We owe it to students to make them think

Inspired by (and not as well written as) Emma Coonan’s recent blogpost: The ‘F’ word: information literacy, ‘find’ and other verbs

Until this semester, I hadn’t taught literature searching since being a subject librarian a few years ago. Over the last few months, in my new role as a Library Learning Advisor (I have been an Academic Skills Advisor for the past few years), I have been delivering the literature searching sessions that were previously delivered by a subject librarian. Arranged by the department in computer clusters, I found that despite my best efforts, the focus was usually, and perhaps inevitably given the teaching environment, on the technology not the thinking.

What I observed from students from the first right up to the third years, was that they often found it difficult to conceptualise their topic and formulate and ask meaningful research questions. They don’t always understand how information is created and therefore find it difficult to make critical decisions about what information to use and how to use it. Being able to synthesise and link their thoughts and ideas with what they are reading and learning in their modules is hugely challenging. We know students are often looking for “the answer” and it should be the job of higher education (well all education) to develop students as critical thinkers, ready and eager to accept a lack of definite answers and instead analyse and evaluate different possibilities. So, the question that seems to arise again and again is why do we focus on the finding rather than the thinking? Without thinking doesn’t the finding just come down to luck? Students may well find useful information without really thinking through what it is they are looking for, but we owe it to them to help them develop their critical thinking skills. They need to understand the questions, problems, issues that they’ve been asked to address as well as identifying their own, particularly for their final year project, before and alongside their discovery of information that will help them to understand, interpret and construct a meaningful discussion around those areas.

Over the next few months I want to design some teaching sessions that will help students with their information seeking that take place outside of a computer cluster. An academic recently shared with me her shock at the lack of reading students do. I thought about how we teach literature searching and well, sitting behind a PC does not inspire or engage students with reading- it certainly would not inspire me! So I want to design a searching workshop that will inspire students to want to find and read interesting material.

I will share my ideas on the blog but please feel free to share your ideas with me!


30 days….

As I could have predicted, I started this blog with good intentions as part of LD5D, but after 3 posts and almost 1 year I have deserted my blog completely. However, I have decided that this is a perfect time to resurrect it because next semester I will be delivering a module called The Digital Student. As part of the module we are encouraging students to keep a reflective blog and if I think students can benefit, why shouldn’t I do the same? As well as writing about my thoughts, ideas and musings about the module I will be sharing my thoughts on learning development, learning and teaching in libraries and well anything related to student learning that I think is interesting.

I am going to try and write a post a day for the next 30 days inspired by this recent TED talk: 

Let’s see how this goes…

#LD5D week 3- Google+

This week we have been looking at Google+, I have had a Google account for ages- I mean is it even possible to do anything on the internet without having to sign up to Google at some point? A few months ago I did try and engage with Google+ but just found that i didn’t have the time to really explore it and Twitter just seemed so much easier… I definitely haven’t fully explored the potential of it but as a result of this module I will endeavour to get my head around it! I see it as more of a professional network whereas for me, Facebook is securely in the realms of the personal.

I have been using Google Drive for collaborative projects and I actually really like it. It’s easy to use and easy to share, edit and organise documents. I also have a LinkedIn account but I admit that I have not kept that profile up-to-date or even fully completed it which is terrible! More on that next week though….

Over the past few months, and the last few weeks while working through this module I have realised that I am too much of a consumer of information and need to share, comment and interact with others a lot more. My question is though, how does everyone find the time?

LD5D week 2: getting to grips with my blogging persona

Ok so writing my first post was fairly easy but a mixture of a super busy week at work and a slight crisis of confidence means I haven’t written any further posts! Now we’re in week 2 of this module I’ve tried to put more thought into who the audience for this blog should be as Michelle advised, I’m hoping this will give me a bit of motivation to write some more posts. I would like the audience to be fellow professionals, working in libraries and more generally in eduction, with a particular interest in learning development, skills development, academic skills…I’m not sure what name to give it 🙂

This week, I have successfully managed to add a page and 2 menu items; I have added a page that lists some of my recent conference presentations and publications that I have co-authored. I am usually really uncomfortable with self-publicity but I think that it is good practice to share, in particular, conference presentations for anyone who couldnt attend in person. Also, I haven’t actually collated a list of all the presentations I’ve done so this has given me a kick up the bum to actually keep a record! I will be adding to this page…

I have found getting my head around WordPress quite difficult but I think that it has so much potential as a tool that I am willing to stick with it! It is also a pain using it with my iPad (first world problems right?!). It looks like WordPress offers so much more than just a chance to blog so I think this might become a mixture between a blog and a website…I’m going to see how it goes, I don’t want to run before I can walk!

To blog or not to blog?…that is my question

I’ve considered many times whether I should be entering the world of blogging. I love social media; I have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (which I am not using to its full potential) and I would say my iPhone and I are pretty much attached at the hip. The problem is, I love social media for the “social” bit. I want to share pictures of holidays and nights out on Facebook and Instagram with my friends, and read total strangers’ thoughts about last night’s TV on Twitter. I admit I have found the transition to using, in particular, Twitter for professional purposes challenging. I find myself censoring my posts because I don’t want colleagues to discover I am a secret Made in Chelsea fan or that X Factor is my Saturday night guilty pleasure (I guess the cat is out of the bag now!).

However, I  get a lot out of reading blogs about libraries, learning development, education in general and technology. Following other professionals on Twitter has given me a fantastic sense of community and provides an invaluable place to share, discuss and network in a way which I only really did at conferences. I think my reluctance to Tweet and blog professionally has really come down to confidence (or lack thereof), particularly in my writing ability and whether I have anything interesting to share. Mostly, I have an anxiety of putting myself “out there” and not getting the response I hope for.

LD5D seems like the person opportunity to give blogging a go. I realised that I actually love it when colleagues in the profession share something about their “real life”- it makes people relatable so I am not going to worry too much about blurring my personal and professional identity  (I promise not to over-share!). So in that spirit my social media identity on most things but LinkedIn is Shelldaynight- the “Shell” bit is just what everyone calls me (shortened from Michelle) and the “daynight” comes from one of my favourite comedies Kath and Kim.

I will be sharing my thoughts mainly around academic skills, learning development, libraries and technology. I promise no Made in Chelsea posts 🙂