First in an occasional series of posts from the archives of the LIS eNewsletter. November 2008
If we don’t have a book you want, we can get it for you quickly. Through Interlibrary Loan, Middlebury College students, faculty, and staff can use books, journal articles, and other research materials owned by libraries across the country. Here’s how to make an interlibrary loan request:
1) Search for the item in the NExpress catalog (shortcut: http://go.middlebury.edu/nexpress). If you find the item there, click on the “Request” link and fill out the form. Books should be delivered to the Main Library within a week, articles should be delivered to your email inbox within a few days.
2) If your item is not available in NExpress, fill out the Illiad form (shortcut: http://go.middlebury.edu/ill). Books and articles should be delivered to the Main Library within a few weeks.
- In MIDCAT and other databases, look for the blue “NExpress” button. It’s a shortcut that searches NExpress for you.
- In FirstSearch databases such as WorldCat, MLA and PsycInfo, try the button first. If Middlebury does not own the item then you can request it from NExpress or traditional Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad).
- Always try to order from NExpress first. Article requests that cannot be filled by NExpress are automatically forwarded to ILLiad for ILL processing.
Clearly both surveys and focus groups are important tools for gathering information about a particular population. Usually surveys are used first, to a get general sense of the population. Surveys are then followed by focus groups that get more in depth information.
However a case can be made for reversing this order and starting with focus groups first, followed by surveys (see: “Use of Focus Groups in Survey Item Development“, The Qualitative Report, Nassar and Borders, March, 2002). Focus groups can often help to define survey questions or inform how questions are phrased. This can be particularly important for technology surveys, helping to couch questions in terms that those surveyed can understand.
The Curricular Technology team did a lot of brainstorming over the summer. This seems like a good time to step back and compare what we have done to what our priorities are:
We have a lot of projects started whose focus is to find one or more replacements for Segue including a CT feature matrix, a CT needs “knowledge grid” (i.e. what do we know and not know about technologies that faculty and students need), course site platform survey questions.
Bryan and I were chatting after the last CT meeting. Bryan had an interesting idea for how Curricular Technology documentation could be aggregated on the LIS site. We both agreed that we need more than simply a list of links to documentation sites. Instead of just links, we should have some explanation of the resource/site being linked to, some sort of abstract describing that resource/site.
Bryan suggested that rather than writing abstracts just for the CT landing page, we could pull in actual content from those resources using the Drupal Views module. Essentially, if I follow Bryan’s explanation (see whiteboard diagram), each CT resource would defined as a particular content type which the views module could be configured to fetch from that source, be it WordPress, Segue, eRes or Drupal.
A common approach to choosing a technology solution is to create a “feature matrix” which lists all the features required and numerical rates or weights each solution’s implementation of that feature. The best solution is then that one with the highest “score.”
For a good critique of this strategy see: CMS Selection – Death to the Features Matrix. This article suggests another approach, that of listing “doubts” regarding the importance of features or a solution’s implementation of a feature.
Sites devoted to knowledge exchange are common in information technology. One particularly good one is stackoverflow.com. This particular site is exceptional for the following reasons:
- Anybody can ask a question or answer a question.
- Logged in users of the site can build a reputation by asking good questions or giving good answers
- Users with high reputations can do more on the site
- Any user (with moderate reputation) can rate an existing question or answer
- Any user (with moderate reputation) can edit an existing question or answer to make either better
- Best rated answers get pushed to the top
We could try to do something similar on this blog. I know I have a bunch of questions I need to find answers too. Some of these questions require a bit of expertise to find answers to, but others probably can be answered with a few google searches.
If you use Delicious, can tag interesting things on the web and have them flow into the widget (at right) in our Curricular Technology Team blog.
Tag the item “for:ctteam” so it goes to the ctteam Delicious account.