Not only is everybody using them, but it turns out – just about everybody likes them a lot too!

I went to two different sessions at the ACRL Conference regarding studies appraising the value of SpringShare LibGuides, one of Cornell University and Princeton University students and faculty and the other of student at Grand Valley State University, Boston College, and Georgetown University. In both cases, the rooms were packed – standing room only. Apparently, a lot of academic libraries are either already using LibGuides or are very interested in doing so. It felt good to know that we already have them at ECC and are making good use of them. For our students who transition on to a four year institution, this could make their transition that much smoother.

The session “Do the Outcomes Justify the Buzz?” reported on a survey of faculty, LibGuide authors, and students from Cornell and Princeton. They also collected data directly from SpringShare to inform their report. They found 100% of those surveyed believed that the guide was valuable for class and 85% perceived an improvement in student assignments as a result of LibGuide use. Of the students asked, 94% said the guide was valuable and 90% wanted to use one for another class. Course guides were the the most popular type of guide at Cornell, while customized guides with specific assignments were more popular at Princeton.

The other session, “Reinventing Research Guides: LibGuides at Two Academic Libraries” reported similar positive reaction to the guides. Among there recommendations were:

  • Users often expected subject guides, but prefered more specific customized assignment or area guides
  • Discriptions of resources were helpful
  • Expected the guides to have help features, how-tos, and explicit guidance if they needed it
  • Expected high quality information
  • Majority had NOT contacted a librarian through the guides
  • 90% liked the tabs at the top for navigation
  • Around 85% to 90% found it easy to find the individual guides from the main page
  • 90% wanted links directly to the guide placed in their course management system
  • Survey turned out to be a great promotional tool – more than 4,000 responses

In addition to their survey findings, the presenters also went into the history of subjects guides. The have posted their presentations slides for viewing.

View more presentations from rikhei.

Aside from pride in the fact that we are already using LibGuides really well at ECC, I also walked away with a new perspective on how to pronounce LibGuides. I have been pronouncing it “Lib” as in rhymes with “bribe”, but it seemed the majority of presenters favored “Lib” as in “Liberty”. One presenter joked that that should be the subject of the next set of LibGuide surveys.

Photo by by terri_brown, Flickr CC

Barry Dahl, photo by by terri_brown, Flickr CC

I attended two wonderful presentations by Barry Dahl at the Enriching Learning Environments Through Technology conference hosted by ECC on March 6th. Dahl is the Vice President of Technology and the e-Campus at Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN and is also on the Board of Directors for the Instructional Technology Council.

The two presentations I attended were “Teaching with Technology: Myths and Realities” and “e-Learning Myth Busters: Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong?”. Beyond the great content of each of the talks, I was really impressed with his method for presenting and teaching the information he covered. In both sessions he used clickers (very powerful clickers too – according to Dahl, they were about $30 a piece and responses would be detected as long as you were in the same “zip code” as the receiver) to encourage participation and engage the audience. He asked some practice questions to get everyone comfortable using the technology and also some questions which helped gage who was in the room (Faculty, Staff, Administrators) and what their experience was using different forms of technology. 
Most notably,  he ingrated clicker participation with the ideas he was presenting. His talks were composed of a series of ideas, thoughts, and rumors he had heard regarding his topic. He first presented the idea and then polled the audience with the clickers as to whether they believed it was a “myth” or a “reality”. For example, one of the thoughts he presented was “Wikipedia is practically worthless for academic purposes”. At the conference, 18% of the participants said this was a reality and 82% said it was a myth. He then went on to express his own thoughts on the topic (Wikipedia does have value) and present evidence to back this up. As the presentation proceeds, he collects the data from polling that can be used to inform future presentations. He often shared with us whether our polling results were similar or different to that which he had gathered conducting this talk with other audiences.
As he was presenting, I couldn’t help but consider how useful his style of presentation would be in library instruction. It was be interesting to ask students questions like “Google has everything I need to do college-level research” or “NoodleTools can be used to create an accurate Work Cited/Bibliography page”. I found the interactive format kept me extremely engaged in the presentation. It’s fun to see how your ideas and opinions measure up to those around you and there is instant gratification from giving voice to an opinion and then immediately discussing whether or not it is true. It opened up interesting dialogues that I think would translate well while teaching information literacy.
Briefly, I wanted to point out an idea of Dahl’s that was echoed a lot while I was at the ACRL conference.  There is a basic assumption floating around that so-called “Digital Natives” have a natural ingrained competancy when it comes to technology. Dahl, along with several librarians at ACRL challenge this assumption with the idea that Gen Xers are more confident with technology than they are competant. They are less technologically savvy than we think and usually are good at using a limited number of technologies somewhat well. As we introduce new technologies into their learning environments, it is important to keep this in mind.
The actual slides used during Dahl’s presentation of “Teaching with Technology: Myths and Realities” are available here.
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