Professional Development

During December 2013...

NC-LITe at High Point University

Friday, December 20, 2013 2:35 pm

On Wednesday, Amanda, Hu, Joy, and I made the quick drive to High Point University for the winter meeting of NC-LITe, a small (but growing!) group of North Carolina librarians interested in learning and sharing about technology and library instruction. It’s a great opportunity for cross-pollination, and I’m starting to make some great professional relationships with people I’ve met through NC-LITe. I’m always excited for NC-LITe, but this time I think all of us were excited for one reason in particular.

One of the *many* decorated trees. This building smelled like cookies.

One of the *many* decorated trees.

Sharing

The turnout this time was great–there were about 30 librarians from universities all over North Carolina. Each campus shared some updates, then there were a handful of lightning talks, including our own Hu Womack, who talked about the very exciting pilot project of using a class set of Kindle Fire tablets in his LIB210 class. Here are some other highlights:

  • HPU has some beautiful and heavily-used new library instruction spaces. They’re currently partnering with their English department to integrate online information literacy tutorials into first-year writing seminars, and currently five librarians are teaching a one-credit “research in writing” seminar in conjunction with the English department. They’re also doing a lot of support for faculty who want to assign multimedia projects.
  • UNCG just went to a new team-based model for their liaison and instruction folks: the way I understand it, instruction and scholarly communication people work in functional teams that support the work of liaisons in subject teams. For example, there’s a team for instructional design that can work alongside a subject team that wants to do some ID work. They’re also expanding the services and spaces they offer in their Digital Media Commons–they now have a gaming lab, a small makerspace, and lots of support for multimedia assignments (sensing a theme yet?).
  • Duke is continuing their work with MOOCs. Right now, each Duke MOOC (DOOC?) is assigned a subject librarian. It wasn’t mentioned what kind of work they do for the MOOCs, and I didn’t get a chance to ask, but you can read more about it here.
  • NCSU recently opened some new spaces in the new Hunt Library (which we visited last time). Their media spaces are now open, and to get them just right, they brought in a rock musician, who is also developing multimodal courses at NCSU, as a consultant. They seem to be focusing quite a lot on integrating themselves into multimodal courses and multimedia production, so the library has loose support teams that spin up every time an instructor wants students to create, say, podcasts or websites as part of a course.

Useful Tools & Resources

One of my favorite things about NC-LITe is that I always come away from it with a few new toys to play with and resources to explore. Here are some of the best that came out of the breakout sessions:

  • Amanda mentioned Doctopus and gClassFolders, two scripts in Google Drive that make collaborative student work a breeze. I’ve been using Doctopus for a while now, and I think it’s the bee’s knees.
  • Edmodo, which is used heavily in K-12, is more of a social network for learning–quite far removed from our nearest equivalent, Sakai.
  • Socrative is a rapid-feedback response system that seems to be getting a lot of attention lately.
  • Of those libraries that are supporting multimedia projects, nearly all of them mention Penn State University’s Media Commons and the University of Richmond’s Digital Storytelling as those efforts they’re trying to emulate. Samantha Harlow at HPU did a great job modifying the PSU multimedia assignment guide for her faculty.

Campus Tour

HPU’s campus is pretty impressive. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but what you can’t see from the photos is that everything smelled like fresh-baked cookies. More photos here and here. Thanks, Joy and Hu, for taking pictures!

Kyle and Hu embarrassing Amanda

Kyle and Hu embarrassing Amanda

We caught up with Anna!

We caught up with Anna!

Joy, in her element.

Joy, in her element.

Kyle, in a moment of thought.

Kyle, in a moment of thought.

Hu: "This is my dream retirement gig."

Hu: "This is my dream retirement gig."

Surveys in Libraries: ACRL-ULS Webinar

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 11:24 am

Yesterday a group of us (Lauren C., Lauren S., Thomas, Roz, Mary Beth and Susan) participated in the Surveys in Libraries webinar presented by the ACRL-ULS Evidence Based Practices Discussion Group. One of the goals for this year’s Assessment Committee is to take advantage of any educational opportunities that might help guide our assessment efforts to be more effective.

This webinar focused on using surveys to learn about patron perceptions about whether their needs are being met by services. Well-designed surveys can be useful to gather this type of information. Poorly designed surveys are a waste of everyone’s time.

Here are a few helpful insights I gained from the session:

  • Actionable surveys are those that ask the right questions, are focused and are designed to gather data that can lead to action to improve processes.
  • An Action Gap Survey might be a useful tool for us. In this type of survey you might select 10 services that we offer. Then you ask the participants to choose the 3 services they think we do well, the 3 that they think need to be improved and finally, ask which 3 are the most important. This can show if what we do well is important to them, and whether our efforts need to be directed at improvement if the service in question isn’t important.
  • Surveys should be simple and focused. There was no *real* ideal number of questions, but the speakers agreed that less is better.
  • Longer surveys tend to have a higher drop rate (think the long version of LibQual+). People get frustrated and/or bored when there are too many questions.
  • There was agreement that when using the Likert scale (is that pronounced Like-ert or Lik-ert?, look it up in OED), the ideal number of values is 5 (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree).

One speaker addressed the use of commercial survey products (Counting Opinions and LibQual), another talked about adding library questions into campus-wide surveys (which we have had a little success with to date). My take away on commercial versus home grown surveys is that they both have a place in our assessment efforts. The commercial ones allow us to compare our services against other academic library peers/aspirationals, while locally developed surveys can help us dig down to the actionable level.

If you are interested in viewing the webinar, it is available here.

Kevin at edUi 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013 10:32 am

The best conferences change you. Even before the closing session, you recognize something different about yourself, a new way of thinking perhaps or a new perspective on a project. This change is more than the catalog of new ideas and new projects that the conference generates; it’s a new way of seeing things, of making sense of your work and the world. After such a conference, you return excited, invigorated. (And, to be honest, apprehensive: how will I sustain this new way of being amid the torrent of the job?).

For me, edUi 2013 was this kind of conference. For three days, it was the realization of a single, simple idea: make small, meaningful improvements. It was an inversion really – of project and process, of productivity and creativity. And it was so familiar – in fact, I had abided by such a concept as a way to approach the glut of project requirements, feature requests, and feedback cycles. But ‘familiar’ was not ‘realized’.

Here was a simple, empowering method that provoked such welcome clarity through its limited scale and its confident optimism. Here was a way to transform glut into abundance. Anyway, that’s the short version. The long version includes much more about opportunities and strategies and tactics, about audiences and usability and prioritization, the context within which ‘small’ and ‘meaningful’ and ‘improvements’ are defined.

Of course, edUi was also about a wealth of other things:

  • content strategy
  • responsive analytics
  • best practices and bogus best practices
  • how (re)designing a screen sometimes feels like convincing an organization to change the way it works
  • how to use mobile as a lens to make everything better, regardless of platform
  • how to use data to make decisions (since data is often the language stakeholders speak)
  • and generally all things UX

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