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I just tweeted in the library

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This just in: Fail Whale! (thanks to Lee LeFever on Flickr)

Twitter has gotten a lot of press lately. CNN loves to talk about it. It has been on both John Stewart and Steven Colbert. Jimmy Fallon uses it copiously and talks about it on his show. Twitter has grown 2,300% in 13 months. There is no ignoring it.

Yet, recently at the ACRL conference in Seattle I was told students aren’t using it.  I heard this at an excellent session called If You Build It, Will They Care? Their data may be correct for the time they conducted the survey. I thought as much was true myself. I had not seen students on Twitter. Now, though, my response to them is: “just wait.”

The presence here at Champlain College has been growing steadily. This is likely in part due to the efforts of “the queen of social mediaElaine Young, a marketing professor at the college. She began to use the hashtag #campchamp to group all the tweets Champlain College together.

Following and using that tag has proven very useful in learning what’s going on around campus and connecting with students, faculty, and staff. I was even able to perform some preemptive reference for a student who tweeted that they were working on a paper.

I am predicting a growing number of students will be on Twitter in the coming months. It is not going away. We may have a number of pretty savvy students and faculty members here at Champlain, but I forsee a this becoming a national trend.

My advice? Try to find and follow the tag for your school or your community using a tool like Tweetdeck or even Twitter Search and RSS. If there isn’t a tag , start it. Someone has to be the first. Why not you?

It is a much less formal way to interact with students and faculty members. Instead of seeing them in class or meetings or a reference interview, you can simply have conversations about what’s going on around campus or in current events or whatever. It can be very powerful community building tool, in addition to its other myriad uses.

Your students may not be there yet, but they will be…they will be.

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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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Convocation and Life Messages

Yesterday, a lot of life was breathed back into the campus.  All the faculty were back preparing for classes and getting last minute preparations ready.  A fair amount of students were also back.  The new freshman class was getting oriented to the place and orientation leaders were running around as well, doing an excellent job I might add.

Towards the end of the day all the faculty put on their academic regalia and processed over to convocation.  I have to say that I really think academia is both great and humorous in all the tradition and pageantry that goes along with it.  The St. Andrew’s Pipe Band of Vermont performed the processional and recessional on the bagpipes, and it was truly something to behold.

The best speaker of the entire ceremony was clear and away Pat Robins Chairman of Symquest who was receiving the Distinguished Citizen award.  He talked mainly about service to the community which is something I have been thinking about lately.  I know that I would really like to get more involved making the place where I live better.  He also talked about how fear is one of the only things that can stop us.  It stops us from undertaking risks and new challenges.  His speech was an uplifting one and I can see why he received this award.

The only unfortunate part of the whole thing was that at some points the students started talking while people were giving speeches.  I can understand their excitement seeing as how they are entering a completely new phase of their life and everything they are used to has changed.  I also heard that last year only a handful of the new students showed up, so I suppose this is quite the improvement.  I am probably just becoming an old fuddy duddy anyway.

There was one final thing that I thought was very cool.  President Dave Finney made the students a promise that if they had a 3.0 GPA by sophmore year, he would pay for their passport to study abroad.  Bravo sir.