Practicing. And Learning.

Last Monday I gave a five minute demonstration of the discovery tool, Scout, to a couple of the librarians at Gorgas Library and one of my fellow graduate students. In my demonstration I learned a lot about myself and how I teach.
Public speaking has always been fairly for me straight forward if not enjoyable activity for me up to this point. I prepare by recitation. Sometimes I use notes but it hasn’t been a necessity. Information literacy instruction has created a few complications though. I have found that it is not easy to demonstrate something while also talking. During discussion and feedback after my demonstration I was told that I started off a little quiet and that it was hard for my listeners to hear me. I have since realized how underrated being able to smoothly talk to a group of students while also performing tasks on the computer. It is not a task that comes naturally and takes much practice. Part of the reason I was talking quietly is that I was not making eye contact with my audience and trying to focus on the computer screen. Eye contact has always help me feel connected to my listeners and gives me immediate feedback about whether or not my teaching is being communicated effectively. Multitasking while teaching information literacy in this way will be an area I will try to make strides at improving during my internship.
Another challenge specific to the Scout was deciding what to include and exclude from my presentation. Scout is a very powerful tool with many features. Perhaps this is the main lesson learned in doing a five minute demonstration: determining what are the most essential pieces to teach in such a limited time. I touched on doing basic and advanced searches, understanding results, utilizing limiters, and using the “email source” function during my demonstration. I also tried to include LC subject headings, explain call numbers, show catalog records, as well as full text articles. This was a ton of stuff to throw at an audience in 5 minutes. In retrospect some of it could have been cut. As instructors we must face the reality that we cannot hold our learners’ attention if we do not prioritize.
I look forward to continuing to improve as an instructor and learn from librarians more experienced than I. Hopefully future blog posts of mine will reflect my progress.