Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

The world is so full of a number of Things

Yes, it’s another programme of interesting online Cambridge Things! I loved being involved with running the Cam23 programme last year, so when I discovered that CARET was going to run a 13 Things for Curriculum Design programme, I eschewed all feelings of deja vu, stopped myself from wondering how many of these Things I’d actually manage to complete, and dived straight in … and here I am.

Thing 1 asks that we blog about our experiences are with curriculum design, and what we’d like to get out of the programme. Simples –

I have no experience with curriculum design, so that’s exactly what I want to get out of the programme.

Perhaps I should moderate that stark statement a bit. I have very little formal experience of curriculum design, because it’s still unusual for librarians – even those who, like me, are here to offer training – to be required to hold a teaching qualification or demonstrate an understanding of pedagogic principles. Please don’t get me wrong on this point. There are plenty of librarians who are passionate and informed about their teaching, and many do hold teaching qualifications. They’re the people who have taught and inspired me to think about course design – but my job description stipulates a library qualification, not a teaching one, and this is the case (I believe) for many librarian trainers out there.

But while I’m not formally required to know about the principles of good course and curriculum design, the past two years in my diverse, knackering and amazing job have brought me to the inexorable realisation of this huge gap in my own information skills. So like a good librarian, I’m going to see if I can start to bridge it by way of 13 Things – and like a good mongoose, I’ll also enjoy indulging my inquisitive streak and finding out.

Tune in next time for Cloudworks!


Writer’s blog

A taste of fame! I’ve just been live-blogged by a roomful of people. Please form an orderly line for autographs …

Back in the real world: yes, 9 incredibly hard-working people spent a total of 30 minutes this afternoon trying to capture the vagaries of  conversation on information literacy between Niamh, Helen and myself – but it was a practice session for the all-day live blogging they’ll be doing on Monday at the Internet-Informed Patient Symposium, which is the culmination of Isla Kuhn‘s Arcadia Project research. Doug Clow of the OU led the session and had some great insights on the art of live-blogging.

The conversation itself was very enjoyable and stimulating, but even more interesting was the variety of reactions to the blogging experience. It’s pretty tough listening and typing at the same time, particularly when you’re not an expert in the subject under discussion, and even more so when all three participants are talkative, engaged and passionate, delving eagerly into the theoretical as well as the practical aspects of their topic.

So what was hardest about it? Here’s the interesting thing: everyone had a different issue. One participant wanted to process and filter the information before outputting it: ideally she’d like to make notes on paper, then create a minutes-style document setting out the discussion. Another wanted the time to be able to categorise and apply a hierarchy. Yet another was concerned about maintaining writing quality and readability. The variety of ways in which writer’s (or blogger’s) block can strike was not something I’d foreseen!

In research skills terms this is particularly interesting for me because finding a way to break loose from the constraints of ‘proper’ academic writing is one of the toughest things about doing a PhD. In the ‘Managing Your Information’ course we’ve looked at techniques like messy writing and tools like 750 words, but “what makes it hard for you?” is something I’ll be asking class participants more in future.