Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Recently in Workload

I'm Back!

It's been a little while since my last post!  At the beginning of August (literally less than 12 hours after my summer class ended) I was in the hospital getting major surgery.  Unfortunately, the recovery time for this surgery is rather lengthy, and I've been staggering my return dates, but now I'm back in the saddle for school, work, and now blog writing!  Woo-hoo! 

Thus far at Simmons I've taken all of my core classes (LIS 407: Information Sources and Services, LIS 415: Information Organization, and LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals), and two of my electives (LIS 451: Academic Libraries and LIS 404: Principles of Management).   I mentioned back in April that I had registered for LIS 421: Social Informatics for the Fall 2019 semester.  Since then, I ended up switching classes to LIS 401: Foundations of Library and Information Science.  This class was recommended to me when I was talking with someone late last year about switching out of archives, and had the two year projected course schedule that SLIS puts out been a little different, and if I took more than one class at a time, I probably would have taken this class a bit earlier.  If you've read some of my past posts, you know that I've been kind of at a crossroads because I came in to Simmons doing the archives concentration, and then I realized through doing research, informational interviews, and discussions with colleagues that I didn't really think it was the right fit for me, and I've been equivocating over what path to take, and how to structure the rest of my time at Simmons. 

I know that I love academic libraries because I currently work in one, and taking LIS 451 reaffirmed my interest. I know I enjoy reference and instruction because of LIS 407 and LIS 451, and a large part of my job is doing reference work.  I also really enjoyed my time in LIS 415, so I'm interested in information organization.  However, I know there are a lot of things under the LIS umbrella that I don't know about or only know minimal details about, and before I chart my course for the rest of my time at Simmons and dedicate individual classes to areas of interest, I want to see what's out there and what I'm interested in, and this class is providing me with a good introduction and overview.  For example, we're going to have a unit on Evaluating Information Services in a few weeks, and if that's something I'm interested in, Simmons has a class on it--LIS 403: Evaluation of Information Services!  We had a unit on the History and Evolution of LIS two weeks ago, and guess what?  Simmons has a class on the History of Libraries (LIS 452) if I want to explore that further!  Additionally, one thing that this class goes over is all the different settings that LIS professionals can work in, and types of jobs I could possibly have when I graduate.  This has been touched on in previous classes that I've had, and I know there are devoted classes to specific areas (such as LIS 451: Academic Libraries), but as I'm really interested in hearing about this as a general topic.  I think choosing to take this class was really good idea for where I'm at in my MSLIS right now, and it will help me figure out my journey for the rest of my time here at Simmons. 

It's great to be back, and I'll keep you updated on how things are going!

If you are interested in learning more about the courses at SLIS, click here!

SLIS | Workload | classes


Keeping Track

My first week of the semester went well.  Usually the first week is a bit lighter than the rest of the semester, with the professors introducing themselves and giving a basic overview of the courses, and the students answering some forum questions to get to know each other and the course topic.  Week two is where the more serious work starts.  I certainly have a lot of work this semester, with several group projects, research papers, and presentations. 

I was overwhelmed when I first read my course syllabi.  For my first two semesters, all my classes have followed a similar format, with Day 1 being the first day of class, and Day 7 being the due date for the assignments.  I didn't write down any deadlines, because I knew that I had to get everything done by the end of the week.  It was pretty simple to manage.  This semester, however, is different.  All my classes have work due on Day 7, but two of my three classes have additional work due before the last day of the week.  So there are a lot more deadlines.  To make things even more confusing, all of my classes start on different days.  Thankfully, I went out and found a nice planner with lots of space to keep track of everything that's due.  I've already entered all of my weekly assignments and big project deadlines.  I actually entered my big project deadlines twice--once on the weekly calendar and once on the monthly calendar.  It took a while, but it was worth it because now I can see everything that's due and can plan for busier weeks.  And I won't worry about forgetting an assignment.  If only completing the work were as easy as planning it.

SLIS | Workload | classes


Summer is Flying By!

Things have been crazy!  Summer is just flying by!  There are only seven weeks in my summer class (LIS 404: Principles of Management), and we are in Week 6, and there is so much left to do.  During these last two weeks, we're learning about Change Management, Grant Writing, Fiscal Responsibility, Budgeting, and Evaluation and Coordination of Library Functions!  So many topics, so little time!  There are still several assignments left to complete, readings to be done, and forums to participate in and it is crunch time. 

I've really enjoyed this class, especially because this class has more of a classroom feel to it.  Even though this is an online course, this class utilizes "wikis" on Moodle where we have discussions that are more personal (like the one about the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs personality test that I mentioned in my last post), so we get to know our classmates.  This past week (Week 5), one of our topics was Motivation and Drive, and we had a discussion on what our motivations were for pursuing our MLIS.  I've only taken online classes at Simmons so far, and while there have been discussion forums that allow us to participate and interact with one another, I really haven't gotten to know or learn about any of my classmates very much.  This class feels more personal, and I really appreciate that.  While all of my classes at Simmons have had lively discussion forums, this class feels more like a class, like we're all on this journey of learning about management and getting our MLIS together, and not sitting behind our computers alone. 

This is the second summer course I've taken, and while on one hand, I have really enjoyed having no schoolwork for several weeks between semesters and getting a little break, I really wish the summer classes were a little bit longer.  Summer classes are half the length of a regular semester course, and while I've enjoyed both summer classes that I've taken, and I've learned so many new skills, the rigorous pace can be difficult at times.  Due to their accelerated nature, it feels like so much more work than a regular semester (and it kind of is because you are accomplishing it in half the time).  The fast pace of the summer classes have definitely been a challenge for me both times around, because in addition to balancing my schoolwork, I'm balancing my job, my personal life, family, etc.  Staying on top of everything can be incredibly difficult, and having good time management skills is imperative.  With that being said, I am happy that I decided to take a summer course this year.  This class has challenged me to think in new ways, I've learned so many practical skills that I can take with me on my educational and professional journey, and I have gotten the opportunity to get to know my classmates. 

Wish me luck for the final push!

Classes | SLIS | Summer | Workload


The Summer Semester Has Begun!

The summer semester has begun!  This summer I am taking one class, LIS 404: Principles of Management.  Summer classes at SLIS are shorter in length than normal semester classes, but have the same amount of work.  My class this summer is only seven weeks long.  You may have noticed in Amie's post that she is also taking LIS 404, and we are both in the same online class section, so that's exciting! 

The really good thing about this class is that all of the course content is available, so we truly can move at our own pace.  There are due dates of course, but if I want to see what assignments are coming up, or work ahead, I have the option to do so.  For my summer course last year, there was a lot of "locked" course content, everyone had to move at the same pace.  I understand the logic behind that, but with the shortened time frame and so many things being due each week, I really appreciate being able to know what is coming up and schedule my time accordingly, instead of getting access to each week as it comes, and scheduling it that way.   When the Moodle page for the course first opened up, my original plan for this course was to try and stay a week ahead---that did not happen.  We're in to Week 2 now, and I am not ahead of the game.  I've been scheduling time every day to work on schoolwork, and I'm chugging along.  There's just so much content.  We have a paper, a crisis communications assignment, and two forums this week, along with readings, notes, and lectures.  All of the things we're learning about are incredibly interesting though. This week we're focusing on Organizational Structure and Communication.  I've been really fascinated by the readings this week because I was a Communication Studies major during undergrad and my concentration was in interpersonal and organizational communication, so I've been making connections with the content that I'm learning now with the content that I learned several years ago. 

This course is going to be a lot of hard work, and it is definitely going to keep me busy, but I'm up for the challenge!  

Classes | SLIS | Summer | Workload


Crunch Time!

It's almost the end of the semester and I can't believe it.  Where did the time go?  I am really looking forward to having a break, but I still have a lot of work to do before I can relax.  I have two big projects due the last week of classes: a group project for my info organization class, and an individual project for my tech class.     

My goal is to complete the tech project early, partly because I want to use the last week to focus on finishing up my group project, and partly because I just plain want to get it done!  Our assignment is to create a personal website for prospective employers.  It's a really great project because it requires us to use and showcase all the skills we've learned in class this semester.  I have learned so much this semester, and I am definitely using everything I've learned, and more.

Right now, I have the formatting all set up, and I just need to play around with the wording a bit.  The formatting was the hardest part to complete and I am thrilled that that part is done. The reason it was so difficult was because I started completely from scratch and therefore had to make decisions about every little thing from font size and style, image and navigation bar placement, and everything else in between.  Before taking this class, I really didn't think about how websites were made or structured but now I do.  Website construction is part tech, part art, and very time consuming.  I cannot stress that enough.  It is very time consuming.   I have already spent many hours playing around with formatting.  I've learned through trial and error that even the smallest elements can affect the look of other elements, and maintaining a good balance can be a challenge.  I really wanted to use a textured, wood-like background, but no matter how many pictures I used, I found it distracted from the text.  And the fancier, prettier text I wanted to use simply didn't look right.  I finally settled on a neutral background with a plainer font.  It looks clean, simple, and modern.  I love it, and I am really proud of what I've created.  I never in a million years thought I would make any type of website, but here I am, almost done with one.  In the next few days, I will firm up the text, add a few more images, and then (deep breaths) submit it.   Then I'll focus on my other work.

SLIS | Technology | Workload | classes


Group Work Thoughts

My family and I have been spending the kids' spring break down in southwestern Virginia at my parents' house and absolutely loving it. Spring is farther along in Virginia than it is up in Connecticut and all the burgeoning green and flowering trees are simply gorgeous. This trip has been so good for my soul. Having grown up in small towns and fresh country air I honestly feel suffocated living along the crowded, overdeveloped I-95 corridor. If I couldn't get out every now and then I think I'd burst.

Anyway, we are one week closer to the end of the semester with just about two weeks left of class! Things aren't exactly winding down yet, but I'm hoping that having the end in sight will give me the strength to get through this last final push. One thing is wrapping up though, and that's my group project for the Metadata class. We'll be turning it in this week and viewing the presentations of the other groups for class. I used to hate group projects in high school and undergrad, but I've gained a new appreciation for them while at Simmons. Why has this happened? For one thing, you're faced with the realization that these group projects imitate real life and prepare you for collaboration on the job. For another thing, your classmates and instructors are more like colleagues and everyone seems to care more and take greater responsibility for their own work. Still, a group project can feel like a bit of a gamble. You may be randomly assigned to your team and/or topic and expected to adapt to whatever team dynamic results.

Fortunately, I found this latest experience quite rewarding. We had to create a 20-minute presentation video consisting of slides with voiceover narrative and some sample records using the metadata standard we'd been assigned. There didn't seem to be a good way to equitably divide up the work between five people, so we essentially all worked together on most of it using shared documents and shared slides. This "committee style" approach worked well for our group, because everyone seemed equally committed and willing to take responsibility. I would like to put a plug in for using video conferencing as opposed to just audio or text chat. We were a little shy and reluctant at first to turn on our webcams and talk face-to-face, but those video meetings were far more productive than our text-only ones and it really helped to put faces to names. Communication is so much better "in person," even if it's over an internet connection. My tip for the week is: next time you find yourself working virtually with a group, suggest video chat!

Classes | Online | SLIS | Workload


Participation

I'll start with good news.  I was able to register for all the classes I wanted!  Yay!  I also signed up for two summer courses: LIS 407, Info Sources & Services (my final required course), and LIS 439, Preservation Management.  I might switch out 439 for LIS 404, Principles of Management, but it was full and I had to sign up for the waitlist.  I don't know if I'll end up getting in, but I won't go wrong with either course.  I'm not too worried about it.

                Now, onto this week's topic.  One of my main questions heading into this semester was how the participation part of my classes would work, since both of them are online.  The answer is: discussion forums.  Each class has forums for instructor announcements and general help questions, but how many other forums there are, and how often to post to them, can vary.  For my technology class, we have one main board in which we discuss current technology trends and articles.  I don't usually keep up with technology news, and this has been a great way to get me to do that.  I've learned a lot by reading the posted articles and following the discussions.  And long as we submit the required number of posts by the end of the semester, we can check in and post whenever we want.

That's not the case for my info organization class, where weekly participation is required.  The class is broken down into modules and there are multiple forums for each module, involving discussions about the readings, small assignments, reflections, and questions or comments.  We are required to make a certain number of posts per module.  The discussions here have lots of responses, and it can be difficult to keep up.  I find that I need to check in every other day or so in order to not get behind, otherwise it gets too overwhelming.

There are a lot of things I like about the forums.  I find it much easier to write about my opinions than voice them, which is why I hesitate to participate in traditional classes.  But in the forums, I can present a fully formed, thoughtfully written opinion, which makes me participate more often.  It makes means the quality of discussion is a little better than in a traditional class.  Also, because I never get to actually see my fellow classmates, reading the forums helps me feel like I'm part of a group.  I especially love that if I have a question, I can post it and get several responses (or someone to commiserate with me!).  I've written and read more than one post about not fully understanding an assignment or topic, and it's nice to get reassurance that I'm not the only one struggling at times.  So overall, while the forums are different than a face to face class, I find they are still an effective learning tool.  It just takes a little time to adjust to the differences.

Online | SLIS | Workload | classes


It's Not Easy Being Green

My senioritis went out the window this week as my schedule really started heating up. I'm currently involved in two group projects: one for my online Metadata class and the other for a conference presentation! Way back in January, Eric Poulin, SLIS West program director and instructor for my User Instruction class, asked me if I'd be interested in presenting at one of the state library conferences with some other students. I said yes, of course, and nothing much happened until last week. Our proposal had been accepted for the Massachusetts Library Association conference to be held on May 21, but then Eric found out (unbeknownst to him) that we were also on the schedule for the Connecticut Library Association conference on April 29! Eek! So now I feel like I'm drowning in virtual group meetings and deadlines and everything is coming up so quickly.

Fortunately, I just taught the last class for my internship this morning so at least that part of my work load is winding down. All told, I taught 8 sessions of EN12 classes (with the same pre-determined lesson plan) and 2 one-shots that I got to plan myself. I found out that I really enjoy teaching (as I suspected) but that the prepping can be time-consuming and stressful. It does get easier the more you do it though. I was never so nervous again as I was for my first time and today I was barely nervous at all! I did a TON of prep for this class though, feeling like I had to compensate for my inexperience and...greenness. During my first one-shot I felt like my inexperience was really showing and so I worked hard to improve that for the second time around, with some success. I have no doubt that experienced instructional librarians can get the same results with much less prep time and stress. You have to work a little extra when you are green.

The next few weeks are going to be intense. On top of all the schoolwork my family is getting ready for a move! We bought a house here in Norwalk and our move-in date is mid-May. Our apartment is going to be listed, so that means keeping the place clean and tidy and starting to pack. I feel exhausted just thinking about it, but I sure am excited for all these big things coming up.

Presentations | Real World | SLIS West | Workload | classes | conferences


Stress

Remember when I wrote about being a bit bored on spring break?  I knew that would come back to haunt me.  It's been super busy lately and I could use some of that free time!  It's been crazy at work and the past few weeks have been exhausting.  All I want to do when I get home is sit on my sofa and relax, and I can't right now.  But what I can do is be a little more flexible about my study schedule to make sure I don't get too overwhelmed. 

Up to this point I've been getting most of my work done during the week.  The main reason for this is because I hate procrastinating, but the other reason is because I need my down time.  I can't work for hours or days in a row with no break.  I know some people can do this, but I am not one of them.  I get too stressed out and my brain turns to mush.  It's really important for me to spend most of my weekends doing things other than schoolwork.  It refreshes my mind and gives me more focus for the new week. 

But things are so crazy now that I need to adjust this schedule.  I've cut down my daily studying time a bit and am doing more on the weekends.  This gives me the time to study and to wind down after a stressful day at work.  It's pretty easy to get burned out, and I don't want that.  So while I don't love the idea of giving up some of my weekend time, I know that being flexible about things like study time and break time will make things easier for me in the long run.  With the end of the semester coming up, this is especially important, because I have a lot to get done.  I'm sure I'll change my schedule again at some point to make sure I get everything done.  But knowing I can adapt to deal with the stress is empowering.  It makes me a better student, and a happier one. 

Classes | SLIS | Students | Workload