Monday, October 8, 2012

Google Power Search course and its application to libraries

It has been a while since I last updated this blog. However, in the span of time I presented a paper at a symposium, and did Google Online Searching Course, officially named "Power Searching with Google". It is the latter that I would like to talk about, and in particular, spin off ideas about the application to libraries.

My experience with Google's online Power Searching course

Google's delivery of the online certificate course used slides, video and HTML (text). I appreciated this, but however felt, that for my own benefit and other persons who are at an advanced or intermediate level, having a pre-assessment would be very useful. I was bored going through all the videos and HTML (text), reinforcing what I already knew and picking up little new pieces of information once in a while. It was after doing the mid-course assessment that I recognised what I did not know, and through this process, Google could direct me through its feedback to the relevant video, slides and html text to improve.

Hence, a pre-assessment, would be able to assess the student or candidate, and save them time by a) showing them where their knowledge is weak and b) directing them to the place to get the relevant update to their knowledge.


I see application to government organisations too, especially in the English-speaking Caribbean. Agencies like the national training agencies could adopt this type of online delivery to train the nation's skilled workers who are not yet certified. I also see it possible that institutions like the Institute of Jamaica, with responsibility for encouraging literature, science and art in Jamaica, could set up online courses in Jamaican science, literature and art, while delivering online certificates to those who complete the online courses as being knowledgeable about local science, art or literature.

Even national libraries could do the same. National libraries are generally knowledgeable about a nation's information resources. As such, national libraries could offer certificate course in nation's information resource, testing candidates for their knowledge of major national information sources and where persons might be able to locate what type of information.

This latter point is essential, as libraries have traditionally seen their training roles in terms of preparing users for use of in-house collection (the old paradigm of bibliographic/library instruction). Today, libraries are now seeing their training roles in terms of preparing users to use collections within and outside of the walls of the library (hence the new information literacy paradigm). As such, it is now not a matter of should libraries offer online courses for clients, but the issue is how do we do it so that our clients or users are actually motivated to pursue and complete these courses. For me, the answer seems plain: offer them an online certificate course with a pre-assessment that first helps them to identify their gaps in knowledge and where they need to go in order to update their knowledge. Let the online certificate be the motivation, and market the course and the certificate. I'm sure those, seeking professional development and career development opportunities, will be glad to do library online courses on information literacy for the exchange of a certificate, so that they can add a line to their curriculum vitae (CV), or résumés.

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