It's been a hectic half term. We've done about 60 inductions. We tailor our inductions by level and subject, in terms of introducing specific online resources and the way that we communicate. For example, for an Access to HE or Foundation degree group (who are typically mature students) we wouldn't labour the LRC rules (no eating, phones, two warnings then you have to leave and all that good stuff), we'd ask them to let us know if other students were distracting them by misbehaving. Our inductions are very hands on, with students searching and using the online resources and e-books. This engages the students and helps them learn how to find the resources at a later date. I believe the hands on use of e-books at induction embedded the use of e-books and led to us being #7 in the UK for use of the JISC e-books for FE package (in the stats that came out up to March 2011, weighted by size of college). On the feedback from the inductions 97% of students found them to be very or quite useful. So now the plan is to work on the other 3%!
We've also done Information Skills sessions for the first time this year. Session 1 covers effective web searching and evaluating web sources, Session 2 covers referencing, plagiarism adn bibliographies. These were delivered mostly through Xerte e-tutorials with LRC Support Tutors introducing the session and supporting students throughout. For next year I will modify this: the Second session was too advanced for Level 2 learners while some groups felt that they had nothing to learn on web searching. They do, but the question is how do you show students that they do? In the LRC survey in June I asked students about their level of confidence around study and information skills then asked staff about student ability in these areas. The results show that student confidence grossly outstripped the staff evaluation of their ability. This is a challenge to overcome for all FE and HE institutions - how do you make someone learn something that they believe they already know?
We've had quite a few procedural changes that began in September; we installed the MyPC computer booking system, started overdue charges and stopped teachers bringing classes in without booking. This has led to a few quarrels with those who haven't understood the new system (despite thorough communication and advertising) but it appears as if people are getting the hang of it now.
Previously we sent overdue reminder letters but there was no real sanction for not returning books on time, which meant that items were taken out at the start of the year and never seen again. This was very frustrating for other people who wanted to use the items. Now we charge 5- per day per item, and the MyPC system blocks students with overdue books from logging on to computers, unless they are in a booked class. This has led to much greater circulation of resources and less complaints about unfulfilled reservations.
Noise levels are a lot better which means less staff time managing behaviour. This means happier staff and more achieved in terms of stock promotion and tightening up things on the admin side of things. Things feel a lot more managed and contained which I thank MyPC for.