Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Visibility, LAMS sequences and other activities

I spoke too soon in my last post as Monday and Tuesday were heavy teaching days, mostly related to information literacy, that left me zonked..... On Tuesday Yazdan Mansourian was talking about his research to our Information Resources and Information Literacy class (taken by 70 Masters students). As part of this session we had one of the first stages in an action research exercise. We are drawing on his research, and in particular his model of web search visibility, to develop a reflective tool that will help people think about, and improve, their web searching skills. I'll probably be blogging more about this and Yazdan has blogged a little about it too.

Also on Tuesday my colleague Professor Nigel Ford and I were available in the labs for consultation as the same Masters class continued their work on our "Search/teach" exercise, in which they are developing guides and resource links for specific databases (LISA, Google Scholar and Web of Knowledge). By next week they have to have published the guides to WebCT and in the lab next week they will evaluate each other's guides. As part of the class, as I mentioned a little while ago, Nigel and I agreed to develop some sequences in LAMS, as part of the DeSILA project where Sheffield Uni is trialling use of the LAMS educational software.

I have now produced 2 LAMS sequences for this class (on teamwork - they are working in groups - and on evaluating a guide - in fact the guide to LAMS itself). However it has been something of a struggle because of technical problems, e.g. continual error messages with the Preview function that enables you to see what the sequence will look like to students. LAMS seems rather poorly documented, frankly. Grrr, lots of time wasted. We are working with version 1 at present, which has less functionality than v2, but one would suppose it would be more stable. One of the educational limitations of LAMS is the strictly sequential approach you (and the learners) have to take, which seems to make it suitable for smaller, clearly defined tasks.

The last part of Tuesday was taken up with presentations from Masters students (our Libraries, Information and Society module) on topics to do with the information society: New literacies, the flexible workforce, discontinuous technological change, and digital divides. Some very interesting presentations. In particular I learnt a lot about bar codes and the potential uses of RFID! On Monday, amongst other things, students in my 1st year Information Literacy class were also doing presentations on their response to the question “Given the continuing increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS, have people become complacent about HIV/AIDS? If so, what are the reasons that explain that complacency?”. My colleague Dr Kendra Albright is a research specialist in this area so she was joining with me to plan and support the exercise and give formative feedback. Again, some good presentations.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Tivoli Gardens, Ljubljana, October 2006, (drybrush effect).


Anonymous said...

I am one of Professor Sheila's students in IL class - Masters Degree.

Honestly the information literacy class is one of the classes which contributed a lot to my searching habits and behavior. I gained lots of value in that class, and now I can know my way better through search engines and e-resources in general.

Yet, the search/teach exercise gave me the chance to dig deeply in one of the databases.

Introducing the blogging behavior in that exercise gave a lot of students the chance to indulge in the blogging world. A way to transfere and share knowledge I believe...

Sheila Webber said...

Thank you, it is very heartening to know that ;-)