Reflection is an important part of the learning process; reflection helps restructure experiences and create meaning (Blumberg 2015). The first thing that comes to mind when reflecting on the teaching and learning e-portfolio is that I have no formal teaching qualification. Almost the entire group were academics and initially I believed that I had chosen an unsuitable module, considering it to be aimed towards academic staff. However, the support and advice from the module facilitators and my literature review for the philosophy statement dispersed my adverse considerations. Consequently, I set out to create a flexible means to document my personal learning and development allowing me to showcase the importance of librarianship in higher education. Readers of my e-portfolio will not only gain an insight into my approaches, academic development and achievements, they will also discover how librarians working in academic institutions, work with, and for the benefit of their students, researchers, staff and external stakeholders. This in turn made me realise that my e-portfolio was not simply representative of me but of my profession and essentially the institute on the whole.
In making my learning visible online the most straightforward objective in beginning this module, given my web design experience, was choosing the platform to host the e-portfolio; I elected Weebly, which was easy to use, intuitive and visually pleasing. Fortunately, as systems librarian I endeavour to use technology for teaching and learning in library instruction; developing online tutorials and animations are examples of how I ‘aim to support, connect, and enhance efforts to build digital capacity to enhance and develop learning in Irish higher education Teaching and Learning in Irish education’ (NFETL 2015, pg. 8). I take advantage of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to increase exchanges and build relationships with students and staff in a blended learning environment. Technology is ever changing, we need to embrace it and embed it in education; technology allows teaching and learning anytime, anyplace, anywhere!
The principal challenge I encountered was forming the information for the philosophy statement. I needed to look beyond the traditional roles of the librarian. Traditionally a librarian’s role centred on the storage and preservation of books and journals, cataloguing them so related materials are located next to each other. However, in reading the literature for my philosophy statement I discovered that the evolving roles of academic librarians has changed and as such I see myself as a ‘blended librarian’. The ‘blended librarian’ coined by Bell & Shank (2004) is an academic librarian who combines the traditional skill set of librarianship with the information technologist’s skills, and the educational designer’s capability to apply technology fittingly to teaching and learning practices.
I feel I adopt active learning in the information literacy sessions I deliver to first year students in the learning and innovation skills module. Active learning involves students actively participating in order to learn. In the session students must engage using their own devices; those that do not have devices can use the PC's available so the session is fully inclusive. I have employed a number of tools to encourage engagement in sessions including, Kahoot, Padlet and quizzes in Moodle. I found that students prefer the game-based learning platform Kahoot as it makes it fun to learn. Students are actively participating in learning and assessment without actually thinking about it and as it game based I find that peers get competitive. Nevertheless, I consider learning to be more effective using a combination of active and passive methods of learning; student need to acquire some information from me before we go onto using game-based learning platforms.
Librarians must add to our traditional role the ability to collaborate to improve student learning and assessment in the areas of information access and retrieval. Engagement in the module has made me think about curriculum and assessment, for the skills I teach as a librarian and as an educator. Teaching in the library is a professional undertaking. Just as other programmes are taught by a professional in that area, so the library programme is taught by a professional librarian. Students need to be provided with information literacy skills to make them proficient and successful learners, skills that are key to lifelong learning.
The e-portfolio module has taught me a valuable exercise in self-assessment; it has made me think about my attitudes and performance, I needed to assess myself before showcasing myself to others. The module helped me recognise gaps in my professional development and identify future professional development needs. Reflection allows us to learn from our experiences so in turn we can improve our professional development. My objective from now on is to stay focussed and current; one of the key benefits of creating an e-portfolio is that it builds over time; as you develop so too does your e-portfolio. The module may have come to an end but my e-portfolio will continue to develop as my learning and teaching initiatives and achievements persist.
Bain, K., 2004. What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Bell, S. & Shank, J., 2004, The Blended Librarian: a blueprint for redefining the teaching and learning role of academic librarians. College & Research Libraries News [Online], 65(7): 372‐375. http://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/viewFile/7297/7297 [viewed 15 May 2017].
Blumberg, P., 2015, 'How Critical Reflection Benefits Faculty as They Implement Learner-Centered Teaching', New Directions for Teaching & Learning [Online], 144, pp. 87-97, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=111555964&site=ehost-live&authtype=sso&custid=s2873033 [viewed 15 May 2017].
Cambridge, D., 2010, E-Portfolios for Lifelong Learning and Assessment. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Mestre, L., 2012, Designing Effective Library Tutorials [Online]. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/gmit/detail.action?docID=1575078 [viewed14 May 2017].
NFETL, 2015, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education: a Roadmap for Enhancement in a
Digital World 2015-2017 [Online]. Dublin: National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and
Learning in Higher Education, http://www.teachingandlearning.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Digital-Roadmap-web.pdf [viewed 15 May 2017].
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