Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Class Sessions

On Tuesday 1/27/09 I had the pleasure of conducting two sessions of information literacy, as it were, for the two sections of Family Foundations. This course is also referred to by the students quote unquote Christian sex-education.
This post is quick overview of my view of this session. I would appreciate any insight or feedback as this whole one-shot deal in front of a class is less than ideal. My ppt definitely leaves a bit to be desired but I'm still learning and am not entirely sure how to make it better. Information literacy is much more difficult to share with students than is thought.
My goal is to ty to get the faculty involved as well in the coming semesters. (Side note: On the first week of classes, I did a similar session for Comp I. These two sessions are similar enough so as to not require mentioning the first session.)

1st class has approx. 35 students.
2nd class has approx. 55 students which is a ludicriously gigantic class. (The second class was pretty much like the first session except I shortened the second session.)

(The Hook) Students, especially undergraduates and especially freshman seem to dread this sort of session. The hook has to be pretty good in order to distract them and get them involved. My first attempt at a hook was okay but not great.

Started the session by giving each group of students (4-5) a book and asked them to pick a foreman to share about the book. The books used included anything from the Death of Ivan Ilyich to the Practice of Zen. (Using the practice of Zen in the first session was awesome as any such interaction with such philosophy seems to really blow the students' mind. My enjoyment of their interaction is probably somewhat perverse I suppose but still enjoyable.)

Each group had 5 minutes to gather information on the book in order to understand what the book was about. In the ppt, there were some suggestions of what to look at, such as the title, author, date of publication, number of pages, cover, etc. Once the 5 minutes were up, I interviewed each group foreman for the rest of the class. I asked what is the title of the book, who wrote it, what did you think the book was about and whom would you reccommend the work to? Surprisingly enough the Zen book group would not recommend the book to anyone. Most groups responded well. There were some of those who simply read the back cover and read it back. (How to circumvent this. 1. Remove covers. 2. cover covers so students are
forced to think a bit 3) Use a different hook.)

Once all the groups had responded, the entire class was then posed the question what did we just do with these books? In this both sessions most students got it pretty quickly. They were evaluating, analyzing or assessing the book, figuring out what the book was about. (Goal 2. Tap into the evalutory tools students already have. There's really not enough time or force of mind ot cause the students to instantly develop new methods of information gathering. Using the books allows for a tactile process and physical interaction as well as reinforcing the students already understand some method of evaluation that can be applied to other media .)

I then shared the above informitaon with the class to emphasize that they managed to evaluate these books quite well. I said that I'm not here to throw more information at you but rather try to give you some additional tools to help you evaluate what information you already have access to.

Tools examined: (Each of the tools has, at most, 7 minutes spent on it. Spending more time on my attempt to explain a website loses students faster than then speed of free doughnuts in the student lounge. Asking the students to bring laptops doesn't necessarily help becuase they are searching all corners of the Internet.)

All Things Google
Google Books
Google Scholar

The OED really has no bearing on family foundations but our subscription to it is new this semester so I'm highlighting it at every opportunity.
I quickly review how to locate the OED on the Davis site, what the opening screen looks like, locating a word and onto the next one.
Is a free tool that allows students to build bibliographies without having to think about what they are doing. It is a good reference to get one going on how to build a bibliography.
We quickly walk through this as a group.

Our main subscription through EBSCO is Academic Search Elite. This is our most used database by far and as such I continue to emphasize it. This database is particularly helpful as it includes
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection which bears particularly well on Family Foundations.

I ask how many people use Wikipedia in the past two weeks. For those students who raise their hand, I gather some examples of what they utilize it for. Most use it for learning more about bands, movies and other entertainment, at least those whom admitted it. For anyone who protest, it frankly doesn't matter. Students are using Wikipedia anyway. I simply attempt to say continue using it, just don't stop there. Using the David Foster Wallace article as an example I stres Further Reading and References in the Wikipedia article as an excellent places to continue research. We then briefly discuss the virtues of how Wikipedia exists and works as a community driven entity while also pointing out its failures i.e. Colbert and the elephant entry or the recent "death of Ted Kennedy" item from inaugaration week. (In the second session one of the students indicated that her older brother, also a Davis student, had effectively messed with the Davis College entry. I just checked it and the entry is still off. This is the type of connection I'm looking for in these sessions.)

After asking if the students are familiar with Google Books,which most were not, I summarily explain how the whole book projects works and what Google is trying to do by scanning all these works. As a class we looked at Sense and Sensibility to demonstrate the ability to read an entire book online. I also found to my own surprise that one can now download the pdf of full preview works. Ergo, one can download and prints the 1922 copy of Sense and Sensibility for free. (There are tremendous implications here but not appropriate for review in this class.)

Secondly, Google Scholar is summarily reviewed.

We examine two sites. The first is The Endangered Tree Octopus and the second is a Flying Car article. I pose the question how do you know which one is correct or usable? Most students pick up on source or the facts stated in the article. We discuss this for a few moments, chuckle at the tree octopus and away we go. The website view segues into Scholarly resources versus unscholarly resources .I pose the question "What do you do with a blog by an established scholar, i.e. Rod Dekker NT scholar at BBS versus an edu website? There are blogs everywhere, can they be used? How do you evaluate it?"
The next slides, which coincide with a handout, are a condensed version of this site. . Also the slide and handout contain information on how to evaluate a journal article. The links are included on the handout.
I have not figured out a particularly good way of reviewing this page with the class. It's fairly useless to read it at the class and mind-numbing as well.
(In hindsight, we should probably go back to the Octopus page and Flying Car page and apply the principles from the handout. This requires laptops and good wireless signal. In this classroom neither are particularly bountiful) While not particularly evident here, I do attempt to use awkward humor throughout these sessions in order to keep the class from getting distracted and involved. In the second class which had 55 students in it I actually did a bit of soft shoe across the front of the class singing "EBSCO" over and over again. At the very least it got the class attention back on me though the overall effect was almost ruined by a student in the front row issuing an incredibly loud snort/shout of laughter.)

That's pretty much it. At the end I emphasize I am really very interested in their feedback and questions. The last slide has the library email, my email, the fact and link to the DAvis College Library Page and the Davis College Group Page. I also post the Twitter acount for the Library. (I am trying Twitter out for the library this semester. Almost to a student in both sessions, no one really knew what Twitter was. I'm really not convinced that these students are digital natives. There is still definitive gaps in user populations. )

If you're interested in seeing the actual ppt, I can post that and share the link. Any feedback would be helpful and appreciated. I'm still rather new at this which definitely shows. I'm trying to read as much as possible on new/better approaches to the pedagogy of teaching informaiton literacy. My mantra, if you will, is to teach what needs to be learned not what I think needs to be taught. We'll see if it actually works.

Goal, loosely stated to students at beginning of session:
You (the students) know how to find information. Finding information is not really an issue at this point. (This is not my idea. Current library writings back
this up as well as my own conversations with students.) What I am here to do is give you some tools to evaluate

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