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What worked? What Didn’t?

December 15, 2020

As we find ourselves at the end of a whirlwind semester filled with changes to how we offer library services, I find myself reflecting on what worked well for me and what did not. I’m really thinking about my instruction sessions this fall because I felt like some of them when really well but then others were not great, from my point of view. Our library decided that we would only offer online information literacy instruction this year and we had not delivered content online prior to this fall. I decided that for me that would mean my default was synchronous Zoom sessions in the hopes that they would closely resemble an in-person instruction session.

This approach worked well for upper-level students and students with very clear research assignments. They knew I had information that would make their lives easier and they were very willing to unmute their mic and have a virtual conversation with me.

This approach did not work as well for my “do your normal library thing”, first-year student, sessions. These students don’t always have a true research assignment and so what I end up doing is focusing more on source identification and evaluation. The activities I did in the classroom didn’t translate that well to the breakout room format and I think students had less tolerance for something they couldn’t immediately connect to what they needed to do to be successful in their class.

After a few session that were just OK, I talked with one of the English professors and we decided that in addition to the synchronous Zoom session that I should also meet with each of her students one-on-one to discuss an assignment later in the semester. I found this interaction to be so much more rewarding than the class session. I realized that meeting with these students to talk directly with them about their approach to an assignment was replicating the part of the in-person first-year sessions that I like best, which is walking around the room and talking with each student individually as they explored their topic.

I think in the spring as I get instruction requests, I will be less likely to suggest a synchronous Zoom with each class and explore more of the asynchronous interactions. I want to create a tutorial that is focused on general tips for using EDS, our discovery tool. I think it will be good to have that to share out via our LMS and then perhaps meet with me one-on-one for more focused guidance on their topic.

It seems like we’re still going to be dealing with hybrid learning at best through the Spring semester so I would love to hear from others about what worked for them and what didn’t.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2020 8:38 pm

    I really love this suggestion of meeting remotely with each student individually. That way, they can express any concerns or questions they might have about an assignment in private as opposed to feeling like they might be asking a “dumb question” in a Zoom session in front of their classmates. Also, it requires attention, since it’s just you and the student. After all, it is easy to “zone out” in a Zoom session.

    • smartin592 permalink
      December 15, 2020 10:54 pm

      I also heard a suggestion to use the phrase “What questions do you have” versus “Do you have any questions”. The previous giving the idea that it’s normal to have questions. I have tried to be more conscientious about using it to try to help with the “dumb question” thing. There is definitely a BIGGER hurdle to get people to “unmute” and ask a question beyond just getting them to ask it in front of their peers.

  2. JHasse permalink
    December 15, 2020 9:30 pm

    I feel similarly. One on on interactions work really well for reference – maybe even better than face to face in some ways! But teaching to a group is tough. One bright spot for me was introducing menti polls into my teaching which worked really well for getting the pulse in the room, but it was hard to talk to black boxes. I also found it really cumbersome to move between platforms on zoom. I REALLY missed the “walk around the room and check in” part of my IL sessions…

    • smartin592 permalink
      December 15, 2020 10:56 pm

      I haven’t tried Menti but I will have to check it out. I’ve had luck using Poll Everywhere to get some engagement and I have also recently discovered Kahoot! Some students seem to really enjoy the competition that comes from the top three rankings.

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