Another way to communicate online

I’ll say it again: I’m grateful to come into this job just as the new course management software is being rolled out. It’s helpful to be able to learn ANGEL alongside my colleagues, the faculty, and students, because I’ll learn so much more by being part of the initial launch.

It’s been helpful to learn about the behind-the-scenes technical aspects of ANGEL, but I’m most looking forward to learning how the students decide to use ANGEL. Specifically, I’m curious to see how they use the Ask a Librarian discussion forum.

Norwich students have several ways to contact me and my reference colleagues: we use email, phone, and instant messaging. My predecessor (now my boss) experimented with being an embedded librarian and quickly learned that it was too time-consuming to check in with all of the seminars in our ten graduate programs.

ANGEL offers an efficient solution: a discussion forum that’s accessible to students in all programs. It’s called Ask a Librarian, and my colleagues and I will check daily for new posts. The forum is efficient because we’ll only have to check one location in ANGEL for new posts, but that’s just icing on the cake: I think it’s more important that the posts and replies are visible to every student in every program. My hope is that the questions posted (and answered) there will be useful to students across disciplines.

Still, I can’t predict how Ask a Librarian will be used. Will most questions be general or topic-specific? Will other students respond to a post and offer advice or further information about the problem? Will the forum get much traffic, or will students prefer to use email, the phone, and instant messaging? (It just occurred to me that the younger students may see the discussion forum as an extension of status messages in Facebook: a place to mention something about your life within your community and invite feedback. Conversely, perhaps there will be some students who prefer to ask their questions privately by one of our other methods.)

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