Posts Tagged ‘work notes’
These are my notes from a Teaching and Learning Lunch I attended last October. I jotted these down in my journal, and I am putting them here so I have another place where I can find the notes.
- So, what is it? It turns lectures into homework. Do your lectures ahead of time, and students can watch them before they come into class. You can then spend the class time on interactive activities.
- The class dynamic goes from passive to active.
- This is based on “blended learning.” It is not just “online learning.” The technology supports the classroom.
- No “one size fits all” when it comes to using technology.
- You don’t have to be tech savvy, but you may become savvy as you use more things.
- Avoid being overwhelmed. Start with small steps. Pick and choose, see what works, adapt.
- To flip your classroom, you don’t have to create all videos or tutorials. You can often find good resources online, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Explore various screencast options. Some are online and free.
- Check the site of the Flipped Learning Network: flippedclassroom.org . Check out their book Flip Your Classroom.
Remember, you transform your classroom as a teacher. No technology will do it for you. The technology supports the classroom culture.
One of the prominent issues with the book is that it is not terribly intuitive. It is meant to be used by trained practitioners. This probably explains why I get the occasional student complain about how difficult it is to use. It takes some time to go through it and learn how to find what you need.
The DSM IV, currently in its fourth edition, is the classification manual for mental disorders. It is used by clinicians and researchers in various fields such as biology, social work, psychology and psychiatry, counseling, etc. This manual is the result of a long journey to classify and define mental disorders and illnesses that started with a desire to gather mental health statistics. When did the effort start? According to the manual's introduction, "what might be considered the first official attempt to gather information about mental illness in the United States was the recording of the frequency of one category– 'idiocy/insanity' in the 1840 census" (xxv). Over time, the American Psychiatric Association, in collaboration with other groups, developed the vocabulary and definitions that eventually became the DSM. The DSM basically provides criteria to diagnose a mental disorder, and the clinician doing the diagnosis would follow that criteria using a specified assessment system (the multiaxial system) to reach a diagnosis.
Next are other things I wanted to write about or include in the draft:
- The manual has become a medical billing tool. Government and many insurance companies often require a specific diagnosis to approve payment for treatment. This issue does raise some questions about the use of the manual for things other than its stated purpose, and I think it is something that students should recognize. I think it may also make for a good information literacy lesson in terms of questioning a source.
- The compilers of the manual have been very inflexible in terms of making changes. In addition, there have been and continue to be controversies over the DSM. For instance, the notable inclusion of homosexuality as a disease; homosexuality was not removed until 1974, and to this day a lot of religious and political interests, which have nothing to do with science, continue to grouse over the 1974 removal of homosexuality from the DSM. In addition, the most current edition, the DSM IV TR (text revision) still includes sex-related diagnoses on the basis of sexual paraphilias (fetishes) for instance. I am sure any consenting adult who enjoys a little fetish play has a thing or two to say about that. Overall what this illustrates is that there are political and religious interests trying to bring influence to the scientific endeavor, plus keep in mind that those compiling the book have had their own interests as well. This is definitely the kind of thing that I think should be discussed with students, but I could not bring myself to write about it in the library blog, which is considered an official forum, and given certain community sensibilities, bringing up something like sexual paraphilias, even to make a point, could get me in hot water. I have to choose my battles.
- In the end, what I would want students to take away from this is that the DSM IV is a very specific reference book, to be used mostly by trained professionals, but that it is not without controversy. The book is not infallible. In fact, it has been edited and changed over time as we gain new knowledge or realize that something should not have been labeled a mental disease in the first place.
And there are my thoughts as I learned a bit about this manual.
Once again, I have to sit though another webinar that my library director made me watch. I will say right away that I hope this was some kind of free event because if we (read the library) paid for it, we should be demanding our money back. The title of the webinar in question was "Cultivating Loyal Customers by Delivering Meaningful and Memorable Service." It's one of those seminars that TLA (Texas Library Association) provides for librarian continuing education. The featured speaker was " Steve Wishnack [who] is the founder and President of Think & Do, providing consultation, seminars and workshops that help organizations cultivate customer relationships" (his website: www.thinkanddo.us). According to the TLA website, he has both BA and MS degrees in Education from Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY. So that is what education majors who don't go into schools to teach do: they become consultants, and I am not saying that in a good way.
A side note: I just looked up the information online. I am guessing we did pay for it, or the library director paid. Either way, I want the 45 bucks or so back.
Getting back on track, this was basically an hour and half or so of condescending, patronizing platitudes about how to provide good customer service. And when Wal-Mart is used as the example of good customer service, you have to know this is just not right. One of my colleagues noted that the speaker's presentation had a 2005 copyright date, an indication the presentation had not been updated since that time, so we are not even getting any new information. Which once again leads me to say: tell me something I do not know.
What follows are some notes from the presentation with my comments in parenthesis:
- Customer service has to be meaninful, that is, it satisfies a customer need. Customer service is also memorable, which means that it leaves a lasting impression.
- (Clearly the presenter sees the library as a business, which puts him on par with other library gurus who go for the library as business concept). The library is a place that conducts library business (yes, he actually said that), and customers are the people the library does business with (yes, he also said that). Libraries are not for profit, but they are in a service business.
- There are two types of customers. External customers are the ones outside the library staff (i.e. the patrons, so on). Internal customers are the ones who work at the library (I think this is a little overreaching with the customer paradigm).
- Some issues:
- Competition: Things like the Internet and Google.
- Market share.
- ROI, the return on investment. This is what the community, or the university in our case, wants to know.
- Assets: this includes the items in the library, such as the books, computers, the building, so on (however, there was no mention of the people. The librarians could be considered assets in the measure that they are information specialists. In fact, I just saw in some article I can't recall now a discussion of this very idea, so the idea of the librarians as being an asset to their campus was pretty fresh in my mind. It was not something this presenter even considered).
- The presenter gave Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a reference. That did not exactly inspire much confidence in the presenter.
- The ABCs of customer relationships:
- Attitude: this comes from inside.
- Behaviors: This is how you express your attitude. (And I have to make a pause here because, as my colleague pointed out, we may be cynical for instance, but we are careful not to show it to the patrons. It's called being a professional, which apparently the presenter nor my boss keep in mind. Because we are professionals there are certain attitudes or views that we do not show or express to the patrons even when they justly deserve it. Again, it is called being a professional, something that was lacking in this cookie cutter presentation).
- Connections: How we interact with others.
- The value of loyal customers:
- They use the library more.
- They are easier to serve.
- Free library advertising.
- (However, just because they are loyal, it does not follow they are good customers. Maybe the presenter needs to read this column by Shaun Rein on "Get Rid of Jackass Clients." Rein also mentions the work of Bob Sutton, who is a favorite of mine and whom I respect a lot more).
- When a customer feels mistreated, only 5% will tell you. 95% will not return (see my note above. Out of that 95%, I bet a good number of them we'd be happy if they never return). 80% will bad mouth you (sure, I would rather they not do that, but it is a fact of life you cannot please everyone. You put your best foot forward, you do your best to provide for their service or needs, but you are not their personal lackey or slave).
- A cute acronym (this presentation had a few of those): MAGIC.
- Making A Good Impression Counts.
- Another cute acronym: RATER
- Reliability: dependability, accuracy, consistency.
- Assurance: knowledge, trust, competence, confidence.
- Tangibles: physical appearance of our people and our workplace.
- Empathy: caring and attentiveness.
- Responsiveness: willingness to help promptly.
- The most deadly attitude to customer service is indifference (I can agree with that. You do need a degree of passion and caring to work with people).
- (The director made it a point to send a memo after the presentation. She writes: "We all know how easy it is to slip into cynicism and negativity. Certainly, difficult situations will NEVER improve if they start with negative attitudes, but courtesy and a positive attitude CAN improve interactions. The speaker did stress that 'it takes PRACTICE to make good customer service permanent" ).
- (Again, like the presenter, the director needs to do some further reading. I hate to say this but there are moments that no matter how my attitude is, the customer comes with a bad attitude and no amount of good attitude on your part is going to fix things. Again, this was not addressed at all in the presentation nor acknowledged by the director).
- Quote from the presentation: "Our customers will be enthusiastic about us if we are enthusiastic about our customers" (again, see my notes above on professionalism. As I saw elsewhere, I don't have to like the patrons to help them and give them good service).
- Another quote: "Fix the problem, not the blame" (the director likes this one. I will just not go there).
Posted November 18, 2009on:
This is another note on webinars that my boss makes me attend. For some reason, our boss is on a roll in terms of making us watch webinars related to academic libraries. Actually, yesterday she mentioned that one of the reasons was that, since some of the webinars were free, that she was trying to get some training for us given the fact that the budget overall is tight. However, I tend to think that there is such a thing as being too cheap. No, I don't think she herself is cheap. I just think the way the training is done is cheap. This particular one, an ACRL webinar on "Academic Librarianship by Design" was not free, but it certainly felt cheap. It felt cheap because it yet another one of those webinars where I was not hearing anything I had not heard before. This one dealt with ways to integrate library services into a campus's course management system (CMS) like Blackboard. I suppose on the positive side, if something can be salvaged, is that the webinar pretty much reaffirmed a lot of what we are already doing. It confirms the things that our instruction librarian has been fighting for, often with either opposition or right out indifference from the IT folks, to get the library into Blackboard.
- Yes, we do have a library tab on Blackboard that provides links to various services (and boy did we have to fight over that one).
- Yes, we do have embedded/blended librarians.
- Yes, we are pretty good at using things like Elluminate, virtual reference, online chat, so on.
- Yes, we are good at creating content and tools that our patrons will need and use.
So, once again, tell me something I do not know already. Show me something new, and something that I can actually use with the resources and restrictions I have to face. Yes, it is nice to see what other places are doing, but after a while, I want a little more substance than a basic overview. And I don't want to sound picky or superior, far from it, but basically stuff like this is just too basic. We do that stuff already with what we got. Unless unlimited money appears (unlikely to happen) and major attitude overhaul in IT and the administration happens (even less likely), we are not going to be doing things that some of the more well-heeled places presented are doing.
Am I frustrated? I suppose I am because I could have been getting some good work done in the library, and instead I had to sit for almost two hours listening to stuff that I know already because I am already doing it, or I already read about it someplace else. There is a reason the tagline in my professional blog is "I read a lot of the library literature so you don't have to."
What I am saying is this: there is a time when you have to stop watching what others are doing. It is time to put your money where you mouth is and actually start doing it. Stop worrying about what some other place is doing and concentrate on what it is we are doing. Focus on what it is we do well and measure how well we are doing it. From what I have seen so far, we are doing a lot better than many of those other places I hear about on these webinars. So, how about we focus on our work for a change? Just a thought.
I am honestly not sure what to make of this. This webinar, "'Big Challenges (and Opportunities) for Academic Libraries" (see the link here for some details) was something our director pretty much made us watch recently. I honestly expected a lot more given that a reason our director was making us watch it was as a prelude to upcoming work on strategic planning. I was not impressed by the content, and at times I found it a little condescending. Some of the (supposedly) revolutionary ideas they presented were things we have been doing already for years. Even when the boss managed to get through on the phone line to ask a question, asking the "now what?" (after we have done all that) question, we did not get a clear answer. The article by Walton (see citation below), which was the basis of the seminar, was not that much better.
One of my colleagues, who is a recent hire, commented that much of the presentation and article was a "fear" presentation, namely one of those gloom and doom presentations where they speculate about the fall of the library. And there is enough in the article to show that a lot of administrators, including Walton, contrary to his claims, who would not miss the library as we know it were it close tomorrow. Walton may claim he is in touch with libraries, but he is a consortium administrator. He has not been in the trenches for a while. So when he asks a question such as "is a great academic library based primarily in a great collection?" then answers that access is more important than ownership and does not address materials other than to reduce books and print, I have to wonder. Because where I currently work, there is nothing more embarrassing than having a student ask if we have books on X topic only to have to turn them away because we either do not have them (a very likely scenario for certain topics) or we have it as an e-book, in which case they look at you as if you just insulted their parentage (this happens fairly often too, and it will likely keep on happening as we increase electronic holdings in favor of print. Not a choice I really agree with, but I don't make that decision). Walton seems to agree with the assessment from other administrators that "books, except entertainment reading, were eventually going away" (page 90 in the article).And this is just one example. There is a lot in this presentation that seems alarmist and at times a bit overgeneralizing.
For the McCombs segment of the presentation, I just wanted to go down her list and say, "we do that, we do that, we do that other thing, that thing over there did not work," so on. I found it to be nothing more than restatements of the obvious. Allow to use some examples (quotations are from her presentation):
- "Created the 24/7 experience." This has been suggested in our campus a few times. It is just not going to happen. Unless there is a major hiring spree of extra staff to keep the library open, security to keep it safe, additional measures to lock down parts of the building, and so on, not happening. Those things cost money for one (something that McCombs did not mention anywhere in the presentation), and while some members of our administration like the idea (mostly because they do not have to stay late hours), in reality, they are not about to cough up funds or resources to make it happen. We don't do this literally, but we get close given our hours, plus the many resources on our website that are online 24/7.
- "Develop specific and unique connections with student life." This is one of the reasons my position was created: Outreach Librarian. I am constantly seeking ways to develop those specific and unique connections with student life. From maintaining relationships with campus groups and students to implementing, administering, and maintaining most of the library's 2.0 initiatives, I can say we do that already. Tell me what's next, don't just tell me something I know already. Yes, we do that.
- "Seen as innovative technology leaders." It must be nice when your campus (SMU in her case) has the resources to build an information commons or a student multimedia center. We barely managed to convert a conference room into a small practice presentation room for students to use. With significant effort and push by our instruction librarian, we finally got a hands-on teaching classroom for library instruction, a room that we do have to share with at least two other campus organizations (instructional design and interactive television) as part of the Faustian deal. And we had to fight for those things pretty much every step of the way, and let's not even add that the library has no control over a substantial amount of its space. We are working on this, but not easy.
- "Strong faculty support." With a few exceptions, this is pretty much non-existent. And it is not for a lack of effort on our part. Our director has put a lot of thought and effort into implementing a librarian liaison program for academic departments. Our librarians strive to work with faculty to meet their needs in various ways, and very often, we are met with derision, indifference (which seems to be the attitude of choice), and/or insults (I have been called incompetent a few times by them, for instance). When I hear that "strong faculty support" is some panacea, I just want to know how do you overcome their overall disrespectful attitudes for openers. Don't just tell me you need to have "strong faculty support." Give me specific steps to build it, or how to work around things when it is lacking. Not everyone works in the same utopian campus where faculty all fawn over the library. Lacking, but to be honest, not our fault.
- "Close relationship with central technology support services." Considering that we cannot even get our campus IT people to even make a phone call when they are doing some upgrade to the network or computer systems, I don't think this one is coming any time soon either. I could go on and rant about the many ways IT treats the library as an after thought or a bother, but I have more I need to write about. Lacking, but again, not our fault (communication and common courtesy are a two-way street. This is another thing that I often do not hear from many of these bright-eyed speakers).
- "Special Collections involved with faculty for both programming and research support." Our Archivist has been hard at work at this, considering that she has pretty much had to build Special Collections and Archives from the ground up. I think this recent success of hers illustrates very well how our archives department is involved. Yes, we do that.
- "Connections with the administrative community." To an extent, this is part of my job as well since I do a lot of the PR work for the library, so I strive to keep the administrative community informed. Our director spends a lot of time working with administrators as well. Yes, we do that.
- "Do not shy away from the big assignments." Oh really? Our librarians work on various campus committees, and we have done work in things as big as accreditation. A few of the librarians, including myself, were on various committees dealing with the accreditation process. Yes, we do that.
- "Volunteer." Yes. We do that too.
- "Create networks of advocacy." Again, part of my job for one, especially in dealing with students. Something our instruction librarian does with her students. Something the archivist does with potential clients, faculty, and campus. So does our director. Yes, we do that.
- "Be available to represent the university in any number of forums." To the extent this is possible, yes, we do that.
- "DO NOT WHINE." I may vent, but I do not whine. I, along with colleagues, put my money where my mouth is. I just wish others would do the same. Expressing frustration over a lack that, more often than not, you have no control over, is not whining. Give me your resources, your information commons, and your very supportive faculty, and I will build you castles. I can only work with what I have. Yes, we do (or not do) this too.
There are other items in McCombs list, but there is only so much I can take of the condescending tone, the underlying attitude that if you are not doing those things, then there must be something wrong with our library, or you fall short somehow. I can attest the ways we literally bust our behinds to serve our academic community with little resources, often with ungrateful support (if any), and we still get very positive reviews on things like LibQual+. So please, tell me something new. Oh, and for the love of your sky fairy of choice, we are not Starbucks (no matter how many coffee shops you want to replace libraries).
Even Mendoza, who represented a community college, did not tell me much new, and she added to the alarmist tone. Her presentation in terms of suggestions was pretty much fairly similar to McCombs.
So again, I am not sure what to make of this. Maybe I am just not the audience for this presentation since I happen to be pretty well read when it comes to the LIS literature as well as being familiar with the various reports cited like ECAR and OCLC. In this day and age, are there really libraries out there that need to be told this kind of thing? In a way, this was not too different than the times when my school district, back in the days when I was a school teacher, decided to have some teacher in-service day and inflict some "motivational" speaker (who very often had not been in a classroom for ages or not at all) to come tell us how to run our classrooms. So much for change.
Anyhow, my two cents for what little they may be worth.
Oh, almost forgot, the citation for Walton's article:
Walton, Robert, "'Big' Challenges (and Opportunities) for Academic Libraries." Texas Library Journal (Fall 2009): 88-90.
Update note (10/29/09): Here is a link to the Jim Neal "New Directions" (link to YouTube video) speech that is mentioned in the webinar. Unless you are really curious, don't bother. It's an almost hour and half soporific presentation by an administrator from a large campus (read very well funded) telling the rest of us (who are nowhere near as well funded) what to do. I inflicted it on myself, and I could certainly write a whole post just replying to it, but to be honest, I am a bit tired of this whole affair. Some of us have to actually work for a living.