Teaching with WorldCat Local: What's Different? (Slide captions)

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Notes to accompany the Powerpoint presentation by the same title. (from the LOEX conference 2011)

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Teaching with WorldCat Local: What's Different? (Slide captions)

  1. 1. Teaching with WorldCat Local: What’s Different?By Margaret G. Grotti and Karen SobelLOEX conference 2011, Fort Worth, TexasNotes to accompany Powerpoint presentation:Slide 1: Presentation was given at LOEX 2011 in Fort Worth, TX May 7, 2011Slide 2: WorldCat Local is a discovery layer which was launched by OCLC in 2008. It offers metasearchingcapabilities, grouping results from the library’s OPAC as well as additional databases. It also returnsresults from WorldCat Libraries, opening up a wider array of resources from libraries around the world.Slide 3: n/aSlide 4: Disclaimer--we are definitely not trying to sell WCL as a product. We do want to portray it in apositive and productive light so that we can focus on sharing teaching methods and solutions. Librariansview WorldCat Local, and many other meta-search systems in different lights… some feel that thesesystems support information literacy, some don’t!Slide 5: … however, we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater! We feel that WCL cansupport information literacy within library classrooms, and that is what we will focus on.Slide 6: n/aSlide 7: 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 WCL Librarians 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
  2. 2. 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 results Populations Many 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 Searched Many 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”.Slide 8: The Basics of Our Methodology How 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.
  3. 3. • 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.Slide 9: Theme 1: Skills Librarians are choosing to teach with WCL We 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.
  4. 4. 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.Slide 10: 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 assignmentSlide 11: n/aSlide 12: 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.Slide 13: 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.
  5. 5. - 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 rules - Can open discussions about different formats and how to pair the appropriate format to a research topic With Intermediate Researchers: Focusing on similar skills, but at a higher level - For 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 tricky - Can 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 formats - Can work on advanced searching tactics such as discovering authorities on the topic using the author profiles contained within WCL and the “author” search facet This tiered approach is likely to work more smoothly in contexts in which there is an ongoing course, as opposed to one-shot sessions.Slide 14: n/aSlide 15: Materials Searched 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?
  6. 6. • 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.Slide 16: Materials Searched – Recommendations 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.Slide 17: n/aSlide 18: Institutional Context 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!).
  7. 7. • 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).Slide 19: Brainstorming Guide 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.]Slide 20: Our Google group, WorldCat Local Instructors, will keep accepting members. Email one of us ifyou’d like to join!Slide 21: n/a

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