This weeks #LTHEchat was all about visuals. To be precise the title was: What do you see? Using visual media to communicate our teaching and research. As some of you may know I like taking photos and I like to use those photos in my teaching and research. In my PhD I made all my own diagrams so they could look exactly as I wanted with all the same typeface and font size. Anyway this meant I went into the tweetchat feeling fairly confident I could contribute.
One of the first conversations that got me thinking was a discussion about images in the VLE. Are they really helping teaching or do they just make the page look pretty? I have added more and more images to my Moodle page. They are all relevant to the topic but do they really teach students anything? No, probably not but they do appear to hook the students, make them delve deeper into the page probably partly just by breaking up all the text! In this case does it matter if they are not teaching per se, if they are engaging students with learning?
Why did I choose the topic of the library as guest on the #LTHEchat last week?
I had been invited to take part in the #LTHEchat as a guest by Chrissi a while ago. When I knew I was doing it this term my initial thought was to do something about accessibility. It seemed topical with the changes to the disabled students allowance (DSA) but on looking back though there had been a similar topic in February. It was only a short jump from accessibility to the library. Why? One of the pieces of work we have done in response to the DSA changes was to look at alternative formats of information to printed paper. Ensuring students can access material that can be enlarged, converted to speech and uses a bookmarking framework to helps those with disabilities and others who struggle with reading to make use of the information.
I have recently made the transition from a lecturer to a leadership role as Head of Learning and Teaching. Within this remit I am responsible for strategic management of the library. As an academic my use of the library had become almost entirely virtual with the rise of online journals and e-books. However, I was still very aware of the value of the physical library as a learning tool. I started to think about whether we maximise the integration between subject teaching and the library? Do academics utilise the library to its full extent or just accept it is there? How has students and academics use of the library changed over time?
WUC library today
The original WUC library
The six questions I chose to ask during the #LTHEchat were:
Q1 What does a 21st century university library look like?
Q2 Do today’s students still need reading lists?
Q3 How can we help students develop information literacy skills?
Q4 How can we use libraries to help nontraditional students achieve?
Q5 How do we ensure information is available & accessible to all learners whatever their background?
Q6 How can we ensure students get maximum benefit from the library?
My experience of being a guest on the #LTHEchat
I was quite nervous before the chat. I am not really sure why. What happens if nobody responds to my questions? What happens if people think my questions are dull? My fears were unfounded. The chat flowed so much I could hardly keep up with it! There were also lots of positive comments. On reflection the only change I would have made is the question about non-traditional students. I had recently read an article that referred to ‘traditional’ university students that were successful through reading and provision of didactic lectures. I think we do have to be very careful about putting labels on students and I think perhaps this question could be have been reworded to ‘How can libraries aid provide a more interactive learning environment to benefit learners?’
The storify of the #LTHEchat can be found here.
How will I change my practice as a result of the #LTHEchat on the library?
I have already suggested that our academic liaison librarian needs to spend more time out of the library talking to students and academics. Although we still need core reading lists to ensure that core texts are available in the library I do think they could be more dynamic with students as co-creators. An action to come out of the chat is that I am going to trial an ‘Amazon’ style review activity where students write reviews of the different resources and give a star rating on how good they think it is. This will help them reflect on the source but will also provide a useful resource for future students.