Using PollEverywhere in a search skills session

2 03 2011

So I did a session with some 1st year architectural technology students on Monday and made use of PollEverywhere to try and get a bit of activity on the go.

What I find really difficult about these sessions is if they are just me talking and demoing how to do searching for the students this = BORING!! Therefore it’s boring for me. I don’t like seeing their glazed, blank expressions and the why am I here listening to this person go on about stuff that I can just use google for. It makes me feel a bit crap and a bit pointless, if they are not getting anything out of coming to my session. So, how can I, if not solve it then at least improve it? Well, this is where my other problem lies…

I have fairly large groups in my subject areas as the different courses all tend to do a ‘skills’ module which is where info searching generally comes into play. So, for the first year built environment students doing the skills module there are about 150 and for the geography/geology probably about 100-120. There are set times when they are all together and this is generally when I am invited to come and ‘tell’ them all about the wonders of finding information and sometimes Endnote Web, which is another one that requires some hands on action for people to get it.

To be fair I’m being a bit of a miserable old trout face bags because I have had some good, positive feedback from sessions. Feedback is another thing actually, I’ll get onto that in a bit. I just want to make the sessions as relevant and as useful as possible and with something like searching I’m of the opinion that them actually doing some would be more beneficial than me talking at them for any amount of time.

Anyway, I decided that this session would be different.  I had a tweet chat with Marion, one of our Learning Technology Advisers and another educational technology pro in our department Katie and they gave me some ideas about how I could use PollEverywhere in the session. It started withMarion having to explain to me what Jeopardy is! It’s a gameshow don’t you know🙂 This is what I went with in the session.

So, what did I do?
I had a group of about 20 students. I set up 4 laptops in our training room and had them in teams.  The first part of the session I explained a bit about what we were going to cover as is usual and then covered different search techniques, the resources available to them etc etc. The usual thing you would expect from introducing an info  searching skills session.  Another good thing about the timing of the session is that I could base it on an assignment that they had recently been set, so I spent a bit of time discussing with them the ways in which they had approached the assignment and then explained  a bit how I had, in the hope that this would demonstrate that there is no exact science in searching, but that by making use of some of the tips and techniques I was sharing with them would defo help in future assignments.

So, how did I use PollEverywhere? Well, there are several things that you can do with it; create a multiple choice poll or create a free text poll. The nature of my session meant that using the free text poll was better suited to the Jeopardy style approach that I used. I created 10 polls, which as became obvious in the session was too much! They totally got on board with the first lot, but it seemed like they were a bit over it by the time we got to the end.
The first 5 polls were statements about searching techniques which I had covered in the presentation/demo bit of the session and the second 5 polls were statements about different architects, projects and buildings that they had to find the answers to and then text in to PollEverywhere.

It’s a straight forward thing to set up. I’d created the polls and put them into a group. Each of the teams nominated a chief texter to send in the answer. In order to participate they had to text in to join the session and then we were away. With the free text poll you can see the answers coming in and onto the screen immediately. What would have been useful is if I had asked them to put Team A, B, C etc before their answer! As it was a fairly small group though, this didn’t cause too any real problems.

There are also several ways in which you can respond; text, twitter, smartphone and web. We went for text as the majority of people have phones and as we were working in teams they only had to nominate one person for texting.

Did it work? Well, yes, it did. They totally got on board with it and going round the teams when they were searching they were all getting involved and suggesting how to find what they needed. Admittedly they did all use Google for finding most of the stuff that they needed, but they did it using the different tips I had shown them earlier in the session.
However, like I said earlier, by the time we got to the end they’d had enough. So that’s another thing that’s really clear; generally speaking they don’t have lengthy attention spans which is why it’s important for me to vary the way things are delivered and give them the opportunity to put the stuff I’m telling about into practice. You can see how this is difficult for the larger groups, we don’t have anywhere that could accomodate them all for practical hands on stuff and with a group that size I’m not sure how manageable it would be. The alternative that I’m going to speak to lecturers about for next year is seeing smaller groups over several weeks. I think this would be more beneficial to us all! This is the kind of set up Librarian Sarah has with her media lot and while it means running more of the same session it also means that they get to actually have a go themselves and I’d be on hand to answer any questions etc.
Sarah has kindly agreed to let me go along to one of her sessions to see how she does it. I know that we cover the same thing in terms of content, but she has the advantage of having the groups in front of PCs, so they can get involved. I know there are downsides to this too, but something worth exploring I think.

Feedback was another thing I mentioned earlier and that’s a problem again with the larger groups. Using something like PollEverywhere could be a way to collect feedback during a session or get people to ask questions that they might have. On of my colleagues at another site has tried this successfully, so another thing to consider using in my sessions too. Sarah uses a survey monkey, which is ideal for a session using PCs as she can get them to fill it in before they go.
I’ve tried different things – post its, the last question on a worksheet, which have been useful,  but I never really feel like it tells me anything about how they found the session. More thought needed for this.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough about this! The long and short of it is that I would defo use PollEverywhere in a session again, but have a little rethink about how much I use it🙂

Ok bye
Librarian Emma

Branch and Group workshop at CILIP

2 03 2011

I’ve got a list as long as a long thing about stuff that I want to blog about but just never seem to get round to it for one reason or another, mainly just because I’m a bit crap I think. Anyway, high on the priority list is the this stuff about the future of the branches and groups. Representatives attended a workshop at CILIP, with the aim of figuring a way to change how the branches and groups work.

Just for a bit of background; representatives were sent the agenda for the day CILIP Workshop for Branches and Groups It was super important to get the opinions of as many of the South East branch members so I could actually represent their views on the day.

A number of people responded to the three main discussion points for the day:

  • What is the branch and group network for?
  • How do the activities align with ambition?
  • Developing a new framework for working together.

Here are the notes I made from the discussions that took place around these main points Branch and group workshop Luckily CILIP Wales’ and fellow tweeter Mandy Powell was there to make sure all the discussions were noted down. It was lovely to meet her in real life, as well as Amanda Poulton who I also keep up to date with on Twitter.

So, I circulated the main discussion points to the members of the committee of the South East Branch and to members of the sub branches so that I could actually represent their views on the day and number of people responded. It was important to me to get their views across.

I also just wanted to note down a few thoughts I had about how the discussions went and the general feelings that came across throughout the day.
CILIP chief executive Annie Mauger opened the day with a short presentation about what our discussion points were and the kind of thing that we are working towards; a new way of working for the branches and groups.

We were in groups of a mixture of representatives from branches and special interest groups. First up for discussion – what are the branches and groups for?

What became apparent from these discussions is that there is a lot of crossover in the purpose and the aims of the branches and groups. Very broadly speaking it was seen that the branches provided opportunities for anyone, regardless of sector/role etc,  where as the  groups were focused much more on a specific aspect of information work or a specific factor. However the things on offer, like networking opportunities, professional development opportunities remain pretty much the same across the branches and the groups.

Discussions were active and people had many points to put across. What people seemed to find difficult, or what people wanted to know if is if people at CILIP already had ideas as to what should happen to the branches and groups. What Annie made very clear was that the branch and group structure could not to continue as it is; it is too costly to run and the functions of the branches and groups could be delivered in a more efficient way. Annie gave an example of one group having 17 bank accounts, which does seem a bit loco! The administration of that must be a nightmare. What Annie also made clear was that we as representatives of the branches and groups and therefore members should have full involvement in shaping our future.
It was clear that people do feel uncomfortable by the changes that needs to be made. There were some feelings of tension at certain points throughout the day again, I think due to the uncertainty about what the future holds.

Daniel Sabel who works for the governance department at CILIP made the point that it wasn’t just the branches and groups that were going to have to make changes. Changes are happening throughout the whole of CILIP and again throughout the profession. What’s important is that we are involved in the changes being made and this workshop was an opportunity to do so.

What is obvious is that this is not going to be an easy process, as such a lot of people are involved in moving toward making a decision about how we can move forward and change the way we work to become more efficient and meet the needs of members.

The day was challenging and no decision was made about the future of branches and groups. Obviously it will take more discussion than in just one day to reach that point, however I do think that we did make progress in establishing the purpose of the branches and groups and also starting to look at ways in which we could work together in a more collaborative way.
How we achieve that is the process that we are going through now.  What struck me throughout the discussions is that the new professionals should totally get on board with this, a fresh perspective may be able to give some fresh ideas.

I personally do think the work of the branches and groups is essential and provides real opportunities to members in there professional development and networking and developing skills and so on, but I also recognise that this could be delivered in a more efficient way.

Discussions moved down to how we could perhaps work more collaboratively. Collaborative working does happen across many of the branches and groups already. Whether we can do this more efficiently was another discussion that happened. We also talked about whether different special interest groups could merge. We did discuss several options of ways that we could move forward to change the branch and group structure.

As someone that is still fairly new to the profession and defo new to the way that CILIP works, it’s clear that there is a lot of history that is still attached to the branch and group discussions. This is why I think the views of new professionals or people that are members of CILIPcould help move discussions forward. I’m not saying that established professionals don’t have valid opinions to offer. All I’m suggesting is that a mixture of viewpoints and experiences can help with these discussions.

So how did the day finish?Annie brought the day to an end recognising that more discussion needs to take place.  Notes of the discussions of the day will be circulated to branches and groups for discussion at committee meetings and another workshop will then take place later in the year to hopefully move nearer to a decision for a new framework for the branches and groups to operate in.

I will try and keep you posted. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or opinions on this then get in touch with your special interest groups or branch and get your views known.

Librarian Emma