Thank you, Karla, and thank you to everyone here who chose to attend this session.
Today, Carol and I will be sharing our experiences in Second Life as embedded librarians. We will be covering how we got started, a little about the Second Life learning curve, how we began to provide library instruction within Second Life and how we progressively improved techniques. At the conclusion, we will provide a list of some best practices for those of you desiring to support students in virtual learning contexts.
Literature has revealed that the term “embedded librarians” has several meanings. At the University of Central Missouri, embedded librarianship began in the fall semester of 1999, when a Nursing instructor approached their librarian liaison about joining one of her online courses. This nursing instructor was committed to having her students learn to search library resources well, and viewed librarians as full partners in the education process. The class was conducted through course management software and the librarian was added to the class as a co-instructor. Like any new collaborative effort, the instructor and librarian spent the first semester exploring the most effective way the librarian could interact with students, provide instruction, and understand the needs of online students. Our librarian ended up creating her own thread in the discussion board, posted announcements regarding articles of interest, providing links to online databases, and made herself available to students seeking help on their individual projects. The embedded librarian program took root, and soon our librarian found herself also embedded in Criminal Justice courses along with the distance learning librarian. The instruction model continued to be providing links to databases and giving individual research assistance on specific papers, at the request of the student. Simply, it was an online imitation of the physical reference desk.
This type of embedded librarianship, instruction and assistance through Blackboard, continued until the fall semester of 2004, when a history professor approached two of our librarians, asking for assistance with her onlinegen. ed. history class. The history professor had been dissatisfied with the supportive documentation students were using in their term papers, and consequently sought the help of the librarians. Similar to the embedded nursing course, the librarians spent the first semester discovering what exactly they could be doing. Eventually they settled on providing one, synchronous, screenshotdemonstrationof selected databases through Adobe Connect that students were required to attend, and the remainder of the librarian time was spent approving individualbibliographical sources and working with students on proper citation style.
Both the nursing and history class models were consultation based, assisting individual students, at their request. The history class did include that PowerPoint, screenshot lecture through Adobe Connect, which did allow for one-way vocal communication from instructors to students, but students needed to type their communications into the chat box. Basically, the library instruction was a one-on-one consultation between librarian and student.
Meanwhile, Second Life was released in June 2003, and 1.5 years later, in the fall semester of 2005,one of our English professors, Dr. Bryan Carter (who we will hear from at the end of this talk), began using Second Life in a cyberculture literature course. Dr. Carter invited the distance learning librarian, my predecessor, to embed in the class as a research consultant for his students. Our distance learning librarianwas soon joined by another librarian from our library so they could find out about this new world. Both Dr. Carter and the embedded librarians began to explore how Second Life might enrich the learning experiences of students. Similar to embedding efforts in the online in nursing, criminal justice, and history classes, the librarians spent the first semester trying to figure out the best structure for their role, and like before, the first design imitated life. A virtual reference desk was born.
The class was designed to force students to explore Second Life locations, called islands, that imitated their literature readings. The avatars met in a classroom on the University of Illinois island, and ourlibrarian’s reference desk was set up on Info Island which is on a separate parcel. The librarians staffed the virtual reference desk during class, and Dr. Carter sent the students from the classroom to Info Island to seek out librarian assistance. As in real life, though, the virtual reference desk didn’t have a lot of traffic. To further complicate matters, the owners of Info Island kept moving the reference desk to different locations, so even the librarians needed to hunt it down before each class. As a result, not many students actually made it to the virtual reference desk. With low traffic, the librarians lost interest and simply didn’t continue in Second Life beyond one or two semesters, however, Dr. Carter continued developing and conducting his classes in Second Life.
Over the next year, 2006-2007, the University of Central Missouri purchased a parcel in Second Life and began to build our island, called Selmo Park. In predictable academic fashion, a campus committee was formed and policy mandated that the overall look of Selmo Park would imitate our physical campus. The builders learned their trade, terra-forming the land and building a few structures, including classrooms in the sky. By early 2008 they were ready to begin developing the rest of Selmo Park and they asked the library for input regarding what we wanted in our virtual library building. My colleague, Carol, was assigned to work with the builders and figure out what we wanted in Second Life. So Carol joined the campus committee where she met Dr. Carter, and he invited Carol to sit in on one of his composition classes taught in Second Life. In April, 2008, Carol’s avatar was in Bryan’s classroom, while I watched the computer screen from the sideline. It was fascinating!
Dr. Carter still welcomed embedded librarians in the classroom and invited Carol and I to embed in his summer class, which was an Africana Studies course. This time, though, the librarian avatars were not on a different island waiting for students to find us; we actually sat amongst the students … in class … and were present for all lectures. We were readily available in the classroom when the moment of information need presented itself. Dr. Carter encouraged us to proactively interact with the students before and after class, which meant approach them first, ask them how it’s going, what is your project on, where do you need some help, and so forth. This was still individual instruction, but it was a 180 degree change from the passive approaches our embedded librarians had taken in the past. We were fortunate that the class was extremely small, which turned out to be a perfect sandbox for us. Our student to professor/librarian ratio was 1:1 and this enabled us to learn about Second Life, right along with the three enrolled students.
So what is the basic learning curve in Second Life? First, one must download the Second Life software onto the computer, usually not much of a hassle unless you don’t have administrative rights on your machine and you need to ask your IT support to allow it. Then, create your account, which creates your avatar. One needs to choose an avatar name, which will become the logon. My avatar name is ChipMunkey Flaks, and Carol’s first avatar was MireilleZwilling, and later Moxie Gearhead. First lesson: pick an avatar name that is easy for others to read. Nobody had problems pronouncing ChipMunkey, but many had difficulties properly pronouncing Mireille, so Carol created another avatar with the simpler name, Moxie. Next, learn to navigate around the new world. Like any newborn, avatars must learn to walk and talk. They will teleport from one location to another or fly. Try not to bump into too many walls. Many islands in Second Life have built I suggest seeking out skill building courses designed to improve navigation movements, and yes, Second Life has a search function.Create your appearance. All newborn avatars are issued with a standard appearance. You are able to adjust every element of your appearance! I never knew how many choices one might have in facial body parts alone.
Or, one can purchase pre-made shapes and skins.
Dress your avatar. Do you like to shop in real life? Then Second Life is the place for you! Endlessly wandering virtual malls looking for clothing, shoes, and hair suitable for the classroom, while tedious, does develop walking skills. Interestingly, neither Carol nor I like real world shopping, and Second Life shopping was just a chore! Lag: learn to deal with it. Since Second Life is graphic intensive, not all computers are properly equipped. This is why it is widely compared to gaming … because of the graphic requirements. Lag affects how quickly the software rezzes, or brings into focus, all the objects and buildings in-world. It also affects the time between your hitting a command button, and the initiation of that command. For example, you instruct your avatar to walk, and it takes several seconds for your avatar to start walking. You instruct your avatar to stop walking, and it takes several seconds for your avatar to stop. This can create a high degree of frustration. Building: As Carol and I began it envision our library instruction lessons in Second Life, it became clear a certain level of building skills needed to be achieved. For example, we might want to place our instruction slides on some kind of virtual support, like a pedestal, rather than have it simply suspended in mid-air. There seems to be some human comfort in the imitation of the physical world. We both enrolled in some Second Life classes sponsored by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, attended in-world building classes, and worked with our own campus builders.
Dr. Carter: include a tour of Virtual Harlem
Carol will find better image of the clickers. Marian will handle this third clicker question.
2:00So as you can see, our journey as embedded librarians in Second Life has been a gradual, iterative one, and this is one of the points we want to stress today. If you’re thinking about getting involved in Second Life, if you’re interested in doing so, if you have the opportunity to do so, please don’t feel that you need to be a virtual environment expert from very start, or that you need to offer the full gamut of embedded librarian services from day one. You can ease into it. It has been a continual learning process for both Marian and I. We’ve steadily expanded our services, over time, as our comfort level and abilities have grown and we continue to learn more every day that we participate in Second Life. It’s equally important to point out that the environment itself is continually developing and shifting; Second Life is very much a work in progress – so as the environment grows more sophisticated, so too can the embedded librarian services that we offer within that environment. (review slide points quickly) And I’d really like to stress the last point on this slide - we’ve been most fortunate to be embedding with an innovative, leading edge educator, Dr. Bryan Carter, who is incredibly patient and always encouraging of our participation in his classroom, and who has introduced us to a wider network of Second Life educators. You’ll get to meet him later in this session in the form of his Second Life avatar, Bryan Mnemonic! A supportive educator is an essential ingredient of virtual embedding, and we couldn’t have succeeded in our endeavors without his encouragement. I hope that everyone here today who gets involved in Second Life enjoys a similarly positive collaboration as the one we have, and I suspect you will. Educators that are active in Second Life are adventurous innovators, so by their very nature, they tend to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, including embracing of librarians as full-fledged partners in education.
1:30 I’m going to take you now through a brief history of our most recent three semesters as embedded librarians in Second Life, from the Spring semester of 2009 through the Spring semester of 2010, the semester that just recently concluded, a period of time in which we “graduated” from providing the one-on-one research consultations with individual students that Marian described to also providing formal library instruction – BI’s, if you will - in the virtual classroom. Again, this was definitely not something that we felt prepared or equipped to do at the beginning –, it’s something we’ve grown into, gradually. For each of the past three semesters that we’ve been providing virtual library instruction, we’ve encountered challenges and we’ve introduced changes as a result, and we’ll continue to do this in order to refine our understanding of best practices for virtual embedding and achieve continuous improvement in our Second Life pedagogy. So whereas Marian and I had been embedding in separate sections of Dr. Carter’s English courses, we decided to team up together for this new challenge of virtual library instruction and co-embed jointly in a single section of English Composition II for the Spring 2009 semester. Having already developed a close cooperative relationship with Dr. Carter, we were able to easily coordinate with him to integrate a series of seven library “mini-lectures” into his course curriculum, which translates to about two short library instruction sessions per month.
ANIMATED – ALL AUTOMATED – DR CARTER = LAST IMAGE This series of snapshots are from that first semester of providing library instruction in Second Life. We were very excited about the debut of our new virtual library - which features that fantastic waterfront lecture area that Marian showed you - and we wanted to encourage students to discover and use the virtual library, so we decided to hold all seven library instruction sessions at our new virtual library location on the Selmo Park island or sim (“sim” and “island” are interchangeable terms, by the way). Dr. Carter enthusiastically supported this approach because it also took advantage of one of the more unique aspects of Second Life education – that students don’t need to sit in one place, chained to their desks. By getting out and about, the educational experience can be more dynamic, more enriching, and Dr. Carter specifically wants his students to go out and explore all that Second Life has to offer, so that they can then come back and write about those experiences for course assignments. We persisted with this practice of holding our library sessions at Selmo Park throughout that first semester, but encountered significant challenges, to be honest with you. Because Dr. Carter’s classroom and our virtual library are on two separate islands, students would have to teleport over to the virtual library location when it was time for our instruction session. We tried to make this as easy as possible for students by placing dedicated “teleporters” at both ends for easy back and forth navigation, but we have to admit that It still proved to be somewhat disruptive:First, you do lose a certain amount of valuable class time as the students teleport and get settled in to a new location, and the whole process of changing locales seemed a bit unnecessarily interruptive. Second, there were also occasions when we’d lose students during the teleporting process, either due to personal challenges on the student’s end or system-wide technical challenges. And then finally, there were few times when Dr. Carter would need to leave class early, so he’d turn the class over to us, and we found that if he didn’t accompany us to the library location, some of the students – we strongly suspect! - chose to leave class early as well, and never teleported over! We recorded attendance for each of our sessions, and it really bothered us that some students were missing out on information that we knew was valuable, that we knew would help them throughout their undergraduate studies, and was information that we’d be building upon progressively in future sessions.
2:15Each of our library instruction sessions was designed to last for just 15 minutes, and was accompanied by visuals in the form of virtual PowerPoints. We really liked the idea of breaking our instruction up into multiple, digestible chunks – when you think about it, this offers numerous advantages over the traditional, in-person, one-shot “BI” model where librarians typically try to cram in as much information as possible into a single, 60-minute session - because that might be the only time those students will ever be exposed to formal instruction by a librarian, right?!?. By embedding within a semester-long class, we could avoid the problems of the traditional one-shot BI. We could:deliver short bursts of information dedicated to a single topic - manageable, holistic amounts of information for a student to absorbWe could schedule our coverage of topics so as to build their skills up in a progressive fashion. And we could time the introduction of particular research skills as closely as possible to the actual point at which they would prove useful and relevant to their course assignments. I see this as one of the strongest advantages of embedded librarianship - an advantage that holds true whether one is embedding within Second Life, embedding within a course management system like Blackboard, or embedding in person in a physical classroom, as some librarians do. We carefully designed our lecture topics and materials to at least touch upon all the major information literacy standards set forth in the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. It’s also important to ensure that one’s instruction ties into course objectives, so that students can understand the purpose of your embedded presence and participation in the classroom - as a co-educator, essentially. In the case of Dr. Carter’s class, our instruction directly supported several of his explicitly stated course objectives.
1:20To briefly outline our series of instruction sessions that first semester: We started off by providing them with a broad overview of the gamut of academic library resources available – from books to journals to databases and beyond We also stressed that expertise and service – in the form of people – is perhaps the most important resource a library can offer to students. We spent other sessions focusing on:Library databasesOn effective search query strategies (use of Boolean operators)On understanding how to manage the research process (particularly how to manage their time, always a challenge for students)How to get the most out of the library catalogAnd how to use interlibrary loan (what I like to refer as “Making the World Your Library). Finally, we didn’t want to just ignore the fact that we know they are heavy users of the open Web, so we dedicated our final session to showing them how they can become better Googlers by employing the same search query strategies we’d demonstrated earlier in the semester, and by using the advanced search features of Google - and other search engines.
1:00 We knew that we could do better - that first semester involved relatively static, “old school” lecture methods. Our presentations seemed innovative to us at first, given the uniqueness of the Second Life delivery environment, but at the end of the day, we were still just relying on the traditional Powerpoint – albeit a virtual PowerPoint. We would regularly seek feedback and ask whether students had any questions about the information we presented, but rarely got any queries in response. This led us to question whether or not students were actually listening to us. Their avatar might be present, but were they present? Or were they checking the latest on Facebook or off making some toast for breakfast? We knew we were providing them with valuable information, but were we actually engaging them? Were they even learning anything from our efforts? We had no way of knowing, and we needed to know. We will have more to share regarding how we we’ve been seeking answers to these questions in a bit.
ANIMATED – CLICK TO ADVANCE FIRST TWO; SLIDES FOR MO DEAN TOUR ARE AUTOMATED, ENDING WITH JESSE. CLICK TO ADVANCE TO FINAL IMAGE (ALA SKY PLATFORM)4:00Need to adjust slide timing I do want to take a short commercial break and let you know that if you become involved as a course-embedded librarian in Second Life, you will likely become drawn into other educational activities taking place in Second Life outside the classroom, and I would say that these “extracurricular” events are a big part of what makes the environment so exciting and fun. They’re opportunities to meet other educators, and to share what you’re learning and doing in this innovative educational environment. These are a few snapshots from just the first half of 2009 to serve as examples of the other types of activities that Marian and I have been engaging in along the way First, for over 40 years, our library has hosted an annual children’s literature festival, an event where over 5,000 schoolchildren get to hear nationally recognized authors and illustrators speak about their books. Last March, as an ALA emerging leader, I had the opportunity to broadcast some of those visiting authors in Second Life. Their sessions with schoolchildren were streamed live onto ALA Island, and the event was attended by librarians from all over the country. And just a few weeks later, Marian and I got to participate in a unique “Swedish Exchange” program, where students from the class we were embedded in partnered up with students in a class from Sweden, in order to help those students practice their English speaking skills. Marian and I served as assistants, helping to encourage students to converse with each other and provide Second Life guidance where needed.Just a few days after that, Dr. Carter hosted a session where college deans from all across the state of Missouri could learn more about the potential of Second Life as a distance learning environment. The deans watched him speak from within Second Life on projection screens at their home universities. Dr. Carter provided a tour of his Virtual Harlem island and classroom, and he gave us the opportunity to speak briefly to those deans about our experiences as embedded librarians. We had a similar opportunity to speak to educators at MaryMount College in Arlington, VA, about Second Life embedding, via Second Life, as part of their annual Tech Day professional development event. Several librarians were present in the MaryMount college audience, and we particularly welcomed the chance to connect with them about our ongoing experiences. (point out Jesse) This, by the way, is not a real avatar. This is Jesse, and she’s a bot, an automated avatar. Dr. Carter obtained her and two other bots via a grant, and he bequeathed one of them, Jesse, to the library. Via AIML, which is artificial markup language, you can train her to answer basic library questions. We brought her out that day to show her off to the Missouri deans. She’s, ummm, definitely a work in progress, shall we say. She has several bad habits, including interrupting people and running away from time to time. We’re working on it. But bots yield intriguing potential for ready reference purposes.Finally, during ALA Annual Conference pretty much exactly one year ago, my Emerging Leader group broadcast a film on ALA Island about promoting library careers in Second Life.So the message here is – when you embed in a Second Life classroom, you’re also likely to be engaging board in a whole host of other events and activities in Second Life. You join a community of educators (it has been estimated that there are over 5,000 educators active in Second Life right now), and you become part of a network that is collaboratively developing best practices for Second Life education. It’s not just you that’s learning along the way – everyone is learning! And we’re all doing it together.
2:30Two images only. Click to advance to second image for 4th and final bullet point.As I mentioned, we were very pleased about beginning to offer library instruction in the classroom, but we felt that – despite the innovativeness of the delivery environment, our method of instruction was relatively old school, and not nearly as effective as it could be. So we set about attacking that challenge during the Fall 2009 semester. I actually went solo this time, as Marian had just finished preparing and submitting her tenure dossier – successfully - and needed some time to catch up on other First Life(!) library projects. I introduced a number of changes that semester. First, much as we adored our virtual library location, I abandoned it in favor of providing library instruction in Dr. Carter’s classroom in Virtual Harlem. It was far less disruptive if students didn’t have to needlessly teleport to another location.Second, continuing with this idea that students might more readily internalize information literacy skills if they are delivered in shorter, distributed segments, I shifted from providing a total of seven lectures on a twice-monthly basis to provided even shorter, weekly instruction that lasted perhaps just 8-10 minutes each. I dubbed these mini-lectures as “Research QuickTips”Third, in order to engage students more, I began incorporating some type of related hands-on exercise into each QuickTip. For example, if I’d covered some Boolean operators, I’d guide them through a short exercise where they’d open up the library catalog or database and conduct a search using the search query principles they’d just learned, in order to locate materials related to their upcoming research and writing assignment. (CLICK TO ADVANCE TO NEXT SLIDESHOW IMAGE)Fourth, in order to provide students with access to lecture materials after the fact, Dr. Carter graciously lent us an adjoining classroom, a very airy, breezy atrium, where students could revisit the QuickTipPowerpoints if they needed a refresher or missed a session. (2:00 to this point)
Let’s take a look at that room now (tour).Here’s Dr. Carter’s current classroom on Virtual Harlem (discuss features), and here’s the adjoining, conveniently located QuickTip room. As you can see, we converted the Powerpoint slides into interactive virtual books, and students can turn the pages of each book to go over research techniques we’d covered. We hung a sign up above the door to this room, dubbing it the “QuickTip Room”, and I did catch students visiting the room, so I do know it was used!
3:15Add visual interest? Add indication that these are challenges from second semester?Even with the improvement of adding active learning techniques into my library instruction that semester, I still had plenty of concerns and challenges. First, I was still plagued by the question of how engaged the students were with the material. I’d make a point of asking them for feedback, responses, and questions during the hands-on exercise, but it always seemed to be the same few students who responded. What were the other students doing? Were they listening? The students aren’t directly tested or graded on any of the material introduced by the embedded librarians, just tested indirectly in terms of the number, variety, and quality of information sources they locate for their research papers. It’s therefore difficult to assess how well they were absorbing the material, if at all. As we all know, this can be a challenge even in the physical classroom, but it’s even more difficult when you’re missing important visual clues like eye contact, interest level registering in students faces, etc. – because avatars don’t convey a whole lot of emotional information, to be honest with you. Beyond the attentiveness question, I also encountered some serious technical limitations, some of which have since been resolved by newer versions of the Second Life interface. One very serious limitation is the lack of synchronicity when demonstrating search techniques. As I talk students through a hands-on exercise using library resources, they’re following along independently on their own computer. They can’t actually see what I’m doing, nor can I look over their shoulders and see if they’re following along. So Second Life may be a synchronous learning environment, but you can’t demonstrate things that require web or other multimedia to others in a truly synchronous manner. This can make it difficult to pace one’s instruction, and know when students are/aren’t following along. And Second Life’s built-in browser at that time could not open any hyperlinks that opened in a new tab or window. This was a real problem with both our library website and numerous databases! There were certain things I could only describe to students, but not talk them through. I really needed to stick with using the built-in browser, at least on my end, because if I switched to using an external browser like IE or Firefox, I would then be outside the Second Life application, and the students would no longer be able to hear me speaking. I won’t go into all the gory details of alt-tabbing between Second Life and external applications and remembering when students can/can’t receive your voice chat output, but trust me - trying to lead students through hands-on exercises with library research tools within Second Life is akin to patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time, but much, much worse. It’s very difficult to coordinate. And it’s very time-consuming. …and still, ultimately, despite the solid improvements made that semester incorporating hands-on exercises, I was still relying on good old, much maligned Powerpoint as an instructional aid. As we know, there’s a whole world of more engaging, multimedia-driven ways to deliver information now. We really needed to start harnessing modes of instruction that would better hold students attention.
FULLY AUTOMATED ANIMATION2:30 plus 1:00 for tour = 3:30Need to adjust slide timing.And we did just that, beginning with the Spring 2010 semester, the semester that’s just concluded. Marian and I hooked up again, co-embedding in a single section of English Composition II. We decided to continue with the idea of a weekly QuickTip, and to continue striving to incorporate active learning into our instruction, but we also made a new commitment to try to shake things up a bit more by incorporating multimedia. This goal of ours was fortuitously timed, because after many years of speculation about it, Second Life has finally gained a highly desirable feature – the ability to support hyperlinked web media within the Second Life environment (vs. just within Second Life’s built-in browser, which is really just a separate popup helper application). We could now create YouTube videos and use them in our Second Life instruction to demonstrate research techniques in a much more effective, engaging manner. Instead of trying to talk students through hands-on exercises, we can now show them the techniques via a pre-recorded video. And while they still can’t watch the video synchronously, if you ask them to begin watching it at a certain point in your instruction, they all tend to start and finish watching it at about the same time. So it’s almost synchronous. Once they’d watched the video, we could then far more easily guide them through trying the technique out themselves via a hands-on activity. We also made these video demonstrations available after the fact in our QuickTip room, for them to review. Let me show that to you quickly. (GIVE BRIEF TOUR/DEMO). We introduced numerous other improvements this semester, many of which received positive comments from students, including new topics like how to navigate Second Life and how to search in Second Life. And along with the instructor, we led a series of Second Life tours, showing students how to locate people, places, events, and information in Second Life about their chosen paper topics. These virtual tours were really hands-on research activities, about how to search in Second Life. Student response to these ”paper tours” was extremely positive; they found them immensely helpful for researching their topics. We certainly haven’t finished improving our virtual instruction techniques and we can identify many more areas for pedagogical improvement, but we feel that we are moving steadily in the right direction.
Carol will find better image of the clickers. Carol will handle this second clicker question.
During our 2nd embedded semester, Carol and I began to question just how effective is library instruction in Second Life. We designed a research study that would assess the improvement of these Second Life students’ literacy competencies as a result of having embedded librarians in the classroom. We carefully planned instruction lessons for our 3rd embedded semester that centered on selected literacy competencies set forth in ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. We designed a pre and post test survey that was administered to two sections of the English comp classes. One section served as the control group that had no embedded librarian, and a second section had the Carol and Marian team of embedded librarians. The pre and post test survey was comprised of questions that measured basic literacy skills, student self-perceptions regarding how challenging they found information seeking to be, and lastly their confidence and behavior when seeking information. Statistical analysis revealed that information competencies, information seeking confidence, and research behavior in this group of students had no significant improvement as a result of the embedded librarian experience. This conclusion then led us to look at limitations that might have contributed to this lack of improvement, some of which Carol already addressed, such as class interruption teleporting from island to island. However, our primary thought was that students were simply not engaged with the information seeking process, in spite of our efforts to provide hands-on and interactive instruction that was designed around class assignments.
Undaunted by the null results of our first study, we initiated a second study this past spring semester, inspired by a second, rather perplexing observation. Second Life is what is known as a multimodal communication environment; that is, individuals have a choice of ways to communicate with each other. Second Life offers numerous communication options, the two biggies being text chat and voice chat. Voice chat was added to Second Life in August 2007, and was seen as a positive development for its ability to promote greater student participation. Voice chat is faster, more efficient, and communicates more than text chat, right? Well, despite those benefits, we’ve observed a distinct – overwhelming, really – preference for students to communicate via text chat. Students are quite reluctant to use voice chat. Dr. Carter primarily addresses his students using voice, and yet they respond to him via text! It’s a very odd, lopsided sort of conversation to observe. And it’s not just us; the academic literature supports this observation.Marian and I want to better understand the reasons for this communication preference, as well as identify and test pedagogical techniques that might encourage more voice participation by students. A review of the literature suggested many possible factors that might be related to student communication preferences: First, one of the problems with voice chat is that there are no visual cues that avatars can easily employ to signal their desire to talk. In face-to-face situations, we read each other’s faces to moderate conversational turntaking. These cues are absent in Second Life, and students know it. This may make them reluctant to speak. Would introducing visual cues help encourage voice chat?Studies have shown that in face-to-face situations, people are more willing to speak up when group size is smaller. Could this understanding be harnessed to encourage more voice participation?Pedagogical approaches have been developed to help students become accustomed to new online learning environments. Important steps in these theoretical frameworks include incorporating early “get-to-know-each-other” socialization activities, and active encouragement by the professor. Could we harness these tactics to encourage more voice participation?Or is their preference for text chat just an expression of larger socio-cultural factors - is student preference for text chat a reflection of their preference for similar technologies, such as cell phone texting?Of all these possibilities, we decided to focus first on the question of group size. This was one inspiration for introducing “paper tours” of Second Life this semester. We broke the class into 3-4 groups, based on their chosen paper topic, so that we were interacting with just 4 or 5 students, vs. 20 to 25 students. Would they be more willing to use voice chat in smaller groups? Would this experience help them become more comfortable using voice chat in the full class situation as the semester progressed? To explore these questions, we’ve employed a mixed methods research design, gathering data in both quantitative and qualitative ways: We conducted a pre- and post-survey to identify shifts in students communication preferences during the course of the semester.We conducted end-of-semester exit interviews to gain qualitative insight into student preferences.We attempted to gather quantitative data about student’s actual use of both text and voice chat, although we’re not happy with the outcome of those efforts – the data is very sloppy. We were collecting data throughout the semester, which ended on May 5th, and since then – in addition to preparing for this presentation have been doing early, preparatory analysis work, such as transcribing interviews. We’re still in the very preliminary stages of our analysis, so we don’t have results to report to you. But the interview transcriptions do confirm that students are far more comfortable using voice chat on the paper tours in Second Island, which take place in small groups of just 3-4, than in the primary classroom, and that a fear of interrupting others is indeed a big part of the issue.
So next semester, we may introduce a cool Second Life tool called a “Hands Up Chair”. This tool allows a student to easily signal when they want to speak. If they hit the Page Up button on their keyboard, their avatar will raise their hand, signaling a desire to speak, and the professor can then call on them. If the professor doesn’t answer within a given period of time, the avatar’s hand will automatically start to wave, as a way of catching his attention. We are keenly interested in seeing whether or not this affordance supports a greater willingness to speak up. So watch for the results of our latest study to be published later this year, and perhaps another one next year.
We have a special guest who’s going to join us now, Dr. Bryan Carter himself. In Second Life, he’s known as Bryan Mnemonic. Know that when you encounter someone with the surname in Mnemonic in Second Life, you’re encountering one of his former or current students. He’s growing a steady tribe of Mnemonics! Dr Carter is an Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Central Missouri (UCMO). He specializes in African American literature of the 20th Century, with a primary focus on the Harlem Renaissance and a secondary emphasis on visual culture. He’s particularly known for his development of Virtual Harlem, a recreation of Harlem, NY, as it existed in the 1920’s, as well as for his project leadership on the Sorbonne’s Virtual Montmartre. Both Harlem and Montmartre were among the most important locations during the Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance. He presents regularly on Second Life topics in the United States, as is increasingly presenting internationally at such venues as Paris, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Hungary. Dr. Carter, we’ve introduced you to the audience, and you may begin at any time.
Marian(here is the narrative that Carol had written for this clicker question, in case it’s helpful): Okay, time to fire up your clickers again. You’ve heard a lot about our embedded exploits in virtual library instruction. Based on what you’ve heard so far and/or based on your own personal experiences, how would you respond to this statement? Do you think, after all you’ve heard, that Second Life is a suitable, effective environment for teaching information literacy skills? (gather responses and discuss) This is really the big question that Marian and I have been asking ourselves throughout our experiences as virtually embedded librarians. And as you know, questions lead to research! Marian and I are now going to briefly review some of our recent and ongoing research to determine whether, to what extent, and how librarians can serve effectively in Second Life.
CarolAnd some additional best practices for embedded librarianship that we certainly haven’t yet perfected, but are actively exploring and developing: Just as in all teaching nowadays, strive to avoid the straight lecture method. Shake things up with hands-on exercises and the incorporation of multimedia that will grab their attention and hold it.Because your present in the classroom during the entire semester, you have a unique opportunity to move away from the traditional 60-minute library instruction model of the past. Work with the course instructor to break information literacy instruction into short, absorbable chunks of information, and then order them and time them in a way that really, truly fits in a natural way into the course structure. Develop Second Life resources that students can consult after your instruction. We have found that students use these. Whatever your embedded services happen to be – whether it’s individual research consultations, formal instruction, Second Life technical assistance – don’t just wait for the students to approach you. They’re not used to the presence of a librarian in the classroom, and aren’t fully certain why your there. Proactively approach them, and start a conversation about how their research is going. You’ll find your opportunities to be of service will increase manifold. And finally – Marian mentioned the need to hook up with an educator that welcomes your presence in the classroom. Don’t just stop there – develop relationships with other librarians and instructors who are active in Second Life best practice development. Share your findings and experiences, and they will do the same. Together, we can make virtual embedding an effective practice, and a standard for the Second Life classroom.
Carol .This is such an appropriate final image for our presentation, because this is really where ChipMunkey and Moxie feel we are at these days. We’re at a crossroads in terms of our Second Life embedding experiences. “Two roads are diverging in a virtual wood”, so to speak, and we need to decide which path to take. As unique and as rewarding as our experiences have been, we really hoped that the development of our university’s Selmo Park island would attract other educators on campus to try out Second Life as a medium for distance learning; yet our embeddedness continues to be limited to Dr. Carter’s classroom. A few other educators have dabbled in Second Life, but only for specific class projects to which it was uniquely suited; not as a semester-long course environment. Marian is our distance learning librarian; I am currently transitioning into a newly created role at my library, that of Technology Initiatives Librarian. Our campus has recently made a commitment to offering more distance learning courses; specifically, that all general education courses that are offered must include at least one online section. We want to encourage professorsto consider Second Life as a course delivery medium for some of these sections. For this reason, Marian and I are thinking about splitting up again this fall – she’ll continue to embed, as continuous improvement can only happen with continuous participation. I will instead turn my time and attention to raising Second Life awareness, interest, and training in faculty and administration across campus, since I’ll be active on technology-related committees. And Marian will be promoting the same message via distance learning forums on campus. We’ll see how it goes, wish us luck! So that’s our story, and we hope it’s been helpful and has encouraged you to look for opportunities to embed virtually at your own institutions. Remember that we have developed a library guide to accompany this presentation. If you haven’t picked up the card with the url or would like a few more for your colleagues, Karla can give you those on the way out. She’ll also gather up your presentation evaluations and collect the colorful clickers. Do we have any final questions or comments, or anything you’d like to share about your own Second Life experiences?
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Virtually Embedded in Second Life<br />Marian G. Davis & Carol E. Smith<br />University of Central Missouri<br />2010 ALA Annual Conference<br />Sunday, June 27, 2010<br />Sponsored by ACRL<br />
Embedded Instruction Through Adobe Connect<br />
Embedded in TraditionalDistance Learning Platforms<br />
Second Life<br />First released June 2003<br />
JCKL Ref Desk on Info Island<br />Avatar Scottric JCKL waits for students<br />
A birds-eye view of the sky classrooms<br />Classroom in the sky<br />Dockery building with Second Life artwork<br />University of Central Missouri flag<br />Navigating staircases can be challenging<br />Straight paths are easy to walk<br />Recognizing the aviation program with a virtual airport<br />A nod to nearby Whiteman Air Force Base – home of the B-2 Bomber<br />Building Selmo Park<br />
In Class With Students<br />Summer<br />2008<br />1:1 professor/librarian to student ratio – a great way to start!<br />
Getting Started in Second Life<br />Download Software<br />Choose Name & Create Account<br />Walk, Talk, Fly, & Teleport<br />Create <br /> Appearance<br />
Recap: The Easy Way to Ease Into Second Life Embedding<br />One step at a time – easy does it!<br />Embrace the learning curve<br />Experiment and play<br />Seek out SL education opportunities<br />Begin with individual consultations<br />Branch out when ready<br />Develop an educational support network<br />
Providing Library Instruction in the Second Life Classroom<br />
Beginning Virtual Library Instruction<br />Spring<br />2009<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />Jan 29 2009: Virtual Harlem Classroom – Exploring Paper Topics<br />Jan 27 2009: Virtual Harlem Classroom – Professor Instruction<br />Feb 3, 2009: Selmo Park – First Library Instruction Session<br />Feb 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Exploring Databases<br />Feb 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Exploring Databases<br />Feb 24, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – The Research Process<br />Feb 24, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – The Research Process<br />March 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – The Library Catalog<br />March 12, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Interlibrary Loan<br />March 12, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Interlibrary Loan<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />April 10, 2009: Selmo Park Library Instruction – Power Googling<br />Jan 15 2009: Virtual Harlem Classroom – New Students Creating Their Avatars<br />
Design of Virtually Embedded Library Instruction<br />Spring<br />2009<br />Short sessions– 15 minutes max<br />Support with visuals<br />Multiple sessions vs. the “one-shot”<br />Introduce skills progressively<br />Schedule topics to align with course activities and assignments<br />Cover ACRL info lit standards<br />Support course objectives<br />
Best Practice Challenges<br />Spring<br />2009<br />Static delivery method<br />Lack of student engagement<br />Few questions<br />Were they listening?<br />Were they present?<br />Need for assessment<br />
Other Activities in Second Life<br />Spring<br />2009<br />July, 2010: ALA Conference – Promoting Library Careers in Second Life<br />March 17, 2009: Streaming Children’s Literature Festival on ALA Island<br />April 7, 2009: Assisting “Swedish Connection” Activity<br />April 3, 2009: Tour of Virtual Harlem for Missouri Deans<br />
Fall 2009: Incorporating Active Learning<br />Fall<br />2009<br />
Best Practice Challenges<br />Fall<br />2009<br />Insufficient student feedback<br />Lack of visual cues<br />Synchronicity hurdles<br />In-world browser limitations<br />Voice chat challenges with external browsers<br />Limited use of multimedia<br />
Spring 2010:Incorporating Multimedia<br />Spring<br />2010<br />
Some Best Practices<br />Select your SL name carefully<br />Seek out the SL educators on your campus<br />Find the educator who welcomes your collaboration<br />First semester: explore, learn to navigate<br />Expand services as comfort level grows<br />Librarian services go beyond traditional resources<br />
Some Best Practices<br />Engage students with active learning and multimedia<br />Chunk instruction into smaller bites of time<br />Integrate instruction with course syllabus/assignments<br />Provide access to materials – Quick Tip Room<br />Proactively approach students in conversation<br />Network with other SL librarians and educators<br />