Activity #3

Imagine that you have been given the task of introducing a redesigned online catalog in an academic library to library staff, faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students (WorldCat Local, anyone?).  Your audience has varying levels of experience with the old catalog, and discovery layers in general.  Will there be differences in how you will make a teaching or training session “active” for each of these four groups?  How will you motivate each of these participant groups to embrace this new tool?

12 Responses to Activity #3

  1. Pingback: Activity #2 and #3 | Reflecting with every CLIC

  2. Ginny Heinrich says:

    All the groups will have commonalities – Why should I care? What does this do? How does this tool relate to other tools I already know about? How will it help me in my work? The answers may be different based on the group I’m working with, however. Library staff will have a different answer to the “Why should I care?” question than an undergraduate student will. I need to be prepared for those different answers. If I’ve effectively engaged the audience with the “why should I care?” moment and have given them at least one way the tool will help them immediately, then I’ve gone a long way to providing motivation to stay with me and learn more.

  3. Siobhan DiZio says:

    Ginny’s comments are great! So much of teaching is about reflecting on the audience and reading their reactions in the moment. We can’t help but look, for instance, at our own library home pages through librarians’ eyes, but many staff discussions at Bush Library (Hamline) center on how the
    audience(s) will react to changes in format. Who will be using this or that feature–students or faculty? The answer affects the way the information is organized, named, and presented. Jon
    Neilson has done some great things with our homepage. One of my favorites is the Journals by Title feature, which used to be buried under Find Articles and is now front-and-center on the homepage. If I were showing faculty around the new homepage, I would point out this feature immediately; if I were speaking to students, I probably wouldn’t unless I knew they had a grasp on locating citations that include journal titles! WorldCat Local, huh? Kristofer Scheid always reminds me to tell his grad ed students about limiting to dissertations–really important to this group. I probably wouldn’t tell FYSEM students about dissertations, but I’d show them how to limit to articles or books to help them find the requisite number of each for their reference page.

  4. Kent Gerber says:

    Booth’s What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) is a concept that I always try to keep in mind when doing any presenting or teaching. I would review what each group’s typical goals would be and present using the WIIFM lens for each of them. Any activity I would have them do would be designed to accomplish or fulfill those goals.

    A general principle that I try to focus on is how this tool will save time, which is important to all groups and would be a primary motivator. I think librarians, faculty and graduate students (in descending order) are also concerned with quality, while undergraduates are much more likely to find something that is “good enough”.

    Some specific goals or activities I might include for the different groups would be:

    Are encountering many topics for the first time and I would center activities around finding some achievable goal surrounding that kind of search. ex. Find three key words on your topic using the catalog and looking at the subject terms. The steps involved with this activity will help them get comfortable with the new arrangement.

    Saving them time and helping them find deep and comprehensive resources would be the goal in this session. Like Siobhan said I would show them how to find Theses and Dissertations because they will most likely want to see examples of what they will be expected to do.

    Library Staff:
    This group will be more concerned about quality and advanced functions of the catalog. I would ask them to create a bibliography to support an upcoming topic for a future or potential class. (Involves searching, citing, managing accounts, and more advanced features of the catalog)

    This group tends to be skeptical, critical and expects high functionality. Demonstrating how their favorite journal or topics can be found in the new catalog will pique their interest. A recent focus group we conducted this summer highlighted their desire for access to their favorite databases, ability to manage their catalog account, and Interlibrary loan so I would have them provide some examples for us to work through together in the new catalog.

  5. There would definitely be a difference in the presentation, depending upon the target audience. My goal would be to try to help them understand how and why this will save them time. Helping them clearly understand each and every tab – and what is behind them – would be essential as a first step.
    Different audiences would have greater interests in different areas. I would try to make sure that all of them were able to find the tutorials and subject guides, then the basic tools for article searching and other formats. A good way to find out what they are especially interested in might be to ask simply them (although, if they are not skilled searchers, they might not be able to articulate an answer to this question).
    As for World Cat Local – it can be a great starting point, especially for the gen ed and greener researcher. I would likely spend more time on this tool with a gen ed class than I would with a graduate class. – since it is one handy way to hopefully find one article that is right on target – and then use that article to find more of the same — and so on.

  6. Nancy Olson, Circulation Co-Supervisor, Bethel University Library says:

    Faculty: Faculty already know why they need to use the catalog, no need to convince them of its relevance. But, there is still a What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) aspect in that they will be looking for how WorldCat is better than what they already know. Why should they take the time to learn WC? In addition, they will want to do much guided navigating in the session so they will feel they can find what they need without having even more instruction. So, start with a short, demonstrated WIIFM and move on to guided navigation and problem-solving.

    Undergrads: Undergrads will need much WIIFM hands-on demonstration of how this catalog will help them succeed and make life easier for them. Make it relevant to their world. They may or may not come with prior knowledge of how to search a catalog. It will be important to ascertain their level of comfort. Once that is determined, the instructor will need to teach beginning skills all the while reminding them why this will be helpful.

    Graduate students: Graduate students may or may not have basic searching skills. Like the undergrads, their level of ability must be ascertained right up front. Once that is established, you will either do basic skills (mostly instructor centered) or you will go to the more hands on training where they are able to follow you as you navigate and explain. Even more than undergrads, graduate students need to know WIIFM. They are working adults, often with families, so they don’t want to waste time and energy on anything that does not pay off for them. Like the faculty, you will need to give them a lot of opportunities to navigate so they will feel they can do this on their own.

  7. Valerie Aggerbeck says:

    I enjoyed reading Kent’s post and agree 100% with the WIIFM approach. More than ever, people want simple answers to their questions and they want them NOW. Showing the value of a tool – how it can save you time if you use it correctly and what it can do for you – is a great way to get the audience to pay attention. The instruction session should be specifically tailored to the target audience. You do not want to risk losing the group by showing things that are too advanced or boring them if they already know the basics.

    If you know who will be in your audience (i.e. it is a relatively small faculty group or graduate students from a specific course), it might be helpful to send an email ahead of time asking if people want specific areas/topics covered. We try to do this with our training sessions for research assistants and the level of attendance (and attention span during the session) seems to go up if people know you will address their questions or discuss an issue of particular interest to them.

  8. Laura Secord says:

    As librarians, we know the features of the ILS inside and out, and it’s easy to get carried away and show users more tools or options than they really need or want. It would be great to ask each group ahead of time how they’ve used a catalog in the past and what has frustrated them, what has been useful, and what types of materials they hope to find for the project at hand. Definitely focus on WIIFM.

    All of the groups need the basics: how the tool is organized, how to limit to books or whatever it is you’re hoping to find, how to find an item, how to request from a CLIC school or ILL….

    When I’m working with first year students or non-academic staff members, I don’t assume anything about what they know about a catalog, or that they even know what that is. What does that big search box on the front page of the library website search? Until we added the words “Search Macalester WorldCat” IN the search box, many students didn’t know that that was what they were searching in. When I ask “what does that search?” somebody always pipes up with, “libraries worldwide!” which is what the default search is set at in the drop down box. So…it’s important to be clear (in a brief way) about what you can and can’t find in WorldCat. I always emphasize to undergrads that while Macalester WorldCat includes articles, it is not the world of articles and that it’s real strength is finding books, DVDs, and other non-article materials. Undergraduates want to get in and get out with materials that will help them get their paper done. If they can get what they need (or think they need) from this single tool, that’s all they’ll use. The things that undergrads latch onto during first year sessions: the cite/export button that formats the citation in the style their professor wants, subject term links, and the fact that Macalester materials appear first in a search.

    Honors/Graduate students generally have done more sophisticated searching than newer students, but again I don’t assume that they know the ins and outs of the system. These students are motivated to learn more about in-depth searching–and are generally willing to put in a bit of time learning some of the tools available in the OPAC that will get them to what they need.

    Faculty often have very specific goals in mind as they search, so I would ask up front about what they need to know to get to what they want. They are familiar with the basics elements, but just need some help getting oriented to what will be the most efficient way to get to the desired results.

    Bottom line–keep the demonstration simple and focused on the needs of the audience.

  9. Ginny Heinrich says:

    @Laura S. – I like your point about asking people before the session. Even if you don’t have time before the session, you can briefly survey people at the start of the session as an icebreaker. We talked about doing that during my book discussion – Rhonda Gilbraith said she did that informally with success at the start of her sessions with students, and here at Mac, Ron Joslin talked about using Poll Everywhere ( I sometimes hand out a piece of paper and ask those kinds of questions as a “1 minute write.” Great post!

  10. Beth Hillemann says:

    What everyone else said, basically. *g* But I was thinking specifically about the “active” part, and that would differ from audience to audience. For library staff and faculty, I’d be more inclined to demonstrate the new catalog, with the expectation of a lot of questions and all-together-trying-things-out. (Faculty, in my experience, can be very…lively when presented with something new!) For the undergraduates I would likely have some sort of structured hand-on activity, in pairs. For advanced students I would either do the interactive group thing, or have them explore the catalog with their specific needs/topics in mind. These different approaches to “activity” have to do with motivation and experience–and my experiences working with all of these groups!

  11. Johan Oberg says:

    I would probably think about what each group would find interesting about the new catalog, the reason or reasons why they would care about it. I would probably build the session from this perspective, and let the interest-aspect be one motivator. Hopefully, the new product has features that people will want to use and it is significantly different from what we had before – that usually helps with the motivation aspect. I think all groups would like hands-on, so I would include that in all sessions. Like some previous posts mentioned, I would probably also start with having the participants write down a question, or do a short survey in the beginning of the session, to gauge their previous experiences, their expectations, or their pre-conceived notions about the topic of the session.

  12. Earleen Warner says:

    Ideally, before the training session, I would conduct a survey with each group to find out what experience they did indeed have with the old catalog, if they had ever used a discovery layer (if they even knew what that was), and what types of information they had recently been seeking or what type of assignment they were currently trying to complete. It is easy to make assumptions about one’s audience, only to discover that one is not always on target.
    While I would have each group participate in a hands-on activity in which they would search for items by subject in the new online catalog, I would change the subject for each group–something that would be of interest to that group–that would motivate them to use the search techniques demonstrated to them. I would need to show each group how this new interface could make their searching time more efficient–how it could better help them accomplish their research goals–WIIFM. I would gear the level of detail covered by the amount of experience the majority of the group had, and by the type of information that the majority were seeking.

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