Archive for the category “reading reflection”

Professional Development as a Game

This week’s reading dealt with a number of professional development strategies and programs that have been implemented in real-life situations with success. Based on these articles, it definitely that an essential element of a successful professional development program is providing people with time to complete the assignments and workshops, rather than demanding that they be completed in employees’ free time. It also is helpful when the planners attempt to motivate the learners by providing incentives, such as a stipend or a reward. Even if the learning itself becomes its own reward over time, there is something to be said for getting people started with more immediate and external motivations.

Something else that struck me about the articles and the plans they described was how much the programs described reminded me of our discussions about gamification of learning. It occurs to me that gamification might actually be an extremely effective strategy for this type of learning and development. The programs described were already part of the way there, as they were very level-based, allowing participants to complete and master certain tasks or skills before “leveling up” to another. There was a lot of choice involved, as participants could select their own professional development paths to an extent. There was also a system of feedback; for example, the Semadeni article described how teachers would be observed by mentors to be presented with feedback about their mastery of the particular skill. Finally, as mentioned before, there was a system of rewards, in the form of a stipend or an item like an MP3 player, which could be likened to the system of badges that many learning game systems use.

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Twitter as a Tool

Well, this is the week we all officially joined Twitter. I’ve already been on Twitter for a little while (as you may have noticed from the feed on the side of the page), but I will link to mine anyway for the sake of this post and assignment.

Follow me on Twitter!

I’m not sure what exactly to respond to in a blog about Twitter posting, so I will talk a little about the site itself and what I think of it as a service to be used by librarians.

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Developing a Community Spidey Sense

This post has a librarian embedded in it.


Though perhaps a somewhat stereotypical one.

That’s because I think the concept of embedded librarians, as presented in this week’s reading, is pretty interesting. Much as this librarian has made herself part of my blog post, embedded librarians work to become an integral part of the community they are serving. It was interesting to me, as well, that there isn’t one right way to do this; the correct approach depends a lot on the culture and expectations of the community, as well as what kind of relationship with a librarian will be right for them. The reading from How People Learn seemed to emphasize that, in order to educate others, a good teacher (or librarian) must have a solid sense of that discipline and its learning strategies.

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The Greyness of Reference Ethics

Ethics do not generally go hand-in-hand with clear and satisfactory answers, and library ethics are certainly no exception. Even before reading the articles assigned for class this week, I had heard multiple accounts of tricky reference questions and uncomfortable moral dilemmas faced by librarians as they attempted to provide the best service to patrons.

I’ll be honest in saying that I don’t think I fully understand the article “Dangerous Questions at the Reference Desk: A Virtue Ethics Approach” by Mark Lenker. In particular, I was somewhat unsure as to what exactly virtue ethics was supposed to be and why it was being championed as the best approach to ethics in a library setting. The process of a virtue ethics-based analysis, as described by Lenker, seemed no different to me than the ordinary process of thinking deeply about a question of ethics. What special something does virtue ethics provide that someone could not get by just carefully considering and breaking down an ethical dilemma? I guess I felt that I was missing something about what virtue ethics is supposed to be and what benefits this type of approach is supposed to provide.

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Short Exploration of Book Club Readings

I’m not entirely sure what to say about the readings this week, since I think the real analysis will happen in the book clubs, so I will keep my discussion of each relatively short.

One of the readings was a handful of comics selected from Lucy Knisley’s Stop Paying Attention. They touched on a variety of interesting concepts, like gender stereotypes, threats to privacy, the idea that the supernatural is a manifestation of intangible fears, and so on. I think all of them can spark complex discussions, and I’ll be interested to hear the opinions of the other people in my book club about these topics, especially since many of them are personal concerns for me.

There was another comic chosen for our group called Darkness, by a French artist named Boulet. This one was a little more complicated to take apart, so I’m looking forward to seeing what other people have to say about it. It was not only fairly entertaining, but I think it brought up some good points about gender stereotypes and gender ideals (and possibly even the way men and women are portrayed in entertainment media).

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Book Clubs 2.0

This week’s readings largely focused on Socratic seminars and the new types of book clubs being hosted at libraries.

In general, I was a big fan of everything described about the book clubs. I have always enjoyed the idea of a book club, but have had some trouble in the past finding one that really kept me interested and engaged. The last one I tried to join fell quickly into that familiar pattern: everyone reads the same book, comes to the club, and mainly talks about what they liked or didn’t like. People tended to run out of things to say after that, so conversation usually turned elsewhere. The club was a good excuse to encourage yourself to read, but since I already do that anyway, it felt a bit pointless to me. It felt more like an excuse to socialize than anything to do with reading–and while there’s nothing wrong with the social part, as someone with a degree in English, I actually do just like analyzing and discussing books for fun.

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Designs for Transfer

This week’s readings’ discussion of transfer and its importance in education brought familiar questions to my mind. Once again, I found myself thinking back to the issues of collaboration that I’ve explored previously.

It seems that, by its very nature, library instruction is dependent on cooperation with a number of different entities–faculty most of all. Because a reference interview or a library workshop tends to be a one-shot interaction with learners, I believe longer-term concepts such as transfer can be difficult to implement and to test for. The best strategy overall seems to be long-term planning in collaboration with professors so that both the librarian and professor can build on each other’s work. For example, imagine that certain students are required as part of a class to return to the library for instruction a number of times over the course of a semester. The professor might introduce an idea in class (something about research, information literacy, the use of a certain online tool or software) and begin to help students build a conceptual framework. The librarian can then focus on developing the idea with an eye toward transfer by helping students apply their knowledge in a hands-on workshop experience in which the students work toward specific real goals.

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Just Do Everything Right

This week’s readings discuss the importance of various types of thinking when it comes to education. Although I did find the articles’ points interesting, I also found myself with two major questions about what they were trying to convey.

Firstly, I can’t help but wonder how all of this can factor into libraries. Most of the ideas are discussed in the context of a classroom and a student-teacher relationship, and most of them involve long-term goals, such as students developing the ability to self-monitor or teachers having knowledge of their students individually as learners. In a library setting, however, instructors will most of the time have very brief contact with students, and will likely not come into contact with them again. Alternatively, instructors might never interact with students directly at all if they are only responsible for designing tutorials, screencasts, or online content that will be experienced by students remotely.

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Leveling Up Info Lit

If you’re growing up in the current teenage generation, video games are a universal experience–or so Paul Waelchi argues in “Playing with Process: Video Game Choice as a Model of Behavior.”[1] He cites the findings of a survey claiming that “97% of all teens 12-17 played video games.” While I’m not sure how a survey would determine this, unless it had been given to literally all teens between those ages, I do admit that playing video games has become a common activity in our current society, especially with the inclusion of mobile games, Facebook and other browser-based games, and hugely popular MMOs. In his article, Waelchi mainly discusses the ways in which instructors such as librarians can call upon gaming and the way in which gamers are required to think in order to communicate with students about information literacy.

Waelchi’s point is not a bad one. We’ve discussed in class the way metaphor and context can be helpful for learners, and Waelchi seems to be suggesting just that. He proposes creating analogies between the type of thinking gamers are familiar with and the type of thinking that is involved in successful and effective research. For example, he writes that instructors could explain how the persistence and strategy required of Farmville players is similar to the persistence and adaptive strategy of good research, while the skill of assessing multiple elements in order to decide on a plan of action in a game like Call of Duty can carry over to research, as well.

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Too Long, Didn’t Watch

This week’s reading covered screencasts, tutorials, and generally the idea of libraries putting instructional material online to help teach concepts such as information literacy, referencing, interfacing with course material online, and so on. While the feedback and assessment techniques used by the studies make it clear that this sort of instruction can be effective and helpful, I found one question reoccurring in my mind as I read: how can libraries motivate and encourage users to actually interact with these tutorials by choice?

Although the results of Johnson’s study seemed to indicate that students found the tutorial helpful, there were very specific circumstances involved. Not only were all participants required to complete the tutorial as part of their classwork, but Johnson also identified the students as “mature aged students who are often already working in the industry.” It seems likely that the students’ practical experience in the field, coupled with the mandatory nature of the tutorial, would serve as strong motivation–factors that would not necessarily be available when users are undergraduates or even patrons of a public library.

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