my way through
the Great Big Book of Greek and Latin Roots.
Our library has history, language, geography, philosophy &
Let there always be dragons!
my way through
the Great Big Book of Greek and Latin Roots.
Our library has history, language, geography, philosophy &
Let there always be dragons!
This is the second post describing how my Learning Advisor colleague, Bronwen Dickson and I used the ‘caring science’ pedagogy to provide online library instruction to nursing students. I’m going to talk about how we provided opportunities for our students to express caring – for themselves, their student colleagues and for Bronwen and me. If you want to know how the workshops came to be and how Bronwen and I used four principles for online educators as described by the ‘cybercaring’ framework to guide the whole experience, you can find that in part #1.
Cybercaring provides learners many opportunities to demonstrate caring (See Sitzman & Watson, 2016). Invitations to care can be given via explicit instruction, by creating activities activities and resources that prompt caring behaviours, and by modelling the desired behaviours. Following is Sitzman and Watson’s (2016) list of the seven opportunities for students to demonstrate caring (pp. 68-9) and how each unfolded before, during and after the workshops. I have included pertinent student feedback as a reminder to myself and to indicate the kinds of things other facilitators of online learning might like to consider.
Much of the workshop took place as small group (2-3 students) activities. Students worked together to solve APA referencing problems and then reported their results to the larger class. Bronwen and I visited the groups during the activities and observed the students working together to complete the work, communicating verbally and via chat to navigate resources and find answers. Production of ‘quality work’ may be a stretch for our circumstance, but we got the sense that students were giving their best attempt. Student feedback indicated that some time pressure focussed the groups however, too little time was discouraging. In response to our observations and student feedback we reduced the number of activities in later classes to allow more time for each activity.
Communication was vital for the success of the workshops. Therefore, I provided suggestions on how to introduce yourself and communicate with the group, and Bronwen and I modelled this when we introduced ourselves and responded to each other’s introduction. Students were always kind and respectful, however clarity of communication was improved when Bronwen and I explained how to use zoom effectively, including checking-in on group members without a microphone and using the chat function to include these participants. Again, we did this in response to student feedback.
Bronwen and I repeatedly encouraged students to ask questions to their groups and to the larger workshop. We always responded with ‘great question…’ or similar validation. We found that students did ask questions during the workshop and we both received emailed questions from time to time after the workshops. Again, more questions were asked when Bronwen and I responded to student feedback to wait a little longer for people to ask a question. Students let us know that it can be tricky to find the microphone button while trying to compose a question – or hold one in your head – especially for our students learning English as an additional language.
Most students did respond to the invitation to participate in the workshop promptly and let me know which date would suit their schedule. It is not clear whether this was due to my carefully worded request, or to the workshop being a requirement for these students to progress in their course.
Bronwen and I invited students to share with their small group their confusion about APA referencing and/or any tips that they thought might help others. The sharing shaped the direction of the workshops, allowing Bronwen and I to spend more time on topics students found difficult and demonstrate how to use the resources effectively. Students told us that this sharing was very enjoyable – it provided relief from any belief that they were on their own in this situation. Perhaps this helped them learn.
As an aside, many students wanted more time to share. One external student even told us that this was the first time she felt really connected to other students in the course. I think there is an invitation to us as educators here, to embed opportunities for students to connect with each other and with each other’s experiences.
In the workshops students were invited to work together to solve APA problems using authoritative APA tools. Bronwen and I were able to check in with the groups to assist if required. The groups we observed did work together, sometimes with a self-nominated leader, sometimes with all participants working and chatting together at once. As mentioned earlier, students in the initial workshop told us that they would like more time to complete group activities, and so we removed one activity and modified the remaining ones to allow more time.
In our introduction and through the workshop, Bronwen and I shared pitfalls we had experienced. We wanted to create a collaborative, problem solving approach rather than an automatic ‘run to the expert’ approach. Students may have expected to be taught by APA experts, but instead they got two human beings. Students seemed to respond well to this expression of our humanity, by listening and responding and by volunteering stories of their own. As mentioned above, the sharing seemed to create a feeling of connection to each other.
I was initially a little concerned that using this approach – and especially the sharing -would backfire. It was not how I had ever experienced or run a library class before. I thought the students might be impatient and just want to get the class done. However, this was not the case at all. Students appreciated the sharing, they called the class inclusive, collaborative and fun.
The other interesting thing for me was the quality of the feedback the students provided, even though we used a standard feedback form. I would usually expect appreciation: ‘I liked it.’ ‘The librarian is nice.’ Or not: ‘Too long!’ ‘boring’ But these students went further, their feedback was useful and Bronwen and I were able to improve the workshop just by following the student advice. Students also told us what they liked about the class, what made it worthwhile. Students appreciated that they could use their new skills and they enjoyed the affective elements informed by caring science.
I want to keep using caring science in my teaching and other interactions with students and colleagues. I am currently considering how I can incorporate caring science within the online learning objects (tutorials, videos, PowerPoint slides…) I create. This is an interesting thing to consider!
I am also exploring how the library creates a sense of belonging and connection with the 70% of our students who study externally. What else are we doing that works? What else and how could we do more?
I’d be very happy to hear anyone’s thoughts on this, or any aspects of this post 🙂
Sitzman, K., & Watson, J. (2016). Watson’s caring in the digital world: A guide for caring when interacting, teaching, and learning in cyberspace. New York, NY: Springer.
This post is about how my learning advisor colleague, Bronwen Dickson and I used the ‘caring science’ pedagogy to provide online library workshops to nursing students. I’ll describe how the workshops came to be, and how Bronwen and I used four principles for online educators as described by Watson and Sitzman’s (2016) ‘cybercaring’ framework. In a second post I will tell how the students undertaking the workshops demonstrated caring in the online environment. Continue reading “Jean Watson’s caring science and online library instruction #1”
I have returned from the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference where I had many wonderful experiences, including a conversation with Kathryn Greenhill of Curtin University about kindness and libraries (one of Kathryn’s research interests). It was so exciting to meet and talk with someone with similar interests, and I can’t wait to read Kathryn’s research. For now though I want to gather together all the thoughts and opinions about kindness that I wasn’t even aware that I had before our conversation and give them some shape. What that might look like in a library is to come!
So, for me, kindness is,
Kindness is an expression of love, it is love in action. The love in action is love for me and for you.
Kindness is a cyclical process with distinctive ‘phases’ (this bit totally informed by nonviolent communication):
Interruption: But what is a need?
A need is a value we hold dear in a particular moment. Connection, respect, safety, fun, self-expression – there are hundreds of needs. A nice list is available from the Centre for Nonviolent Communication
Kindness is characterised by particular needs, including
Kindness is effortful, involving work and growth. I am actively learning about you and me, about what it means to be human, to be connected to another.
Kindness is a wellspring. Because all involved benefit from the kind action, it regenerates itself. Kindness is thus root, trunk, leaf, and seed.
Kindness is a spiritual practice: a way of observing the world around me and appreciating the interconnectedness of all things, of all things including me.
Kindness is itself a human need.
Kindness might also be:
Finally, kindness might look like but is not:
What did I miss? Is there something in particular that did or did not resonate for you? All comments appreciated 🙂
Tomorrow I’m off to APLIC2018 — my first library conference! There will be many things to see and do, but I’m going to focus on workshops and presentations about building engagement and collaborating with my clients to improve library services, design new ones, and evaluate whether these services are effective.
I’m also hoping to meet other librarians interested in caring, kindness, mindfulness and similar topics.
Making a difference, here I come!
I am excited.
I used to think no way, there is no way online learning environments can allow the same quality of interaction as face-to-face classrooms. It isn’t possible and I’m not going to try.
Of course this is not true, It’s just I had to learn some stuff.
I had to find a teaching philosophy that encouraged me to communicate authentically with students and invite them to do the same (I’m practicing with Watson’s Caring Science at the moment). And I had to learn how to use some online conferencing software that facilitates active learning in groups: allowing students to talk, message and share their screens with each other (zoom is good, I’m guessing there are others).
And my teaching got better and the students learned more and enjoyed the experience too.
But just now I had a transpersonal experience as an online learner — and in an asynchronous environment too. I posted on a MOOC discussion board that I was feeling a bit vulnerable (yes, my word of the week) about all the caring stuff I am getting myself into and I got this response from Linda:
“I agree, Rowena, that that can feel a vulnerable place but if you think of vulnerability as being ‘without a shell’, then it helps to understand that it’s easier for new ideas to penetrate when we aren’t wearing our ‘shells’ – and that makes for a more equal relationship between student and teacher” (1).
Linda is another student in the class. She has no inkling as to my snail thing. She just hit upon the perfect metaphor for me though. And she extended my idea – I hadn’t thought about how removing my shell makes me more open to new ideas. And when I read Linda’s words I felt so excited, just like I would in a face-to-face classroom. I have expanded.
And see: this whole interaction supports Linda’s words! I am excited again!
I’m even thinking that in a face-to-face classroom, Linda and I may not have had this interaction… Linda may live across the world from me. And perhaps a face-to-face classroom may not have provided us with the time to think and compose a thoughtful response. Or maybe I would not have spoken up in a classroom in the first place.
And now I am wondering: Is it possible that an online learning environment can provide not just equivalent transpersonal caring spaces, but unique or even expanded ones?
If you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.
Jean Watson is a nurse educator, creator of the transpersonal caring science philosophy and founder of the Watson Caring Science Institute. Central to Watson’s caring science are the Caritas: ten guidelines for the creation and maintenance of authentic, caring healing and learning environments (1).
I would love to live and work in such an environment! And so I reflect on the first Caritas:
Sustaining humanistic-altruistic values by practice of loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity with self/others (2).
I see three dimensions to this Caritas. The first dimension I see talks to values: this Caritas asks us to value each *human life we encounter for its own sake: life and individual lives are intrinsically precious. Intrinsically precious: before and beyond religion or science, life is precious because it is precious.
The second dimension of this Caritas suggests that it is possible to lose touch with this value — that it is necessary to sustain it. And ain’t that the truth! Reading the Caritas on my verandah at 6am on a Saturday morning with the weekend ahead of me and the birds singing in the garden, the preciousness and beauty of life is obvious. Helping a client find what they need for their assignment and sharing that aha! moment with them: yes, it’s there too. But I might find myself in a different situation: feeling overwhelmed by another phone call while I am already trying to answer one query, and have a last look at the reading I was supposed to do before a meeting in ten minutes. The preciousness of life is not so obvious to me in these moments.
The third dimension of the Caritas suggests we might sustain the value of life (or perhaps consciously reconnect to it) by practicing loving-kindness, and compassion, remaining calm and composed, first with self and also with others.
First with self: well, this is “my one wild and precious life” (3). Can I be kind to myself first? What would that look like? Would it look like an interruption to my habit of saying yes, sure, I will get that to you in 5 minutes. Can I instead breathe and look at my schedule and say Just a moment, I will be able to get to that this afternoon/tomorrow/when I see you on Wednesday. Would it sometimes even look like muting the phone or turning off email for a few minutes to give myself some time to do that reading/thinking/creating? It feels good to just imagine that. And I can also imagine a flow-on: being able to be fully present in conversations rather than being distracted by the things I need to get to right now, or even an hour ago. And being able to give a thoughtful, considered response that draws on all of me, not just the autopilot.
Maybe this is a good week for Cartitas 1. 🙂