Category Archives: Books

Done and Dusted

Facing a rather demanding month, I decided I had to grab my deadlines by the scruff of the neck, shake them firmly and get them all neatly sorted.  By the 1st November, no less.  By dint of a bit of tactical rescheduling, I’ve got things just about organised to my liking.

This week, therefore, the research component of my work entailed:-

  • Submitting a grant application (it had gone from idea to submission in eight days flat); and
  • Editing a lecture and powerpoint, recording them for use in a month’s time, and updating a bibliography.

Additionally, the extended, dedicated special issue of Brio went off to the printer’s today.  Although I’ve been the guest co-editor for this issue, I can’t take any of the credit for the editing or proofing of anything except the bits I authored – I had more to do with commissioning the articles and chasing them up in time for the printing date!  Nonetheless, since it’s a major output for last year’s networking project, it is a great relief to know that it is on its way!

Meanwhile, I still had the larger part of my week to fulfil as a librarian, including some more user education – mercifully not quite as much as I’d done last week!  And the lecture, although I worked on it in research time, is actually one of those occasions where Librarian-meets-Researcher slap bang in the middle.  It concerns historical Scottish sources in the library.  They’re all there, and the students need to know about them – but I wouldn’t know any of the books’ history if they hadn’t been the subjects of my own doctoral research.

Moreover, I needed to play my own musical examples and get them recorded, too.  Now, I try to avoid EVER playing an instrument at work, because the students and their teachers are so blooming brilliant that I feel worse than overshadowed.  However, it was clearly unacceptable to contemplate playing CDs, on a recorded lecture that might end up online, so the only way to be sure there were no copyright issues was to record the examples myself.  Oh, the horror!  I tried singing to my own accompaniment last night, but I didn’t like the sound I made, so I resorted to playing what I could, and hoping it won’t sound too ragged for the student audience!  (At least I won’t be there to hear it!)

It’s a rather strange feeling, on the 1st  of the month, to know that – if I’m not actually ahead of myself – then I am, certainly, up to date with everything that should be done.

Now, about that list of church choir contributions that I promised to finalise this weekend …

Slow Teaching: Jamie Thom’s Philosophy

Slow TeachingI found educationalist Jamie Thom on Twitter a few weeks ago.  I was actually searching for helpful hints about how to revise for exams – I can’t remember the exact route by which I found Jamie, but I immediately recognised this as a book I had to read:-

Thom, Jamie, Slow Teaching: on Finding Calm, Clarity and Impact in the Classroom (2018)

It’s £15 on Amazon, where you can “look inside” the book, and sure enough, there’s a chapter on revision. But the whole book is worth a look.  It’s written from the stance of secondary education, whereas I’m working in higher education, but good pedagogy is good pedagogy, and there is much to benefit from for anyone involved in teaching.  The author had a fairly rapid rise into school management, experienced burnout, and is now a classroom teacher in the North of England.  Novice teachers will find plenty of advice about how to avoid overdoing things and setting impossible targets for oneself!

Website: Slow Teaching

Twitter: @TeachGratitude1

UPDATE: I wrote a mini-review for Times Higher Education, and it appeared in the issue for 16 May 2019.  You can read it here:  you don’t have to be a subscriber to access this link, but you may need to register for your three free articles a week.

Writing, writing …

temporal-distance-917364_640I’m playing the waiting game – I have had a veritable splurge of writing, and now I have to wait to see if anything is accepted.  I sandwiched two Georgian-era musicology pieces with a couple of pedagogical ones about teaching online research skills – this is what happens when a music librarian does a musicology PhD then a postgraduate certificate in higher arts education!

  • Earlier this Spring, I collaborated on an article about women and music in the Napoleonic era.  We’re waiting to hear …
  • More recently, I wrote up and submitted my PGCert project as a rather long article.  Again, I’m waiting for feedback.
  • I immediately followed that up with a shorter, more informal article about a recent teaching session I organised for our B.Ed students.  To date, this latter one has been accepted, so it should appear later this year.
  • And lastly, I wrote and submitted a book review over the weekend.

More news in due course ….

Recent Reading

books-21849_640I thought I’d glance through my Diigo and Mendeley accounts to track recent serendipitous reading.  Here goes!  These all reflect my professional preoccupations, not surprisingly – information literacy, online learning, point-of-need ‘learning experiences’ – whether a podcast, blog, screencast or whatever – learning styles, distance learners …

 

  • CILIP Information Literacy Group: a forthcoming event in Aston (2017-07-12) that comes too late for my project, but maybe I might come across a similar one in Scotland some day:- ‘Supporting online learners, what works? A discussion of innovative methods in providing distance learners with information literacy and library skills.’ An Aston University Library Teachmeet.  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/supporting-online-learners-what-works-a-discussion-of-innovative-methods-in-providing-distance-tickets-33991143425?utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=order_confirmation_email&utm_term=eventname&ref=eemailordconf
  • Earp, Jo, Classroom layout – what does the research say? (Teacher Magazine), 2017-03-16 [Australia] https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/article/classroom-layout-what-does-the-research-say  My annotation:- About collaborative learning spaces, in schools.  A couple of times, Earp cites an earlier scholarly article:- Fernandes, A. C., Huang, J., & Rinaldo, V. (2011). Does where a student sits really matter? The impact of seating locations on student classroom learning. International Journal of Applied Educational Studies, 10(1), 66-77.  Perhaps not surprisingly, seating arrangements contribute to different environments – in rows, to paying attention and not much interaction.  In groups for collaboration and engagement in an activity.  Other factors, eg draughts, daylight/overhead lighting, even seating position in a classroom where pupils sit in rows, can have an effect.  However, as I’ve mentioned before, I generally have no say in room arrangement, and only limited opportunities to encourage collaborative group work.
  • Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams, By producing podcasts you can reach wider audiences, occupy your niche and create new items of research (London School of Economics blog), 2017-05-16  http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/05/16/by-producing-podcasts-you-can-reach-wider-audiences-occupy-your-niche-and-create-new-items-of-research/ – My annotation:- a podcast is basically ‘on-demand audio’, and enjoyed a renaissance with a radio podcast, Serial, itself a spin-off from an American radio programme, This American Life.  Everyone has a mobile phone so potentially large audience.  Here’s a summary of reasons why to podcast research:- LSE why you should podcast your research image Now, I sometimes worry that I’m too prone to be negative.  I don’t see myself as negative so much as just tending to spot where things might go wrong/ not be an ideal fit.  However, whilst I can see the value of an audio podcast for my research, I can’t see it working well when I’m teaching students how to access an online resource, construct a citation, or practice search skills.  I need the visual element.  Moreover, some of the comments in my project survey quite specifically ask for more visual formats, cartoons, video, webcasts, etc.  The authors cite ‘what writer Chris Anderson calls the “long tail”, with a plethora of novice and niche podcasts sitting at the tail end of digital audio offerings.’  So, we’re looking at podcasts as having a place in a diversity of audio formats, and reaching out to new audiences.  There was also mention of the podcast interview as a form of research in itself, an interesting idea but not applicable in the present context.
  • Pun, Raymond and Meggan Houlihan,  Game On: Gamification in the Library (Credo Reference Blog, 2017-02-19) http://blog.credoreference.com/2017/02/game-on-tips-tools-to-make-instruction-more-engaging – My annotation:-  I often read about activities like these – quite complex, and involving quite a lot of preparation –  and reflect that it would be difficult to construct a game that could be included in a 15 minute presentation in our usual live delivery context – a lecture theatre or seminar room.  Firstly, I can’t set assignments.  I couldn’t imagine students willingly doing a collaborative project using Googledocs, uploading answers and photos, all in the name of gaining information literacy skills.  Secondly, I have a much wider remit than the author of the article, who is responsible for first year student engagement, whilst I am responsible for the information needs of any musicians in the entire institution, and anyone else who needs my assistance.  And thirdly, I still recall the year when I was persuaded to set up a library quiz using QR codes, all tucked into copies of textbooks on the library shelves.  When it came to it, I wasn’t left enough time to get the students to upload QR code readers to their phones, so by the time we got to the library, no-one was able to access the QR codes to make a start on the treasure-hunt.  Am I being negative, or realistic?!  And yet, I don’t deny that these are innovative and modern ways of tackling longstanding problems.
  • Rempel,  Hannah Gascho and Anne-Marie Deitering, Sparking Curiosity – Librarians’ Role in Encouraging Exploration – In the Library with the Lead Pipe (blogpost), 2017-02-22 http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/sparking-curiosity  – My annotation:- about information literacy, students selecting topics, referencing, writing style.  This is written in the context of American first year students selecting a research topic for their rhetoric and composition class.  However, our students don’t have a written ‘composition’ component (think essay, not music) and don’t study rhetoric.  The paper is interesting and well-written, but doesn’t really sit comfortably alongside the kind of learning expected of our students, or the kind of information skills teaching expected of the librarians.
  • Screencast-o-matic – recommended by our learning technologist, whom I consulted when one of my survey respondents said that the links were very big to download. My annotation:- Fred suggested that another time, he could render the videos into “best quality”, average, and small-size file, so users would have a choice.  Another respondent asked for more technically complex videos than I had produced, so I sought advice to help me make a better product next time.  Despite my feeling that a powerpoint-with-commentary would be technically straightforward and much more informative than a podcast, it seems that some readers have more demanding requirements – they wanted to see my face simultaneously; they wanted cartoons or animation; and they wanted screencasts of search techniques or using bibliographic software. All good suggestions for future “learning experiences”, so this link should prove very useful:- Help Tutorials: http://help.screencast-o-matic.com/
  • Tech skills are seriously lacking in universities – take it from the IT guy | Higher Education Network | The Guardian 2017-05-26  (By an anonymous learning technologist, includes concept of gamification.)  My annotation:- I think I would need to collaborate with our learning technologist, and I’d first need to work out one particular problem that would lend itself to experimental gamification.  (A game about using bibliographical referencing tools?  I’d have a ball, but the mind boggles when it comes to getting the students to join in collaboratively in a game-like way.)  The author is right about there only being pockets of interest in technical solutions.  I like the summary at the end of this article, especially the very last sentence:-

“Alongside the reading list, how about a list of games to play? I have not yet thought of a subject that could not be taught through games. Instead of an essay submitted in Microsoft Word, how about an Adobe Spark digital multimedia story? When degree programmes are being developed, how about having a technology adviser present from the start?

“Get technology at the heart of every programme specification, and get students and lecturers using it every day. Only then will skills truly develop.”

  • Weale, Sally, Teachers must ditch ‘neuromyth’ of learning styles, say scientists (The Guardian. Teaching.  2016-03-13) https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/13/teachers-neuromyth-learning-styles-scientists-neuroscience-education?CMP=twt_gu  My annotation:- If learning styles are a myth – and they might well be – then the concept is deeply embedded into many teachers’ and learners’ psyches now.  I note that from the responses to my survey, with learners stating that they learn best if they imbue information a particular way or in a particular medium.  In a sense, we can’t argue with individual preferences.  However, I’ve always thought that we probably all benefit from a blend of different learning experiences, depending on the topic, setting and circumstances.  It is a little alarming, if learning styles have become a ‘neuromyth’ – pop psychology, if you like.

Excuses, Excuses

Falling over my own shadow

This week didn’t go quite according to plan.  Thursday morning saw me flying gracelessly accidentemergencyn_2276103bthrough the air and landing awkwardly on one hand and the opposite knee, as I was walking along the side of my workplace. I survived work (because I didn’t want to take time off), took a choir practice, spent four hours in A&E, and walked home at 2 am with my hand in a splint.  Somewhat sleep-deprived, I got through Friday at work and did spend some time over the weekend revising my not-yet-complete project proposal, but not as much as I hoped.  All I can face now is to reread the instructions for the project proposal and familiarize myself with exactly what’s needed under each remaining heading.

Inspired by a TED talk: Nancy Duarte

I have, however, watched an interested TED talk by the author of one of our new library books that I catalogued on Friday.  Nancy Duarte’s The Secret Structure of Great Talks might not be of much relevance to e-resource interventions, but it is certainly informative as regards delivering inspirational presentations, so it it was time well-spent.  (I watched it three times!)  The basic message seems to be, contrasting “how it is now” with “how it will be with my great idea”, and ending up with “the bliss”, ie positive high-note to finish on.  I’ve been pondering how to incorporate this into the talk I’m booked to give at the University of Oxford next month.  The talk is virtually written, but I’ll be revising it! I always try to write my talks sufficiently early to be able to put them aside then revisit them a few days later, and I still have to put a PowerPoint together.

New book-stock for Education students

I’ll list my new cataloguing below – it might be useful to someone!  I ordered one of the books on Amazon for myself, as it looked so interesting, but I can’t go buying them all, so I might just borrow the Duarte book tomorrow!

Did you know, the homepage of our catalogue has a link to our latest books:- click the link at the bottom of the pink square:- https://capitadiscovery.co.uk/rcs/

  • Catmull, Edwin, Creativity, Inc: overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration (2014)
  • Cron, Lisa, Wired for story: the writer’s guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence (2012)
  • Duarte, Nancy, Resonate: present visual stories that transform audiences (2010)
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big magic: creative living beyond fear (2015)
  • Griffith, Andy, Engaging Learners (2012)
  • Griffith, Andy, Teaching Backwards (2014)