Class Week 9: One-shot Workshops

This week we met in the same groups as our book clubs and conducted our one-shot workshops in pairs. While there weren’t any snacks this time around, we did have very thoughtful and engaging conversations where everyone had something to say–a benefit of a small group of around ten people. My partner and I went first. Our topic was an idea from Kristin’s lecture one day: whether to note “bad” books in catalog records, and on the ALA’s stance on labeling and rating books. An example of a “bad” book would be Michael Bellesiles’s Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, which was outed as fraudulent research after having won several awards. Should librarians note that in the book’s catalog record, or should they let users figure that out on their own? (“Bad” could also mean other things to other people, too, like often-challenged books or books of an adult nature.)

I had a slightly harder time wrapping my head around this than the book clubs. Strangely, I was less familiar with book clubs than workshops because I’ve never participated in a book club before; I’ve been a participant in workshops many times as both a student and as a professional, and I’ve also taught a one-shot workshop (it was two hours as opposed to twenty minutes, though). We planned our workshop thoroughly–the analysis and outline part of the ADDIE document really helped–and used the “jigsaw” method, where we split the group in half and gave each group a different article to read and discuss about the topic. Then half of each group switched and told the other participants about what they read. Perhaps it was the twenty-minute time limit, but it was hard to interrupt people and tell them it was time to switch while they were having really lively conversations–which was our goal! We even got some constructive feedback on this, that the participants wished they could have talked more with less guidance from us.

Maybe the reason I was having some trouble conceptualizing the idea of these particular workshops was that they felt a lot like the book club, except this time we chose ethics-themed articles to read and discuss, and we had a much more structured outline of events. Upon reflection my confusion seems like a good thing. I used to think of workshops as places to learn a new skill, like TEI encoding or learning how to use databases to find scholarships. This week showed me that workshops can also be a chance to have a structured discussion with established learning objectives, and that discussing and working through a topic can be a skill, too.

The other workshops all went well. It was fun to participate, and to appreciate the hard work my peers did–everyone was obviously well-prepared. I did notice that the more structured workshops, with clear methods (pair up and read this article, or half read this article and half another, or list the pros and cons of 3D printing) produced more lively discussion.

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2 thoughts on “Class Week 9: One-shot Workshops

  1. Everyone’s workshop topics have been really interesting, and yours in no exception! Labeling books is often done with good intentions in mind, but it can often isolate other groups of people unintentionally, as well. I also like how you frame “discussing and working through a topic” as a skill. As most of us realized this week, “skill” doesn’t just have to mean a technology skill or leading a “Word 101” workshop. And as with most of the assignments and activities for this class, the major skill set that we learned wasn’t necessarily the content of the workshops, but the process of preparing a workshop ourselves.

  2. What an interesting topic to use for your workshop! That is really cool. I hadn’t really thought about the ethical implications of labeling books, but you are completely right! I also felt less comfortable with the workshops, partially because 20 minutes feels a little short for the kind of examples I had in my head. Some of the discussion in our workshops felt a little rushed, and I would have liked more time with the material. Perhaps that’s another reason. The workshops also did feel a lot like the book clubs, only with more structure. I don’t think that’s necessarily the wrong way to go about it, though.

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