Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Animals, and April Fools

Luckily there were no April Fools jokes played today.

The session that Erica and I did went well.  I hadn't realised that it was fully booked, so that was a nice  surprise, but also presented a few technical challenges as the session relied on people interacting with the exercises.  All the bits of ACP that we asked them to do (The Google Game, the Animal Typology, Business Information, Bad Search) went well and everyone particpated.  

I don't think I forgot anything crucial - I remembered to name check and thank the rest of the team, and somehow we managed to nail the timing so we had the 15 mins for questions that we wanted - which were fully used with people asking interesting (challenging!) questions.

I've already had emails from people who want the whole presentation that we did for the students so that they can repackage it for their own institutions.


If they won't turn them off, we might as well use them

If they won't turn them off, we might as well use them - mobile phones. Andrew Walsh - University of Huddersfield.

Andrew has been experimenting with a number of ways of including the use of mobile phones in sessions that he runs for students as well as using mobile technology to enhance the ways in which students use the library catalogue.

One of the reasons behind this is that it is a good way of introducing active learning into sessions for large classes.  Other rationale includes the fact that it can tackle the problem of unresponsive students by making it interesting to participate.

So far, he has been most interested in the basic functionality of phones - e.g. texting rather than the high end functions of smartphones such as the iPhone.

He mentioned some interesting stats including one that suggests that there are "116.5 phones per 100 people in the UK" (Mintel, OCt 2007)

He moved on to talk about the use of texting in info skills sessions.  There are a number of services out there - some free, some paid for.  The current one that they use is paid for - but they trialled a number of free services.

Free services include

Free services - Moblog - - has been used for distance learner students, particularly for discussion around a topic - rather like a forum

Twitter - we all know this - good for voice, register for the service, call them up and talk over the phone, it is then recorded.  Also do conference calls easily - but bits and pieces are now charged.

One of the ways they sell the service to students is "Text a librarian" students can text a message to a special short number and it can go into t a shared group.  It acts as another way for students to contact the library and sits alongside the IM, email, and telephone options.

In sessions, texting has been used.  One particular example was for a group of business students.  They were asked to sign up for a service before they came to the session, and the service automatically sent the odd question during a class that they can respond to.  Or if they are working to a scenrio, updated to the scenario can be sent via text.

Andrew also talked about how mobile tech could be embedded in the way that students use the library and its services.  One example is QR Code - this is something I've been experimenting with at SHU, and was wondering about real life implementation.  QR Code is essentially a barcode, but has the ability to contain a lot more information that the ones that we would find on a packet of crisps.  Wikipedia has a fuller explanation - 

At Huddersfield, they have embedded it in the library catalogue, which I read about on Dave Patten's blog last week.  Students can look something up, take a photo of the QR code, which can contain information such as exact location, or a link to the electronic version if one was available.

(Actually, I wonder if you could also embed the citation you would need to use to reference the book properly?)

There are good and bad things about QR - 90% of students are able to access them, (in that they own camera phones) but only 30% know what they are.

The integration of mobile phones into librarian life has not proved that simple.  Problems include getting students to sign up to external services.

There are also data protection issues - although SI data may contain mobile numbers, would need permission to use them in this way.  And signal strength can be a problem.  

Fascinating talk, with real world examples which is always appreciated - and a lot of scope here - all very interesting.  


Mobile Web

Information Literacy Meets the Mobile Web - Wed 1 April 8:45

Peter Godwin - University of Bedfordshire.

Peter gave a presentation on the rise of handheld devices and mentioned some of the potential that he saw in them for integration into library services.  It complemented the talk by Andrew, and also covered topics such as QR coding.

References and sources

From attending a wide variety of sessions, we have amassed lots of interesting references to papers, ongoing works, reports and books that can inform our thoughts on IL.

Just a few examples, Project Deep, NSSE, Engage ME or Enrage ME, the Boyer Report, the Spelling Report, the CIBER report, Mind the Skills gap, Digital Citizenship, Marc Prensky and Derek Bok.

One of the best things about Lilac is this....the sharing of knowledge and practives and having a greater appreciation of IL and how it informs my practice within the Learning Centre.

The reality of information literacy

One of the most interesting sessions I attended was run by CILASS from the University of Sheffield. Student ambassadors had been tasked by CILASS to explore the conceptual understanding that the average student at UoS has about information literacy.

The filmakers canvassed the Information Commons and got the students talking about IL.

The film was really illuminating, funny and thought provoking. The filmmakers really delivered! The film allows you to contextualise your own thought on IL and see how they compare to the students thoughts.

The film will be available on CILASS YouTube channel shortly.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

10 minutes of interactions: bize sized IL

Presented by University of Leeds.

Problems identified with existing online provision:

Text heavy content
Navigation inconsistent
External links can lead you astray
Length and depth of resources can be intimidating

Problem with layout not content, felt there was a missing link

To address the issue, a learning technologist was brought into the project, and these steps were taken:

Created 3 learning objects which focussed upon tasks
Removed unecessary content
Team created to look oversee project
Project took 1 year and was broken down into different sections each with their own deadline

The learning objects included a quiz to begin, to test the knowledge of the student using it, so they can see what they will be learning immediately. A test is included at the end also to assess learning from the object.

The learning objects also included tasks for students, for example building a reference, where they can see where they have immediately gone wrong. Different types of task helped different learning styles to engage with the learning objects.


A webpage for students
An event for academic staff
Marketing to students using leaflets, displays and workshops

The project team is now working on evaluation of the project and future plans. Further promotion will be one of these plans and more integration into Blackboard.

Monday, 30 March 2009

R U There?

R U There? Virtual Reference in academic libraries by Carolyn Groom, Eithne Barry and Laurence Patterson. Napier University and Carnegie FE College.

Virtual enquiry research project - looks at how libraries can use IM to support reference - Begin with short video clip - shows how users can use it and across different hardware (including iPhones!)

90 percent of pre HE students use IM - so this seems like a good way for libraries to reach out and be where the students are and "interact with students in real time." One of the points they reminded us of is that it supports users at point of need and can be aimed at Distance Learners and PT students.

It's a one year project that is about to finish - FE/HE collaboration.
It supports

Showed example of other IM projects -
university of wolverhampton -

They undertook a survey to id what the state of VR services - they did this via survey monkey and distributed it via email lists and direct email - 190 responses. The break down indicates that about half of HE institutions took part, but only about a tenth of FE institutions.

Even though there are issues, non of the respondents wanted to cut or reduce the service.

Quarter of institutions currently have a service - and half of those surveyed want to implement one.

Not a chat room - this is a place that a librarian sits and waits for the student to come along.

The software breaks down into 3 categories -
Free Popular - MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Meebo, Skype (problems here include the fact that MSN and Yahoo need all of the students listed as contacts - Meebo is different, the widget can go anywhere - as we've shown in team blogs in the past.)

Free Dedicated - Meebo, VLE Chat (e.g. Blackboard, LibraryH3lp. LibraryH3lp is an open source piece of software, but is free.

Commercial- LivePerson, QuestionPoint, Elluminate Live!, VRLPlus
Prob here is that the software is expensive, but it does heave the bells and whistles that are missing from the free dedicated and the free popular.

Project website - Will have to check this out later.

Questions asked;

Good question about whether or not meebo widgets have been put into the spaces that students are in - such as Facebook.

Where to position it? Have to do some analysis for how people find and use your library pages.