I received a copy of my planned program from the Graduate School at SCSU yesterday afternoon along with the letter of acceptance from the School of Graduate Studies (rather than the School of Communication, Information and Library Science). All appropriate people have signed off – and I am officially enrolled in the MLS program. So far, I’m very impressed with the people and the program at SCSU.
Given that I am just starting my journey through library school, I don’t yet have a great organization scheme for my work. I have been giving this topic quite a bit of thought for the past couple of weeks. I figured that I really should try and get some type of organization in place before the start of next semester (my next class starts on January 29th). Imagine my delight when Joy (at Wanderings of a Student Librarian) posted her thoughts and ideas about organizing school work in a post in her blog this week.
Joy has some great ideas. I love the fact that she uses accordian files to keep track of material from individual classes. After my first class, I put all of my material into file folders: one folder for the syllabus and class information, one for class readings, one for readings that I used for research, one for my assignments, one for assignments from other students and one for study material. However, an accordian file would allow me to keep everything from one class together. I think I will be running out to get some accordian files.
Rather than shelves, I have (in the past) used boxes to store my files. I am thinking that one shelf near my computer for the material from my current class would be a great idea. Maybe this would help me to keep all of my material together. I do remember several times during the fall semester when I had to tear my house apart for the last week’s information.
Rebecca Hedreen (from Frequently Answered Questions) pointed out to Joy that backing up one’s files is also a critical part of keeping track of school work. I agree that backups are a critical part of any organizational scheme. Given that my classes are all online, everything that I have done is in electronic format with copies backed up on several computers. Additionally, I have put good portions of my work on this blog – which is backed up by another source. Of course, I also have several paper copies of everything.
There are a couple of additional things that I have done to organize my school work. One thing I do is keep a running bibliography of all class readings – required ones and all additional readings that I have discovered during my research. I keep a Refworks account with these citations. This comes in handy to check to see if I have already read a particular article – and if I have a hard copy of the article. RefWorks citations are fully searchable by author and title. I have already been able to avoid printing an article twice several times. I keep all of my articles in alphabetical order in file folders. My Refworks folders match the physical folders that I keep – hopefully to allow for quick retrieval.
Additionally, I try to write brief summations of all the articles that I read for a class. This brief summation is invaluable when I thumb through my articles to find any that may be helpful for an assignment. I have started to do this for articles that I read in my professional life as well. The one drawback to this scheme is that I keep all of this material in hard copy – and the amount of space it takes up will grow rapidly.
Ultimately, I am impressed with Joy’s level of organization – and maybe even a bit jealous. Fortunately, her post has reinvigorated my quest to get everything organized before I start my next class.
My first class has been over for a couple of weeks – and I’ve had some time to reflect upon the whole experience – the first class in my MLS program and my first online class. Before taking the class, I was a bit unsure about what to expect from a distance education class. Admittedly, I worry about everything – especially schoolwork. I think I tend to believe that my grade will be based on the number of hours of self-flagellation I put myself through. So on top of my usual worries about starting a new program, I spent hours obsessing about what an online class would be like – would it be too easy? would it be too difficult? would there be any social interaction? how would I be able to figure out what the professor wanted? would I have the dedication and discipline needed to complete the class? how would the quality of the class be? how would others view a distance MLS?
I think I have mentioned before in this blog that I found the class to be a really rewarding experience. In addition to being worried about the online experience, I was a bit unsure about the actual class – Introduction to Information Science and Technology – and whether the material would be challenging. In my work, I am a head of library systems at a small academic library – and I am no stranger to information or technology. In fact, it is my job to be the most knowledgeable person about technology in the library. So, when I first opened the textbook and read the sections on how to connect to the internet, how to buy a computer etc., I wondered about the actual class material. Would it all be this basic? Fortunately, it wasn’t. I really feel as if I learned quite a bit. The professor gave us choices in assignments so that we could choose projects that would challenge us. This was one of the reasons that I chose to do a wiki project – I was interested in wikis, but had no experience with them at all. Additionally, the web search exercise was fascinating – and I learned so much even though I have used search engines extensively for several years. All in all, the class made me look at several things in a whole new light – and that is worth its weight in gold (or the cost of tuition)!!
Apart from the actual content of the class, I also really enjoyed the online format. The threaded discussion took the place of classroom discussion – and I was actually suprised at how much social interaction the discussions promoted. People’s personalities really shined through their posts. Also, in a traditional classroom, one cannot take classes with people in New England, Hawaii, and the Czech Republic (and assorted other places). It was an eye opening experience. The only difficult part of the online class was being able to read what the professor expected in terms of coursework. Well, I guess it wasn’t difficult just very different. In a traditional class, there is human contact – and I guess that I have always relied upon that as a means to read the professor. Pouring through documents, email and discussion posts didn’t give me confidence that I was writing my paper the right way or carrying out my project the right way. I was incredibly nervous about what material would be on the final. However, now that I look back, I was right about what the professor wanted – I was just second guessing myself because I didn’t feel confident about taking an online class. Hopefully, I will be a bit more comfortable next semester!!!!