Digital by Design: Teaching in a Connected World was offered as a seminar through the Center for Teaching & Learning in the 2016-2017 academic year. After reading through the course descriptions, this one called to me the most. As the new substitute Electronic Resources Librarian, anything with “digital” in the description appealed to me since I was planning to apply for the permanent librarian position. I was intrigued by the question: “How do we negotiate the world of digital technology and learn what it means to live, teach, and work with a carefully considered digital identity?” As non-teaching faculty, I wasn’t assigned a class of my own but I was co-teaching library instruction with a colleague so that I was able to participate in the digital pedagogical exercises.
After the first session, I knew I was in the right spot. My instructors, Liz Clark, Jade Davis, and Priscilla Stadler, were enthusiastic and full of energy. They presented an obviously well-thought out agenda for the rest of the year – with flexibility thrown in. My fellow classmates, whom I’ve engaged with since in other college activities, came from across the disciplines. Not only was it the right step in adding to my portfolio of e-resources knowledge, but helped my transition into the LaGuardia culture.
Our class covered digital resources I had used (Instagram, Twitter, Dropbox, Prezi, YouTube, LinkedIn), and others I had never used nor, in many cases, heard of (Tumblr, Poll Everywhere, Evernote, Audacity, Etherpad, Vimeo, GarageBand). Liz, Jade, and Priscilla didn’t limit us to just their knowledge; if someone in the class had used some software or a new teaching tool, they encouraged them to explain and illustrate these tools in class. Along with learning new digital tools, it was interesting to learn of existing, well-known programs. We studied the privacy policies of Google and Twitter and examined FERPA language – with eye-opening results. Megan Wacha (from the Office of Library Services) and Liz Jardine (the Metadata Librarian) spoke to us about Open Access.
And since this was a seminar, there was homework. We worked in teams to analyze a Horizon Group report. We also had to design both low-stakes and high-stakes assignments utilizing the tools from our seminar that we were to teach in class. I used SurveyMonkey and YouTube for a low-stakes citation assignment and Poll Everywhere and streaming videos for a high-stakes assignment on Fake News.
Using the digital tools I learned from the Digital by Design seminar kept the students engaged and allowed me to keep abreast of new pedagogical techniques. I have since utilized SurveyMonkey and Poll Everywhere in several classes to great success. For an LRC class I taught, I gave a quick survey at the end of every class to see what students liked, didn’t like and what they wanted to learn more about. This way I could tweak my lesson plan for the following class to see what additional topics I needed to cover, or which topics needed more instruction. I have used Poll Everywhere as an ice-breaker for numerous classes. It’s fun for the students to see their thoughts broadcast on a large screen. Using digital tools may not change your teaching style, but it certainly enhanced my style.