Self-Assessment of my Online Discussion

Online Discussion Assessment Karen McAulay (pdf file)

We’ve all posted our lesson plans, our theoretical account, and our context setting study.  We’ve invited one another to comment on these and suggest improvements, and now we have to complete a self-assessment of our online discussion.  I completed the form and saved it as a pdf, and there’s a link to it above.  I tried to complete it honestly – I don’t think my contributions were brilliant, though I endeavoured to be lucid and constructive.

However, I’d like to think that I also added extra value with the occasional links that I shared with my classmates.  As a librarian, I’m very proactive in highlighting useful links and helpful e-resources with our teaching and learning community.  I’ve tried to demonstrate that in the collaborative space too, because I feel that this to some extent compensates for what I lack in traditional teaching experience.  Sharing and facilitating the exploitation of information is what I do naturally.

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Evidence that Learners Have Learned

Janet Robertson, one of my classmates on the Teaching Artist course, posted to the class collaborative space on 24 April after a session on teaching styles led by Kenny McGlashan.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend that session – I was flying back from Luton at the time!  However, reading through the comments, I realise there is quite a bit of discussion about deep and surface learning, and also about how we know our students have learned anything.  The day after Janet’s post, course leader Andrew Comrie posted a comment about surface and deep learning.

I don’t want to quote his words verbatim without permission, even with attribution, but I’d like to make a note of his main points so that I can refer back to them.  So here they are:-

  1. “Create opportunities for learners to demonstrate … question …. and set [further] goals, eg by
  2. “Reflective Journals” [we can use these to assess learning and guide students further]
  3. “Set formative tasks in future lessons” [giving students a chance to show what they’ve learned] …. and “allow time to give formative feedback for learning” …
  4. Getting to know about our students’ learning styles and preferences helps us cater for their various preferences. Again, we need to allow time to get feedback from students, to inform us of this.
  5. People do learn at different paces – some during the class, but others “continue to process after class and use opportunities to discuss aspects of lessons with their peers and others to make sense of what is happening.” So …
  6. If we can engineer opportunities for this post-class discussion to take place, it benefits all.

I’ve been mulling over how I’m going to construct my “digital artefact” to demonstrate my practice.  This blog will be the main vehicle, but if I can, I hope to send a small survey to my postgrad researchers after the class I’m going to be leading in a couple of weeks’ time.  It would be great if I could get some feedback and share it here.

Reflecting on my Teaching Practice as an Academic Librarian

Much of my ‘teaching’ is not what you’d call teaching – but I author many library guides on different aspects of our service provision,  to provide information and instruction, ie, not only what we offer, but also how to use and get the most benefit out of those resources.  And upon reflection, I decided that this was indeed part of my teaching ‘practice’.  Reflection’s a good way of owning and identifying what you do as part of your professional practice, and in a sense, validating your decisions for what you do.  I don’t just “happen” to write these guides – they’re written intentionally and for specific purposes.

If you’re a student or teacher at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, you’ll be able to log into Moodle and Mahara, and see all the guides we offer – I authored all the music and most of the general ones.  Here.

If you’re an external reader, you won’t be able to see my guides, but you’ll be able to access the lists of all our electronic resources via the Library and IT webpages. Here.

We’re very keen to get our e-resources exploited as much as possible, so that our readers get maximum benefit out of them, and that way we’ll get good value for our subscriptions. This is why I’m producing little bite-sized chunks of training that I shall share first with my colleagues, and then ultimately with our readers.  If I can find podcasts – eg YouTube clips – that can be repurposed, then I’ll share them.  Otherwise, I’ll be devising my own using an app like Jing. (It’s a screen-capture technology with the option of recording your own voice narrative to describe what you’re doing. TechSmith describes Jing as, “a free and simple way to start sharing images and short videos of your computer screen. Whether for work, home, or play, Jing gives you the ability to add basic visual elements to your captures and share them fast.”)

I’ve done two of these “Essential Training” e-resource guides so far – if I upload too many at a time, my colleagues might be less keen to look at them!  I have about ten resources on my list, and I began with British Library Sounds, then Classical Music Online.  If you’re part of the Conservatoire community, here’s the Mahara link.  If you’re not a registered Conservatoire IT user, that link won’t work, but I can show you some screen-shots, below.  First, the Library homepage on Mahara, and then a shot of my first two guides:-

ImageImage

The ‘Essential Training’ page won’t necessarily stay in that format once I’ve done all ten guides, but for now, it keeps them together so my library colleagues can dip in and explore resources that they’ve maybe not looked at for a while.

Concurrently with this project, I’m also preparing for my “Research Skills and Bibliiographic Software” seminar with our research students.  That’s “real” teaching, of course – I’ve posted my lesson plan, contextual study and theoretical paper on the homepage of this blog.  Yesterday morning, I conferred with one of our research lecturers to ensure she was happy with what I was proposing to offer in my seminar.  And yesterday afternoon, after a session getting updated on the Scran database by one of their educational officers, I decided to try composing an invitation to our research students, using one of Scran’s “Create” formats.  I’m not sure about the image I’ve chosen, though.  Scran has a lot of historical images, and I found a couple of pictures of early computer technology, including an early computer at the University of Glasgow.  It took me as long as my subway ride home last night, to decide that I didn’t like one of the images, and I didn’t want TWO separate pages of invitation.  This afternoon, I fiddled some more, and came up with a single page that is closer to my intentions:-

  • Date, time, place, and purpose must be clear
  • Students must be asked to look at some e-resources beforehand
  • Students must be asked to bring laptops, ipads, or whatever handheld devices they normally use
  • I was tasked with producing a single-sided pdf, so all this info must fit onto an economically-worded poster!

My second draft, then, looks like this:-

Image

I had another attempt at making a pdf invitation, subsequent to this.  You can view the PDF here:- Research Skills Invite

 

Too Tired to Type?

Today, I’ve admitted to myself I’m overtired, something I very seldom admit to.  I should explain that in the past fortnight I’ve given a paper and two quickfire sessions at the IAML (UK and Ireland) music librarians’ annual study weekend in Cambridge; attended my first IAML Exec meeting at the British Library in London (also fitting in a trip to the Tate, for the RuinLust exhibition); and given a scholarly paper at Musica Scotica in Aberdeen, finishing up with playing at a church dedication service this morning.  Oh, and I’ve spent a few days at work in both my library and research capacities too.  So finally, on Sunday evening, I find I can’t think straight – not a good time to tackle the Teaching Artist backlog of reading.

Karen has met the new Tate Britain

However, I have been reflecting about giving research papers.  In March I gave a talk, with absolutely minimal notes, at an RMA (Royal Musical Society) Colloquium. I was pleased with it, and peer comments were very favourable.  And yet yesterday’s talk, written a full three months earlier and revised this week, was so densely packed with facts and figures that there was no way I’d be able to stand and just “speak” the paper. I was talking about a number of 18th century music books, precise dates (down to the day and the month), and commentary from the late 19th and early 20th centuries – it was very detailed!  I looked up at different areas of the audience, a lot. But I freely admit I “read” much of it.  I’d marked it with highlighter pen, gone over it several times – but I didn’t have time to reduce it to skeletal form, which is the only way I’d have stood a chance of a freer, less constrained delivery.

This Teaching Artist course has made me much more aware of good pedagogical practice.  I suppose it’s fair to point out that giving a research paper at a conference is NOT teaching in the conventionally accepted way.  Sharing research findings is a different activity from preparing to teach a class, involving them, getting feedback and monitoring whether they’ve learned what you set out to teach them.  But I’m now rather perturbed.  Because my delivery of yesterday’s paper, which my research Principal Investigator says was good, and which received favourable comments from several delegates, leaves me feeling flat and disappointed.  There was nothing wrong with the content, or the structure of what I said.  But I was deeply envious of a colleague who just stood, and delivered, seemingly without notes at all.  What is WRONG with me?!

I wondered if perhaps the answer was that the paper would have been better as a publication – something that might yet happen – and maybe I need to produce something more discursive for research presentations.  At the same time, what do scientists do?  They quite possibly have even more detailed, fact-and-figure-heavy findings than my own.  And what about mathematicians, or statisticians?

Context Setting Study (Academic Librarian)

Karen McAulay Teaching Artist: Context Setting Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the educational policies, strategies and initiatives influencing how, where, and what I teach, both within my own work setting, and in the wider higher education environment.

My own teaching practice

My teaching practice differs slightly from that of most teaching artists, in various ways. Whilst I am a practising musician in my own right, and currently seconded for 40% of my working week as a postdoctoral researcher to a music research project, the greater proportion of my working week (60%) is spent as Music and Academic Services Librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. My workplace teaching generally takes the form of providing library and information support and training to staff and students at all levels from undergraduates to researchers. Occasionally my teaching is more closely aligned to my own subject specialism, when I am invited to provide a Scottish music-related lecture or information skills training to students on the BA in Scottish Music course. In either circumstance, my teaching is primarily of information skills or musicological context to performing artists, rather than teaching performance skills myself. Continue reading Context Setting Study (Academic Librarian)

On the subject of my subject

A great example of a librarian becoming more engaged with the subject, the staff and students that they’re supporting.

The Lovely Librarian

My name is Sarah, I’m the subject librarian for architecture at Cardiff University and since 2010 I’ve attended, of my own volition and in my own time, lectures at the Welsh School of Architecture. Here’s how and why…

The lectures

In 2008, after much extolling of the virtues of information literacy to academics, I succeeded in introducing into a module entitled Architecture since 1940 an assessed annotated and critical bibliography exercise, preceding first year students’ first essay

My appalling sketch of an iconic building from notes made during the Architecture since 1940 lectures My appalling sketch of an iconic building from notes made during the Architecture since 1940 lectures

submission. It quickly became apparent that some underpinning knowledge would help my marking of students’ work. Students’ claims that source material analysed “an iconic building” would be easier to assess if I knew something about the architect.

Though I believed from the outset that lecture attendance would go beyond mere knowledge acquisition, allowing me to better integrate within the School and understand…

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Falling over my feet to keep up!

Mary reminds us that we need to upload our context setting studies by Friday.  Because I’ve been to a conference, done a Palm Sunday choral extravaganza, had an awful migraine, been to visit a librarianship mentee, and done a couple of days’ work, I now have just 49.5 hours left in which to write my context setting study.  Gulp.  I really take my hat off to people doing part-time or distance learning courses with a cohort of other students.  Keeping up can be quite a challenge.  Compare this with doing a PhD, when the pressure of doctoral studies might be intense, but there’s no worry about keeping pace with your peers.

I had a great Skype chat with Andrew this evening, and we did touch upon some aspects of my work that I can include in the study.  However, I can’t do that until Friday – it’s too late tonight, and tomorrow it’s choir practice…

I'm a musicologist disguised as a librarian. I'm qualified in music, librarianship and education. I began this blog when I was studying for my PGCert in Learning & Teaching in Higher Arts Education, and I'm now using it for CPD. I'm a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Midweek I am PI for an AHRC-funded research network @ClaimedStatHall – early legal deposit music. Off-duty I'm hard-wired into my sewing machine!