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Keeping it Real

To my relief am finally finished teaching for the semester.  Teaching is more stressful than other parts of my job.  But, as both a professional and as a person, I think that I grow the most through teaching.

I have heard that you never really know something until you teach it. There is a lot of truth in this. I think I am gaining a much better understanding of what information literacy is and how it influences our daily lives.

Teaching the same session over and over can become pretty dull, but it also helps you to polish the session and find your groove.  Every first-year session I did went well, but I think that I really found my groove in the last one. I knew what I wanted to get across and even kept it interesting by telling related anecdotes from my own life or even stupid jokes. This makes a session more personal and less robotic.  By bringing your real self into the classroom you are able to connect better with students.

One example was when I was talking about finding information.  I told them that they were not just looking for stuff but the right stuff.  Like the New Kids on the Block. Then I sang the “oh, oh, oh, oh, oh” part of the chorus.  It was super lame, but I got a few pity laughs.  And the students knew I wasn’t some phony preaching to them. I was just a dude having a discussion with them about information.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the script or lesson plan and just go through the motions, but if you can personalize it and actually put yourself into your teaching, you will serve the students much better.

I am looking forward to the holidays and a little break from teaching though.  I need to recharge for next semester.

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Filling in for a Friend

I filled in for my friend and colleague Rob Williams yesterday in his Introduction to Mass Communications class.  I didn’t have to do any actual teaching, as he had a guest speaker, Sam Mayfield of the Center for Media and Democracy.  I just got to listen and and enjoy what she had to say.

A couple of things she discussed resonated with me as an information professional.  The first was that we are now used to getting our information in sound bites and very small easily digestible chunks.  She contended that this was not the way humans should be getting their information.  I agree.  Sound bites are good for some things, but it is a very superficial relationship to info.  You don’t get time to internalize it, think about, or understand what else is happening besides just this chunk you’re given.

The other issue she raised was how many more people are getting a voice now.  Regular citizens can make the news now with their cell phone cameras.  The Center for Media and Democracy even trains people to use cameras and go out and make their own news (as long as it is beneficial to the public, not people video-taping their cats lick themselves).

I really think the web and the these local media outlets are the key to showing us a truer version of the news than corporate media.  These are exciting times.

As an after-thought, it was really cool how Rob made up a video introduction to his class.  This is great use of web technologies for improving learning and the classroom experience.

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Barack Obama on Libraries

“Libraries remind us that truth isn’t about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information.”

These words were uttered by our new president-elect Barack Obama. Back in 2005 Obama keynoted at the ALA National Conference in Chicago.  An adapted transcript of the speech is available on Obama’s Illinois senator website.

It is really rad to have a new president that is not only against banning books (Palin I am looking at you), but keynoted at an ALA conference and talked at length about the importance of libraries and literacy.  I’ll just leave you with a few quotes that made me smile and realize that our new president-elect is on the side of libraries.

“I want to work with you to ensure that libraries continue to be sanctuaries of learning, where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that Big Brother may be peering over our shoulders to find out what we’re up to.”

And this one:

“We should make sure our politicians aren’t closing libraries down because they had to spend a few extra bucks on tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them.”