Introduction

The purpose of this introduction is to highlight the activities and reflections that most contributed to my progress toward the GSLIS Outcomes specified in my agreement. I have outlined each of the three outcomes and the specific performance criteria which my activities met (as agreed upon in my PFE Site Agreement).

The first outcome my PFE experience addressed is:
1. Foundations of the Profession: Graduates will be prepared to apply professional values, ethics, and thinking to present and future information services.
1f. Summarize, analyze, and express ideas and information effectively in appropriate media, including orally, in writing, graphically, and digitally.

– This outcome was a major part of my PFE experience as I spent a significant amount of time both researching, synthesizing and creating tutorial content for Brown University Libraries to use in their learning management system Canvas and their website. I first analyzed current library tutorials in the PRIMO database in order to think about constructing effective tutorials. I wasn’t concerned if the tutorials focused on the ethical use of information and copyright, but I was most interested in looking at the larger framework of how tutorials are constructed. I as interested in addressing these questions:
How is the information organized on the webpage? How is the content of the tutorial organized? How are the different content pieces focused? What sorts of “assessments” are used and how are they presented in the tutorial? What mediums are used to express the ideas in the tutorials? If videos are used, how long are they? How are libraries creating interactive tutorials?

Once I found some answers to these questions, I looked at tutorials which focused on my specific topics to see how they are addressed. I then asked these questions:
What is the tone of the tutorials which look at plagiarism? How have others summarized copyright and why did they choose to focus the information in that manner? Is the information on copyright, fair use, plagiarism, citations part of the institution’s library website, the academic integrity website, writing center website or other? Is there collaboration on campus to address these ideas?

After thorough research on tutorials the next step was to observe and analyze the user population at Brown to better understand the population and approach to instruction. I was able to observe three sessions and what I found was a) all of the instruction sessions were smaller in size and personalized (often focusing on each individual student and their research needs if possible) b) the students were extremely self-motivated and independent c) students still has some basic questions about technologies and using tools like the catalog and d) the student’s own research projects were focused and intensive. This analysis provided me with a general understanding of the population and I was able to decide that the assessment components of the tutorials could be challenging and self-directed, that I should approach the tutorials from the POV of a user and creator of information and that I should not assume that students know everything already and there still are some basic concerns that should be addressed in the tutorials.

I was then able to start on my tutorial content and I was able to summarize and  express the content in the tutorial orally, in writing, graphically, and digitally. I recorded the sound files for the videos, expressed the tutorial content in text form, thought about the images for the videos in a storyboard alongside the video script and then was able to think about the digital context that this information would exist in through an analysis of Canvas.

5. Reference and User Services: Graduates will be prepared to mediate effectively between information users and relevant recorded information.
5d. Knows and can apply techniques and methods of information literacy and other literacies.

– All of the tutorial components I created showcases the knowledge and application of techniques and methods of information literacy and other literacies. The design of this component of a larger tutorial for Brown focuses on providing important context to the use and creation of information. Of the ACRL “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education” Standard Five is the main focus of my tutorial component at Brown. Standard Five states: “The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.” There are three performance indicators as well and the content I have worked on addresses all of the performance indicators.

I also took into consideration some instruction principles when designing the face-to-face lesson plans. I wanted there to be an active classroom activity to get students engaged in the material, engage visual literacy with the viewing of the videos and I also considered how the instruction lesson would fit in with the larger framework of information literacy instruction at Brown (and how the lesson could be part of a longer discipline specific lesson).

Looking back at the GSLIS Performance Indicators I also noticed that I addressed this performance indicator as well through my work:
5g. Can design and implement new services and resources appropriate to emerging audiences and circumstances.

– The tutorial is a “new” service as it needs to be appropriate for two different mediums and it needs to be flexible. I was able to analyze and understand the audience for the tutorial in order to design the tutorial components. I also considered the circumstances that students would be using the tutorial and I am aware that many of the undergraduate students do come to visit the libraries, but may perhaps be often working on research for projects  off campus.

8. Administration and Management: Graduates will be prepared to manage library and information services for the benefit of the communities served.
8c. Assess and evaluate library and information services and their outcomes.

– And finally, I was able to assess and evaluate library services and their outcomes. Through my research on PRIMO tutorials I was able to better be equipped to assess and evaluate how other libraries are approaching online tutorial services to then work on assessing and evaluating Brown’s current tutorials (or lack of). From there I could better understand how to proceed with new services through current needs and the expected outcomes. Initially I was surprised that Brown had really not addressed the information about ethical and responsible use of information in a cohesive way in any tutorial on their library website. There was a small sampling of pieces, but nothing at all on some of the topis. For instance, there was information on copyright, but basically nothing at all addressing intellectual property specifically and how it relates to the students at Brown. This need is basically why my PFE existed in the first place.

In assessing the current library and information services I found three major concerns 1) the current information isn’t collected in one location or locations which makes it challenging to find it through the library website 2) there are topics which are not addressed at all and 3) with the structure of the current reference (and instruction) services at Brown there is an increasing need for a comprehensive tutorial that is simple and address all aspects of creating and using information. Students, particularly first year students, need an online tutorial that will introduce all of the major areas of researching at Brown. The students are independent and self-motivated and would benefit from having a tutorial that they can work through at their own pace. Appointments with the reference librarians can emphasize specific research needs. A tutorial like the one I worked on can empower students.

Online Poster Presentation

The poster session this semester was focused on job searches and career building. A few recommended questions which were encouraged to explore were:
– What are the most essential skills an applicant could bring to a newly advertised position at your host institution, and why? How would you want to develop your skills, and highlight them in your cover letter and resume, if you were applying for such a position?
– If you were applying for positions in a department like your PFE site, what kind of homework would you do first, and why? What would you want to know about the site?

Below is my poster presentation which I disseminated to the LSC 595 students in our Sakai site, but also to the GSLIS Sakai site:

Hi Everyone!

Naomi Fosher here and I’d like to share a bit about my experiences during my PFE at Brown this semester. I have a short presentation for you to watch and I apologize that the YouTube video component I show you (about 3:30 into the presentation) does not have audio. So I will give you both the link to the presentation and the link to the YouTube video.

Here’s the presentation: http://screencast.com/t/Fzqkplvvn
Here’s the YouTube video: http://youtu.be/IE5rZdipu0c

The presentation stands alone, but I’ve also elaborated on my points relating to skills, cover letters and resumes in case you’d like to know more:

Learning management systems: I’ve seen more and more jobs lately for instruction and/or reference librarian positions in academic libraries asking for people to have experience with learning management systems (also called course management systems). I’ve heard that many libraries are hoping to add a “library shell” or tab as a default in the regular settings of a variety of course management systems. Knowing about online instructional design helps when creating a library component like this. I am lucky enough to have worked with three different course management systems (Blackboard, Sakai and Canvas) in my academic career as both a user and a creator. But, even if you only have experience on the user end of Sakai, think critically about your experiences and think about effective design and organization. What works? What are areas for improvement? Also research about other course management systems so you can learn more about other models. They all are fairly similar, but there are some differences. Moodle is one example and they even have a sample site with log in information so you can explore.

Instructional design principles and mediums: Make sure to articulate in your cover letter and resume that you understand instructional design principles and you have created instruction components with different mediums or at least thinking about different mediums. I created text, audio and video components with the idea in mind for the content to be included in Canvas and also be included in an online, modular tutorial. From that content I also created two face-to-face lesson plans. In my cover letter I want to say that I thought about the differences in mediums when creating instructional content. I also emphasize in my resume all of the different technology tools I’ve learned how to use: Audacity (for recording audio files), Canvas, Dreamweaver (for a side project at Brown, but still relevant) and WordPress for my blog.

Applying for positions: As I mentioned in my presentation, the skills and experiences in this internship will directly prepare you for an instruction or instructional design librarian position. I have also found that instructional design positions (non-librarian) are a great match for my skill set. Some instructional technology positions are relevant as well, but you have to read the postings very closely to figure out if you would be designing the instruction or working more with technologies and troubleshooting. It really depends in the institution, so keep both in mind.

Sorry that this is mostly geared towards an academic library. If you are interested in a public, school or special library I have just two short recommendations: a) market the technology skills you have gained and b) focus on your experiences in creating instruction materials with a specific user population in mind – instructing and working with people to help foster an understanding about difficult subject matter is a skill no matter what type of library you want to work at.

Reflection: Final Thoughts

This internship experience provided me with so many opportunities to compliment my current skill set and push me into learning more about designing effective instruction using a variety of instructional design principles and tools. I was also able to view library/instruction practices and goals in a new perspective and work to create services for a different user population than I am used to.

The opportunity to attend Scholarly Resource Meetings each month in addition to attending candidate presentations provided me with the unique opportunity to see what the Brown Library is considering to be major issues in the field of librarianship as they relate to Brown. I was able to learn about off-site storage, e-book concerns, online tutorial formats, librarians as advisors and reference stacks policies, in addition to what sorts of approaches job candidates take in their presentations and how they answer questions during the Q&A session afterwards. These are opportunities I would not have had just working at URI as the concerns and user population at both URI and Brown are slightly different.

There were a few challenges I had during my internship the first is the compressed amount of time for the internship. Because I am graduating this semester, I had to commit to at least twelve hours per week over the three month time span in order to finish my 135 hours. I went to Brown almost every Monday and Friday and committed those two days to entirely working on my projects. It was challenging for me to juggle all of the other academic commitments I had this semester in addition to working at two different institutions. Essentially this is the breakdown of work this semester: 12 hours working at Brown every week; 10 hours a week working at the URI Reference Desk; 15 hours working at the URI Curriculum Materials Library; attending a course twice a week for my Independent Study in avant garde poetry (totaling 3 hours); working on all of the coursework, papers, readings for that Independent Study (perhaps 6+ hours per week); working on my Portfolio/MA Comprehensive Exam for my English MA (pretty much a bazillion hours per week check out all the requirements http://www.uri.edu/artsci/eng/Graduate/MA_Non_Thesis.html); and finally serving as President of Student ALA which had various hours of commitment but we did host four main events this semester so I am pleased. Basically, with all the work I was doing this semester I could barely figure out sometimes whether I was coming or going. I would never recommend to a student to attempt to balance everything like this. It was literally much to much and I think that sometimes I was a bit too stressed out to enjoy all of the exciting work I was doing at Brown.

I learned a lot about my limits as a person and how to manage my time to the mere minutes I had left-over each week. This will most definitely prepare me for the challenges of juggling my time as a professional between meetings, individual projects, group collaboration, serving in professional organizations, preparing conference presentations, publishing research and practically anything else that would come up.

It was challenging for me to approach instruction from a different methodology and process than I am used to. Because the tutorial was to be modular in nature, I had to approach the outline of the instruction pieces from an abstract point-of-view which is not an approach I have ever taken. It was difficult at first for me to imagine how all of the different components connected, but still existed one their own. It was also challenging for me to work on the content without a clear framework in mind. I struggled with understanding and visualizing how the content would “live.” As I wasn’t working on that part initially, I had to work on the content without necessarily seeing the “bigger picture.” I obviously understood the context and the various mediums for the content, but I was not able to actually see the framework first. Arlando’s work to take my contributions and make the content into a tangible videos was inspiring and made me feel that what I was doing was new and significant. This process of working from content first made me much more flexible in thinking about design and I feel I can approach design from a highly abstracted manner which provides a different and important perspective. Not every person I will work with in the future will approach design from the same point-of-view and I have one more approach that I can work from to better understand and collaborate with others.

I’ve also been reflecting on the implications of my experiences and what I’ve learned. First off, I absolutely loved working at Brown and I feel so lucky to have ended up in an instructional design internship there. Having a variety of experiences  already (working at two different reference desks,  managing the curriculum collection, providing instruction to students, working on LibGuides, etc) I really wanted an internship that would challenge me and provide me with very different opportunities relating to instruction. This was a perfect position for me and I realized that I would be happy in an instructional design position as a professional. And it need not necessarily be a librarian position, but it would be at an academic institution. I was awakened to my passion of working on designing effective instruction (particularly in an online format) and my love of working with different mediums and tools to enhance the instruction. I hope that I will have the opportunity to pursue this new interest in the near future.