Magazine article Computers in Libraries

#Hashtag Librarians

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

#Hashtag Librarians

Article excerpt

Embedding Myself into a Class via Twitter and Blogs

I could see how a librarian embedded into the Twitter stream might provide an interesting spin on the idea of using Twitter in the classroom, as well as on the concept of 'embedded librarianship.'

The idea for this collaborative project was hatched in the summer of 2009 after I read about a few experiments using Twitter in the classroom. Monica Rankin from the University of TexasDallas experimented with using Twitter as a way to draw students into the discussion of a large lecture class. Cole Cam-plese from Penn State saw his class using Twitter very much like a conference back channel operates-for notes, sharing resources, and answering questions. After reading about these experiments, I could see how a librarian embedded into the Twitter stream-providing references, answering questions, and sharing resourcesâeuro?might provide an interesting spin on the idea of using Twitter in the classroom, as well as on the concept of "embedded librarianship." With that in mind, I approached Gardner Campbell, director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning at Baylor University, with the idea of using online technologies to embed myself into a class. He responded positively, and I ended up joining his class for two semestersthe fall of 2009 and the fall of 2010.

The class that I was embedded into was a first-year honors seminar called From Memex to YouTube: Introduction to New Media Studies. The focus of the class was to understand the field of New Media Studies and learn about "the past and future of computers and how they affect how we think and what we do." Integral to the class learning experience, Campbell wanted the students not only to examine but also to use new media technologies and applications. As such, the students were required to blog before every class, comment substantively on another classmate's blog, contribute to the class wiki, tag links of interest using Delicious, and participate in a class discussion using Twitter (using a designated class hashtag). All of these digital elements that the students created and curated were then aggregated into what Campbell called "the mother-blogthe dashboard of the class's digital participation, which I would follow in order to identify what they were learning and their related interests and expressions as the students blogged, tweeted, and linked their way through the class readings. I followed their blogs via Google Reader and their tweets via the popular Twitter application TweetDeck, which allowed me to group the students together via the class hash-tag to monitor their tweets.

As each class period started, Campbell would instruct the students to take out their laptops, log in to Twitter, and "greet" our librarian"-alerting me to the imminent discussion, focusing the class's attention to the task at hand, and reminding them of my virtual presence. As the students began to tweet their comments, observations, and questions, I would interact with the conversation. My contributions via Twitter during class took a variety of forms. I linked to everything from articles in our library's subscription databases to Wikipedia articles to YouTube videos. Often I explored the author of the reading students were assigned, looking up biographies, other articles or books the author had written, or other sources that cited or referenced the author. If a student tweeted something that seemed to veer off of the topic at hand, I often tried to link to something along those lines as well, as I wanted to encourage any connections the student might be making between the reading, the class discussion, and his own personal knowledge. …

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