Webinars, embedded librarians and teaching by subject

Last week we completed our one-shot workshop sessions and it brought up an issue that I always seem to have in teaching situations, lack of time. When I started teaching English to non-native speakers, I routinely encountered this issue.  I would create a complex lesson plan with intricate activities and realize early into the class that I did not allot for enough time to get through the class.  This was mainly due to the fact that I was biting off far more than I could chew.   A skill that I need to perfect is creating a lesson plan that is at the level of complexity for the time given.  This was the major issue that we encountered last week during our workshop.  The topic was interesting and nuanced so we just didn’t have enough time to address all the parts while giving participants the opportunity to share and hear.

Unfortunately, due to illness and an allergic reaction to cold medicine, I wasn’t able to participate in the other workshops.  I would have enjoyed taking part in that process.

I am slightly nervous about the webinars that we are going to do for class.  I suppose it is mostly due to the fact that prior to this assignment, I had not participated in one.  In addition, I do not have a clear idea of what to do to host one.  I am sure that this will all become clear in class.

The readings, Online Webinars!, The Embedded Librarian Online or Face-to-Face, and Chapter 7 of How People Learn, were interesting in helping me think about what to do with my webinar.  Initially I didn’t understand how they all worked together, but upon reflection and some distance from the readings it seems fairly obvious.  The two webinar articles are basically making the argument for the need for librarians to use technology to engage with patrons in their research and information needs.  I am not sure if it is because these articles are a few years old or because of my time at UMSI, but this doesn’t seem like an very difficult argument to make.  I was surprised that it took Montgomery a few pages to make her for this move.  Using webinars as a way to embed the librarian in a disciple works by allowing the students, who may be long-distance, to receive instructions from their own location.  My time  at UMSI is my first experience with embedded librarians.  As an undergraduate, we did not have access to this type of service.  I am not sure if this was due to my discipline or because the University I attended did not facilitate this.  Either way, the SI librarian is something that I have been meaning to utilize, but have not.  This is partially due to the fact that I feel comfortable doing the research on my own, also because I am not on campus during her usual “office hours.”  If she offered a webinar on a topic, would I attend this?  I am not sure.

The chapter from How People Learn ties into the other two by reminding us that each topic that we teach may have some key successful ways to be taught.  Not everything can be taught in the same way.  I feel like the issues that this chapter brought up are the same that have been brought up in previous chapters, flushed out with more examples and resources.  The examples that the authors focused on were history, science, and mathematics. 

I was particularly interested in the section about interactive instruction in large classes.  I am currently enrolled in a large lecture based on learning coding where many students have questions that are highly personalized to their program or website.  The teacher seems to be pulled in 70 different directions throughout the class time.  So, I have been wondering how this class could be improved so that many of the students feel like we are getting the help we need without derailing the topic of the class.  The suggestion that How People Learn gave of using a classroom communications system could work for the in-class exercises which currently need to be manually checked by the professor or GSI.  It could also help students collaborate on shared problems.

Every time I read the How People Learn book, I keep wondering and hoping that one day I will be able to reach a level of mastery of a discipline to teach effectively. 


About mainvils

I am a first year UMSI graduate student specializing in LIS and Preservation of Information.
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