Tag Archives: Teaching

Establishing My USP

You’ll see from the pages on this website that I’m very enthusiastic about social media, and I author several other blogs.  However, they’re not all equally active.  At the same time, though, they all represent different aspects of me.

This KarenMcAulay.wordpress.com blog is going to be my main personal blog from now on.  Anything relating to my Scottish music research, or continuing professional development, will have its own place here, so TrueImaginaryFriends.blogspot.com, and AirsandGraces.cpd.blogspot.com will become dormant.

The successful performing arts blog, WhittakerLive.blogspot.com, which I author for the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will, of course, be unaffected.  You’ll recognise my blogging “voice”, but it’s done in my daytime professional capacity.

I’ll maintain my Academia.edu page – it’s not a blog, and I think it’s worthwhile – but I intend to do a radical pruning of my LinkedIn pages.  They are beginning to look cluttered.

I can also be found tweeting @Karenmca. However, I generally use Facebook only for family and close friends. That’s my personal choice.

My USP?

Looking at my career, and my published output, it’s clear that I have a wide range of interests.  I’m an academic music librarian and a musicologist in equal measure. I’m a musician, an author, a teaching artist and a public speaker.

Commonwealth Games cushionCome Holy Ghost, clipAnd in my spare time, when having fingers in so many pies makes me think my head will surely explode, I chill out by doing dressmaking or patchwork, or sometimes arrange music for choral or instrumental ensembles.  I might tweet about that, but I don’t need to blog about it!

All these activities make it hard to decide what my USP (Unique Selling Proposition) actually is! Chameleon-like, I profile different aspects as the situation requires.  I’ll revert to this topic another day!

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?

The RMA Presentation

The Glasgow end of the Bass Culture Research Project is doing a presentation for this week’s Royal Musical Association meeting at Glasgow Uni.  After the team-leader introduces the project, we’re each talking for ten minutes about an aspect of the project that we find interesting.  This is presenting, not teaching – it can be attended by RMA members or staff and students at the University, but it’s not part of a curriculum.

I’m puzzled, now.  The format is essentially, a progress report focusing on the interesting bits.  I don’t need anything written down apart from key names and dates.  Discussion may well arise after we’ve each presented.  But I can’t see a way of making an individual progress report anything other than me, talking.  Really not a flipped classroom opportunity!