Teaching with Technology

John J Meier, Science Librarian, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library, meier@psu.edu

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is most strongly shaped by my role as a librarian in higher education.  As a librarian my mission is not only to teach students how to use the library, but how to find and evaluate information wherever they find it.  This type of information literacy is vital in this age of networked information and carries lifelong benefits for students.  With my background in science and engineering I customize these skills for a multitude of majors across the campus with a particular focus on mathematics, statistics, and patent information.  In the classroom I usually see students for only one class period per semester, so my approach must be high impact and demonstrate value immediately.  I am constantly experimenting with teaching techniques and technology in order to best balance classroom time with supporting course materials.  See my additional reflection on teaching with technology.

My publications and presentations on teaching.

Teaching with Technology

My teaching has followed a strategy of rapid prototyping and iterative design that I learned as a computer engineering student. This concept involves swift design decisions and the willingness to take chances and has often been called the “perpetual Beta test.” I believe that as a research practitioner, it is my professional responsibility to experiment and refine my teaching techniques toward effective student outcomes.
When I started at Penn State I immediately began experimenting with technology in teaching.  In 2007 I worked with Kathy Fescemyer to create a podcast to introduce students to Access Science, an online encyclopedia called Science Resources at Penn State (in iTunes U under Penn State University Libraries).  I was also a founding member of the Social Networking group, which addressed emerging educational technology between 2007 and 2009 (also available from iTunes U).  While both of these projects were interesting, neither engaged a large student audience.
In order to better take advantage of technology, I began to integrate it into the classroom.  In 2008 I used clickers, the student response system (SRS), for ice-breaker questions and for pre- and post-testing student knowledge of types of intellectual property.  Despite some difficulties with this technology, student response was noticeably higher than asking students to volunteer feedback or questions.  In 2011 I further explored student response in the use of Poll Everywhere to do a mid-class assessment of student retention of Boolean searching.  This was seamless and participation greater than SRS and most students used the classroom computer to respond, rather than a mobile phone.
In 2009 I began a partnership with James Sellers, the director of undergraduate mathematics at Penn State to integrate information literacy and the library into every section of the First Year Seminar in Mathematics (see below – PSU 016).  We began by requiring student participation in the University Library Open House and eventually added a tutorial and quiz module in ANGEL, the Penn State course management system.  This gave students an introduction to the library and information literacy skills with no cost in classroom time.
In order to assess the importance of hands on activity in a information literacy instruction session, I conducted an experiment using variable teaching techniques in different sections of MATH 311W Concepts in Discrete Mathematics.  Some classes were taught in a lecture format, while in another I lead the students in a mix of lecture and discussion, and finally one class began with a short explanation with the remainder an information literacy lab assignment.  While an extended description of the project is available on my blog, the results showed that students working in the lab model had the greatest positive results by the end of the course.
In 2013 I became more involved in online teaching, beginning with co-teaching an Advanced Lionsearch class with Eric Novotny now available through Adobe Connect.  I also developed content to support Penn State’s World Campus for the STAT 800 course.
I have taken part in the ACRL Immersion Program for Information Literacy, the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium, and the Learning Design Summer Camp including creating a project during the Media Commons Tailgate .  I hope to use these experiences to form a new model of information literacy instruction that utilized video and online modules to provide much needed introduction to the library and our systems while focusing on hands on assignments and labs during any class time embedded in the curriculum.

Discipline Specific Resources

Statistics (Mathematical)

As a librarian I do not teach credit instruction, but I have taught one or more class sessions of dozens of courses over the past 5 years.

CHEM 400 Chemical Literature – is taught by another librarian and focuses on information sources in chemistry.  For this course I taught two class sessions on patent information for chemists per semester.  I give students a CHEM 400 Assignment.pdf between class sessions on patent searching.  Course related resources were available on a blog. Presentation Slides

ENGL 202C Effective Writing: Technical Writing – This required English course focuses on science majors and effective technical writing.  I occasionally teach information literacy for this class though responsibility is shared among many librarians.  In the past a blog was used as a course guide, but now a collaborative library course guide is available.  Reflection on Teaching and a Poll Everywhere Assessment

EDSGN 100 Introduction to Engineering Design – This introduction to engineering is offered both in the Fall and Spring semesters and also during the summer LEAP program. I teach three LEAP sections in the summer and share responsibility for the regular courses with another librarian.

ENGR 97S First Year Seminar in Engineering – This course is required of engineering freshmen, though I focus on the “Humanitarian Engineering” sections.  I teach one class session on the Libraries’ and basic information literacy as well as encouraging participation in the Libraries’ Open House.
ENGR 411 Entrepreneurship Business Basics – This course is required for the Entrepreneurship minor in the College of Engineering.  I teach one class session on intellectual property information with a focus on patent research.  I also give students an assignment which I have sometimes delivered on ANGEL.  Presentation Slides
MATH 311 Concepts of Discrete Mathematics – this course is the Writing Across the Curriculum course in math.  I have developed handouts, taught class sessions on research in mathematics, and even conducted an information literacy lab (PDF) session.  Course resources began on a blog and are now available as a course guide on the website.
MGMT 426 Invention Commercialization – This course is cross-listed in engineering and covers many business and intellectual property topics.  Fr this class I review broad intellectual property topics and focus on patent information sources during one class session per semester.  Presentation Slides
PSU 016 Penn State First Year Seminar – for students in the Mathematics and Statistics departments I provide online learning objects in ANGEL, organized participation in the Libraries’ Open House, informational materials, and class sessions on information literacy. My ANGEL assignment (pdf) supported by a video tutorial on Lionsearch and a video tutorial on MathSciNet.
Upward Bound is a summer program for Pennsylvania high school students to promote achievement in the sciences.  I have provided an introduction to the library.  Reflection on Teaching in 2009 and again in 2011 based on this Upward Bound lesson plan (pdf)  and handout (pdf)
Electronic Communication with Students
I have supported students in their learning using Facebook, LinkedIn, text messaging, online chat, and email.  Here is an email example (pdf).