It was perfect timing.
Last week’s eLearning in Libraries Symposium came at the end of a week spent discussing the future of our homegrown research skills tutorial Advantage Plus, AND semi-frantically preparing for Brock’s submissions to the Ontario Online Initiative (OOI).
(If OOI doesn’t ring any bells for you, unfortunately I can’t point you to a source that clearly explains it. It’s a project funded by MTCU with the goal of developing a whole bunch of high quality online courses & a web portal for interested students. For some context, read Brock’s press release from last time around.)
Anyway. Between A+ and OOI, I’ve got online learning on the brain right now. And last Friday, around 45 librarians keen on eLearning huddled together at Ryerson U to share notes.
(If you’re not interested in how and why this specific group got together, just skip to the next section. I won’t take it personally.)
The idea for this symposium grew out of a conversation with Jennifer Peters of Seneca. We wondered: Who else is working on eLearning in libraries? What are they doing? I wondered: What could I be doing better?
Jennifer set up a listserv and we started to pull people in. We became a ‘collective’. And we decided to put together a symposium: free (thanks to generous donors UTL, RULA, and Seneca Libraries!), cross-sector (not just academic libraries), and not linked to any particular association. And it happened! Ok, I’ll stop with the history. It’s just exciting when an idea evolves into a real and living thing.
All Pistons Firing
Pardon the excessive enthusiasm: I got a lot out of this day. And please forgive the rough ‘point form’. It would take me far too long to shepherd these ideas into a coherent narrative. Follow the links to the symposium website: there’s much more there, including presentation slides.
The day opened with an Instructional Design Primer, which was a thrill for me. I’m pretty lacking in the theory arena, so I welcome any opportunity to deepen my understanding. We were so fortunate to have Anita Brooks-Kirkland a consultant with impressive experience in the K-12 sector (Oh, she’s also the OLA pres & an instructor at OISE). She presented, together with Jenn Peters, Diane Michaud of Laurentian, and Angela Henshilwood of U of T.
Integrating Tech & Multimodal
SAMR model: thinking about the spectrum of integrating tech in learning, from enhancement to transformation. For example, are you just using Google Docs to substitute for a Word doc, or are you using the collaborative features to augment or modify the task.
Multimodal: why is most eLearning stuff still so text-heavy? A reminder of the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines : emphasis on multiple media and choice/ autonomy for the learner. Dealing with an especially challenging topics, “they just don’t seem to get it!” — try approaching using a different medium.
What we can learn from Mayer and Moreno’s Seven Principles of Animation , research on multimedia learning tells us what we’ve learned from stumbling through: A more effective video used animation and narration, informal voice, & avoid extraneous sound/ text/ music. (the article behind a paywall, or a YouTube video summarizing the basic principles )
Great examples of multimodal learning: video (in person), animation, visuals/ infographics, but what about games or scenarios?? I’d been hearing people talk about playing with Twine, but had not explored it myself or thought of a great application.
Melanie Parlette-Stewart from U of Guelph piped up to say that they have created a Twine to help users choose a citation management tool with RefWorks being discontinued. Genius!
Design & Planning
Understanding by design book (Wiggins & McTighe) : insisting on the need for a 180 degree flip in how we plan a lesson. Typically, we start with the content (“there’s so much to cover!”), create an activity to cover the information, and assess learning with recall activities.
Instead, start by identifying the desired results, then determine acceptable evidence (aim to assess deeper and transferable learning) and finally plan the learning experiences and instruction. This is not the first time I’ve heard this, but it resonated in a big way. Also, it links up so nicely with my ‘user experience’ bent these days: start your planning with the user/ organization’s needs & don’t lose that focus!
Review of the ADDIE model, which had me thinking especially about that first stage, Analysis. I’ve never been involved in a larger-scale needs assessment (beyond a simple ‘pre test’ to students before a session). What would this look like?
Birds of a Feather
We did digital take-aways, shared for all to see. I was facilitating, but also joined the ‘generic v. customized’ discussion. Great big picture commiserating, but also some simple ideas about taking advantage of YouTube’s CC licensing to ‘re-mix’ library videos by trimming out items that don’t fit in your institutional setting (without re-making the wheel). Or even, taking generic content in a video and adding little openers or closers to make the content more customized. Simple! Smart!
Rapid Show & Tell
This segment was an opportunity to learn what others are up to. They are all captured on video on this Sessions page. Things that stuck for me:
Fascinating to see how some are using eLearning for staff training, especially those staff who are hard to reach — ie/ working evenings and weekends. Agnieszka Gorgon of Markham Public Library & Erika Pavkovic of Hamilton Public Library both used Articulate Storyline, with approaches including scenario assessment. There’s been some interest at MPOW for eLearning modules for staff as well. Hmmm…
Also from the public library world, we heard from Emily Burns about a staff development program at Oakville Public Library. Called sixthingstech and inspired by 23mobilethings.
Jennifer & Adele from Seneca talked about how they use Blackboard cartridges to import a content + quiz package into course sites. I’d heard about this before, but still… I’m jealous. Sakai doesn’t have a similar feature.
Kelly Dermody from Ryerson showed a whole bunch of things that Ryerson is up to, and man, they are up to a lot. I knew about a few already (like the nifty BookFinder), but I wasn’t aware that Ryerson had adapted York’s SPARK program : RUsearch. Kelly talked about how valuable a graphic designer was on their team. A couple of teasers about ‘flipped classroom’, and customizing their laptops? She emphasized that she works closely with a strong web development team.
Finally, we have some software demos & workshops. Denise Smith and I talked about SoftChalk and how we’re using it at Brock. And I attended Angela Henshilwood’s Articulate Storyline demo. Very useful to see ‘behind the curtain’ as she walked us through creating a snippet, especially since we’ve been curious about whether this software would work for us. I can see how it requires a real shift from developing a typical video tutorial. And we discussed the need for storyboarding, since it allows for branching and conditional stuff (if user clicks on x, take them down y path, etc.).
So yes, this day was very full of OMG WOW for me. It’s rare to attend something that speaks so directly to what you do. I’m so grateful to be involved with this collective & look forward to working together again & learning more from each other over the listserv.