Category Archives: PGCert Project

On the Eve of a PGCert Weekend Session

Tomorrow’s a PGCert Saturday Session

Since most of my cohort have presumably finished by now (and are anticipating graduation), I imagine I’m going to be a bit of an odd-man-out tomorrow, neither first year PGCert nor any kind of MEd student.  Nonetheless, if there’s anyone there in the same position as me, then we can commiserate with one another.  I had to ask for extra time, because I was under too much stress to cope with the course in Autumn 2016, was struggling with endless migraines, and that all meant my project plans fell behind quite severely.

I thought I was back on track with my revised schedule, but getting ethical approval for my project has taken much longer than I expected, so now I’m just hoping I will be able to get the project questionnaire out, processed, and interviews conducted before my target audience takes themselves off for their summer holidays.

I expect some of my cohort will have elected to continue their studies towards an MEd rather than stopping at Postgraduate Certificate.  I’ve decided to stop there, though.  I took first BA(Hons) Music and then MA Music in 1979-80, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship in 1983-4.   I didn’t finish my first PhD, because I rushed into librarianship rather than find a way to finish the PhD when the funding ran out.  I did finish the second PhD (Music) in 2009.  So I’m already dual-qualified in music and librarianship, and when I get my PGCert, I’ll be triple-qualified in music, librarianship, and higher education teaching and learning.  As one of the generation of women who narrowly missed out on retirement at 60 (I’m nearly but not quite there yet!), I really feel that my final decade of work should build upon and utilise the qualifications I HAVE got, rather than go on studying to improve my knowledge in education, when I can see my chances of teaching diminishing steadily with each year that passes.  I’m more likely to get part-time than full-time teaching, and even with a PGCert in higher education, then I shall still be a rather well-qualified librarian-researcher.

So, what do I have to look forward to, tomorrow?   The timetable doesn’t mention PGCert year 2 (obviously – they’ve mostly finished), but as mentioned above, I’m neither PGCert 1 nor any kind of MEd student.  Nonetheless, I might be able to reflect upon what I’ve learned in my project so far, and I’ve no objection to devising a poster.  I haven’t prepared one for tomorrow’s session in advance (I’ve not been asked to), but I can pull together some ideas in the next hour or so, in case the opportunity arises.

It also occurs to me that, if I find myself at a loose end, I can quite easily occupy myself with some focused reading, whether for the PGCert or for my postdoctoral researches, so the time won’t be wasted anyway.

Ideas for a Poster Session

  1. The context of my teaching (library, research and general academic skills)
  2. The constraints of my teaching (‘parachute’ lecturer; little knowledge of students and their educational backgrounds; the subjects I’m teaching are not perceived as particularly relevant by many undergraduates!)
  3. Further constraints:- often no choice of physical setting, nor of any kind of collaborative learning, and sometimes too large a group to entertain any active learning. Talking about online resources in lecture format is not ideal.
  4. My project: ways to maximise effectiveness of my teaching given these constraints. Questionnaire, two interventions, feedback, a handful of interviews, analysis, reflection upon answers and potential further developments in the context of my work.

Images

I can’t imagine a presentation without images.  However, I can’t do a Powerpoint for a poster session in a room where students walk round from poster to poster.  A few images on my tablet or laptop are the best I can aim for.  So, I shall leave this blogpost for now, and try to find some suitable pictures!

Survey Monkey? Hunky-Dory

monkey-474147_640While I was waiting for confirmation that I could submit my project proposal to the ethics committee, I started thinking about Survey Monkey versus a paper questionnaire – and it did feel as though Survey Monkey had much to recommend it.  It’s more streamlined and saves anyone having to email completed questionnaires to me.

Since the questionnaire already existed, I reasoned, what could be easier than to turn it into a Survey Monkey one?

They don’t tell you about the ten question limit until you’ve input ten questions.  And then …  well, let’s say this was annoying. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go for a personal upgrade (at several hundred £££ per year, this is a relief!), so once I’d made my arrangements, I began all over again, until I finally had a whole questionnaire ready to go.

Now I have to submit all the “paperwork” (documentation) to be signed off and submitted for ethical approval.  I’ll try to do so tomorrow, depending on whether I get a clear break at lunchtime.

Which came first – migraine or mania?

3 busy days, with challenging and enjoyable patches interspersed.  Perhaps it’s not surprising I ended up with a migraine when all the excitement was over, and I was on my way home from a trip to Dundee today.

Thursday? A morning meeting.  A pile of fiddly ongoing cataloguing.  An afternoon struggle with saving my project “interventions” in the correct format.  An evening choir-practice, and a further, late evening struggle with the interventions on my home laptop.  It wouldn’t save to mp4 format, because of the age of the laptop and Microsoft Office package.

Friday arrived.  I visited my GP about my migraines, did my library duties, attended a couple more meetings, and spent some more time on the interventions, using a different laptop and the same headset.  The headset worked at home, but the first recording attempt at work didn’t record any sound.  I spent my entire lunchbreak on it, and I did eventually end up with two mp4 recordings saved on my U-drive, but I hadn’t really had what you’d call a lunchbreak!  I managed to save to the cloud on my PC, and needed help to create shareable links. Hey-ho.  I was ready for dinner out with my workmates!

Which brings me to today. I attended a concert and brief meeting in Dundee, came home, felt really very ill, but still attended to emails and did a quick supermarket dash.

Having reached the point where I can do nothing about anything much until I hear from various people about various things I’m involved with, I can finally give myself permission to flop.  I would force myself to plod on, but actually, at the moment, I can’t!  So … back to the heading of this post. Which came first?  I’ve probably done too much and stressed too much, but the doing needed done, and I would always put the doing ahead of the resting.  Why should other people be made to wait because I had failed to action something?  The headaches are my problem, but they don’t need to cause other people delay.

This is your Librarian Talking: not a “shush” to be heard!

Okay, feeling more alive now, I decided it was time to wrap up my project “interventions” – the two user education guides that I’ve undertaken to devise as part of my PGCert project.

Initially, the intention was to create just one.  It didn’t feel enough, and it didn’t offer the chance to experiment.  Moreover, it didn’t really address the problems that I perceived our students were experiencing.

I decided I’d create two.  I had bold ideas of podcasts, vodcasts, powerpoints with recorded voiceovers, and screencaptures.  I even toyed with the idea of combining a YouTube and screencaptures.  I went to the park one lunchtime and played with YouTube (it’s anonymous, and there weren’t many people around). Then commonsense kicked in.

  • Who wants to listen to me explaining something, without seeing what I’m telling them about?  This is about using electronic resources, guys!
  • Who wants to see me talking about e-resources, without seeing the e-resources?
  • I asked my more technically-minded son how difficult it would  be to combine a video of myself, with screen-captures of our e-resource pages.  “Who wants to see your little face in a circle in the corner of the screen, Mum?”   He wasn’t being unkind.  “We want to see what you’re explaining about”, he continued.  He had confirmed my misgivings.

I decided my first intervention would be something I felt comfortable with: a powerpoint.  I have hardly ever recorded a voiceover, but at least the powerpoint would be easy.  Simplicity itself, in fact.  I spent hours sourcing suitable images, made a presentation about referencing and citation, got it approved in principle by my project supervisor, and scurried home to write and record the script.  Six migraines and a viral infection later, I had a free evening and got the mic/headset out of its box … took a deep breath, and got on with it.  I had a complete intervention – put out the flags!

It had been so easy, I had more time left over than I expected.  So I started my second intervention.  I sourced screencapture software, made a handful of powerpoint slides, and wrote the script.  This morning, I seized the gift of some more free, peaceful hours, and started recording.

Even with a new, more robust internet connection, my computer didn’t load up pages as fast as I needed them to load.  I tried again, this time pausing the recording until they did load.  There are parts of our webpages that seem to occupy half the screen before sliding up again.  Not helpful.  Moreover, flipping between a handful of powerpoint slides and the e-resource pages was clunky, and I wasn’t entirely sure that my guinea-pig cohort (still innocent that they are to be invited to be guinea-pigs) would see exactly what I wanted them to see, or whether they’d get all the recording clutter around the edges of the screen. This wasn’t going well.

I thought again.  What, actually, was wrong with another powerpoint-plus-voiceover? I’m good at powerpoints, I can read a script confidently, and I know the recording will work. Is there really any merit in trying anything else that won’t look as good or flow as smoothly?  It took minimal time to turn all my scripted online demos into screenshots in the powerpoint.  Recording it was easy – why, I’d even practised the words several times already on the functional but ugly screen-capture attempt.  garden-1825638_640

Finally … I have two interventions.  (I wish I could show them off here straight away, but that would spoil the project, so you’ll need to wait! But here’s a picture, just as a teaser.)

And I can put the kettle on!

Writing about my multi-faceted role

My line-manager suggested I might consider writing an article for SCONUL Focus (a journal published by the Society of College, National and University Libraries*), since a forthcoming issue is focusing on supporting research. There was a call for writing by librarians who combine research with librarianship – and that’s me to a “T”.
I wrote my piece over the past few days, but felt that something was missing; eventually, I realised that I needed to write about my current pedagogical activities as well as my librarianship and ongoing research. I submitted it late last night; now I need to wait to see if it is what the editors were looking for!