What with Quasi-Con and my internship and this class, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about teaching and libraries and workshops lately. I have a lot observations and questions floating around in my head, most of which are unfit to be called a “position” or a “theory” or anything that might suggest that they have formed into a “soapbox.”
I am concerned about the effectiveness of one-shot workshops, and I am glad that we will be talking about design and implementation in class. I do think that certain kinds of follow-the-directions skills are best to be taught in an online space – things like navigating an interface or a series of steps that results in a commonly sought outcome. Skills that do not have a clear path are best left for in-person teaching – things like how to find or where to look or what am I doing wrong.
I can’t remember who said it at Quasi-Con yesterday, but someone said, “Librarians are terrible at marketing themselves.” It is so true, and this worries me. Are online learning modules effective marketing or are they a replacement for librarians? What does it matter if we make awesome online learning modules or teach awesome workshops if no one knows about them? How do we get the word out about the services we offer?
I know from experience just how hard it is to be an effective teacher in a one-shot environment. As a substitute teacher, I spent a year teaching what boils down to one-shot workshops. The difficulty was not in the lessons themselves (although plenty of teachers left nearly incomprehensible lesson plans) but in the student-teacher relationship. There is base level trust and/or respect necessary to learn. Students must have the belief that you are knowledgable on the subject and have information worthy of sharing. Admittedly, a substitute begins way behind the starting line on these points even in comparison to other workshop-type teachers, but I found that my best and most effective teaching happened when I was able to spend more than one day in a classroom even if it was non-sequential, building relationships and gaining an understanding of the whys and hows of that particular collection of students. How can we create an environment conducive to learning in a 50-minute session? How do we market ourselves in a way that will allow us to develop relationships with students and professors in order to be the most effective teachers possible?