Friday, September 11, 2009

Some reflections on information services and group work assignments.

I have been working through Topic 5 of ETL501 Information Services to Staff and Students. There hasn't been much action on the forum yet, but I want to put my thoughts down 'on paper' before they fall out of my head!
In the introduction of the topic was a very depressing statement: "But TLs know that the demand for their services can never be met, particularly in a school where the TL is the only information professional available and this can lead to frustration." You think???
I'm not sure if I want to do a job that is impossible! A job where it is impossible to succeed, if you want to measure success as providing the service that you are employed to provide. I don't think my personality is very well suited to doing a job where I can never meet demand. I know in my heart that I would be in danger of working harder and harder thinking that somehow, if I just worked hard enough, I'd be able to do it.
The first question that I am asked to consider is to list three key factors which a teacher librarian needs to take into account before offering information services.
1. What does the school hope/expect to get from the library? What services will fit with the school's agenda?
2. What resources do you have to play with (including time, staff and money)?
3. Are there any special considerations in terms of the particular school context that need to be taken into account?
The next question is in regard to a particular service that the teacher librarian might provide - pathfinders. These are lists of resources for particular topics, a bit like annotated bibliographies. Valenza, at
discusses why she thinks wikis are the way to go. I can sum up her argument for you: Because wikis can be edited. They are flexible ("splendidly organic") and can be collaborative ("Imagine all the people, building pathfinders together. You may say I'm a dreamer...").
Another service that the librarian might provide is "selective disseminated information" or "current awareness". This is the process by which the librarian keeps on top of all new literature and developments in education, and circulates relevant information to teachers. It's starting to be very clear why the teacher librarian is so frustrated - one teeny tiny part of their job involves staying abreast of all new literature and developments in education, for the benefit of their colleagues.
I'll save the rest of Topic 5 for another day...
So - how's my group work assignment going - I hear you wondering! Good. It's finally coming together, and not a moment too soon, as it's due on Monday! We have all, separately and collectively, worked hard and made good contributions. Now we just have to pull it all together to be ready for submission.
My group members have been easy to work with - no complaints there. I've started doing some reading on factors that make for successful teamwork and collaboration, in preparation for the second part of the assignment. (I know - as if it wasn't enough to produce a powerpoint presentation on a proposed professional article, we also have to write an annotated bibliography with at least eight references that heavily influenced our presentation, and rate our performance as a communicator, collaborator and team member using authentic criteria that we have written after considering the professional literature!) Something that keeps coming up is the fact that the task needs to be well designed, and there must be support and leadership shown by the instructor who has set the task. Interesting...
I don't think our task was well defined, and the goal posts seemed to keep moving day by day as new emails were sent out by the lecturers giving new requirements. Suddenly there were specific word limits and font sizes for slides, could we site six references or more?, did we have to say which journal we were writing for or not?, what exactly constitutes a professional reference?, and by the way - you have to submit a log of your collaboration efforts with the assignment. Totally exhausting! There doesn't seem to be a section in the assignment for evaluating the perfomance of the teaching staff though, what a pity!


Glenda said...

Here, Here Fiona. I couldn't agree with you more on the constant shifting of goal posts with this 504 group assignment. Boy have I been confused. Good to hear your group is going well. Mine is really, really good. We're hoping to wrap up the majority of it tomorrow (Saturday), then maybe cast our eyes on it sunday. Yippee! Another assignment bites the dust.

Fiona said...

We are also trying to wrap it up via skype this afternoon...will probably be another marathon session! This subject is a killer on the downloads, for those of us with broadband plans that aren't unlimited.

Chrissy said...

I agree with you about the assignment not being clearly defined ! It has been crazy. Our group just submitted it tonight :)
Yay glad to hear what you said about our group Glenda hehe :) I really like our group, feel bad I missed a few meetings and right near the end too! But we got through it.

Fiona said...

Assignment submitted - hooray!