Teaching with WorldCat Local: What's Different?


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At the LOEX 2011 conference, Meg Grotti and Karen Sobel presented a discussion on teaching with the WorldCat Local library catalog discovery layer. Their presentation focused on honestly laying out the benefits and challenges of teaching with WCL, and ideas for making teaching better.

The final slide of this presentation links to a group for library instructors who teach with WorldCat Local (or those who are interested in this topic). Viewers are welcome to join.

NOTE: Slide captions are available here: http://www.slideshare.net/kslovesbooks/teaching-with-worldcat-local-whats-different-slide-captions

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  • Presentation was given at LOEX 2011 in Fort Worth, TX May 7, 2011
  • WorldCat Local is a discovery layer which was launched by OCLC in 2008. It offersmetasearching capabilities, grouping results from the library’s OPAC as well as additional databases. It also returns results from WorldCat Libraries, opening up a wider array of resources from libraries around the world.
  • Disclaimer--we are definitely not trying to sell WCL as a product. We do want to portray it in a positive and productive light so that we can focus on sharing teaching methods and solutions. Librarians view WorldCat Local, and many other meta-search systems in different lights… some feel that these systems support information literacy, some don’t!
  • … however, we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater! We feel that WCL can support information literacy within library classrooms, and that is what we will focus on.
  • What did we discover when we surveyed teaching librarians about this topic?When we analyzed the results of the many responses that we received from librarians across the country, we were able to discern three main organizing themes which pull together librarians’ reflections on teaching with this resource: - Skills librarians are choosing to teach using WCL- Materials searched / formats librarians focus upon when teaching with WCL- Populations to which librarians teach WCL, and how they teach to these populations.I will briefly outline these themes in a bit more detail:Skills librarians are choosing to teach using WCLLibrarians focus heavily upon the basics of Keyword searching (e.g. generating good, targeted keywords), then combine this with the new logic of post-search sorting and drilling down using the facets presented within WCL.We found that librarians were somewhat divided as to whether to teach using the “search all” function vs. selecting a specific format to search. Many librarians, for example, taught students to search for books, but not other formats. Librarians find themselves focusing more on raising students’ awareness of the networked nature of libraries, highlighting services such as ILL, discussing consortial borrowing.Many librarians use WCL to highlight the parts of a catalog record; and how to use subject headings to locate other relevant resultsPopulationsMany librarians reported that they do not provide training with WCL to any specific user population.Most respondents did not differentiate between teaching to undergrads or graduate students because the same skills are generally needed, just at different levels.Materials SearchedMany librarians reported that they avoid article searches in WCL when teaching due to student confusion over what is being searched and which databases are being searched. We asked librarians to select which material formats they use WCL to work with in classroom settings. We found that most librarians recommend that patrons use WCL to search for books, followed then by recommendations to use it to search video content, followed by “all content”.
  • The Basics of Our MethodologyHow we came up with the questions: Our philosophy: We really wanted to focus on the questions that people are asking each other in conversation at national and local groups and in the workplace. We wanted to take their accumulated knowledge from the small stage to the large stage. Many of the questions focused on patron populations, features used, and materials found, or some combination thereof. We started by brainstorming thoughts that we had heard in various groups for library instructors and in our own home departments. We then asked several colleagues to read over our lists and see if they could think of other topics they had frequently heard being discussed.How we identified the libraries (and how many we contacted)We used the OCLC listserv (OCLC-WCL-L) to find lists of libraries using it. Also searched online for announcements of launches, etc. Identified 84 libraries.How we identified and targeted individuals at these libraries, plus encouraged additional participants. Used a “snowball method,” targeting heads of instruction at each library + asking them to distribute the survey to other willing library instructors at their institutions.I must put in a pitch for the snowball method! The method allowed us to find enthusiastic people. While we did get multiple responses from most institutions, the respondents often had differing perspectives.Rather than disagreeing, I think that reflected the fact that colleagues often work with different patron populations in different contexts. (For example, my library’s head of instruction primarily teaches upper-division students in the social sciences, while I focus on freshman comp and the first-year experience program.)We put a lot of into wording the questions just right. Value-neutral language avoid pushing people toward certain answers or attitudes. Meg was taking a research methods class at this time, so she had fresh experience with designing studies, instruments, and questions.I was lucky to get excellent research methods training – and the chance to apply what I learned – in grad school. I have used it ever since.Take a research methods class if you get the chance! Also consider taking a statistics course. Both come in very practical.We decided to gather a lot of free responses. Admittedly, this cut down on some of our capacity to do quantitative research, but it allowed respondents to provide more detail. It also allowed us to gauge attitudes. Some genuine enthusiasm, some frustration, and a lot of nuanced mixed feelings.We decided to share our survey online through Google Forms since that would allow us to collect and share it easily. Individual responses came into an online spreadsheet that the two of us could see and work with. It also let us use a fun background.
  • Theme 1: Skills Librarians are choosing to teach with WCLWe discovered that librarians are generally teaching WCL in much the same way as they have taught catalog systems in the past, with a focus upon traditional catalog-use skills such as keyword searching, identifying parts of a record, subject headings, etc. This is not entirely unexpected. In his book, Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Larry Cuban notes that teachers often use new technologies to replicate prior teaching strategies rather than using technologies to radically alter their teaching practice. I tend to think that this can be part of the learning curve… first you adapt the technology to what you know, then through reflective practice, you work towards more flexible and innovative use of a new technology.Librarians are teaching slightly differently because of the nature of this resource, however. Some differences are seen in the mechanics of how these are taught… for example, the options to sort and drill down are being explored, as is the emphasis upon ILL and borrowing from other libraries.
  • SUGGESTED (additional) PRACTICES: WorldCat Local can be used as a backdrop from which to explore higher-level information literacy skills and/or concepts. Although it is important allow students to understand the basic “point here, click there” functions, we need not limit ourselves to this more bibliographic instruction model. Here are a few practices that might be considered:The multitude of formats contained within WorldCat Local have often been cited as a barrier for student understanding. However, it is possible to leverage these multitudes of formats in WCL to open discussions with beginning researchers about what kinds of information can be found within each kind of format (for example, books may not contain information that is quite as current or as focused information as a journal article, but can provide a wider outlook on a subject.) This is also an opportunity to open discussions about the timeline of information, by which I mean discussing when certain formats are most appropriate, given the currency of the topic being investigated. (Example: the death of Osama Bin Laden)Use WCL’s citation tools to open a discussion of plagiarism with beginning students.Use the “List” function in WorldCat local to support group work on an in-class research assignment
  • What was discovered? (Recap and discussion)There is still some resistance to teaching with WCL, consistent with the long-standing debate regarding federated search systems; though most respondents indicate a willingness to teach with WCL (maybe those who were unwilling to respond do not teach with WCL, however!) Respondents overall did not mention any great differences in terms of how they teach this resource to different populations (such as grads v undergrads)A few respondents mentioned using a tiered approach may be appropriate. We have expanded this idea and explored it further.
  • With Beginning Researchers:It is important to build upon students’ prior knowledge, so that they can contribute their own expertise to the discussion. The librarian can then work to challenge that prior knowledge or build upon it through subsequent activities or discussion. Can use a search in WCL to explain differences between ejournals, articles, and databases, in preparation for exploring more advanced sources.Can use WCL at first to allow students to get a feel for searching with keywords (synonyms, related terms); this can help students to get a general sense of what kind of information may be out there on a topic, before transitioning to databases that may have more exacting search rulesCan open discussions about different formats and how to pair the appropriate format to a research topicWith Intermediate Researchers: Focusing on similar skills, but at a higher levelFor example, while a class for beginning researchers may focus upon differentiating between popular and scholarly works in general, more advanced researchers can be asked to differentiate between scholarly and trade publications , which can be a bit more trickyCan work on source attribution using citation tools: An appropriate class activity for more advanced researchers may include challenging students to look critically at WorldCat Local’s automatic citation tools in order to identify errors and become familiar with style manuals as the authority on citation formatsCan work on advanced searching tactics such as discovering authorities on the topic using the author profiles contained within WCL and the “author” search facetThis tiered approach is likely to work more smoothly in contexts in which there is an ongoing course, as opposed to one-shot sessions.
  • This is another topic that was inspired by informal conversation. It also leads to some of the most practical implications.One of our major findings in the study is that many librarians choose only to teach students to search for certain material types using WCL. For example, I teach books, a/v, and journals by title, but I switch to an article database to teach article searching. That turned out to be within the norm, although I used it more than many respondents.Article searching was supposed to be the big draw of this product – but no one wants to do it. What potential does it have?Many respondents said that they used it only for books. A few said books and a/v, or all materials. No one appears to focus on article or journal searching. Librarians who teach students to search for articles through WCL do it because they’re teaching students to find all material types with one tool. No one chose to emphasize article searching because WCL does it especially well. It’s a difference in shades of meaning. Several people commented that their libraries were working to improve searching for articles or other unspecified electronic resources. It would be interesting to see how successful their improvements have been. One person mentioned particular challenges in connecting with Interlibrary Loan. I can second that. Some respondents noted that the search algorithm seems to provide additional challenges.
  •  Now let’s talk about some positives and recommendations.When searching all formats, students can also become more familiar with the variety of formats that are out there. That’s important. We forget that they aren’t aware of books, theses, the differences between articles and journals, and so on.Some librarians who were including articles their WCL searching noted that WCL has a more forgiving keyword search than many article databases, particularly subject-specific ones. They can teach the skills, their students will always find articles, and students feel successful. That *is* significant.One thing I have learned through my library’s experience with WorldCat Local: It really helps to know who can fix what. OCLC can give librarians at your institution authorization to make many changes. However, they can’t authorize them to do everything. Knowing whether someone in-house can make a potential chante, or whether you will need to contact OCLC, helps you streamline the process of improving and updating WCL for your library.
  • The way you approach WCL depends on institutional context. By institutional context, we’re talking about a lot of factors: Technological, human, and political (We’ll discuss the first two!).For example, if you have 2 catalogs (as in, the classic catalog is still displayed prominently), you may make different choices than if you only have WCL to work with. This is part of why Meg makes some choices that are different from mine. [Show our different home pages: http://library.auraria.edu/ and http://www.lib.udel.edu/.]If *all* of your students receive library instruction every year or every semester, you’ll make different choices than if many students are learning on their own. Students’ degree programs (bachelor’s versus master’s), linguistic backgrounds, and more guide choices.It also depends on how your library has integrated WCL into its web site. Meg’s really features WCL, while mine offers distinct options. The three different catalog options go to different catalogs. I really have to choose which catalog to work with based on assignments, whether students will be exploring on a grand scale (such as a grad student searching for anything she could get published before the American revolution) or on a narrower scale (all books discussing a particular medical procedure, needed this afternoon).
  • We created a tool for helping you decide how to work with WCL at your institution.Originally, we wanted to guide you toward choosing whether or not to use WCL in your teaching.Then we thought, your judgment will always be more important than anything we can put here. Also, institutional context is infinitely complex. It walks you through important questions and suggests scenarios. It brings up major factors regarding institutional context. Rather than giving you a prescribed plan for how and whether to use WCL, it gives you informed guidance based on the experience of others.[Brainstorming Guide was handed out in the presentation… please see the LOEX conference website for copies.]
  • Our Google group, WorldCat Local Instructors, will keep accepting members. Email one of us if you’d like to join!
  • Teaching with WorldCat Local: What's Different?

    1. 1. Teaching with WorldCat Local: What’s Different?<br />Meg Grotti, University of Delaware<br />Karen Sobel, University of Colorado-Denver<br />
    2. 2.
    3. 3. Whose Libraries have WorldCat Local?<br />
    4. 4. Disclaimer<br />
    5. 5. Thesis Statement<br />
    6. 6. Agenda<br />Results First! What we discovered<br />Methodology <br />Themes, challenges and recommendations<br />Institutional context<br />Brainstorming guide<br />Q&A<br /> Discussions Throughout!<br />
    7. 7. What we discovered<br />Survey focused upon 3 major themes:<br />Skills Taught<br />Populations Taught<br />Materials Searched<br />
    8. 8. Methodology<br />Practical, informal ways of coming up with real questions <br />From questions to scholarly inquiry<br />Identifying WCL academic libraries: OCLC-WCL-L listserv <br />“Snowball” survey<br />Gathering data using Google Forms<br />Horrible long link to our survey: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&pli=1&formkey=dEtiRkFweDg2MUs2UlVHWVJtQkwtN1E6MA#gid=0<br />
    9. 9. Theme 1: Skills Taught<br />New emphasis on Interlibrary Loan, networked libraries<br />Shift in searching paradigm<br />Librarians are teaching with WorldCat Local in a similar way to traditional catalog systems<br />
    10. 10. Theme 1: Skills Taught:Recommendations<br />Multiple Formats= Teaching Moment<br />Information Dissemination Timeline<br />Citation Tools<br />List function can support groupwork<br />
    11. 11. Discussion<br />When you teach with WorldCat Local, what information literacy skills do you tend to emphasize?<br />
    12. 12. Theme 2: Populations Taught<br />No great difference between populations taught<br />“Tiered Approach”<br />
    13. 13. Theme 2: Populations TaughtRecommendations<br />Beginning Researchers:<br />Build on prior knowledge<br />Exploration<br />Format basics<br /> Intermediate Researchers:<br />Higher level tasks<br />Citation /Attribution<br />Authorities on a subject<br />
    14. 14. Discussion<br />Do you find yourself teaching WorldCat Local more to some populations than others? <br />Do you find that some populations gravitate towards this resource while others do not?<br />
    15. 15. Theme 3: Materials Searched<br />Searching for select material types<br />Books, a/v<br />OR searching for “all”<br />Why doesn’t anyone focus on article searching?<br />
    16. 16. Theme 3: Materials SearchedRecommendations<br />Searching “all” helps students learn about material formats.<br />Article searching always gets results.<br />Learn who can change what.<br />
    17. 17. Discussion<br />Who has had good luck with teaching article searching via WCL? <br />Would anyone like to share techniques? <br />Do these work with all patron groups, or only specific ones?<br />
    18. 18. Institutional Context:<br />How WCL is integrated in your library<br />Patrons’ immediate needs<br />Patrons’ future research needs<br />Patrons’ backgrounds in terms of experience, language, and more<br />
    19. 19. Brainstorming Guide<br />Different best practices for every institution<br />Most institutions need a tiered approach<br />Brainstorming guide + your institutional knowledge = WCL teaching success!<br />
    20. 20. Keep in touch<br />Discussion group:<br />http://groups.google.com/<br />group/wclinstructors<br />mgrotti@udel.edu<br />karen.sobel@ucdenver.edu<br />
    21. 21. Image Credits and References<br />All Images were distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license<br />“Old Time Bath” by The Pfaus<br />“Classroom of Students” by Tulane Publications<br />“Open Book” by Sarah Michael “School Supplies” by WirawatLian-udom“Study” by Lester Public Library “School Bus” by GeofferyKehrig“Front of Classroom” by Chris Campbell “Angela Thompson” by Tulane Publications “School Supplies” by tormol“Lecture Hall” by uniinnsbruck“Brainstorming” by Marco Arment<br />“Wet Feet” by p4nc0np4n<br />“Steps” by Larry Miller<br />