MLIS Portfolio

Deborah Bancroft

In the beginning

My prior technology expertise seemed similar to that described by Instructor Trent Hill at an iSchool information session in January 2004: word processing and email. To my list of achievements I added a desktop publishing program that I had used to create an award winning hard copy newsletter for my local union. Ambitiously, I thought I knew enough to get started and that I would pick up whatever else I needed along the way. In a broad sense this was true, but it was certainly not easy.

Alongside the many practical elements I learned, my understanding of the barriers faced by myself and other learners, and my compassion for our struggles, grew exponentially. To me it sometimes feels as if education proceeds when the student finally discovers a way to get it. The transition can be swift and smooth, or the bumps and disconnects encountered along the way can be insurmountable. Hopefully, the student won't stagnate, but will find a way around the roadblocks and keep moving and learning.

Although I was ultimately not successful in completing LIS 541 Internet Technologies and Applications, I learned a great deal from Scott Barker's instruction and used it when tackling my first website in LIS 566 Young Adult Materials: Evaluation and Use. Not only was I proud that everything "worked" on the site, but I felt that I had collected meaningful resources for young adults interested in spoken word performance. I also felt more legitimately connected to the rest of the iSchool community by virtue of having completed this WebQuest assignment which for me was a significant technological challenge.

Buoyed by my success, that same quarter I undertook my second website creation, this time for an Independent Study project with the Espy Foundation in Oysterville, Washington. Work on the project is described in the Leadership section of this Portfolio. The significant technological elements included learning, using and teaching a cataloging tool from ResourceMate, and using the Catalyst tool SimpleSite for the first time to create a report accessible to the stakeholders of Espy Library. As with WebQuest, my facility with the SimpleSite tool was not immediate, but the previous experience with handcoding HTML in LIS 541 was very helpful for publishing what I intended to show.

Making progress

In my first quarter at the iSchool I had taken the lead in writing and recording the Producer PowerPoint presentation for my group project in LIS 510 Information Behavior. It was my first, but not my last, attempt to capture audio and upload it to the student server via my dial-up connection. My group felt the audio was too low and the length too short, so another member expanded and rerecorded the presentation. My six hours of upload time head the list of painful memories in my technology education for 2004.

In LIS 561 Storytelling: Art and Techniques, I used a different tool for recording my storytelling performances and the uploads to ePortfolio were relatively smooth. What really made the difference for me psychologically was Instructor Margaret Read MacDonald's insistance that we weren't supposed to worry about audio quality, just do it. Since, for most people, performing in front of an audience has nightmare overtones, this was an excellent directive. Learning to do something new takes practice and too much focus on the end product and how polished it should be can be a formidable barrier in the learning process.


In spring quarter 2007, I again needed to create PowerPoint presentations to fulfill assignments. For the one group presentation in LIS 569 Children's Materials (8-12 years), I emailed my slides and audio to my group partner whose fast connection could best handle our combined files. The other PowerPoint I did for LIS 569 was actually the first slide show I'd ever created on my own. I was unsure about both the tool and the content since I was in the first group of students to present online book talks and had no examples for guidance. I was pleased enough with my slide show (even though I knew the audio level was still sub par), that is, until I started watching others' presentations. Many of these were much more sophisticated productions than mine, but my effort does represent a significant advance for me technologically.

Within weeks of my online book talk, I had two PowerPoint presentations due in LIS 560 Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals. These assignments are described on the Teaching page and are offered here as evidence of my increased skill in technological production:

second slide show

third slide show.

In the end

Finally, I offer this Portfolio itself as evidence of my growth and development in technology. It is my second use of SimpleSite and when I compare it to my first, the Espy Library report, I can easily see how much I have learned about modifying a template to meet my needs. Working with templates has been the key for me being able to construct a web site, but I never would have gotten this far without the basic HTML coding I learned in LIS 541. Having that language demystified means being able to look critically at the template structure and understand its mechanisms of display. Knowing even this much about technology makes me expect that I can learn and apply more tools as opportunities present themselves. Learning PowerPoint on my own this year was made possible by my success learning WebQuest and SimpleSite on my own the previous year. One thing I realized going into the MLIS program was that I needed to do something about my technological ignorance if I wanted to be a competent information professional. What I've learned in these three years will help me develop in many directions. Being able to use a tool like PowerPoint--and to teach PowerPoint--greatly expands my teaching effectiveness and my ability to serve patrons.