Notes from an Academic Librarian

Thank you Michael for asking me to guest post to TTW. I enjoy reading TTW and I am a believer in technology but find that there are times when the theory works better than practice. I find that people have to have a comfort level with technology and with their own craft to successfully incorporate technology into their daily work. You have to know it is going to work and you have to be willing to assess it and rework it until you get it right.

Hi! I am Donna Goodwyn, Head of Reference and Assistant Professor from the A.C. Buehler Library at Elmhurst College, in Elmhurst, Illinois, just 14 miles outside of Chicago. As an academic librarian, I teach information literacy in its many different forms to classes in relation to assignments and to my academic community throughout the year. We also have workshops for our faculty where we work with things like Blackboard, wikis, blogs, and databases, etc. to contribute to the life long learning on campus. I am also blessed to teach in both our English and Education departments. One class which I really enjoy teaching is called EDU112, Education Technology where I help to show pre-service teachers how they can incorporate technology into their curriculum. Another cla ss I teach with a few other librarians from our college is The Great Chicago Library class, where we take Honors English students and visit a variety of great libraries in the Chicagoland area. I have incorporated a blogging component into both classes and it works well as a learning tool and vehicles for collaboration and exploration of creativity. The hotlinks above are to my class blogs and they are used as tools and are rather messy like my desk but they have a purpose which is to teach and to experiment.

As an academic I also have had the great opportunity of working with Associated Colleges of Illinois in their Mentor Online project and as a presenter in ACI’s Center for Success in High Needs Schools . As Stated on their website:

“ACI’s Center for Success in High-Need Schools seeks to close the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers by providing a key ingredient for success: excellent teachers for high-need schools. By helping low-income students make the grade today, we can create a more productive society and ensure America’s future in the global economy.”

Here I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of teachers working in the Chicago School system who are actually trying to integrate technology into their teaching and what is so great is that they tell me what actually works for them and what doesn’t. And it so funny, that TTW has had numerous posts which also talk about these problems and conce rns that people are having with technology. But, the teachers also tell me about their success stories and how much the students enjoy and retain what they have learned in these dynamic lessons that incorporate technology.

Some of the problems they encounter are slow internet lines, filtering, equipment failure, software upgrades, and lack of training and understanding from their administration. So, we discuss solutions and ways around the system including low cost answers using the internet and simple equipment solutions.

And sometimes blogs don’t always do exactly what you want them to. Our ACI blog provides good information but it is not getting comments and the interaction we had hoped for. So, we asked our teachers why they weren’t c ommenting and they gave us great answers like they didn’t readily have the web address, they were not comfortable having their names with their posts, they didn’t have the time during the school year and some had problems getting a good internet connection. So our group is going to meet in June to try and make our blog more collaborative for both our teachers and mentors. It proves that even good technology needs tweaking to work for each individual situation.

So above was just a little about what I have learned about technology and teaching and a few things I do as an academic librarian. I have been with Elmhurst College for over 17 years and I am a tenured faculty member who has recently served as Chair of Faculty Council and so I guess I could now be called a lifer. But you know, I haven’t been bored yet! I love the students, my colleagues, the college campus, the resources I have at my fingertips, and most importantly th e freedom to explore teaching and technology. I enjoy academic librarianship and encourage students in the library science field to take an internship at a college or uni versity library to see if it something you might be interested in doing. Thank you for reading—Donna