The All-Sciences Poster Session at the SLA 2009 conference was amazing. Although not all of the posters represented cutting edge work, I came away with several ideas to improve instruction, assessment and research collaboration at my institution.
The first poster to get me thinking was from Brian Winterman and Jacquelyn Petzold at Indiana University, “Desperately Seeking Science: Guiding Lower-Level Biology Undergraduates from the Textbook to the Bench through Focused Information Literacy Education.” They described a library instruction program for freshman biology students that had them looking at information resources starting with their textbooks, moving through online resources, encyclopedias, and and ending up at the peer reviewed literature. This was done over the course of the semester and was deeply enmeshed in the course content. Since one of my summer projects involves developing some instruction content for freshman biology, this was great timing.
Another useful poster discussed the results of a faculty survey trying to discover what collaboration tools researchers were using. (“Optimizing Intellectual Workflow: Which Collaborative Platform Works for You?” By Jay Bhatt, Dana Denick, Peggy Dominy, and Tim Siftar; Drexel University Libraries). To summarize: they aren’t using any. I can’t recall all the details, but most survey respondants weren’t using any of the new collaboration tools (2collab, Connotea, even Google Docs). Many respondants indicated that they were still emailing documents as their only form of version control. Since we are looking at ways to encourage collaborative research, I wondered if perhaps the library might be able to support faculty collaboration by introducing them to some of these tools. In order for these tools to work, they need to fit in with the normal workflow of researchers. A workshop might be able to introduce faculty to some of these tools, in order to see if any would work for them.
One of the wonderful things about poster sessions is the ability to really talk with the authors and ask detailed questions in an informal setting. One of the bad things about poster sessions is when 12 other people want to talk with the same author you do.