We may be students, but expect to be asked to teach sometime in your library school experience, too. Maybe it’s a class specifically devoted to learning how to give effective library instructional sessions, but it could just as easily be a class on YA literature trends or XML coding. Internships can be great opportunities to get in front of a group and deliver a lecture or presentation, as well.
But, unless you already have a background in teaching, this can be kind of daunting. It was for me, the first time I organized an in-service training day for the student workers I supervise. How can I get them the information I need them to know, but in a hopefully engaging and fun way? I had moral support from my supervisors and a little bit of a budget, but, lacking the time to catch up on a hundred years’ worth of literature and research on effective pedagogy and teaching methods, I had to rely on quick and cheap tools and software to keep my group attentive and collaborative.
What I’ve collected since then are some tools that can be used in presentations, work retreats, and classroom settings. Some of them take more prep work (or allow for more creativity) than others, but they are all freely available, easy to use, and give your students/attendees a little bit of a break from the classic ‘chalk and talk’ lecture format.
- Kahoot! Kahoot is a learning game that you can create and control. You write the questions, and four multiple-choice answers. The questions appear on a shared screen (like a projector or laptop), and attendees choose what they think is the correct answer on their personal device. (I like to have a few tablets or iPads available when using Kahoot in case any of your attendees don’t have or don’t want to use their own smartphone.) Kahoot notes who got the correct answer, and how quickly, and keeps a running scoreboard. It brings an aspect of (hopefully friendly) competition to what is essentially a multiple-choice exam!
- Menti Menti is similar to Kahoot in that it can create quizzes that your guests can take with a smartphone, but it can also create presentations where you can embed those quiz questions and add polls.
- Google Slides This is maybe an obvious one, but I really like the feature that can capture your voice as you present and create captions in real time. They’re not perfect, but better than not offering captions at all, and you can edit them later before sending your slides out after the presentation.
- Jamboard Also a Google product, Jamboard is a real-time digital whiteboard. Depending on whether you (and your group members) are using a computer or a mobile device, you can either type or handwrite notes on various ‘whiteboards’, and they show up immediately (and anonymously) on everyone else’s ‘boards’. If you’re using Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides already, you can integrate those and paste those on the boards as well.
- Padlet I attended a virtual conference a couple years ago that leaned really heavily on Padlet, and had hundreds of responses to each topic. You may not be dealing with that big of a group, but you can still use it to encourage visual and written engagement. You post a question or a topic at the top of the board, and your attendees can drop notes, images, videos, or links onto the board, and see what others are posting as well. They can add as many as they like, and comment or upvote on what’s been posted by others. I’ve seen it used as an alternate to a Zoom chat window – the presenter simply leaves it open while they present, and then comes back to it later in the presentation and mentions some of the highlights or what’s been ‘trending.’
- Poll Everywhere An oldie but a goodie. Poll Everywhere is owned by the same company that runs Webex, so it wants to work with that platform, but you can also use it on its own. It’s a good icebreaker activity, so long as everyone in your group has a mobile device or access to a computer. One of the instruction librarians I shadowed at work would start her instruction sessions by asking a question like, ‘How often do you use the library?’ or ‘What kids of things can a reference librarian help you with?’ and students can anonymously submit their answers. At the end of the session, she’d ask the same question again, and get a sense of how their answers had changed. A feature I like is that if you like someone’s answer enough to repeat it, it grows bigger on the screen, almost like creating a word cloud in real time. (Speaking of word clouds! You can create those in Menti as well.)
Obviously there are plenty more interactive tools out there, on a number of different platforms, and I’d love to get a conversation going about some of the others you may have used or seen demonstrated! Share below in the comments, or you can always tag us on Twitter @hacklibschool.
Lauren Bauer is a student in San José State University’s MLIS program, the associate editor of Hack Library School, and a library technician at a Los Angeles community college. She is interested in instruction, cataloging/metadata, resource sharing, and OER, and you can find her on Twitter @darthbookworm3.