Friday, February 09, 2007

Turning Point?

We used our last RLO today – the range of resources interactive quiz, in which students interact in ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ style, by using handsets to answer questions during a lecture.

It was great fun, and very well-received, and certainly seems like a useful way to engage students and to get them to think about the sources they use.

We’ll certainly be pursuing this further and perhaps this is a true Turning Point in Birmingham’s use of technology – who knows?; the lecturer was impressed and suggested using the technology for inductions to draw students into their own learning experience from the start of their course.

Sadly I couldn’t get a picture of the RLO in action, as I was too busy being Chris Tarrant – but this is me, back in my office.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Blow your trumpets!

I attended an excellent workshop on Teaching Information Skills yesterday at Northampton. Many IL 'names' were there including Chris Powis, Jo Webb, Ruth Stubbings and Moira Bent (whose blog I subscribe to!). I spent most of the day scribbling down inspirational ideas for taking IL forward at UoB and I'm still in the process of writing up my notes.

However, I did want to put up the InfoTeach wiki URL asap to encourage people to add to it and to edit what's already there. During discussion it became clear that many librarians still feel shy about blowing their own trumpet. But, paraphrasing the immortal words of Blackadder, we need to know that they've at least got a trumpet!

I'll be forwarding on the URL to my librarian colleagues here at Birmingham and we'll see if there's much interest. As one attendee yesterday said, it's sometimes a matter of shifting your mind set to contribute to wikis and not worry about it not being perfect. Well, we've got a pretty good example of Wikipedia to show us that it takes collaboration and passion for a topic to really get a wiki off the ground. I don't know about you but the librarians I know are passionate about teaching and are very good at collaborating, so I see no excuse - get trumpeting!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Students like the RLOs (and cake!)

I’ve been thinking for ages about how to get the best out of elibrary and now I’ve seen these RLOs, I’ve learnt loads.”

Last Wednesday, 31 Jan 2007, we ran a student focus group to get feedback on the BRUM project, and RLOs and information skills in general. Persuaded to attend by a ludicrous amount of mini-muffins and mini-danishes (and a small financial incentive), 10 students from a range of subject contributed to the session.
It was great to watch everybody using the materials, and feedback was extremely positive.
Specific comments about the RLOs:

- Podcasts: easy to follow, “I’ve learnt something new!” (shock, horror!) and suggestions for improvement included: slowing them down, and improving the audio quality
- Turning Point Quizzes – “these would make lectures more interesting
- Captivate demoes – liked the idea of pausing and watching bits again. Interestingly, one respondent had already seen one of the captivates but noted “I only learnt something after watching for the 2nd time”. Also suggested making the text boxes bigger.
- CYOA powerpoints – “makes searching more efficient
- Digital Recordings – “you can use it to teach yourself
This was extremely encouraging and provides useful information for us to plan for the further development of some of the RLOs before next academic year. The clear message coming out of the group was “these need more promotion” as one student noted:

if it wasn’t for this meeting today I would never have found these, and wouldn’t have even imagined that this type of thing existed.”

The 2nd half of the focus group explored self-directed learning channels and information skills more generally – will post details shortly.