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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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Graduation and Job

Andy graduating

I have not been posting much on my job search and graduation, mainly because I have been really busy with both.  I graduated on May 18th (that’s me above saying a few words of thanks), and it was a great ceremony.  I only attended the small SLIS ceremony.  The school wide one would have been far too long and boring.  Our professor Stephen Paling was our keynote speaker and he did an amazing job.  I am glad that I went.  The whole thing kind of gave me a feeling of closure.  I am now a full-fledged Master of Arts in Library and Information Science.

In addition, I am now gainfully employed.  I have just accepted a position as the Emerging Technologies Librarian at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.  I am really excited about this position as it is a really good fit for my interests.  I will continue posting during this transition period from student to librarian in the hope of revealing some insights about making that change.

I will also have some advice coming soon for job hunters.  I had a lot of interviews and phone interviews and can impart some of the things that I have learned through the whole process.

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Blogging in the Classroom

man typing at keyboard
photo by yusunkwon, CC license

An interesting article from Ars Technica brings up the idea of using microblogging as a part of classes. Though I havn’t tried it, Twitter seems to be a useless application. Why would I want to talk about what I am doing in 140 characters? And why would people care? Yet, as I think more deeply about its possibilities I begin to see some possible uses. Dorothea Salo has said she has seen reference questions passed around and answered fairly quickly on Twitter networks. Twitter also seems very similar to Facebook’s “status” feature. This can be useful to see what people are up to, how they are feeling, and the like. It can be a very useful social tool for communicating your feelings or exploits or knowing others. It is much easier to read than mannerisms or body language.

It was fascinating to see that students Twittering away outside of class were able to bond better as a community in class. I think this is similar to discussion boards on courseware but much quicker and sexier. I have actually used blogs in multiple class settings and thought it was somewhat useful. You could subscribe to your classmates blog and read their posts on the reading or different questions that came up. The only problem with this is length. Students already have enough reading as it is. Reading 10-20 or more blog posts is just asking too much. The outside of classroom discussion is very useful but is difficult to do in addition to all the other class work. A solution could be limiting blog posts to one short or medium length paragraph and then have longer discussions in the comments. Another good possibility is something like Twitter. With only a few characters to get your message across, the Twitter posts would not be a chore to read or write.

I guess I am starting to see the utility of something like Twitter after all. Maybe I’ll try it out. Are there any other Twitter uses that I have left out? Is microblogging an effective tool for classroom communication?