Apply and increase skills in technology instruction.
A new program that SPL has been providing this year are one-on-one e-book instruction sessions. Ballard Branch hosted these 45-minute sessions on Thursday afternoons in the month of May. Interested patrons were required to sign-up in advance to provide contact information, to identify the reading device they own, and to get their homework assignment of having relevant accounts (SPL library card, email, Adobe Digital Editions, Overdrive app, etc.) already prepared or downloaded. This allowed for the Adult Services Librarians and Library Associate IVs to prepare beforehand and to have the sessions run as efficiently as possible.
My project related to this learning objective were to assist with these sessions. I began by reviewing materials for a variety of software/devices, especially those which I am unfamiliar with, and reviewing the process of borrowing an e-book from SPL. I often borrow e-books and other digital content from the library, but I forget how complicated it can be to get this set up at first. Conveniently, SPL staff have created useful outlines and tutorials for various processes. I observed Hannah in the first e-book instruction sessions of the month, I co-taught later in the month, and I led a session on the last Thursday of the month.
SPL support several types of devices, but the ones I assisted with during my time at Ballard Branch include: iPad mini, MacBook Pro, Nook Simple Touch, Nook First Edition, Samsung Galaxy Tab.
- Sessions included technology instruction with software and physical devices, but also explanations of Digital Rights Management, licenses, publisher-library agreements, etc. An awareness of these factors helped patrons understand why certain steps or policies were in place.
- Patrons who signed up for these sessions were usually in their 40s or older. Skill-level varied from very beginning (never read an e-book) to intermediate (just needing some troubleshooting for their device). It seemed that those who were already comfortable searching and placing holds from the library catalog had an easier time than those who were not already avid library users.
- Similar to other tutoring situations, in addition to any printed instructions or lesson plans, starting by asking the patron 1) what they already know, 2) where they get stuck, and 3) what they'd like to accomplish by the end helped guide instruction and shape the session.
- 45 minutes was often not enough time. In several instances, we kept teaching through the 15-minute break-time between sessions.
I also have to mention that technology instruction also happened informally at the information desk whenever I assisted several library visitors with using the computers, printer, the catalog, databases--and occasionally an e-reader. In both informal and formal teaching situations, clear communication and flexibility and respect are key as well as staying calm if a patron becomes frustrated during the learning process. Written feedback from a patron included thanking us for our patience, which emphasizes this point.
My flexibility and resourcefulness were especially tested in the e-book instruction sessions. Even with preparation, unexpected things happen. For example, Hannah and I prepared to teach a patron how to use her Nook, but when an error message showed up on the device's screen, we had to do some creative web searching to troubleshoot. Even though it took longer than expected and additional staff help, it was so satisfying to see the patron so excited when e-books finally appeared on her Nook. Another situation that required flexibility was the morning I was scheduled to lead a session and discovered shortly before the appointment that the Overdrive interface had been updated that morning. Instead of panicking, I was able to quickly play with the new design to note any changes, and I was able to successfully walk the patron through the new search features minutes later.
These e-book sessions were a fun challenge. I was able to draw from my teaching and tutoring experience from my two Literacy*AmeriCorps terms, and I noticeably expanded my technology instruction skills by having more practice, coming into contact with a wider variety of devices, and learning how to better articulate technology-related issues. I feel more confident in my ability to teach others how to access and download digital content from the library. Just another way this DFW at Ballard Branch has provided me with practical experience.