don’t reinvent the wheel!

Be Explicit

    • 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)
      • Infographics
      • Glogster posters
      • Student-created learning modules (e.g. Storify, Learnist)

Login Regularly

    • 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.

 Personal Feedback

    • 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.



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