Monday, 19 March 2012

The Gift of a Prezi

Last week, I had the most exhillerating experience of my career so far: my colleague and I ran a training session for online resources to all the second year undergraduates who are preparing to go on their year abroad.

The year abroad is a compulsory requirement for our undergraduates; they spend their third year in another country either studying or working. They do a wide range of things, from working in a Peruvian school to working at the Hague or studying in Heidelberg. The one thing that they must all do by the end of their year abroad is complete a year abroad project. For this project, they need resources - books, articles, dictionaries - essentially, information. This can panic our students - they can't borrow library books for a year, what will they do for resources? Which is where this session came in very useful.

I have been running one-to-one information literacy and skills sessions for several years and in previous roles I have given training to subject groups on electronic resources and evaluation. Never before has it been on the scale of 140 students; it was an amazing experience. Working closely with my colleague for several weeks before the session was a really useful experience; although we did not always agree, we worked together to reach compromises and solutions which fit us both. We worked out how we would hang the information literacy strands off the framework of discovering resources: we plumped for off-campus access explanation, finding information, analysing information, storing your resources and references. These strands hung from the practical skills framework of finding and using ebooks, ejournals, LION and Web of Knowledge, bibliographies, other resources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, concluding with different reference management options. We used our website as an aggregator; this page is the one-stop place to come to to find everything else. It went down well. I had some great feedback from students and the staff found it helpful too.

Thus our dynamic Prezi presentation served two vitally important purposes: it reassured our students that, although they will not be on campus next year, they are still supported by the University's ample resources and it also raised the profile of the library amongst our academic colleagues. This advocacy is vital to ensure our continued value as a library service at all levels of our institution. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing and running the session - I can't wait to develop in this area in the future.

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