LOEX 2021: day 4

This will be the last LOEX post until I have watched the videos they will publish. As I have said before, I often prefer to have everything from one day in the same post, even though the blog posts get loooong that way. I just think it is easier to see connections etc. this way. I don’t know whether I’ll just add on the original posts when I have seen the recordings or if I’ll write them up separately, but .. we’ll see. Anyway, I managed to catch two sessions on Friday night. The first one was the best.

Strengthening your teaching philosophy through reflection on your beliefs about teaching and learning

Ashlynn Kogut from Texas A&M University said that though it is not strictly necessary to write your own teaching philosophy, it is highly recommended. A teaching philosophy is about expressing how you think about student learning, what kind of teaching role you want to have etc.

Schönwetter, Sokal, Friesen & Taylor's quote on what a teaching philosophy is and nine components of a teaching philosophy
[Screen dump from presentation]

The first two rows of the model above are probably the ones that are the most tangible and easiest to incorporate in a teaching philosophy, while the last row, i.e. Assessment and evaluation, outcomes and professional development, is harder to explain in a teaching philosophy.

Kogut’s own teaching philosophy is about student-centered teaching, active learning, developing the students’ confidence, the need for reflection and a connection to the curriculum/assignments. Librarians often have a clear strategy and plan for teaching, but Kogut said that most probably don’t think a lot about why we do what we do or have a clear philosphy in mind.

Kogut is working on her thesis, and she did a literature review on on the job instruction training and the roles librarians embrace and emphasise. Wheeler & McKinney (2015) wrote a good article about this, Kogut said. Do we think of ourselves as teachers? Are we valued as such? The outer factors influence how we feel about ourselves.

Kogut found that there is not always a connection between the literature (+ expectations) and the reality when it comes to the teacher role. The ACRL expects us to consider ourselves as pedagogues, but many librarians in real life have too little training, and may even have some reservations to the teacher role or even resisting it.

screen dump on teaching beliefs and learning beliefs.
[screen dump from presentation]

Kogut has done interviews with librarians in connection with her thesis. She found that librarians are generally interested in finding out what the students’ needs are. They want to understand the students’ needs, and what level they are at, and do not want to force them to be where the librarians are at [starting point/level/understanding]. (Clumsily written, I know.. My notes were a little sketchy here.) The librarians also wanted to understand the students’ affective and emotional needs, and put emphasis on being compassionate and understanding. The librarians wanted to respect the previous knowledge and experiences of students (hello, critical pedagogy – there you were!:) and to acknowledge that they might have knowledge unknown to us.

Most people agree that there are multiple ways to teach and learn, and that our preferences might not be the same as the students’ preferences. The process of learning often include interaction with others, learning by doing and reflection. Students don’t often learn something by just hearing a lecture or watching a video. Most need to be activated a little, and they need time to think.

The next thing struck a chord with me, as it is something I have tried to talk about so many times. Students need to understand WHY they should write about something or solve a problem. Teachers don’t always take the time to talk about this, and Kogut found that many librarians are trying to take on the role of putting things into context. How can the students use this in their profession, their internships or in other papers? Librarians often talk about this. Most also agree that students need to have their emotional needs fulfilled before they are ready to learn. They need to be emotionally ready, to feel empowered and to be connected and active in the learning process.

So what happens to us when there are conflicts between your beliefs (teaching philosophy) and the reality of teaching? The lecture is often the standard mode of teaching, even though we know that it has great limitations when it comes to learning. Maybe the reason why so many prefer the lecture is that it feels safe, easy and controllable? (I have written about this, too. I really think this is the reason. It’s not just the time issues.) It suits the library culture. We have to find a way to align ourselves to our beliefs, Kogut said.

Truly excellent session, this. As a part of my course in pedagogy for higher education, my first assignment was to write my pedagogical credo. It wasn’t really until years later that I got why that was a great assignment. I really hope that we’ll be focussing a little on teaching philosophy in the near future. It is a great way of knowing who you are and what you believe in.

Reaching higher with scaffolded learning

Christina Hillman and Mia Breitkopf from St. John Fisher College talked about the transition from one-shots to an integrated four-year developmental program. Hillman and Breitkopf talked about how the college has made some big changes in how the students move through their programs. Until fairly recently they have had a few obligatory courses, and they have been able to pick the rest in a free fashion (as long as some requirements have been met) whereas now they are following or keeping more to a laid path. The librarians felt like this transition has given them more liberty, as it is less focus on forming personal relationships with faculty and negotiations to gain access to students. There will also be less need and requests for the one-shot seeing as the courses are pre-determined.

Hillman and Breitkopf talked about a scaffold they have used to be able to say no to one-shots:

[Screen dump from presentation]

They explained that now, when teachers ask for one-shots, they are able to say what the students have already had when it comes to lessons and content because they follow a certain path. They are able to give the teachers the previous learning outcomes and lesson plans.

Hillman and Breitkopf also talked about how they have described learning outcomes for the entire information literacy (almost like the National Qualifications Framework, I thought, by the description), and it looks very comprehensive, but the librarians emphasised that they do not do all the teaching themselves. The learning outcomes have been developed in collaboration with faculty and they plan on using the outcomes together.

Hillman and Breitkopf explained that they are using HEDS, and if I understand correctly, this is a standardised research practices survey. The librarians are doing a lot of assessment, and have started to use a posttest system to evaluate the learning outcome. They are currently designing and planning a new course for juniors where they, among other things, will be focussing on citation tracking, as they believe that this will improve the students’ knowledge about citation types.

Disclaimer: I was really starting to feel that it had been a very long week at this point in the session, and it was Friday night here. I cannot guarantee, therefore, that I have understood everything here. I think I should point that out before I present my thoughts here.

My thoughts on this session:

I have been teaching for almost 16 years. At my university, most of the courses taught at my campus have been designed to be taken in a certain order. We are therefore used to the students following designed paths through their years with us. Maybe it will be different for St. John Fisher College library, but I have to say – I am always negotiating with teachers for access, there is no less need for good integration and personal relationships, and there is no less requests for one-shots. Still, I feel like I have always had the right to turn down requests if I have felt like the one-shot was out of context or it was not connected to an assignment.

Another thing that struck me was that it seemed like Hillman and Breitkopf have fallen into the “trap” that they think that what is taught is learned. To me, showing a teacher that I have already given a lecture on something and telling the teacher about the learning outcomes I used for the students two years ago, would be a useless exercise, and it does no good. How well do you remember something said to you out of context two years ago in a lecture? I mean.. that is just not how I see this thing working. If you want to say no to a one-shot because you can see that it would be to no avail or just not have the effect that you are after (perhaps because the timing is wrong, or you know that you are being called in as a substitute teacher without context) – well then, suggest an alternative, by all means, or say no. I just don’t think that saying no because you can say that you have said the same thing before is a good idea.

I just felt like there was a lot of behaviourism in the philosophy here. Testing for learning outcome, assessment all the time etc. I don’t know that I felt very connected to the ideas here. The citation idea for juniors can be a good idea.

I am highly in favour of developing more embedded programs and a closer collaboration (a real collaboration) with faculty where we are seen as valuable partners that can be involved in planning, teaching/ co-teaching and assessment, and I am often highly sceptical of the one-shot standard and the skewed power relations between the librarians and the faculty, but still.. I don’t know if this is the way forward. I don’t think that a standardised program, one-size fits all, embedded program will work better than an authentic, contextualised collaboration, even with some one-shots here and there. But again.. it might have been the time difference and the Friday night thing that made me misunderstand this whole session.

LOEX 2021: day 3

Well – this will be a shorter blog post than the previous one. Due to a holiday here in Norway (Ascension Day – kind of weird that we have a day off here on Ascension Day, seeing as Norway is one of the most secular countries in the world, but anyway..) I couldn’t spend all evening at a conference. I did manage to go to one (and a half) session, and I’ll be writing about it here.

Activating the ACRL Framework: Active learning design for library instruction

I have been very interested in the ACRL Framework from the start. We don’t use a framework here in Norway, but I have been writing and talking about this framework as a possible model for a national framework here.

Meghan Kowalski and Catherine Meals from University of the District of Colombia and Faith Rusk from San Fransisco State University talked about how the framework is theoretical and how they wanted to build something more practical from it. The librarians wanted to try something new, even though most of their teaching efforts are performed as one-shots. They decided on building some modules that could be reused and work in a variety of settings. The librarians collaborated in two-hour meetings during six summer weeks when there was less activity in the library, and they had discussions, brain dumps and they made an activity bank for class activity.

The ACRL framework is built around six different frames, and it is conceptual in form. The frames reflect different aspects of information literacy. Some of them are easier to use directly in class than others. The librarians in this session found that students had a very binary outlook on source evaluation; a source is either good or bad in their eyes. The librarians tried to used active learning principles and the Research as Inquiry frame, and by tossing a beach ball between students in the class room they managed to get students to talk about sources. They used the Scholarship as conversation frame to prompt a class discussion on an everyday topic. This discussion was meant to show the students that the academic discourse has many similarities with the everyday discussions in our lives.

The librarians talked about some challenges in this approach, too. It is not always easy to get the faculty onboard, they said. Faculty has limited time with students and they are often only interested in giving a little time to librarians to cover the most basic things, like teaching students to use one particular database etc. Librarians often want to go deeper, to teach more theory, more genre etc. while faculty only want them to give the students a particular piece of information. Another challenge is the constraints of the one-shot. There is no possibility of follow-ups or reflection or process approach to give the students a chance to advance through the levels. The framework is based on threshold concepts and the advancement from novice to expert. How do you do this during a one-shot?

Screen dump from presentation talking about the mismatch on what we want and can do vs what the faculty want, one-shot problems and challenges with level.
[Screen dump from presentation]

The librarians have published an article on their experiences with this project so far.

At San Fransisco State University, they have worked on a toolkit for teaching, the SFSU Toolkit. They hope to be able to measure or see the effect of better training as an argument to better embedded in the institution.

The librarians started a padlet for all of us who participated where we could suggest ideas for teaching activities according to the frames. There were several good ideas there, and I intend to look for more that I can use when I teach (even though we don’t use the framework).

There were many questions for the Q&A, and I cannot remember half of them, but there was an interesting discussion on bias, and how we need to focus more on this issue. I felt that it was interesting seeing as I have spent more time on this in class, particularly with seniors, these last couple of years.

Writing and research are inseparable: helping instructors integrate research in writing instruction across the curriculum course planning

I only got to see half this session, so apologies if it makes less sense than the other session abstracts here. Two librarians and a writing instructor from UCLA talked about their efforts to make the Writing and research integration planner. The planner was made as a scaffold to develop writing and research throughout the curriculum, particularly in writing intensive courses. They shared the planner here. They have activity suggestions for writing, searching etc., and they used backwards planning to make it.

[Screen dump from presentation]

The presenters use the planner for writing courses, and they have made a video that is used as a flipped classroom activity to save time in the classroom.

An example of how they work in the writing course: the students are given a question for reflection that they think about. Then the students are given a prompt (below). The students get some information on what the goals of different writing activities are, what to do if they fail etc. They also discuss genre, like what the intention behind a case study is, what makes a good case etc. They train the students in making good problem statements, too. The librarians and faculty collaborate and co-teach, and the video and the planner is used to create structure and collaboration.

Here is an example of a prompt given:

The problematic essay prompt they give to students in class.
[Screen dump from presentation]

Well – that was all I got before I had to go.. I’ll watch the rest when the video is available.

VIRAK 2017: Day 1 – panel debate and keynote

virak logo

VIRAK-logo: virak-konferansen.no

[I must apologize for bad spelling etc. in this blogpost. I wrote my notes in Norwegian, and I have just translated and added some thoughts along the way. I`ll proof later.]

The panel:

After being welcomed by a couple of drummers and Eystein Gullbekk from the committee, the first order of business was a panel on the academic library`s place and role in higher education. The panel consisted of the rectors/presidents of the University of Oslo (UIO), Oslo and Akershus University College (HIOA)(?) and BI Norwegian Business School (BI). The debate was led by the library director of HIOA, Lars Egeland.

The panelists held some similar views on the importance of libraries (anything else would have been a little weird considering the audience), but they differed on many of the other «essentials». A point that was made was that libraries have to keep up, but they have to do more than that. They have to understand their students – their habits, pursuits, ambitions etc. But to do that, they have to be given that opportunity, too. This came from Ottersen at UIO.

Libraries have to be a part of the overall strategy and to be included in the leadership of the school. The library should be a seamless part and so well integrated in the rest of the academic communities at each institution, that nobody should perceive it as a separate body, said Henjesand from BI. He continued that the library should be a part of the academic fold and as such in the same body as the deans (YAY!). When you place the library with the rest of the academics/ faculties, you move the discussion from the administrative questions of economic efficiency toward questions of academic development, he continued (Hey – I`m a fan of this guy already).

Ottersen said that the university have three main priorities: 1. to create a great study environment for students, 2. to make information freely available to students and staff as well as the rest of the world and 3. to help create a “common reality”, and the library has to be a strong partner in this. We should to be thinking: What is important for the university, not what is important for the library. (I wholeheartedly agree.)

Ottersen strongly emphasised the need for physical space for the libraries. He said that people often need to come together to learn. We think better together. And events like «Skrivenatt» (where students can sit in the library at night and receive help from tutors and librarians) is just one example that shows how students come together and learn in the library. Henjesand agreed – when asked: «Do we need physical libraries?» his answer was: “The short answer is YES”. Curt Rice from HIOA seemed less certain that libraries need a physical space when so much has become digital. He said that HIOA has a decentralized library structure, and that he has not heard any persuasive arguments to bring these together in one great building. (I thought that I had missed something more here, but when I looked at the recording, there wasn`t anything more said here, so I didn`t get whether he just felt that libraries are not going to need physical space at all, if he felt that it was more important to have small units in a decentralised way, or if he just didn`t like the idea of using a lot of space for a centralised library. I don`t know..)

The discussion moved on to Open Access, and Curt Rice was more active in this discussion. He strongly advocated the need for publishing open access and self-archiving. While I think all three panelists agreed that open access is a good idea (indeed, who could not?), they disagreed on who should take the responsibility for driving the development, and they disagreed on the means that should be taken. Academic freedom is the most important principle we have, so we cannot push our researchers to publish in certain journals or «bully» them into self-archiving. Should we make national guidelines? Involve the politicians? Push for international rules/ laws? Work on the publishers? Negotiate national licences? Many difficult questions here. We cannot underestimate the power that these publishers have, said Rice, and even being leaned on by the EU and North America has not decreased the profit margins of the publishers.

The library has a responsibility to help the students develop their critical thinking skills so that they are able to fight fake news and myths, said Ottersen. Henjesand strongly supported this. Ottersen mentioned Hans Rosling who was a major player in fighting myths, and Ottersen said that libraries are crucial in this work. He mentioned specifically Realfagsbiblioteket (The Science Library at the University of Oslo) and its podcasts. Critical thinking should be a separate, mandatory course or a part of a modern version of ex.phil. [mandatory philosophy course in most universities today], said Rice and Henjesand.

Henjesand said that libraries will play an important role in organizing and keeping track of the learning objects now that there are so many «new» (ok, seriously.. we have to stop calling blended learning and flipped classroom new. They`re not.) teaching methods. Curt Rice said that the library students at HIOA are being trained to handle digital materials, and that they are more than able to take on new roles as they emerge. Well, there I have to disagree somewhat with him. They do not have the necessary skills and competencies to do this without further education and experience. Most of them need mentoring when they get a job.

It was an exiting panel to watch – for a change. There was real debate on issues, and they dared to disagree with each other. Quite fresh, really. I must say though, that I was a little surprised. I think Curt Rice, whom I normally think well prepared, able to see nuance, and quite forward thinking, was rather «weak» in this panel, on other issues than Open Access. His arguments lacked his usual edge, he seemed tired and uninterested most of the time, and worst of all – he seemed to hold old-fashioned and limiting views of the library`s role. (I will give him a notice of having written this, btw.) Maybe he had a bad day? I was so surprised, because, as I said, I have always thought he had very interesting ideas on this field before. (Sorry that I am being so hard on you, Mr. Rice, but I don`t think that many people ever read this blog anyway..). Henjesand and Ottersen impressed me in different ways. Ottersen seemed perhaps to lean towards idealistic views of the library while Henjesand had more pragmatic views, but they both impressed me by being well prepared, and willing to share their opinions. Ottersen had written a blog post, too. Read it:)

The keynote:

Arnoud De Meyer: An evolving role for libraries in 21st century university

After the very interesting panel debate, the keynote was a little less interesting, to be honest. I almost never have high expectations to keynotes (excepting Tara Brabazon`s – she is such a rockstar that it`s impossible not to be impressed – more on that to come). The reason is that keynotes rarely hit the mark, and it`s a difficult job to do. It`s difficult to find something so general that it will give something to everyone, and still something as recognizable and important that everyone will find it interesting, and something so practical that there is something to take away from it.

While this keynote speaker was charming, and obviously well-read, and well prepared, I never got that «wow»- feeling of hearing an entirely new thought or getting a great idea myself. The keynote was.. well.. safe (lacking a better expression). There was nothing new there. Arnold De Meyer talked about the changes that higher education, as well as the rest of the world, has been through. The digital transformation, the geographical transformation, the changing role of technology and he asked the question «Do millennial behave differently?».

Professor De Meyer talked about how «reskilling” people is a big issue now. People change careers several times in their life now, and they have to come back to university. This is one of the things that points towards the need for a new university system, he said.

It`s all about how we can enhance learning, and not talk about teaching as much, De Meyer said. In earlier times, the students could  go to a lecture and then either sleep or pay attention, and then when the bell rang, they left the teacher behind. Presently, there are lots of diversions for the students, so it`s harder to keep their attention, but the teacher can now follow the students. It`s not over with the lecture, because the teacher is on the LMS, and s/he chases the students around these plattforms.

De Meyer talked about the library at his university, Singapore Management University. The library is extremely well visited by students. They have almost only electronic collections, and the library is considered a social space and a learning space.

So – I may have missed some things, but I just didn`t get that much new from this keynote. I would like to hear professor De Meyer talk about his own subjects areas, though. He was an experienced lecturer and engaging, despite the format.

This must be one of the longest blog posts I have ever written. Sorry about that! I just wanted to cram both the panel debate and the keynote in here, and there was so much to process from the panel debate. Blogging is, at least for me, mostly about my own learning, so I had to spend some space here while I wrote up my notes.

Next blog post from Virak will be up soon.

VIRAK 2017

IMG_6600I have just been spending two days in Oslo, attending VIRAK 2017, a conference for academic librarians in Norway. It`s been a couple of fun and interesting days, and I am thinking a lot while I reviewing my notes and writing this blog post.

I rarely go to Norwegian library conferences these days. Excepting an academic writing conference in Bergen last November, I haven`t been to one for years. I almost always stay behind while the others attend the Bibsys convention, by choice I have to add.. Bibsys is no longer of any use to me, since practically everything there is now connected to Alma/Oria. And seeing as I neither work with cataloging (thank heavens!) or with Cristin (research data management system), there is very little of interest to me here.

All the more reason to sign up for VIRAK when I got the chance. For me, the most interesting and important thing about going to conferences is the networking that happens outside the auditoriums. Having the opportunity to listen to other librarians talk about their projects, asking them for input on my projects, having a coffee or a glass of wine while discussing larger issues.. that is the best part. This conference was no exception. I met a lot of colleagues (yay! I have lots of colleagues!!) from NTNU, friends and acquaintances from other libraries and I had the pleasure of being introduced to several others, too.

There are lots of things going on in Norwegian academic libraries. The VIRAK committee got over 90 submissions to their call for papers. There were digital snippets, PechaKuchas, research papers and best practice submissions. The committee was overwhelmed and extremely happy with the variations and volume of contributions. I think it is a little weird, though, that these librarians don`t publish more, generally speaking..?

Anyway – going to a conference right now felt really nice. It`s been a crazy busy spring semester. We have more students than ever, and since my boss and one of my colleagues left it was almost impossible to give sufficient help to all who asked for it. So – taking a step back, speaking to lots of great people and remembering what it is all about.. that felt good.

I`ll get started on the content from the conference in my next blog post. Sorry about the ramblings here.

LILAC15: day 3

Barbara Fister

Barbara Fister`s keynote

Even though I had enjoyed 7 hours of good sleep (total bliss), my head still felt a little muddled after two days of continuous input. (Images of empty wine bottles and rumours of karaoke bars explained some of the long faces I saw at the coffee table that morning☺) Still, I tried my best to keep my concentration and to take good notes from my sessions…

Academic Integrity

Clare McCluskey and Victoria Watt from York St. John University had started a module on academic integrity, emphasising anti-plagiarism. This was done after teachers expressed concern about the number of plagiarism cases. The module was based on SMILE – an online course in writing skills integrated at the university in 2012. The module developed by the library was designed to be flexible, and the students could choose which lessons to take, which tasks to do etc. The module was constructed around three main parts: Avoiding plagiarism, collusion and self-plagiarism. The teachers in the physiotherapy department wanted workshops in addition to the module, and McCluskey redesigned the module to make it more interactive (with self-tests etc). They have also added more graphics (music, images etc.) to make students realise what they can and cannot do.

They are still working on integrating this module and working on who should administer this module etc. Imperial college has just launched something similar, and perhaps lessons could be learned from them, too…? The initiative for this module at York St.John came from the Academic Integrity Group, and maybe they will have a role in the administration of the module, McCluskey and Watt concluded.

MOOCS

Karina Bradshaw from University of Bath talked about how the library has contributed with a session within a course on Cancer genes and development. The session included information on how to search for literature on the topic, and the session was placed right after the introductory sessions on how to use FutureLearn (MOOC platform used at the University of Bath). Bradshaw used Camtasia studios to record her Powerpoint and add the voice-over, and she used 2-3 days to complete the work on the session. Bradshaw found it challenging to work with this kind of teaching because you have to make it understandable to people of many different cultures, educational backgrounds, and people who do not have English as a first language. Still, Bradshaw also found that working with MOOCS meant that she could reach more people, and after some initial negative remarks on technical quality (sound etc) most people were satisfied with the session. 90 percent of those who entered the library session, completed it.

Keynote: The liminal library (Barbara Fister)

Students are “cherry-picking” information from sources, preferably from the first few pages. They use far too many quotations and are not good at drawing their own conclusions. We are embedded in the subject disciplines now, Fister said, and therefore we need to understand Threshold Concepts (TC).

Fister presented findings from the work done with the new ACRL framework, and two concepts that quickly emerged were Threshold Concepts and Metaliteracy. Fister also talked about the libraries as “liminal spaces” and talked about some of the same ideas as Ray Land presented in his keynote on day 1.

There is now a new definition on information literacy:
Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.(Association of College & Research Libraries 2015)

The old one was made in a time when librarians were trying to define themselves as scholars in teaching. The new one is richer in meaning, said Fister. Still, we cannot make students information literate, Fister continued. They can only achieve that by doing the work themselves. It is also much more interesting for students to be able to create their own knowledge in stead of having it handed to them. First-year students are both overwhelmed AND excited when they receive a new paper, according to Alison Head (2013).

We need to be more involved, finished Fister. It is not enough to get in with small fragments here and there in a casual manner. We need to use our time and skills to train the teachers so that they can train their peers and their students. We have to give teachers the opportunity to share their experiences in IL training, too, so that they can be more involved and included.

After lunch there were two more sessions, but my head was full and I had to leave for the airport, too. I went home so full of ideas and inspiration that I wrote most of my conference report (to be published in ”Bibliotekaren” – the journal from the library union) on the flight back to Oslo. Today, I have relieved some great moments at this conference and I had fun looking through my notes as I was blogging. I know these blogposts became very (!) long, but I hope that they`ll serve as an inspiration to others and as a reminder to myself. I really hope I get the chance to go to Dublin next year for LILAC 16. And to my fellow delegates: Thank you, all you lovely people! You inspire me!

Literature

Association of College & Research Libraries (2015) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. [online] ACRL. URL: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.

Head, A. J. (2013) Learning the ropes: How freshmen conduct course research once they enter college. [online]. URL: http://projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_2013_FreshmenStudy_FullReport.pdf (07.02.2014).

LILAC15: day 2

I missed the keynote on the second day, but I heard that even though the subject was relevant, the speaker concentrated on things that may have been more relevant in the UK than in eg. Scandinavia, so I didn`t feel too bad about it. I used my extra hour talking to fellow delegates and having a look at the sponsor showcase.

Storytelling

 

Storytelling workshop group - great people!

Storytelling workshop group – great people!

My first real session of the day was therefore “Let me tell you a story”, a storytelling workshop given by Elisabeth Tilley and Helen Murphy from University of Cambridge. I admit that I was a little apprehensive, because I don`t usually like workshops at conferences. If I am completely honest, I always prefer to just sit and listen and take notes☺.. but as it turned out, it was one of my favourite sessions in LILAC15.

Tilley and Murphy held an intro about how they got started with the “Stories in teaching” project. The project was designed to answer the following questions: “Do stories impact learning?”, “Do stories build communities” and “Can we as teachers use stories better?”. They developed stories, based on real happenings in the library, and tested them in class, and after a month they asked the students what they remembered. The project showed evidence of impact on learning, and told the librarians that personal stories engage students in the learning process, that empathy and a little drama contribute to learning, that using stories can create new opportunities, and that it is important to store stories for future use. If I understood Tilley and Murphy correctly they will soon publish a book chapter on storytelling, so I`ll keep my ears open (I sadly missed the title of the book…)

After the introduction, we were working in teams. Tilley and Murphy encouraged us to find a story that could work for storytelling. We were also asked to read through some of the short stories that Tilley and Murphy had brought, and to analyse them, hashtag them and to look for common denominators. We were also asked to throw some ideas around on what a common problem could be addressed in class. My group chose “Planning” (or lack thereof) as our problem. We then wrote down what we would do in class to help solve this problem, and to choose one or two ideas to work on. Maybe this sounds a little messy and confusing, but Tilley and Murphy led us all through the workshop, and my group got so engaged with the tasks that we barely made it down to lunch☺.

Teachmeet

There has been a teachmeet on several LILACs, and I really like this concept. You sign up for the teachmeet, and get to choose 4 x 2 short presentations (8 min each) to attend. The presenters sit at tables and repeat their little presentations four times. The delegates move between tables. After four rounds, the tables are reset with new presenters. The reason why I love this is that you can get a lot of input in a very short time. Often times, I feel that I don`t need all the information in a long paper presentation, I just find it interesting to see what is going on in university libraries all over the world. These short presentations give me an insight, and I know that if I want to know more, I can contact the presenter directly after the session or conference. It`s great!

I went to these short presentations:
• “iTunes U and Youtube: creating visual content collections to aid information literacy”.
• Lecture capture: creating and sharing learning resources made outside of the lecture theatre.
• Using Socrative polls in IL teaching.
• 10 days of RefWorks.
• Using collaboration and past essays to improve research, reading, writing and referencing skills.
• Using live mobile polling (Poll Everywhere) to engage students in information literacy.
• Engaging first year students: a multi-faceted approach.
• Greenhousing for IL: letting good ideas grow.

There were interesting things to be learned in all of them, but I can`t elaborate on all of them. There are abstracts published on the LILAC15 website. I`ll just mention that I have tested the app Adobe Voice that Andy Tattersall talked about in ”iTunes U and YouTube”. It was very easy to use and created professional looking videos in just a few minutes. Available only on iOS, though. I was also very impressed by the ”Destination Kent State” program presented in ”Engaging first year students”. The library was involved in lots of social activities with DJs, pizza night, a ”stress free zone” with pet therapy and free tea and coffee etc. I`ll contact the presenters to learn more there. Clare McCluskey presented ”10 days of RefWork”, an online teaching program for learning RefWorks. They made very short introductions, with little text and just a 60 second video for each of the days in the 10 day program. The program was published on this blog, and it became very popular – has been integrated into all courses at York St. John University.

Reaching the masses/ Feeding the 500

 

IL delivery model from Hull University

IL delivery model from Hull University

My two last sessions for the day had a somewhat similar base – how to engage students in large settings, like a lecture hall? At the University of Hull they had looked at the advantages and disadvantages with an embedded IL program. They found that the advantages of embedding were that it could be tailored to the subject discipline, and that it was possible to give the students relevant tasks or build the instruction around a paper that they already had. The disadvantages were that the students didn`t see the transferability of the skills they had learned into other disciplines, that it is time consuming for the library staff and that they are totally dependent on the teaching staff to gain access to students. Latham and Ewen (presenters) had developed “A concept of IL transferability”. The speakers also talked about how they had gone back to generic IL skills training with several levels, from inductions (10 min), spotlights (30 min), “workshops” and “masterclasses”. They had found that this was easier to handle and had some advantages. The challenges they mentioned were that it is harder to get publicity for the classes (without being booked by teachers, they were dependent on students actually coming to the library) and harder to meet students` expectations.

I have to say I was very surprised to hear that they had moved away from embedded sessions to generic classes again. Almost all the research and projects I have read about the last few years points to the fact that students are more engaged and motivated for learning when the skills are introduced as part of a subject discipline/ a concrete task or paper. I am still working to move away from one-shots and this type of generic information sessions, and I couldn`t be happier to let them go. I really believe that knowledge is contextual.

This was also the main theme for the other session (Feeding the 500). Teachers and librarians worked together to get academic writing skills “in under the radar”. Students were expected to write an essay with a controversial subject: “Do men make better managers than men?” and asked to argue their case using scholarly sources. Findings showed that students are good at finding what others have said about a particular topic, but they are not good at building a good discussion and following through with arguments and referencing correctly. Teachers and librarians supported each other and made a teaching plan that included lectures, hands-on workshops, drop-in clinics with librarians, academic writing lectures and a seminar on good academic practice. Students hand in their essays, they are marked and students who fail have to improve their essay before another hand-in. They continue this work in the students` second year – with a clear progress described in course descriptions.

After this, I only had time to walk back to the hotel for a quick shower and a change of clothes before setting off to the conference dinner. I shared a table with almost all the other Norwegian delegates, and we had a long conversation about how we run our libraries (very different, as it turns out☺), mergers in higher education etc. It was great, and I learned a lot. Although I would have loved to stay longer and chat with many other delegates, I left relatively early – completely exhausted.. oh… and I finally got my suitcase (the day before departure..)

Award winners at the conference dinner

Award winners at the conference dinner

LILAC15: day 1

[warning: these blog posts from LILAC are extremely long, but I prefer to write just one post from each day instead of blogging from each session. I think it is easier to see connections between subjects and to reflect on the conference when the sessions are in one post.]

Bridges in Newcastle

Bridges in Newcastle

Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference, or LILAC as it is more commonly known, has been my preferred conference since my first encounter with it in Glasgow in 2012. I remember being struck by the wealth of choices of sessions, the quality of the presentations and the lovely atmosphere of the conference. I had a great time last year in Sheffield, too, and this year I went to Newcastle – eager to soak up great ideas and having great discussions with fellow delegates. I was not disappointed. What a great set of people there are at LILAC!

Theories and practice

My first session on my first day was an example of what makes LILAC so special: a panel on the relevance of Information Literacy (IL) theories on practice. (The focus is always on the practical issues of teaching, infused with the theoretical knowledge that exists out there.) Jane Secker, chair of CILIP, led the discussion. She had rounded up a selection of librarians who, in different ways, have worked with theoretical frameworks. Merinda Hensley told us about how the group had worked on the new ACRL framework. A particularly important discussion that they had was about threshold concepts (TC). TC is about how students go from novice to expert within a discipline. Students must understand the research processes before they can understand how they find information. The theory influences the practice and vice versa, said Hensley. Emma Coonan asked how one could use TC in information literacy. “Is IL a discipline in itself, or simply an aspect of other disciplines?” Coonan asked. Secker asked whether teaching librarians should rely most on theoretical knowledge or try their own ways as they go. Almost none of the audience had formal pedagogic training before they started teaching, so for the majority the road to teaching had gone through trying (and failing;) combined with reading up on theory. Hensley said that the way to becoming a reflective teacher is to choose to focus on one small thing for a lesson, performing it and then evaluate it – focussing on how to improve it before the next session. Coonan emphasised the need for collaborating well with teachers, and that we need to align our teaching goals with the overall learning goals/outcomes that the teachers have designed. (This makes me think of Biggs` (1999) “constructive alignment”.) Keynote: Ray Land from Durham University gave the opening keynote. He talked about Threshold Concepts (TC) and “troublesome knowledge”. Land explained that to learn something, we have to step into the unknown, and to let go of old ideas, knowledge and skills. Sometimes we even have to strip away old conceptions before we are ready for new ones. This can be very unsettling and difficult. We do not like to let go of knowledge, Land said, and yet – this is very important to be able to understand new knowledge. Troublesome knowledge is a GOOD thing for us. We should and must get out of our “comfort zone”, because it is outside that zone that we can learn. Shulman (2005) called it “Pedagogy of uncertainty”. If we do not dare to move out of our “comfort zone” our learning will be limited, Land said. There must be something at stake. Thresholds are about this change in perception. It is right on the threshold that learning happens, but it is also where students get stuck. It is our jobs as tutors and teachers to help them make that step up on the threshold and through to the next stage. Why do some students get “stuck”? They haven`t been taught how to cope with failure, Land said, and I remember talking to Alison Head about the same thing at last years LILAC. “Liminality” is a term used to describe the state where everything is hazy and messy for the students. The constant rocking back and forth between “I understood that” to “No, I must have misunderstood” and back again (sometimes also called “oscillation”), is the process where students are most receptive for learning. Most of the time when students cross the threshold, it is not felt as a ”Eureka moment”, Land explained. Most of the time the knowledge is integrated little by little. The new ACRL framework describes six different thresholds. Most of the thresholds are about how information creation is a process, how information has value, that information is contextual and about research as conversation.

Collaborate to innovate

Bethany Logan and Antony Groves from the University of Essex talked about how the library had joined forces with the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) center to create a series of events promoting the use of mobile technologies – called “Mobile technology week”. Previously to this the departments (Library, TEL, IT and careers& employability) had just co-existed without much collaboration, and even after introducing the joint “Skills hub”, a single-entry to the support pages online, the departments carried on as before. “Mobile technology week” changed this. The first run was not successful; very low turnout and technology challenges. They tried a different approach, asking themselves questions like: Do students, staff and researchers struggle with the same issues, and if so what are the common problems? Who are we here to support? How can we meet these needs? Where is this support to be given? Logan and Groves told us about how they had included more people from the departments, and asked them about skills they already had and interests. From this basis they put together a new program, and tried to give the sessions something that would appeal to students and staff, e.g. “App swap breakfast” where people talked about their favourite apps in teaching and learning. The organizers also worked on marketing, using websites, social media, short promo videos, physical signposts and getting teachers to promote the sessions in class. The collaboration was a success, and the event led a new set of users to the library. Logan and Groves gave the following tips for organizing similar events: • Find a theme that works and stick to it • Who has ownership to each part of the program? • Identify who the users are (informal, easy questions to identify their needs) • What expectations do we have? Talking about this makes it easier to have realistic expectations, and it can be useful as a motivator • Keep in touch with other departments/people who can help (e.g. marketing department) • Experiment and play with ideas throughout the week and at other times, too • Don`t give up after the first run. It`s important to evaluate, make changes and try again.

sculpture art installation

Beautiful art installations at campus

Find the gap

Alcock and Rose from Newfoundland University Library talked about how they had analysed syllabi in history and chemistry to see where it would be natural to integrate information literacy skills. Alcock and Rose used Boss and Drabinski`s (2013) study on syllabus analysis as foundation for their own study, and added questions like “Is the library mentioned in the course plan?”, “Are library training sessions scheduled?”, “Do instructors teach information skills themselves?”. Findings from the study are described in the slides used, and I`ll have a closer look at them later to remind myself of the details, but I remember that the history students had much more integrated library skills training and much higher use of library resources and were required to do more independent research than the chemistry students etc. I also found it very interesting to learn more about the methodology itself, and I hope to be able to do something similar here soon. Phuh! These LILAC days are long and action-packed, but what an inspiration! I unfortunately had to give the networking event a miss as I had to go clothes shopping after the airline lost my suitcase.. The missing suitcase became a great conversation starter, though, so I cannot be too mad about it☺

Literature

Biggs, J. (1999) What the student does: teaching for enhanced learning. I: Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), s. 57-75.

Boss, K. og E. Drabinski (2013) Looking for Information Literacy: Syllabus Analysis for Data-Driven Curriculum Integration. I, Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice: Springer, s. 352-358.

Shulman, L. S. (2005) Pedagogies. I: Liberal Education, 91(2), s. 18-25.

LILAC14 – day 3 and some general reflections

My last day of LILAC was a short one. Due to the flights (yes, plural), trains etc. to get home, I had to leave the conference before the last parallel sessions and closing panel.

ID&L feedback loop (Parkes & Pope)

Feedback is one of the most important things we do in higher education, and it is a recurring subject on student satisfaction surveys. Parkes and Pope said. Still – we find it hard. We say that it is important that students take the feedback seriously and work on the things we ask them to work on. However, as it turns out, students very often misunderstand the feedback that they get. (JISC has a good website on assessment and feedback, btw.) At Staffordshire University the library started generic courses called “Get a better grade”. They had not expected the courses to be a huge success, but they really were. Students had to book sessions, and Parkes and Pope thought that this was part of the reason the course became a success. The students committed more to it when they had to book in advance. Also, the simple title was good. (The library had previously held open workshops. Teachers read assignments, graded and indicated to students which workshops they should go to, but this did not work. The students did not come.) The library did massive marketing of the “Get a better grade” workshops. 59 percent of those who had signed up for the workshop attended and this is actually pretty good. There were three sessions: study skills, library resources, IT. Parkes and Pope also emphasised the importance of giving this workshop at the right time during the semester and simple feedback (smileys). After the workshop, the librarians decided to use the momentum and they started “exam support workshops” with sessions like “finishing touches to your document”, “keep calm and pass your exams” and “referencing”. These were moderately well visited. “Get a better grade” workshops have now been included on the academic calendar.

Keynote: What value and benefits do we add? Why information professionals are essential to successful digital, health and information literacy delivery. (Arnold)

The beginning of this keynote was unfortunately very muddled due to technical difficulties with the microphone. Silly tech problems can really ruin things. Anyway, Arnold began by (over-)selling her organisation, the SLA (Special libraries association) which is pretty much like CILIP in the UK. Arnold continued to talking about why we need to change what our profession is about. The general population have very strong associations to what a librarian is and do (all about the books). If you image google “librarian” you get lots of images of women with books. If you image google “knowledge worker” you get totally different images. (But what on earth is a knowledge worker? Who is not working with knowledge? Oh, boy. The words we use..) How do we change people`s perceptions?, asked Arnold. Nora Paul (1999) wrote about the transition from old to new skills. The report “IFLA future trends” that came out last year was about things like lifelong learning, universal access etc. What does this do to the library profession?

The SLA did a survey. They came up with five main points on what we have to do to change our image: 1.communicate your value, 2.understand the drivers (how organisations work), 3. managing the process, 4. keeping up your technical skills, 5. provide decision-ready information (right info, right time, right format). We have to keep up our tech skills to stay ahead of the field, go to conferences and to be information curators for our users. All professions must prove that they add value to their organisations or society as a whole. Why must librarians be reminded of this? Do we think that we have intrinsic value??

Arnold`s keynote didn`t give me any “eureka moments”. In fact, I think most of it was pretty old news (something also noted on twitter if I remember correctly). But to be fair, keynotes are usually meant to give you an overview of something or just some thoughts on what is going on within a field, so I never (Alison Head`s keynote excepted) have high expectations.

IFLA (2013) IFLA Trend Report [online] URL: http://trends.ifla.org/ (May 5, 2014)

Paul, N. (1999) The changing role of the news librarian: use of the Internet worldwide. In: Information Sources for the Press and Broadcast Media.

old to new skills slide from keynote

Kate Arnold`s keynote. Slide on the transition from old to new skills.

Some general reflections

I think LILAC is a really good conference for teaching librarians. I do hope that they manage to keep it focussed, and that it does not become too large (like I feel the Internet Librarian International has become). Most of the sessions I attended this year gave me some ideas on how to improve my own practice. This is, I think, some of LILAC`s strength – that it attracts speakers that tries to keep it practical. It is easy to find the “take away”, the tips, the methods that can be implemented right away. That is why it doesn`t matter that much that the keynotes are of varying quality. I really liked Alison Head`s keynote. I think her work shows that it is possible to work with larger datasets and that librarians can get more involved with students` learning, and it inspired me to read her work (again) to see if I can use it to improve my practice. Other high points from LILAC14 included the session on reflective pedagogy (day 1) and writing and getting things published (day 1). As always, I find that socialising with other librarians usually gives me more ideas and information than anything else, and I really enjoyed both the networking event and the conference dinner this year. There were so many great people. I am, as ever, amazed at how many funny and inspiring librarians there are:) I loved spending some time with old acquaintances as well as forming new ones. Going to a conference now and then can really bring the spark back – and LILAC is a great way to get some new ideas.

Buzzwords this year (OK, so not really that new, but I certainly heard them a lot):

  • Annoted bibliography
  • Embedded
  • Plagiarism
  • Online/ MOOCs/ off-campus/ availability
  • Retention

LILAC14 – day 2

kaffe og goderi og mac

All set for keynote: with coffee, candy and my Mac

Day 2 of LILAC opened with a keynote from Alison J. Head. This was the moment that I had waited for! I have followed Dr Head`s work for a few years, and I have been very impressed with her research, particularly the scale of it – really sound. The keynote was entitled: “Truth be told: how today`s students conduct research”. I have copious notes from the keynote, but I`ll do my best to summarize here.

Truth be told: How today`s students conduct research (Head)

Head said that her interest in how students conduct research was raised by a senior student asking her how to find research. The student had reached her senior year without knowing how to use the library. This led to Head`s interest and research on how students find and evaluate information, and the study: “Truth be told: how students evaluate and use information in the digital age” (pdf). (I used this report in my master`s thesis, so I knew the report pretty well, but still.. hearing Head talking about it (and her other projects) at LILAC was great.) “What can we learn from students?” asked Head. She had interviewed many students to find out what they do and what they feel when they (students) conduct research. Some findings:

1. Students find it harder to do research now than before. Why? We provide them with so many options and so much information that they are completely overwhelmed by it. The students who come straight from high school find the transition very difficult. Many are anxious, tired, stressed and afraid. 30 percent of first year students don`t come back for their second year of college. Students feel that there is more risk connected with everyday life research, rather than coursework research, mainly because the everyday life research they do usually involves purchasing (eg. new laptop).

2. Students find that getting started on their research assignments is the hardest part (69 percent find it so). They have trouble defining what they are going to write about. The second hardest thing is searching (41 percent).

3. Students lack context. They do not understand the meaning of the words they are supposed to use and they don`t know how to handle it. Google Scholar are the “training wheels” for database searching, and it is the first place to go for many first year students (and others too, in my experience). As Head put it: “It is the simple search for something that is not simple”.

4. Students use the same few “go-to” sources every time. They use curriculum first. They think that professors only provide “top sources” so they don`t have to be critical there (oh boy.. is it a fair argument on my point now to say that curriculum makes students passive??). After curriculum, students go to Google. Students use the three C`s: Convenient, close at hand and current. Strategy and predictability are important factors for the students.

5. “Wikipedia is my presearch tool”. Students use Wikipedia to get a summary, to find definitions and to get started on their assignments. They use Wikipedia for “big picture context”. They like the interface and it helps them get started.

6. Instructors are the students` coaches. The classrooms/ lecture halls are huge, and few students will contact the lecturer after class. Teachers can be very influential when it comes to research skills, but they rarely or never ask the students to go to the library, even the teachers who are library users themselves (wow.. I find this very suprising!). Teachers are angry and frustrated by students` lack of research skills, but they are not willing or have the necessary skills themselves to teach the students these skills.

7. The library is the students` sanctuary. They like the “productivity vibe”, and they use the library computers so that they are are not constantly interrupted by Facebook etc. The students use the library to be efficient, but also to relax.

Head thinks that our future will be to give the students context and to be “translators”. Critical evaluation is a 21 century skill; it is vital for handling the information load.

More publications from Project Information Litearcy (PIL) available at their website, and I recommend having a look there. Very, very interesting!

What can we learn from our first year students (Nikoi)

A positiv transition to higher education has a profound influence on retention. Students are bombarded with information on everything from housing and childcare to social events, finding the best pubs etc., yet something as simple as a reading list for the first semester is not in the information packages. What do we know about the students and their knowledge on IL when they arrive as first years? What expectations do they have regarding their academic work? What expectations do they have regarding the support systems at their institution? Research done at Aberystwyth (sp?) University suggest that students there felt confident in information gathering, but not academic writing. They feel confident that they know how to listen to lecturers, take notes etc. Many feel insecure about presenting findings for other students, but most feel confident about teamwork. Students use Google and their instructors to find information. The library (but strangely enough not librarians.. what does that mean, exactely?) comes high up on the list. Students were familiar with concepts like plagiarism, copyright and bibliography, but that does not mean that they know how to handle it in real life research. Conclusions: What students know when they enter college/university varies greatly: they think they have good cognitive skills, but they know they have bad academic writing skills, they know little about scholarly sources, and they know nothing about learning management systems.

Nikoi used the terms “cold knowledge, warm knowledge, hot knowledge”, where cold knowledge is something like a library guide on paper. What the students want is hot knowledge; knowledge in a context with people they can talk to.

At Aberystwyth (sp?) University they use the MAMA and PAPA network for first year students. PAPA= pre-application, admission, preparation and arrival. When students arrive: MAMA= meeting, anxiety, managing change and academic work.

Teachmeet

Teachmeet was organised a little differently this year. The presenters sat at tables and the delegates ran (yes, ran!) around to the different tables to hear 5 minute presentations of different projects done the last year. The themes varied from using annoted bibliographies, to introducing Summon, to “research courts”. Teachmeet is a great way to discover what is going on in libraries now. You only get small snippets, but you are free to contact the presenters afterwords to get more information. It is a great way to get ideas to projects, great and small. I don`t have many notes from this session, as running around doesn`t leave much time for notetaking. I`ll just mention here two projects I would like to know more about: “Research court in session” and “Improving IL through annoted bibliography assignments: a collaboration between library and faculty”. I`ll follow up on these later.

I missed the first half of the session “Crossing the line with the students: is that you or the other lady?”, so I never really got what that was about. My last session of the day was “Hidden vegetables: a collaborative approach to embedding information and academic literacies in the curriculum”. I think I left by brain behind at Teachmeet, because I have three sentences of notes from the last session, and they don`t really make any sense. I am sorry! I should apologize to the speakers for not paying enough attention, but there are so many good ideas to digest at LILAC – I am still not recovered completely:)

Lovely conference dinner at Cutler`s Hall Thursday night. Really special place, and I wish I knew more about it. Congratulations, Jane Secker, with the Information Literacy award 2014. So very well deserved!

cutlers hall sheffield dinner

Photosync image of the conference dinner at Cutler`s Hall in Sheffield

PhD on track – part 2

In my first post from the conference “PhD on track”, I wrote about what the website phdontrack.net is and I wrote up my notes from the first speaker.

Curt Rice: Beyond Open Access

The second speaker of the day was Curt Rice, the vice president of research and development at the University of Tromsø. The title of his talk was “Beyond Open Access”. The libraries should be policy-makers, Rice said. To be able to do that, we need more, broader and better knowledge and use it to make changes. We have to be in the lead and see developments in the field, and then recommend neccesary changes (report to the leadership of the institution – our opinions should be heard). Expertise is crucial, and we need to use it to create changes, first on a local level and then on a national level. Administration of Open Access (OA) publishing funds is one example of how libraries can be important collaborators in the institution. Rice told the story of a researcher who had published a number of articles, but then decided to start blogging about them. She blogged about the results in her research, but also about the mistakes she had made, goofs in the labs etc. = the human interest story. Her blog became very popular, and then she also started tweeting. Her articles are now the most downloaded and cited articles of her department. The researchers had approx. 15 times more downloads on the articles she blogged about vs. the ones she didn`t blog about. Access matters, and awareness matters, Rice said. In “Forskningsmeldingen” (a parlimentary report on research) there is much emphasis on OA publishing, and researchers are generally interested in it, but not if it compromises their academic freedom. Some see it  as a problem, and although it may be a “philosophical” problem more than an actual problem, it should be discussed. Can we really ban certain journals because of their poor self-archiving or OA publishing systems? Researchers look for Impact Factor(IF).. There are  major problems with the IF system, e.g.: 1.) retraction rates are on the rise, 2.) publication bias (only studies that show positive results get published..) When librarians say to the PhD student: How can we help you?, we can often position ourselves between the student and his/her tutor, and that requires great diplomatic skills, Rice said. Librarians need to work with the tutors.

There is no principal difference between OA publishing and traditional publishing when it comes to peer-review, Rice said, but the peer-review system is not working in its current state. The “closed” system makes it possible for reviewers to deliver shoddy and “unfinished” reviews. Transparancy is an issue that cannot be overlooked any longer. In one biomed journal (Rice couldn`t remember the name) there is now an open review process where all reviews are published openly, and other researchers can add comments. This is an important process-oriented change in this rather old-fashioned system.

We (meaning librarians and others) have to teach the PhD students how to use social media in a professional manner so that they can enhance their research and get it out to the market faster. Traditional publication takes a long time, and this makes the use of social media even more important. Librarians need more competence and knowledge on these issues. Only that way we can make research better so that we can make society better.

I think Curt Rice gave a good and inspiring talk, and I think he had some very good points. I wouldn`t have minded even more practical approaches and more stories from “real life”, but still.. a good presentation (and kudos for not using a Powerpoint presentation, and instead just walking around with his tablet. Much easier to keep the attention to what he was saying. Note to self..)

The launch of the website:

“PhD on track” was a collaboration between the University of Oslo (NO), the University of Bergen (NO), Aalborg University (DK), the National Library (NO), Bergen University College (NO) and the Norwegian School of Economics (NO). Representatives from the project group talked about their methods in planning and executing the website. Goals for the projects included: acquiring new knowledge about PhD students` information needs and habits, making a website of freely available modules (in English) and creating an awareness on the libraries` role in PhD training. The report that forms the basis of the website can be found here: http://www.ub.uio.no/om/skrifter/hefte08.pdf (in English) and here: http://www.ub.uio.no/om/skrifter/hefte07.pdf (in Norwegian).

The website consists of three modules: “Review and discover”, “Share and publish” and “Evaluation and ranking”. The website underwent user testing, and the project group found that users rarely use page navigation (other than the one on top of the page), they would rather scroll. This meant that the website had to have clearly marked headlines. The project group also found that they had to think about their jargon and try not to use that kind of “academic tribal language” that they had gotten used to. They also had to limit the amount of text on front pages, have short and well-written introductions and more in-depth subject-specific information. The users that tested the website didn`t use the search option. Many of them had bad experiences from other websites, and they were often afraid of being taken out of the site by searching. User-testing is vital, the project group explained, as it uncovers problems and errors, confirmes what has been well done and they got inputs on design as well.

The last part of the day were parallell sessions, and I chose to go to “Literature searching for PhD students” where we had a look at the “Review and discover” at the new website. I have a few notes from the session, but it was really more of a discussion on how to present search examples etc. so I don`t think I`ll write about it here. A few questions that were addressed were: Do we offer PhD students a bachelor course (only a little more advanced) or do we keep it to a real PhD enhanced level? What competencies should a librarian possess? What problems are there when it comes to PhD students` varying levels (concerning their prior knowledge) and e.g. expectations from international students vs. Norwegian/Danish students?

Bente Andreassen closed the conference by saying that developing courses on each institution is meaningless. We should collaborate and learn from each other. …and on that note it was over:) I spent a very interesting day, and I hope to be able to test the website properly soon.