Library Gazette

Search tip #23: Truncation!

Monday, September 16, 2013 3:50 pm

Raise your hand if you’ve been here before: stuck in a library database, wondering why your search for articles about something like the role of computers in childhood development isn’t returning any really good results. Your search might look like this:

computers childhood development

Seems like a good search, right? Here’s the thing, though: if there are completely relevant articles that discuss the role of computing in how children develop using those exact terms, but they never use the terms computers, childhood, or development, you’re not going to find all of them. How do you rework the search to find all the relevant stuff?

Stand back, children, while I attempt some library-fu. If I rework the search to this:

comput* child* develop*

I’m going to find many more relevant articles.

Here’s what’s happening. Those asterisks (the little * symbols) are what we call truncators. Essentially, they tell the database to look for the root form of the word and include anything that comes after it. This means your search will now find alternate forms of your search terms.

comput* will find computer, computers, computing, computation, etc.
child* will find child, children, childhood, etc.
develop* will find develop, develops, developing, development, etc.

Although this doesn’t work in every single database (or on search engines like Google, which does something similar automatically), it’s a good tool to have in your belt. Now, go, and remember: with great power comes great responsib*.

Class 1 & 2

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 4:02 pm

We kicked off Teaching Teaching last Friday with an overview of Instructional Design. I used the very same powerpoint from the first class, which you can see here:

What is Instructional Design?

I am scheduled to be out of town on Friday, so we also discussed how to use the next session. Some were interested in comparing notes about their classes. Others were interested in a journal reading group. I promised to send out some reading and people can show up at 9:00 and divide up depending on their interest.

So, here’s the reading:

7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

This piece is often referred to by the author’s names: “Chickering and Gamson,” so much so that when I first heard of it I was looking for something written by “Chickeringamson!” It’s a bit dated, but still good background and many parts are still quite relevant.

I’m not sure I’m 100% enough for the traveling we were planning to do, so I might see you on Friday. Either way, I hope it’s a good session and we’ll return to regularly scheduled meetings the next Friday!

Lib100 and Webex pilot

Thursday, October 21, 2010 7:26 pm

A recent scheduling conflict required me to be out of the office for my first two Lib100 classes this semester. Rather than canceling them I decided to partner with our Cisco Fellow, Gretchen Edwards, to hold the classes online using a system called WebEx.

WebEx is a real-time online collaboration tool that includes a suite of video conferencing, screen sharing, and polling features. The key features include multi-person audio discussion, chatting, personal video, polling, document sharing, application sharing, desktop sharing and distributed control. In our first two classes we only touched on a few of these features but wanted to take a moment to write up our initial experience.

What we did

Gretchen and I talked through a lot of options for approaching the first two classes. We discussed different interaction options (discussion time, polling, student sharing of video and PowerPoint) and decided to focus on a few simple interactions. In our first class we got folks oriented to the system and did a quick poll to find out how they have used information and the web up to this point. The second class involved listening to a news piece, a poll, a lecture and discussion time. We finished up each class with a Google poll to find out what they thought about each class.

The WebEx platform allowed us to share our video, chat with students and guide the class using a number of tools. The screen shot above shows video streaming with our PowerPoint slides on the left. In both the first and second classes Gretchen took a few minutes to introduce WebEx concepts (video streaming, chatting, muting/un-muting, document sharing) with the class.

The second class started out with students listening to a piece on NPR and answering a poll on what they thought about the piece. As I went through the lecture for the day I was able to use answers pulled from the poll on specific slides. Gretchen and I worked on getting audio to stream through WebEx but found that the best option was to have students listen to the piece on their own computer.

We finished each class with a survey asking students to reflect on what they learned and to ask any outstanding questions. The second time we asked some direct questions about what they thought about WebEx and asking what other classes they thought might work well on WebEx.

What we found

Not surprisingly, several students really liked the idea of attending class from their dorm room :). A few commented on technical issues and indicated that WebEx should be used sparingly (e.g. Lecture time only) but nobody in the class indicated that we should stop using it entirely. In contrast, some students advocated for either a blended or 100% online experience.

I found that having a structured power point document with speaker notes up on a separate device (see below) helped keep me on my talking points during the class. This can be difficult in WebEx as you do not see speaker notes when sharing ppt slides. I also found that it took about 2 hours of preparation to create the polls, setup the class in webEx and run through timing and interactions. Unlike a face-to-face class, keeping track of time and cues from the students takes a bit more effort.

Clearly organization was a big deal and having Gretchen there to handle all of the technical issues that students were having as well as participate in the class instruction time was really helpful. Most of the students had never taken an online class before so we needed to take time to make sure everyone was comfortable using the system. In both classes however we had all of the students successfully connect and interact.

So what did we learn? Here are a few tips:

1. Preparation! – It helped to do a short talk through video to share with Gretchen so that we would both be on the same page when class happened. I did this by creating a 4-5 minute screencast of a demo WebEx session and sharing it. While probably overkill, it made me feel better about what would happen during the class. Some other pre-class preparation that we did was pre-create poll questions, put the WebEx event on student’s Gmail calendars and identify one or two key ‘learning moments’ or interactions to focus on.

2. Have technical support – The first class required a lot of work. Tech support both for the instructors and the students is a good thing.

3. Be prepared to wait – You are in essence talking to yourself the entire time, ask students for queues and feedback (e.g. raised hand, verbal comments, chat comments) or use short polls to get interaction going. Getting everyone to talk is tough but breaking up a lecture with short interactions not only keeps it fun it helps you understand what students understand or do not understand. In our second class we showed students how to control their microphone muting and during discussion time the interaction felt very much like an in-person discussion would. As always, it took a good minute for someone to make the first comment though!

4. Have fun – WebEx is a new experience for everyone and there was a bit of excitement just in how things were happening. Building on that sense of fun and excitement is well worth the effort.

What’s next?

Gretchen and I are going to look at the student feedback forms from the first few weeks and I am going to chat with students about how many more sessions they would like to do online. While WebEx takes more prep than an in-person class (at least for now), from my experience it helps create just as good a classroom environment.

Teaching Teaching Wrap-Up

Friday, May 15, 2009 1:50 pm

Today was the final day of the teaching teaching spring class. We’ve been at it since January, and we’ve held 14 sessions. We’ve had 14 hours (less the minutes early I left for committee meetings) to devote some serious time to coming together as a group to talk about our teaching and hopefully learn a few tricks. I started today talking about the design for the course. Roz clearly played a large role, and everyone who participated helped shape the course either through conversations outside of the class or by their participation.

And while we’re talking about participants, we had a large percentage of the library staff attend at one point or another, and most people attended several (or all!). The “teaching teaching” participants were Roz Tedford, Bobbie Collins, Lauren Corbett, Carol Cramer, Ellen Daugman, Craig Fansler, Joy Gambill, Kevin Gilbertson, Derrik Hiatt, Kate Irwin-Smiler (from PCL), Julie James (from Carpenter), Sarah Jeong, Vicki Johnson, Steve Kelley, Mary Beth Lock, Leslie McCall, Carolyn McCallum, Kaeley McMahan, Erik Mitchell, Elizabeth Novicki, Mary Scanlon, Susan Smith, and Giz Womack.

We covered a lot of ground, too! We talked about what Instructional Design is, and the different models of ID that are practiced. We talked about taxonomies of teaching, educational psychology, multiple intelligences/learning styles, teaching styles, learning theory, problem based learning, active learning, classroom management, assessment, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. We’re planning a few summer workshops to bridge a few gaps, and we’re planning a fall program of facilitated practical talks on specific techniques. Keep an eye on your email to see when the next teaching classes will be!

I’ve really enjoyed this project, and it’s been a great semester. As I told the group this morning, having an enthusiastic group of participants made it much more fun (and made all of the planning much less burdensome and far more enjoyable). Clearly, this is an example of the culture of ZSR/WFU. The participants were focused on our mission: honing their teaching skills in order to better position themselves to help our students succeed. I can’t wait to see how this course shapes our instruction in the coming semesters. Thanks to everyone who participated! I really appreciate your enthusiasm and engagement!

If you’re interested in seeing what we were up to, you can see the course blog.

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