New Research Guides at the University Library: LibGuides2 Update



By Shannon Lucky, Information Technology Librarian

As we enter a new Fall semester the University Library has launched a major update to our Research Guides. These guides, built on the new LibGuides2 platform, are carefully curated selections of discipline and course specific resources combined with information on how to conduct research, writing skills, and other valuable Library tools. To explore the new guides, go to the University Library homepage and choose “Research Guides” under the Tools and Services column on the left-hand menu, or go directly to http://libguides.usask.ca.

LG2_Homepage

There are 3 types of Research Guides you can find through the University Library:

  • Subject Guides are maintained by your subject librarian. These guides present carefully chosen selections of subject specific, high quality, scholarly resources, saving you and your students time by highlighting the best resources in your discipline. Browse Subject Guides.
  • Topic Guides cover how-to topics such as Finding Journal Articles, How to Evaluate Information Sources, and Citation Style Guides. They also present resources and information that are not subject specific such as Open Access, Copyright for Educators, and Research Metrics. To browse Topic Guides go to the Research Guides Homepage and choose “By Type” from the menu.
  • Course Guides are built to support a specific course or individual class. They can direct students to course specific resources including permanent links to full text articles, recommended research databases, books and other library holdings, video tutorials, and much more. They can also be used to easily create reading lists that link directly to any items that the library has in our digital or physical collections. Explore an example of a Course Guide DeDe Dawson, Science Librarian, has created for a Biology 301 class. To browse other Course Guides go to the Research Guides Homepage and choose “By Type” from the menu.

Research Guides are fully integrated with the Library collections and can also including any online resources from outside the Library that fall within copyright permissions or can be linked to from the guides. This platform is very flexible and user friendly and we encourage you to make use of this newly updated resource. If you are interested in using Research Guides as a teaching tool please get in touch with your subject librarian and let them know you want to create a Course Guide using LibGuides2.  If you have suggestions or questions about your Subject Guide please contact your subject librarian or Tell US your comments. We welcome suggestions for improving the guides and tailoring them to better serve our patrons.

Defining Open Access



By Jeff Martin

The Internet has transformed the ways in which academic research can be accessed. Researchers can now grant any person connected to the Internet unfettered access to their work at any time without cost. This free access is commonly called open access (OA).

Open access is a property of a research article. An OA article does not require payment from a customer (no price barriers such as subscriptions) and has reduced permissions barriers (such as most copyright and licensing restrictions). Some commentators also argue that OA is the ideal way that academic research should be published.

The four main types of open access are “green” repositories, “gold” academic journals, hybrid journals, and predatory journals. Repositories are online storage sites in which articles can be deposited, indexed and searched. Repository administrators do not conduct peer review themselves. Uploaded articles, however, typically have been reviewed elsewhere. See http://www.opendoar.org/ for a list of repositories.

Open access journals share many similarities with subscription journals. For example, articles submitted to OA journals are subject to the peer review process (assuming the journal administrators want to publish peer reviewed research!). The key differences between the journal types are who pays what cost to access content and reduced permissions barriers for authors who publish in OA journals.

Free access is granted when payment comes from the “producer” side of the publishing process. Three examples of funding sources are subsidies from an author’s host institution, government subsidies and hard copy sales of the OA journal (online access is free). Authors are also often able to retain more copyright from OA journals compared to subscription journals. See PLoS ONE for an example of a “gold” OA journal.

Hybrid journals, on the other hand, are subscription journals that offer free access to some content. In other words, these journals use a mixed revenue model, such as subscriptions and Article Processing Charges. Examples of this model include the journal Physiological Genomics and Springer’s “Open Choice” program. For an extensive discussion of the “green”, “gold” and hybrid models, see the work of Peter Suber.

The owners of predatory journals use the “gold” journal model as a profit-making scheme. They use a variety of unethical practices. For example, academics, particularly graduate students and new researchers, are often targeted and enticed into submitting research. Manuscripts are quickly accepted for publication and a fee is then charged. Peer review is claimed to occur, despite evidence to the contrary. Some publishing academics are spammed with e-mails, whereas others are listed as journal editors without their consent.

Watch the following video for an explanation on why OA journals are good for not only researchers but also the general public.

Lynda.com Open to All at U of S



By Lavonne Cloke
Have you ever wanted to learn new software, design or business skills to enhance your personal or professional goals but don’t have the money for expensive courses?

U of S faculty, staff and students now have the opportunity to fully access thousands of unlimited, free tutorials, seven days a week, day and night with lynda.usask.ca – a valuable online training resource.

Lynda.usask.ca is an online training library that contains thousands of professional grade Windows and Mac tutorials accessed through streaming video. In these videos you will find information that covers many software titles, scripting languages, design and web development platforms as well as popular online sites. The video tutorials range from topics such as:

  • Microsoft products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Adobe Suite (Acrobat, InDesign)
  • Apple products (iPhone, iPad)
  • Development and programming
  • Web and mobile app design
  • Google products
  • Time management and business skills

The site employs expert instructors that are true masters in their fields. They can answer all your questions and will offer useful advice. Their mission is to impart knowledge regarding correct workflow and they will also teach you how to develop skills.

Visit Lynda.usask.ca now to discover the training opportunities available to you.

In addition, a free Webinar about Lynda.com will be held on April 30 from 2 – 3 PM Saskatchewan time. If you are on campus you are welcome to join us in the Collaborative Learning Lab located on the first floor of the Murray Library. You may also join in from your own computer through https://www3.gotomeeting.com/join/664691710.

Open Textbooks – An Instructor’s Perspective



The Sun

By Karla Panchuk

This post originally appeared on the blog Petragogy on March 23, 2014.

I’ve wondered before about the feasibility of creating an open textbook for introductory physical geology.  I got as far as sketching out some of the ideas and stopped when it became clear that a lot of work would be involved.

My most recent thinking about open textbooks was motivated by learning some startling facts from my students:  (1) At sea level, water boils at 1007°C.  (2) In areas on the ocean floor where new ocean crust is produced, water can be heated up to 10,007°C.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that that my students didn’t see anything wrong with water boiling at 1007°C, or with water on the ocean floor being a little shy of twice the sun’s surface temperature, what bothered me is that they encountered this information in their textbook.  I get that typos happen.  I’ve made some in my own course materials. The issue is that they are very hard to fix.  Ideally, I should be able to go into a document, change 1007°C to 100°C, and hit “update.”  Voila.  Problem solved.  Instead, I emailed the publisher’s salesperson for my region and told him about the error.  If he passes my email on to the right person, then in two years when the new edition comes out, water might once again boil at 100°C.

This is why writing my own textbook has a certain appeal.  Because no one is going to pay me to do it, I might as well make it freely available online.  It is free and relatively easy to make the textbook look pretty and to put it in places and formats that allow convenient student access.  The main difficulties are twofold:  First, I have to write it and find appropriate images that I am legally entitled to use.  Second, if done properly, I will have made use of online open education resources, and that means continually monitoring those resources to make sure they haven’t changed in unacceptable ways, or disappeared altogether.

When looking at a task requiring this much work, it is wise to see if someone else has already done the work for you, or is in the process of doing so.  Sadly, it appears no one has seen fit to build what I need.  It is also wise to see if others are interested in accomplishing the same task. Ideally, a project like this would involve a number of contributors with a wide range of expertise.  Perhaps a book sprint could be organized.  These are remarkable events during which a group of cloistered writers spends three to five days working on the book, facilitated by a company which organizes and feeds them.  At the end of five days a finished product is ready to upload… and apparently it is a good one.

Who knows—after years of writing fixes for course materials, I might have enough for a textbook anyway.

Four Student Misconceptions About Learning



The main section of this blog post is a reprint of an article from Faculty Focus by Maryellen Welmer. It follows a brief introduction by Nancy Turner.

I thought readers of this blog would be interested in the article reprinted below on common student misconceptions about learning.  These points are usefully discussed openly with students at the start of a course or year of study but are also points for faculty to be aware of when planning curriculum and learning experiences.  Both explicit discussion of the misconceptions alongside curriculum, assessment and session design to implicitly counter their effects (specific examples for each are included in the text of the article) should go a long way to support deep student learning.

This article originally appeared in Faculty Focus.  © 2014 Magna Publications. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

“Efficient and effective learning starts with a proper mindset,” Stephen Chew writes in his short, readable, and very useful chapter, “Helping Students to Get the Most Out of Studying.” Chew continues, pointing out what most of us know firsthand, students harbor some fairly serious misconceptions that undermine their efforts to learn. He identifies four of them.

  1. Learning is fast – Students think that learning can happen a lot faster than it does. Take, for example, the way many students handle assigned readings. They think they can get what they need out of a chapter with one quick read through (electronic devices at the ready, snacks in hand, and ears flooded with music). Or, they don’t think it’s a problem to wait until the night before the exam and do all the assigned readings at once. “Students must learn that there are no shortcuts to reading comprehension.” (p. 216) Teachers need to design activities that regularly require students to interact with course text materials.
  2. Knowledge is composed of isolated facts – Students who hold this misconception demonstrate it when they memorize definitions. Chew writes about the commonly used student practice of making flash cards with only one term or concept on each card. The approach may enable students to regurgitate the correct definition, but they “never develop a connected understanding or how to reason with and apply concepts.” (p.216) The best way for teachers to correct this misconception is by using test questions that ask students to relate definitions, use definitions to construct arguments, or apply them to some situation.
  3. Being good at a subject is a matter of inborn talent rather than hard work – All of us have had students who tell us with great assurance that they can’t write, can’t do math, are horrible at science, or have no artistic ability. Chew points out that if students hold these beliefs about their abilities, they don’t try as hard in those areas and give up as soon as any difficulty is encountered. Then they have even more evidence about those absent abilities. Students need to bring to learning a “growth mindset,” recognized by statements like this, “Yes, I’m pretty good at math, but that’s because I’ve spent a lot of time doing it.” Teacher feedback can play an important role in helping students develop these growth mindsets.
  4. I’m really good at multi-tasking, especially during class or studying – We’ve been all over this one in the blog. “The evidence is clear: trying to perform multiple tasks at once is virtually never as effective as performing the tasks one at a time focusing completely on each one.” (p. 217) Chew also writes here about “inattentional blindness” which refers to the fact that when our attention is focused on one thing, we aren’t seeing other things. “The problem of not knowing what we missed is that we believe we haven’t missed anything.” (p.217)

Pointing out these misconceptions helps but probably not as much as demonstrations. Students, especially those in the 18-24 age range, don’t always believe what their teachers tell them. The evidence offered by a demonstration is more difficult to ignore.

Please be encouraged to read Chew’s whole chapter (it’s only eight pages). It’s in an impressive new anthology which is reviewed in the February issue of The Teaching Professor newsletter. Briefly here, the book contains 24 chapters highlighting important research on the science of learning. The chapters are highly readable! They describe the research in accessible language and explore the implications of those findings. Very rarely do researchers (and most of these chapters are written by those involved with research) offer implementable suggestions. This book is full of them.

And here’s the most impressive part about this book: you can download it for free. It’s being made available by the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Yes, it’s a discipline-based piece of scholarly work, but as the editors correctly claim it’s a book written for anyone who teaches and cares about learning. Kudos to them for providing such a great resource!

Reference and link: Benassi, V. A., Overson, C. E., & Hakala, C. M. (Editors). (2014). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Available at the Teaching of Psychology website: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php

 

Where Are You From?




By Colleen Charles
Academically speaking, when you first meet a professional on campus, you state your name, job title and credentials accordingly. However, for First Nations people, and I speak for myself as a Woodland Cree, Treaty Six Territory, from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, La Ronge, Saskatchewan, I have been raised to ask the question, “Where are you from?” when being introduced to new people. This is to find out if you have relations to the individual and their family.

Also, I used this technique in a presentation that I did for the GSR 989 Philosophy and Practice of University Teaching. According to Kim West, Educational Development Specialist and Instructor for the GSR 989 course, she stated,

“I think what really resonated with me is that Colleen’s icebreaker caused me and my students to question our cultural assumptions as academics. It named what we valued as academics (degrees and education) while gently reminding us there is more to who we are than just the knowledge we hold. I believe that teaching is about creating moments in the classroom when students and instructors can safely and genuinely share who they are. By shifting the dynamic from “education to relation” (Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004), Colleen’s icebreaker helped me as the instructor and for my students to reveal more about who we all are. Her approach reminded me of the importance of relational pedagogy in the classroom and why it matters.”

There was a College of Kinesiology Retreat in December 2013 that offered a combination of the Indigenous Voices workshops. Dean Carol Rodgers stated,

“I found this to be an insightful learning for me, as it immediately made me reflect on how our more academically structured form of introducing ourselves tells so little about WHO we really are and how we could learn so much more about what has shaped a person by learning about where they are from, who the important people have been in their lives and the journey they have taken to get to this time of introduction today. Moreover, this is such an easily incorporated icebreaker activity that also provides an opportunity to highlight cultural differences that in an immediate and hopefully reflective way enables all of us to learn from and with each other.”

As my new role as an Indigenous Voices Program Coordinator at the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness, I have gotten into the habit of introducing myself, saying where I am from and my job title last.

Lac La Ronge Indian Band LogoColleen Charles, MEd
Indigenous Voices Program Coordinator
Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Treaty 6 Territory

Bingham, C.W., and Sidorkin, A.M. (eds). 2004. No education without relation. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

 

Thanks GSR 984: Thinking Critically




By Colleen George
I am a graduate student.  Like many graduate students, I spend my days in front of my computer writing, editing, analyzing, and checking Facebook. Working to complete a graduate thesis has taught me many things: self-discipline and commitment, organization, and writing skills; but I found that as I moved further through my program I was not exposed to opportunities that would help me advance many of the professional skills that I felt I needed both for my own personal development and to market myself after my degree. Because of this, I began to look for these opportunities on campus.  That is when I found the courses and workshops offered through the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness.

I chose to take GSR 984: Thinking Critically.  The course challenges students to deconstruct how we think, how we are taught to think, and how these ways of thinking affect how we perceive and interact with others and the broader world.  Through both personal reflection and collaborative discussions, students and facilitators learn together in a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment.  Using charismatic topics and engaging discussion formats facilitators dare students to reach outside of their comfort zones and begin to think in new ways.  The course engages students in the processes of creative and critical thinking necessary to grapple with and address the complex problems that we are exposed to today.

Through GSR 984, I was able to become better aware of my own standpoint – my biases and assumptions, as well as my personal strengths and limitations.  The well-thought-out curriculum and course design allowed me to learn about thinking while developing and practicing my critical thinking and communication skills. The classes challenged me to reflect on my own skillset and, through taking this course, I have identified a number of professional skills that I would like to improve.  I believe that GSR 984 will help me through my professional career.  Thanks GSR 984: Thinking Critically.

Fair Dealing, Contracts With Publishers and Linking to Journals




By Charlene Sorensen

The Copyright Act contains a clause that allows for “fair dealing” in formal educational settings. This means that a non-substantial portion of a published work can be re-distributed to students enrolled in a class provided that neither password protection nor digital locks are circumvented. Non-substantial roughly means an article from a journal volume, a chapter of a book, or short excerpt (less than 10% of the overall work). Similarly, “direct linking” or “deep linking” to a particular piece of content within a website (i.e. giving the exact URL of a PDF file containing a paper within a journal) is acceptable provided that neither password protection nor digital locks are circumvented.

Please note that some of the library online journal holdings have contracts with publishers that limit how the resource can be used. Some agreements with publishers prohibit the direct distribution of PDF files to students in a class. Some agreements limit library reserve holdings, and some agreements prohibit direct or deep links to articles within a journal. So you may be breaking an agreement/contract with a publisher (a civil offence and a violation of the digital locks Copyright Act) while thinking you are acting within the law.

Some examples of publishers that do not allow direct linking include American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, ASME, CSIRO, Harvard Business Review, Hein Online, Optical Society of America.

It is therefore important that you check each journal title individually through the library website and familiarize yourself with any restrictions to usage before disseminating the information to your students. You may verify the usage rights in several ways:

To search for a journal title use the E-Journals tab on http://library.usask.ca.

E-Journals Tab

Entering the journal title in the search query box will connect you directly to the usage rights page. The information below the title will denote whether or not you can link to the resource based upon the license agreement.

Available Journal Options

If you use USearch to retrieve your articles, usage information will be presented to you once you click on the article title in your results list. If an article is available in more than one database, you may be able to choose the one that is more lenient with linking.

USearch Tab

If you are searching directly in a database (e.g. PubMed, MLA International Bibliography), click on the “Find it!” button and the next screen will display the usage rights information for that article.Below is an example of the e-journal Harvard Business Review, showing the usage rights information. Note that one source does not allow direct linking (red “x” to the right of the word “link”), but the other one does. More information about usage rights for an individual title through a particular source/publisher can be seen by clicking on the green highlighted link to “More info”.

More InfoFor information on direct/persistent linking, go to http://libguides.usask.ca/directlinking.

If you have any further questions, please contact your Liaison Librarian

Please remember that violations of our license terms by anyone can result in the loss of access to that resource for the entire university community.

Mind the Gap: Learning Communities, Transitions, and Educational Enrichment



By Erin DeLathouwer

“What kind of job can I even get with an x degree?” I’ve heard this question again and again in my time as the program coordinator of learning communities, and I suggest that the anxiety that motivates this question comes from the fact that transitions are hard. For first-year students, for peer mentors, for new faculty, for recent graduates, and for those of us navigating from one job to another – transitions are hard.  The difficulties involved in transitions in life are mitigated, however, by education – specifically, the enriching experiences that a good education tends to provide.

In my experience, transitions aren’t supposed to be smooth; if they were, learning would be easy, the unexamined life would be valued, and growth would be stifled. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to recognize the value of education in the midst of transitions, whether those transitions are economic, personal, or educational.

One of the great challenges of the learning communities program is to inspire students to embrace the difficulties and struggles (and therefore the learning) that accompany transition to university culture. Of course some gaps are larger than others, and the gap between high school and university is too often vast. Many will not even recognize the intellectual challenge before them, for the chasm appears too wide.

To address this challenge the approach we’ve taken with learning communities has been to suggest a path which bridges some gaps so that intellectual enrichment can grow. Students in a learning community (LC) benefit from getting to know a small group of peers who take a common set of courses in their first term at university and, together with two peer mentors, explore common interests through weekly LC hours. Those common interests emerge from the unique combination of students who gather. One LC may share a common drive to get into the College of Medicine, while another may share a common interest in sustainable living; one LC might be interested in the ‘human mind’, while another might prefer exploring ‘social justice’.  Regardless of the direction students move in over the term, connections are made, thereby improving the likelihood that the intellectual challenge of university will come into view, and that students will reach for it.

Measuring the success of the learning communities program has been my greatest challenge over the years. How do we recognize and define success? If students are more likely to continue with their studies, that’s success. If students are more likely to report having had an enriching educational experience, that’s success. Both student retention and engagement have been the primary metrics by which the LC program has been assessed in its PCIP-funded[1] years. As the colleges begin to take greater responsibility for the implementation and assessment of the LC program, the challenge will be to maintain that success through this transition period for the program. The challenge will be to bear in mind the gap, bring our students’ perspectives into view, and ask ourselves how far we expect them to reach.


[1] For the past six years the Provost Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) has centrally funded the Learning Communities program. Over the course of the next three years that funding will be phased out with the hope that the Colleges involved will contribute to sustaining the program.

An Open Letter to Canadian Universities

Guest Author, George Siemens

The following post was written by George Siemens from the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University. It is reprinted here with his permission.

An Open Letter to Canadian Universities

Dear Canadian Universities,

You are, as the cool 4chan/Reddit kids say, about to get pwned. The dramatic entrance of elite US universities into online learning will change the education landscape globally. Where we, as Canadian higher education institutions, should be leading, we are laggards. The geography and distributed sparse population of Canada lends itself well to technology-enhanced learning. Remote northern communities can benefit substantially from being able to join classes on subjects where local expertise does not exist. The currently high proportion of provincial funding as a percentage of the total cost of higher education makes it easy to justify large-scale collaborative projects.

However, lack of vision by Canadian Universities has resulted in missed opportunities. For over a decade, we have watched the internet happen to many segments of society: newspapers/journalism, music, journals and academic publications, and content in general. We are not without examples of what happens. In each instance, the change has been stunning – old economic values have been rewritten. Newcomers have become kings and long-time leaders have been dethroned. In a few instances (Pearson), effective leadership and vision has resulted in success. In most instances, however, the old guard has been shaken to its core.

Higher education leaders, globally, have few excuses to justify feeble responses. I’m concerned that the ossification of higher education institutions, and a complete failure to build capacity for adaptation, will produce a bonanza for educational technology startups at the expense of the university’s role in society. The current generation of leaders are overseeing the large-scale dismantling of the public university. Piecemeal outsourcing, growing prominence of adjuncts, and tendering key functions of the university (online course development), are creating a context where the university will no longer be able to direct its own fate.

And it’s just starting.

Add cloud computing, mobile devices, open educational resources, increased profile of universities in developing regions of the world, global competition for international students, edtech startups, greater VC interest in the education sector, reduced federal and provincial funding, changes in the federal research mandate toward commercialization, online learning, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) and we have a climate that is ripe for massive change.

Several prestigious US universities, Stanford, U of Michigan, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, U of Pennsylvania, U of California, Berkeley, have started a large scale experiment in MOOCs. While the current project is not the answer to all that ails education, it is an active experiment that will provide investigators with new insight into how teaching and learning are impacted by digital networks.

And how are our Canadian universities doing??

Very poorly.

Canadian universities are squandering an opportunity to reply meaningfully to Coursera and EDx. I’m aware of at least two major Canadian universities that are negotiating to join Coursera. Why not develop your own? Why not create an active experiment in a Canadian context that allows you to build your understanding of emerging learning models?

By joining an existing project, you largely give away the knowledge building potential for Canadian universities in their own experimentation. Instead of a diversity of projects, where Coursera/EDx benefit from what our universities do (and vice versa), we are doing what got us into this position of innovation laggards in the first place: neglecting the development of vision by taking an easier more politically palatable route.

Be a leader!

The solution is simple: develop a Canadian version of EDx. (For that matter, nations around the world should be developing their own versions of EDx).

I propose that the top 10 Canadian universities convene a meeting to plan a MOOC response that helps us to build our competence in this space. We already have universities devoted to online learning such as Athabasca University (disclaimer: that’s where I hang out) and Thompson Rivers. Partner with those systems as design and delivery partners as they have developed the technical infrastructure and pedagogical expertise for online learning. Even a small allocation of $5-10 million by assembled universities would produce a significant impact and increase the profile of Canadian higher education.

We’ve been laggards for too long, acquiescing international students to more visionary countries (such as Australia). Now is a great time to plant the Canadian flag in the emerging education landscape. All we need is a bit of vision and a willingness to experiment.

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