Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Podcasting fun

We’ve heard a lot about pod-casting over the last year and Nancy and I spent a fun afternoon yesterday recording 2 for this project:

1) An audio induction to the library. This concentrates on the key messages we want to get across and we hope that in time it will reduce the need for doing endless tours and induction talks. A recent survey at Birmingham found that over half of our students now have ipods / MP3 players so it makes sense to start using this technology.

2) An audio guide to our elibrary service. This is our flagship service, providing access to all of our electronic journals and databases. Although use of this is high, there are still many students who use Google as a first port of call, so the idea of this podcast is to make elibrary use as simple and useful as possible to capture these students. We hope that students might listen to this while on their home PC and beginning to explore what’s available.

We will be recording our third podcast next week:

3) The student experience. Thanks to the Guild Officers who have agreed to participate and have some great tips for making best use of the library. Surveys have found that students are most likely to seek help from their friends / fellow students, so it makes sense to capture this and use it to promote the library / information literacy.
We’re using Camtasia software for this and learning it as we go along – quite a task and many a botched recording on the way! The software is really quite advanced so we hope to explore this further later in the term and enhance some of our recordings with music and better editing etc. We both love exploring new technology, but its important not to under-estimate the time it takes to really master and make best use of this type of software. The final challenge is how to make these downloadable from WebCT, so our next task is to consult with our elearning team to check this out.

Monday, September 04, 2006

There is a need for information literacy!

Even though I was in the process of painting my bathroom last Thursday, I still had time (during a tea break) to read a very interesting article in The Guardian Technology section (,,1861112,00.html) about web searching habits. It seems that the first result on any search engine will get 42.1% of click throughs, meaning that web searchers have so much faith in the search engine coming up with the goods that they'll trust that top result. But does it mean, the author asks, that the top result contains factual information?

This is the problem that many of us librarians face when delivering information skills training to students. As I stand in front of 400 new medical students on the 2nd of October my main message will be "Don't click the first result!!". I will be using exercises and problem based learning to teach them how to find good quality information on the web.

And so with our RLOs. These useful little tools will also help to increase awareness about the importance of information literacy. To evaluate the information they find as well as how to reference it correctly are still vital skills for students. A colleague of mine today returned from a meeting of academics who are creating a set of classes on reading, comprehending and evaluating academic papers. We can slot into this training and support our academics with online courses, face to face sessions and electronic RLOs. We can use articles like the one in The Guardian to promote our services to those who know that there is an information skills gap.