Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Online courses

I've just started an online course called Tech Services: What, Why, How. It is a University of North Texas LE@D course through WebJunction.

I'm taking the course for a couple of reasons:
1. Since I teach a beginning cataloging course, I'm always looking to see what other cataloging-related courses are offered. I like to see how other people cover the information and I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. I watch the way the information is presented because I want to be able to present it in a way beginners will understand. One of the biggest chalenges of knowing your subject matter well is remembering that others do not. I can't assume everyone knows the terminology or has much Technical Services experience. Even people who have worked in a library for many years often don't know the deatils of what happens in Technical Services.

2. For a while now, I've wanted to do more with online courses. Between the cost of gasoline and the time it takes to commute, more people are reluctant to go out to workshops. This situation is now compounded with cuts to library budges which often means fewer staff making it even more difficult to leave the library. Online courses give people more options and many of my standard workshops lend themselves to online teaching. A good way for me to learn how this all works is to take an online course.

3. Even with face-to-face classes, an online component adds variety to the material and allows for more interaction - something else I've been trying to incorporate into my workshops.

This particular online course has keeping a journal as one of its assignements. That's great for me as it gives me a reason to post regularly to this blog.

So far, the material is pretty basic. I took the pre-test and got a 98%. There was one question worth 10 points. It contained a list of skills and I was supposed to check off all of the ones needed for Technical Services. One was "Good business sense" which I debated about. I think someone in Tech Services should have good business sense, but decided the creator of the quiz would not expect that to be included. I was wrong and I lost 2 points for not checking that particular skill.

So be aware: Good business sense is needed in Technical Services.

If you're interested in taking this online course or any of the WebJunction courses, they are free for staff of CMRLS member libraries. CMRLS has purchased a large block of "units" to be made available to library staff. You'll need a coupon code to register and you can request that by sending me an email at

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