I enjoy teaching very much and it feels like a natural habit. I love sharing information with others and have tutored students or taught workshops many times in my varied past. I've worked with individuals as a volunteer, and for pay, teaching reading, algebra and French. For group workshops I've taught nutrition for seniors; parenting skills; values clarification; crisis intervention counseling; conflict resolution; group process; and newsletter production. I love to incorporate roleplays or skits in my trainings so perhaps it was inevitable that my first large instructional project at the iSchool would involve encouraging teens who want to perform.
In LIS 566 Young Adult Materials: Evaluation and Use, the final assignment consisted of creating an electronic document to assist teens in finding information on a topic of interest to them. The choice of topic was up to us grad students as was the design so long as it utilized the WebQuest templates.
My WebQuest was a response to my observations at Open Mic performance evenings where many young adults clearly felt a pull to perform but had trouble getting out in front of the audience. I created the WebQuest to help them focus on a particular direction to go in and as a guide to getting their voices heard.
The introduction to information behavior in LIS 510 and the storytelling work in LIS 561 were the building blocks for my success in this class. The coursework covered a lot of reading I might not have picked up on my own and gave me a tremendous appreciation for contemporary YA literature. In turn, knowing what some young people were reading, and observing what some local teens were talking about, gave me the confidence to plan an informal instructional program to meet some of their needs.
The WebQuest experience was significant for me on multiple levels. It was an entirely new (to me) information tool and I was very impressed with its potential to extend information resources to young people and to the adults in their lives. On a practical level, WebQuest and other electronic instructional tools allow presenters to fix and preserve their workshops inexpensively and to distribute them widely via the Internet. Access via the Internet also facilitates asynchronous participation unlike the face-to-face kind of workshops I've taught in the past. Finally, in this WebQuest I designed materials for young adults who are users with whom I have not previously done group work.
During my DFW (LIS 590 Directed Field Work) in the Central Reference Department at Timberland Regional Library (TRL), one of the outcomes of my learning objectives was an online tutorial for one of the databases TRL subscribes to. My modest text effort here was not particularly successful as the version TRL actually published to its intranet was significantly different. I didn't find this type of instruction either rewarding or enjoyable because of the lack of connection to actual users. I feel I do my best teaching work when I can talk on the phone or communicate in person with the learner. The online tutorial format doesn't lend itself to accommodating different learning styles as well as face-to-face instruction does. Part of my failure in using this model was in not having a clear understanding of end user characteristics, and this influenced me to oversimplify.
Although the voiceover PowerPoint method of instructional delivery is neither live nor face-to-face, the human voice adds a layer of warmth that helps to compel the instruction. In LIS 560 Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals, I created two presentations, the first of which was a synthesis of the group discussion I'd facilitated on instruction for selected users in a particular setting. Unlike the online tutorial described above, this training took learning styles into consideration and my group mates each focused on one of the 4MAT styles we had been studying. My set up for the presentation follows:"Scenario: there is a new AP history teacher on staff at a local high school, and she wants to introduce students to database searching so she calls on us librarians to put together this workshop on using the 2 tools Google and Expanded Academic Index. And she's pretty open about the upcoming project she's preparing her students to do. She's calling it Important Moments in U.S. History and is letting her students pick what each one considers an important moment."
The trick in creating these five minute wrap ups of discussion was to be clear who the audience for the PowerPoint was. I decided to dedicate my five minutes to giving the teens an agenda review of the workshop my group and I were about to present to them. From my previous experience with group process and meetings facilitation, I knew that agenda review was very helpful for engaging participants in what's coming. I also knew that teenagers often need extra stimuli to get involved. Clearly I couldn't cover all the actual content we had planned for our students' different learning styles, so I opted to simply introduce the workshop.
I am pleased with how my strategy turned out and proud of the resulting presentation. I was reminded of the lessons I'd learned in my storytelling class (LIS 561) about bridging the gap between speaker and audience and feel this instance of instruction succeeded in contrast to the database tutorial described above which did not.
In preparation for the final LIS 560 assignment of a training and development program, I created a WebQ survey tool and needs assessment document for my chosen user group, residents of a battered women's shelter, and a PowerPoint presentation giving an overview of the training program. As with the previous presentation, I chose to direct my second presentation not to my classmates but to principals within the scenario. In this case my audience was volunteers and staff who work at the shelter and who might be in a position to assist residents in using the training program. The significance of this final presentation, I think, is how it demonstrates a progression of learning based on accummulated trial and error from my experience as a trainer before coming to the iSchool and all I've learned in the program so far about users, learning styles, teaching, and bridging the gap.
Information literacy program
The final piece of instructional strategy in LIS 560 was to take the training and development program outlined in the earlier assignments and expand it to either a fullfledged program or one complete module of instruction. Domestic violence remains a serious and constant problem nearly 30 years after the feminist movement of the 1970s brought the issue to significant public attention. The training and development program I designed endeavors to fill the information gap felt by residents in domestic violence shelters who have taken initial steps toward getting free but who still have many questions about how to find appropriate resources, answers and support. Although it was not required, I felt passionate enough about these information seekers to imagine a seven module program of instruction.
The act of planning such a program, like the planning of programs described in the Intellectual and Service sections, was immensely satisfying. I expect that when I am out in the public services library world, these tools and assignments from my coursework will support me in the same way that templates have supported me in tackling other new tasks.
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Last modified: 7/08/2007 2:54 PM