21 December 2011

Library for marketing the college

Recently, I spoke to a colleague who, with her daughter, went to see all the schools and colleges offering A-Levels in the neighbourhood. Working in a library, she paid attention to what information/academic skills support learners get there – in addition to classroom activities. She was shocked that only our college and another one next door had a proper library service and all that comes with that – learning resources, support and guidance.
This made me to think that FE colleges should exploit libraries marketing and recruitment. Universities are critical about the quality of academic skills that schools offer, they invest a lot into remedial support in the first year. Our college is unique for Nuneaton in that sense: we offer full scale library, information and academic skills training and support. All that is done by staff experienced in working with HE students; no one else in our town could offer that. On top of everything, we are the only learning provider in Nuneaton actively and purposefully developing an e-book collection – it’s bigger than all public libraries of the county have on offer right now. This may be especially attractive to prospective A Level and Access students as when they go to university, they will have to start using library's digital content straight away.

From what I know, no schools and colleges in Nuneaton use their libraries in their marketing. Shame.

Two articles to share: on importance of digital literacy and Facebook for user engagement

Digital literacy can boost employability and improve student experience - the title of the Guardian sounds dull, but it's full of goodness. How about that:
A recent NUS/Hefce survey found that students were concerned about the ICT competency of academic staff, with 21% thinking that their lecturers needed additional training. Some students also expressed dissatisfaction with perceived outdated technology in use in HE, and a lack of staff engagement with the institution's virtual learning environment.
From now on, digital literacy development must be on FE library menu cards alongside academic skills support.

Study Raises Doubts About Effectiveness of Facebook as Outreach Tool for Academic Libraries - this is a quick review of a piece of research from the United States. A conclusion is clear:
“If we consider how easily students ‘like’ a page, add a group, post personal information, or simply interact with Facebook pages, then we must face the fact that library pages are amongst the least attractive to students.”
After almost two years, my library's Facebook page has acquired about 100 friends. It generates very little of interaction, but functions well as one of the gateways for the library blog where the bulk of all support content is generated.

18 December 2011

Resistance to blogging (guest post)

My colleague, Fiona Casserly, an Early Years teacher, has shared her thoughts after the Blog of the Term award for her students.
The concept of informal and formal learning and preference for a particular kind of pedagogy seem fundamental to whether a student blogs or not. 
In my observations today I can see that the students who find blogging an addition to their course are predominantly the students that - it seems to me - have high self-efficacy and are high achievers.  This idea about their abilities to perform academically may lead them with feelings that they can achieve highly awarded assessments or learning gains without the help of blogs. Their stimuli response to handing in work has always (or mostly) been one that is positive. Combined with this high self-efficacy, students may have a more behaviourist attitude towards teaching and learning. They may see that formal learning only takes place in the classroom whereby the teacher can ‘pour’ in knowledge and that less learning takes place outside of the classroom arena. If learning activities outside of the classroom are viewed as informal this may then be seen as an add-on to their already loaded studies, rather than being an integral part of their course. 
Students which may have low self-efficacy may feel that they need more guidance and support and therefore are more inclined to view the work of others to create feelings of security, for example that they are on the right tracks.  This does relate to their level of performance, as in terms of formal assessment they fall in the mid to lower brackets on the marking scale.
My immidiate reaction is that there can be another explanation why high-achieving learmers may be reluctant to engage into blogging for learning: they spend their time studying differently. This is not a judgement on blogging: it will be interesting to see the outcomes in two years time when that group leaves the college to continue their last two years of the course at university. 

14 December 2011

I was a celebrity (it was fun)

Last Friday I was invited to a session with 2+2 Childhood Studies students. It is a HE course; students do two years at our college and then continue for another two at Warwick. I had seen them already, we did an information skills session– library catalogue, Google, e-books, reliability of information sources. They also had a session on blogging with a colleague of mine, our graduate trainee.

On this occasion, I was invited as a local celebrity (their tutor, Lin Armstrong, and I couldn’t stop laughing when planned all that) to present an award for the Best Blog of the Term. It was an important event as, according to Lin, this year she could observe a real break-through with her students: most of them used a variety of online tools, including personal blogs, to support their learning and did it in a collaborative way. Lin is a great believer in connectivism – a comparatively new learning theory for the digital age – and was very excited when found that her students had started discovering and generating knowledge as a network/community of learning. To celebrate their achievements and encourage further, the ceremony was put together.

10 December 2011

On marketing the library service

Two years ago my colleague at that time, Peter Barr, and I started a project: to develop marketing of the college library in the way which would embrace both traditional and emerging media; all should have connected and worked together. Before that, the library produced a lot of helpsheets, guides and leaflets; it also had a well developed presence on Moodle and the college website. It was first in the college to set up a Facebook page even though Facebook was banned on the college network PCs. However, our marketing activities were disjoint: content for each media was prepared separately, often – occasionally and by different people.

My thinking was broadly prompted by the Guardian which was the first major newspaper in Britain to move away from publishing online the texts that as the rule had already appeared in the paper edition. Very early the Guardian adopted a multi-platform approach: as soon as the content is ready it is pushed to all available media, edited and re-packaged respectively.