Tag Archives: Instruction

Oregon Virtual Reference Summit

After a quick introduction by Caleb,  Dave Lankes gave the keynote and you can listen to it and see slides and eventually video on Virtual Dave…Real Blog. I had to step out for two minutes and missed his version of the IT/Librarian Smackdown conversation, so Kathleen will be happy to hear that I listened to the pod cast. Funny! I also laughed out right at his impersonation of the 98-year-old new hire coming in with his walker to be “The New Librarian.” You’ll have to see the video, but that was cute and point well taken. I like his emphasis on knowledge work, rather than information work.

Our Quality Team session on the rubric for transcript review and reference instruction had about 16 attendees. This worked fine for our small group exercise. We were prepared for a larger group, but frankly, I think we would have run way short of time if we had many more people. As it was, we had just enough time and could have used a little more for discussion. People like to talk about transcripts! We reviewed one of the notable transcripts together, then each small group reviewed their own packet of transcripts. After 15 minutes, we came back together and each group reported their observations. Caleb designed a sharp looking postcard with the rubric that people were excited about having as a take-away. The rubric postcard is small enough to keep by a monitor. Sources of anxiety around VR tend to be one of three; worries about the software, worries about being able to ‘find the answer’ and worries about having a good back and forth chat with the patron. The rubric is a quick and easy way to make sure you’re covering the basics. It is not intended to be prescriptive or formulaic. The way each librarian creates a welcoming tone or conducts the reference interview…all of it is still individual. The rubric is also useful in training and reference instruction as it distills the essential elements- probably most useful for someone who is just learning to do reference or new to VR or even student workers helping to cover our service desks. In our small discussion group later in the afternoon, Janeanne talked about using the rubric and looking at WOUs IM transcripts from their institution for a reference training meeting.

I also attended Kate Gronemyer’s and Anne-Marie Deitering’s session on teaching search in VR. They showed clips of a couple of chats and attendees brainstormed other questions and techniques the librarian could have used to help the patron move closer to answering their question or learning what they need to know. They used a graphic from Exploratory Search: from finding to understanding to illustrate the relationship between the activities of Look up, Learn, and Investigate. The graphic worked as a reminder that learning is a process and we are helping patrons move a little further along.  Kate asked the question, can we provide the same level of instruction in VR as we can face to face?

It occurred to me that people interpret Kate’s question as can one person in one encounter provide the same level of instruction as one person in one face to face interaction- but if you look at the question as “can many visits to a VR service provide the same level of instruction as face to face” then I think we can say potentially.

It also occurred to me that in an ideal learning situation, we give a little instruction then students go away and struggle, then come back and we keep going. In VR, students pick their own point of struggle, pop in and ask a question, then go away to grapple with whatever new they learn. This is a different way of looking at the way they come and go abruptly. When we think about this in combination with the idea of VR as one big entity (I believe I’ve already mentioned my desire to swarm and destroy) and the transaction as having multiple pop-ins which the patron chooses based on point of struggle, it is a much more interesting scenario in terms of VRs ability to instruct.

We had break out time for disucssion groups. I led the disucssion for our group on transcript review and the rubric. Janeanne, Kathleen, Michael, Carol and I chatted and I eventually burst into such hysterical laughter at one of Kathleen’s stories that I was crying. Always great in a discussion group! We did talk about how nice it would be to use the VR service chat tool to contact colleagues when you need to run an idea by someone and are working a shift like Michael (4pm-1am). It would also be nice if the chat tool allowed patrons to establish a personal relationship with a librarian (if they chose) rather than being randomly selected at each visit. We also talked about Janeanne’s idea to use the rubric as a training tool for the WOU librarians who staff their IM reference service.

We came back together as a large group and Caleb gave an Lnet update. He described the projects he is working on and a new chat tool. It will be on video. Note: he mentioned an feature that could let multiple librarians decend upon a question and rip into it (swarm and destroy, Swarm and Destroy!).

About 13 of us went to the Blue Pepper for the after Summit and a really cool think happened: I met Hillary Garret. Hillary is from McMinnville Public Library, so we are related through CCRLS  and by virtue of our shared patrons, that is, Chemeketa students from our McMinnville Campus who visit McMinnvillePublic for service. I’m so happy to meet Hillary and have a contact at McMinnville so we can talk about outreach and service and all that good stuff. Janeanne and I wrapped up with dinner at Soba (name?), a Japanese restaurant downtown.

In general: I loved the fact that there was time built into the program for discussion and reflection, but later in the afternoon the atmosphere got a little sleepy. On the conference survey I brainstormed a few ideas for helping people meet other colleagues during the discussion groups. The Eola center was the perfect size for this small conference (I think there were about 70 attendees). Plenty of parking, great view, nice weather, and the food was fine (I helped with some of the arrangements, so I really hoped that everything would work and it did).