Yes, 3.0! This activity is now on its third iteration, and it just keeps getting better and better. You can read about version 2.0 here.
This year, I had to back away from padlet due to user interface changes they made on their end. I thought I would be able to do the activity in person on our classroom whiteboard. However, as it has in so many things, COVID interfered. I was exposed in a class I'd taught the week prior and hadn't gotten my test results back before I was due to teach a different course. The test did ultimately come back negative, but in the moment I had to quickly pivot my plans from in-person to online. To do that, I ended up pivoting to a tried and true old friend: Google Forms.
This spring semester, I had the opportunity to work more closely than I ever had before with one of my English faculty. She taught an asynchronous online course entitled “Speculative Fiction and the Environment,” and I got to have discussions with her about the class as early as October 2021, which really set us up for success. Together we were able to hash out her dream exercise for the class: an annotation project where students would take a short excerpt from each of their four texts and add annotations linking the fiction to newspaper articles contemporary to the writing of the novel or to some other thematically resonant content.
For the past year, I’ve been participating in the ACRL Instruction Section’s mentoring program. It’s been an excellent opportunity to talk to someone with more experience about her instruction practice, techniques for building relationships with faculty, and also occasionally just hearing that I’m doing a good job from someone with an entirely external perspective. One of the things that she introduced me to was using google slides as an instruction tool beyond just making a slide deck. She’s used google slides as a surrogate for underlining things that would have been projected on a whiteboard. When I was asked to talk about academic honesty in the digital humanities context, I saw the perfect opportunity to try this out.
One thing I wanted to be able to bring back in Spring Semester for ENGL 1410 (First Year Rhetoric and Writing) was my citation mapping exercise. This had been on hold because it had previously been a very in-person activity. I would group students in pairs in the classroom, give them an article, and task them with developing a handful of keywords that they thought would apply based on reading the abstract. They would then put the articles up on the whiteboard and we would connect them based on shared authors, shared themes, and if any of them linked up via their references. I like this exercise because it speaks to the “scholarship as conversation” frame and allows me to talk about the fact that not only are students putting their sources in conversation in their writing but also entering the scholarly conversation themselves.
Earlier this semester, I put together an activity for an English class to guide them through the two databases that they would be using this fall. You can read about that here. It worked pretty well (enough for me to revise it for future use!) but it definitely had some issues to be worked out.
Good news! I did!
This semester I'm working with the Business & Admin Writing class here at UCCS. One of the things that I think is really cool about this class is that the professor emphasizes Google as a research tool. His thinking is that once his students leave UCCS they won't have access to our library resources so they should get the skills to use the tools they're actually going to use on the job.
And that tool is Google.
Earlier this summer, I piloted an activity that asked participants to evaluate a collection of sources to decide which ones they would pick to build an argument. I called it Know Your Sources and you can read about it here. TL;DR: I wasn't really happy with it. The concept was good, but the execution left a lot to be desired. It depended on a single volunteer from students in a synchronous online environment (and in its first iteration that volunteer ended up being the professor) and Google Forms wasn't a good delivery system.
Good news: I made it better!
This class (TCID 2080) is a first-year writing course but the emphasis is on Business and Technical writing rather than academic writing. So for KYS 2.0, I picked a single example that would be timely and similar to the work the students would be doing over the course of the semester. This helped streamline the activity IMMENSELY. I'm not opposed to having multiple options in the future, but I maybe should have limited the scope of KYS 1.0.
Padlet, however, was the real innovation. Not only was it easier to see all the items on the page but also everyone could participate. Instead of asking one person to talk through their thought process, I dropped the link in the Microsoft Teams chat and asked the students to give the sources a star rating from 1-5. I wish the padlet would have sorted itself by that star rating -- that would have made it a lot easier to recap after the activity -- but that's more of a quibble than an issue. After the students had rated the sources, I asked the following questions:
What Worked: PADLET. This is exactly the vehicle for this activity that I was looking for.
What Didn't: We didn't get into types of sources as much as we did during the discussion period of KYS 1.0, but I think that's partially because of the topic and class context.
What I'd Change: If I can figure out how to get Padlet to sort the columns by star rating, that would make the discussion portion that much further. I would also probably write down my questions in advance more clearly to guide the discussion section,
One of the first classes I taught for this Fall Semester was "American Literature 1820-1900 Print Cultures" which I was HYPE about because of my MA background in print culture.
For this class, there had been a worksheet that the students had typically filled out in class after the librarian had demoed the relevant databases. And it's a good worksheet. But the synchronous online class is not a good environment for a worksheet that's designed to be filled out individually at the end of a class.
So I made something new!
The activity I put together for this class was based on an assignment I did in my intro to librarianship course. When we did it, the idea was that we would be practising evaluating databases for purchase. I stripped out a lot of the library school kinds of questions (and I mean a lot it was originally 7 pages) and put together a worksheet geared more toward exploration than evaluation.
I put the students into two groups on Microsoft Teams (not an elegant process, but thanks to these instructions I figured it out) and assigned one group the American Periodicals Series and the other American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals. On the worksheet I linked to, you'll also see HathiTrust, which I demoed for them after we'd shared out. From the answers the group came up with, we wrote a cheat sheet that highlighted the differences, similarities, and things to watch out for in each database.
This last part was inspired by a breakout session during the ARLIS/NA 2020 virtual conference. I was in a breakout group in the "Reimagining the Frame" Session where my group imagined an activity based on "Research as Inquiry" where upper-level undergrads in art history or visual arts explored various relevant sources of images and put together a cheat sheet as a class after their exploration. I loved this idea and I was really excited to put it into practice.
What Worked: The students all were able to find answers to all the questions and participated during the share out. I think we were able to learn actively together even on Microsoft Teams and that in and of itself is a success. The two sessions hit about 80% of the answers I wanted them to, and that feels really good. I budgeted 20 minutes for the groups to work together and 10 minutes to share out, and that was more or less the right amount of time for each part of the activity.
What Didn't Work: In a lesson in disciplinary jargon, it didn't occur to me to define all the terms I was using. We ran into some "what the hell is truncation?"
What I'll Change Next Time: In the second class, I used the MLA Bibliography database (which the prof had asked me to demonstrate a little so they knew where to find secondary sources) to define my terms more clearly and that largely solved the disciplinary jargon issue. All in all this was successful though and I'll definitely use the activity again!
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