Category Archives: Learning

2017: New Year’s Resolutions

My boss found a useful MOOC, so I’ve signed up!  After all, I’ve already got our surveys from 2009-2016 to look at, so this does seem more than relevant.  No time to blog about it now, but at least this ensures I won’t lose the link:-

Researching learners’ experiences and uses of technology using action research #LERMOOC

That idea didn’t work.  I had too much on my plate to commit to a Mooc as well as the PGCert.  Eventually worked out how to disentangle myself.

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Lectures versus active learning

Pickles, Matt (2016), ‘Shouldn’t lectures be obsolete by now?’, BBC News: Business, 23rd November 2016 (oneline) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38058477 [accessed 23.11.2016]

I read an article on the BBC News Business pages today.  The author, Matt Pickles, expresses surprise that the lecture format persists, despite demonstrable evidence that they’re often not the most effective way of teaching students, and that active learning works much better.  Some universities are catching on, but it seems others aren’t bothered, because they’re more concerned about their scholars’ research profile than their teaching skills.

That’s not true at my institution – for a start, we’re a conservatoire, so whether you “do research” or are an expert practitioner and perhaps don’t consider your practice as research, much of the work is practice-based in any case.  And secondly – we wouldn’t be studying for PGCerts if we didn’t think teaching was important!

I’m a bit atypical in being a musicologist, and although I like to get my research performed, my research isn’t actually in performance or composition.  I’m also atypical (oh, I love being a nonconformist!) in studying for a PGCert with the aim of improving my teaching for the librarianship side of my work first and foremost. My research takes place on one day a week, and any spare home time I can fling at it, but I only get rare opportunities to teach my research interest.

But what I can say is that I much prefer to speak to groups small enough to be able to converse with students rather than lecture them.  And if I’m teaching how to use e-resources, or bibliographic /referencing skills, it’s infinitely easier with a group or even a single student.  You can’t converse in a lecture, and my minor hearing impairment makes it even more difficult.  (Why would I pose a question to people at the back of a lecture theatre, when I probably couldn’t hear their reply?!)

When a Tweet Provokes Thought

I’ve just found this tweet in my feed, and it set me thinking.  The person who posted it (Cristina Costa, at the University of Strathclyde) has been at a Scottish information literacy event.  I was aware of it through following Twitter, but didn’t hear about it in time to consider attending.

The image attached is a circle divided into four quadrants:-

  • Develop Skills – Educators, Skills and Confidence
  • Improve Access – Learners,  Access [??]
  • Empower – Leaders, Drive Innovation
  • Enhance – Curriculum and Assessment

So, in my rather unique position as simultaneously academic librarian, postdoc researcher and PGCert student, where do I fit in?  Today, I was talking to third year undergraduates about online resources, referencing and bibliographic referencing software.  We didn’t go into any details about how exactly RefMe,  Mendeley or Zotero work – in an hour to cover all the above, it was enough to mention that they all do roughly the same thing, and are worth considering.  In a sense, it was ME developing my skills as an educator (1), at the same time as I was improving the learners’ access (2) by informing them about what was available and how best to exploit it.

Their regular course-leader was sharing the seminar with me, so I like to think that sharing knowledge about the library’s online resource provision was empowering my colleague (3), whether by providing reminders about facilities or imparting new knowledge.  That, naturally enough, would (hopefully!) enhance the curriculum (4), and the assessment of student projects will in due course also demonstrate just how much they used the information we had given them (4 again).  However, I am not involved in the final assessments, so on this occasion I just have to hope that what I shared will prove worthwhile.

AN ASIDE, ABOUT REFME

On the subject of RefMe, I should mention that although we looked into the institutional, enhanced version, the cost was too high, so students will have to make do with individual free access.  RefMe does have impressive capabilities, and is easy to use.  I haven’t embraced it fully myself, because really, one needs only one bibliographic referencing tool, and I have Mendeley on every single device I ever use.

However, I downloaded RefMe to my android phone earlier this week.  I wanted at least to be able to demonstrate it to students.  Disappointingly, it wouldn’t scan ISBNs, wouldn’t retrieve details of books that I was pretty sure should have been retrieved, and although I’ve emailed the RefMe helpdesk, they haven’t responded yet.  I hope there will be an easy, obvious answer, because I hesitate to recommend it to students if there’s an android glitch that isn’t being talked about.  Meanwhile, I’ve uninstalled it, and await a reply!  I’ve also tweeted a query. No reply to that, either.

I downloaded a research paper about RefMe, a couple of months ago. Sat down to read it properly just now, and – well, yes, I had already added it to my Mendeley bibliography. (Shh, don’t tell RefMe!)  But it’s impressive, it really is.  The accuracy rate is hugely better than asking students to do their referencing manually using sample templates.  Here’s the report.

Hakim, Yaz El et al, 2016, The impact of RefME on the student experience. Online. https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/719144/Time_Saver_Whitepaper.pdf (Accessed 2016.11.20)

 

 

But I’m still waiting for my reply as to why I can’t scan barcodes or search for items on my Android. So I’m still wondering whether I ought to recommend it to Android users!  Frustrating.