Teaching -Technological Tools

Thinking in a calm-verging-on-urgent kind of way about pedagogy and teaching methods, I logged onto the library Twitter account today to see what was happening in the worlds of libraries, education and the performing arts.

I have several tasks for the weekend, relating to a submission deadline for the PGCert course I’m currently undertaking.  Some of these tasks aren’t directly related to the assessed teaching sessions that I did, but they’re things I want to develop further anyway.

So, there I was with “pedagogy, classes, library training” at the back of my mind, and I encountered a tweet about the TLDR blog authored by W. Ian O’Byrne.(1)  And most specifically, a timely posting about podcasting:-

Getting Started with Podcasts: Identifying your purpose, audience, and format

I must admit that initially, I started reading with slightly rebellious, “I think I already know about this stuff” thoughts, but as I read on, it became clear that although I already knew about the introductory matter, there was more to think about than I realised.  Identify a prototypical audience?  Okay, I’d have just said, “know your audience”, but O’Byrne elaborates on this a bit more.  As for a “customer avatar” – I thought avatars were the little Manga figures that our teenage son adopts as his online gaming identity, but I’m quite prepared to accept that there’s a wider, more useful meaning than this in the business world, which can be extended to the education sphere.

So, I’ve saved this link to my Diigo account and must remember to add it to my bibliography for the course, BECAUSE …..

I need to make some podcasts in response to a question that our course leader put to my PGCert cohort.  Someone recommends that we have some library podcasts about useful library resources or library-related skills.  That’s encouraging.  It sounds like a job for me, doesn’t it? I’m planning to spend a bit of time doing these over the summer months, once I’ve had a chat with appropriate people.

I’m not going to talk about scaffolded learning here – even though it’s a theory that I find really interesting – except to mention (as I always do) that library training is markedly different from teaching to an extended syllabus.  Where the academic departments have a module, with a series of lectures and seminars, and a sense of progression, we librarians are catapulted into classes to deliver one-off sessions imparting a particular skill or introducing a particular set of resources.  So we have to work harder to provide context, and it’s very difficult to build on prior learning.  In many cases, we don’t even know what the prior learning might have been.  With new undergraduates, we don’t know what resources they’ve encountered before they arrived, or indeed if they’ve been introduced to the idea of quality online resources, online readings lists, and so on.

It occurred to me today that we maybe have as much in common with the kind of freelance trainers who are invited to deliver a one-day course to a group of people (maybe a department or a subset of a larger organisation), as with lecturers delivering an extended course.  Get in there, get their attention, deliver the training, see if they think they’ve benefited.  The difference is, of course, that we are providing instruction that will enable the students to pursue their mainstream studies to better advantage.

So – back to the podcasts.  I see these as providing quick, tailored instruction that will complement, but not entirely replace, the training that we deliver in person.  I know from my own experience that I would watch a podcast that I knew would be very quick and succinct.  But if I’m looking for a solution to a problem, I haven’t usually got the time to stop and watch a video for half an hour. So, now to decide how many podcasts we need …!

 (1)  TLDR stands for, Too Long, Didn’t Read.  I only encountered this expression a couple of days ago, but isn’t it appropriate to our modern times? So much to do, so little time.  Call it digital impatience, if you will.

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