Teaching with Technology: An Academic Librarian's Guide

Becky Jones (Academic Librarian, Loughborough University, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




Jones, B. (2008), "Teaching with Technology: An Academic Librarian's Guide", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 204-206. https://doi.org/10.1108/00330330810867837



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

As an academic librarian regularly involved in teaching information literacy and study skills, I was looking forwards to reading this book, as I am always looking for different ways to engage with students. I was not disappointed, as this is a highly practical book that introduces a range of technologies relevant to the academic environment, and makes excellent suggestions for how they can be used effectively. Each chapter covers a different aspect of Web 2.0 and other new technologies, and is written by experienced information professionals based at different universities in America. The book is designed to be referred to whenever the reader wants to investigate a different aspect of technology, and to find out how it can be applied in the academic environment and this is the key to its effectiveness.

Chapter 1 is a great introduction to screencasting, (creating online video tutorials for library instruction), by Susan P. Goodwin. There are excellent instructions for using Camtasia software, as well as an overview of the other software available, with useful screenshots. There are lists of suggestions for how to use screencasts, and links to samples so that you can investigate further and decide if this application will work with your students. This is definitely a technology that I intend to explore.

In chapter 2 we move onto a general discussion of all the Web 2.0 technologies which have recently become so popular; blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and podcasts. This chapter would work as a good introduction for anyone who has not yet discovered these tools. Again there are useful screenshots, advice on using this technology in your teaching, a list of wiki features as well as instructions for creating your own. The chapter is enhanced by constant references to how the applications could be used in library environments. There are references, further reading and recommended examples for you to explore. As an example of how relevant to the academic librarian the information in this chapter is, the table on p. 51, “Top ILS vendors incorporating RSS feeds” stands out.

Chapter 3 “Virtual reference and instruction” by VanScoy and Oakleaf gives clear examples of interaction between librarians and library patrons and would be useful for those who are not confident in communicating within the online environment, perhaps those who do not yet have online Ask a Librarian services.

The next chapter is a basic introduction to wireless networks, laptops and PDAs and other mobile devices, and again would be good for those in the profession who are not so confident with IT.

The following chapter “Beyond the keyboard: optimising technology spaces for collaborative learning, instruction and service” by Sharkey, was one that I found most interesting and informative. The emergence of the “information commons” and the need for enhanced spaces for learning and teaching is discussed in this chapter. There is an excellent discussion of learning theory in relation to information skills teaching. Table 5.1 on p.115 “Aligning net‐gen characteristics, learning principles, learning space and IT applications”, really makes you think about the library environment and what we have to offer to our users.

Chapter 6 is another hot‐topic, “Libraries in the course management systems learning environment”. There is good background coverage of course management systems, discussion of student learning and library integration, as well as resources and learning environments and thoughts for the future. This chapter provides a great overview for those new to virtual learning environments and whilst the screenshots are from Blackboard, it is not overly focused on one system.

The final chapter, on video‐conferencing, is written by a trio of librarians and discusses the potential uses of this collaborative technology, with special attention to professional development.

To some extent I had, with colleagues, already explored most of the technologies covered in this book, but I found it a confirmation of what we have been working on, and I did find several hints and tips on how we could improve. It may be more suitable for those who have not yet explored these new technologies, or who deliver more traditional information literacy sessions and would like to engage with their students in more innovative ways. As each chapter deals with a different aspect of new technology this is a useful book to dip into, or to share with colleagues.

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