Teaching and Learning

Publications and Presentations

In my classroom...

Revamping Refresher Training, now with bonus polling

Every fall, the helpdesk student supervisor and I lead “refresher training” for the IT helpdesk student workers who have shifts at the Research/IT desk in the library. Usually this consists of the two of us talking to the student workers about responsibilities and rules and then helping them figure out the ever-vexing microfilm reader/scanners. Again.

Needless to say, this always goes over super well, especially from 5-6 during the first week of classes. A couple students engage and the rest try not to fall asleep.

For some reason, I’ve had this mental block where I think of “training” as that boring thing that has to be done but that I try never to do when I’m “teaching.” Training is “here is how,” and teaching is something much more engaged and interesting. Turns out? I was wrong.

This year the helpdesk supervisor said “I want to change it up. We should make it interactive.” And I said, “I’ve been wanting to experiment with Poll Everywhere.” And so we ran an almost entirely poll-based training session, followed by a “microfilm race” (each group had to complete one task on one of the three reader/scanners) and it was good. The only thing that we didn’t cover was having every student touch every reader/scanner, and the students got to engage while also participating in their irreverant cohort culture via free-text responses here and there in the poll. Oh, and they still got paid for being there. So while it was definitely still training, I think it was definitely better.

Older III OPAC due to lose functionality on Google Chrome Browser

Not being a systems librarian, I hadn’t heard about this change until today. If you are a systems librarian, you’ve probably known about this for a while, but it was news to me so I’m passing it along just in case. Also, the usual disclaimers apply about me not actually speaking Server but working with people who do, so I hope I’m not garbling things in translation.

There are three facts that are coming into convergence soon that will affect people using Innovative Interface’s OPAC but who have not signed on for their upgrade to Sierra.

  1. There is a major transition going on in the web security world from an old version of security (SHA-1) to a new version (SHA-256).
  2. Modern browsers are beginning to phase out support for sites that are on the old system. (Here’s some more in-depth information about that.)
  3. III’s OPAC runs on servers using an ancient operating system (Red Hat 4) that does not support SHA-256.

Beginning near the end of November, Google Chrome will start displaying warnings to users telling them that sites on the old system are not secure. In spring of 2015, Chrome will stop displaying those sites. In 2016 all major browsers will stop displaying those sites.

For III’s old OPAC, users will still be able to use the search interface and see results, but if they try to log in to save records, that functionality will fail.

At my library, we have a discovery layer between most users and the OPAC (we use VuFind), and the functionality there will not be affected.

Luckily, at my library we’re also in the market for a new Library Management System.