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Feature Slides

  • PubMed ® for Trainers

    Do you train others to use PubMed? If so, join us for PubMed for Trainers, a hybrid class with 3 online sessions and 1 in-person session (eligible for 15 MLA CE credits). The class is an in-depth look at PubMed and a chance to share training ideas with your fellow participants.

    PubMed ® for Trainers

    PubMed ® for Trainers Picture
  • Fundamentals of Bioinformatics

    The "Fundamentals of Bioinformatics and Searching" course provides basic knowledge and skills for librarians interested in helping patrons use online molecular databases and tools from the NCBI.

    Fundamentals of Bioinformatics

    Fundamentals of Bioinformatics Picture
  • TOXNET® and Beyond

    This course is designed to convey the basics of searching the NLM's TOXNET®, a Web-based system of databases in the areas of toxicology, environmental health, and related fields.

    TOXNET® and Beyond

    TOXNET® and Beyond Picture
  • Teaching with Technology

    Learn how to take advantage of online tools to offer distance education classes and enhance face to face classes! Join us for this "asynchronous" (on your own time) class. The class is taught over 5 weeks and is eligible for 8 MLA CE credits.

    Teaching with Technology

    Teaching with Technology Picture
  • PubMed® for Librarians

    PubMed for Librarians is made up of five one-hour segments. These five segments will be presented via Adobe Connect and recorded for archival access. Each segment is meant to be a stand-alone module designed for each user to determine how many and in what sequence they attend.

    PubMed® for Librarians

    PubMed® for Librarians Picture

Drawing a Chemical Structure

In the ChemIDplus Advanced search interface, you can draw a structure and search for similar substances. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use the drawing feature of ChemIDplus.

Writing for the Ear

Recently, I downloaded a copy of No More Spilled Ink: Writing for Instructional Design by Connie Malamed. I recommend the free resource as a great guide if you’re writing content for any kind of online learning.

One section of the guide addresses writing audio scripts, and I thought I’d share a few of Malamed’s tips here, and use them to evaluate an audio script that I recently wrote for a short tutorial.

  • Tip 1: Write like you speak. This means using short sentences, everyday words, and contractions.
  • Tip 2: Keep it brief. Consider how much your audience can process at once and avoid overloading them.
  • Tip 3: Repeat key points. Use emphasis or new wording to help the learner understand.
  • Tip 4: Notate silence. A pause give learners processing time and keeps you from rushing.

So how does my script measure up?

I think my script sounds pretty close to my natural language. I’ve used contractions, such as “let’s” and “don’t”, my sentences are relatively short and straightforward. I have incorporated a few words of jargon, so I’ll review to make sure that they make sense to my intended audience. The script is brief (about 2 minutes) because I narrowed the topic ahead of time. I was tempted to explain a much larger concept, but decided to keep it tightly focused. However, I did not use any of my time to repeat key points. As I revise, I’ll consider adding a sentence that summarizes the take-home message. Finally, notating silence. I’ve never done this before, but I think it’s a great tip because I often find myself speaking more quickly than I would with a face-to-face audience. I seem to forget to pause and breathe, so I think putting the breaks in the script will help me find a more relaxed rhythm.

Check out the full version of the guide for more great tips!

Make Friends with MeSH

Where do you start your searches? There are many options. Watch this 3 minute video to learn how to build a search from within the MeSH database.

Dates in MeSH

This video answers one of the most common questions we hear about MeSH: what do the dates mean?

Take a look, and if you’d like to learn more, check out the MeSH tutorial from the National Library of Medicine.

 

Online Learning and Motivation: 3 Ways to Keep them Coming Back

We’ve all been there. We sign up for an online class with every intention of completing the class, but somewhere along the way things get in the way and we don’t finish the class. They call it the U-Shaped Curve: “Novelty and enthusiasm produce high drive at the beginning, but it drops off sharply thereafter, only increasing when the end of the course is in sight.”

Here are a few suggestions for course builders to keep motivation and interest up:

    1. Offer Choice: Break content into smaller modules and allow students to choose only those modules that are most important to them.
    2. Within the smaller modules, offer even more options to access the material. For example, you can include a short video, hands-on exercises, a follow-along tutorial. Bite-sized lessons allow students to get a sense of accomplishment, which in turn may spur them on to do more work.
    3. Provide feedback; because cyberspace can be lonely and we never really know what happened to that homework we uploaded. As the instructor, set a goal for yourself: I will grade and respond to students within X amount of days.  Turn this goal into a class policy and include it in the “about this course” section.

Engaging the Unengaged: Part 2

 

Four stones stacked

Last week I gave a few tips for engaging your learners, based on this e-book from Shift eLearning.  The final tip was to use good course design. But what does that mean?

According to Shift eLearning, “Well-designed courses help your learners to understand what they are seeing. When every element on screen has a deliberate function, and is in the right place, everything seems more clear.” While this is focused on the online learning environment, I think it’s true for traditional classes as well. Here are six key principles for good design.

1. Don’t unnecessarily complicate things. Keep the course simple with usable navigation and readable fonts. Focus on communicating with the user and making it easy to accomplish what they want to do.

2. Allow for inquiry and exploration. Isn’t it more engaging when you discover information on your own? Giving choices or trying scenarios can bring curiosity to the content.

3. Keep the content to a minimum. Focus on what they truly need to know and avoid extra information that can clutter the experience and get in the way of the main goals.

4. Pay attention to the visual elements. Check that your typography, color, texture, icons, symbols, pictures and animations or videos add to the experience and do not detract from it.

5. Less is more. This is a variation of keeping it simple. Make sure that it can load quickly and takes as few steps as possible to get to the content they should learn.

6. Mix it up. A variety of activities or formats can challenge the learners to think in new ways. Will a case study, game, or animation best help the students to learn?

Find several other tips for engaging your learners in the downloadable e-book!

Health Information in Many Languages

The Refugee Health Information Network (RHIN) was a national collaborative partnership whose principal focus was to create and make available a database of quality multilingual/multicultural, public health resources to professionals providing care to resettled refugees and asylees.

healthinfornetwork

In October 2014, the Specialized Information Services division of NLM broadened the scope of RHIN by rebranding it HealthReach (You’ll notice that the website moved from a .org to a .gov URL). This was done to better meet the needs of the diverse non-English and English as a second language speaking audiences.

HealthReach continues to recognize the importance of providing refugee and asylee specific information while expanding the information provided to meet the needs of most immigrant populations. Over the next several months we will be adding new resources and reaching out to stakeholders.

You can follow the new resource on Twitter: @NLM_HealthReach

You can find the new website at: http://healthreach.nlm.nih.gov

Engaging the Unengaged: Part 1

Metal ladder against red barn wall
I recently picked up a free e-book from Shift eLearning, called Engage the Unengaged: How to Create More Engaging eLearning Courses. You can download your own copy, too, if you’d like. I’ll share a few of their ideas in blog posts this week and next week. The focus of the e-book is on eLearning, but there are lessons here for the face-to-face classroom as well.

What is engagement? Shift eLearning uses “the level of participation and intrinsic motivation student displays in a learning environment” as their definition. It includes both behaviors (such as attention or effort) and attitudes (motivation or interest). An engaged learner is active and collaborative, seeks out help, and exerts his or her best effort in response to a challenge. Disengaged learners may do only the minimum work, delay completion of tasks, avoid challenges and may not participate. I’m sure you’ve met both in your classes.

There are a few things you can do to increase engagement, and even convert the disengaged to engaged. Here are a few strategies to try:

1. Acknowledge the prior knowledge of your students, and show them how the class will build on it.

2. Tell them what’s in it for them right away – don’t assume that they’ll know why the class is important. Why does this information matter and how is it relevant to their work or life?

3. Build in some immediate rewards. I don’t mean candy (though that works for some audiences). Can you reward them with affirmation or encouragement? Can you demonstrate to them how they are already doing something better or faster or more easily as a result of the class? Again, don’t just assume they’ll notice – point it out.

4. Take time for reflection. We’re often tempted to use every possible minute for dispensing information, but allowing time for reflective processing can help students to better retain the content. Ask students to stop, think, and apply what they have just learned or take a minute to consider how what they heard relates to their work.

5. Use good design and quality images. While this probably can’t sustain engagement, it may help to initiate it. In next week’s post, we’ll look at a few principles of attractive design.

 

MEDLINE/PubMed Year-End Processing Activities for 2014

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is currently involved in MEDLINE year-end processing (YEP) activities. These include changing the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) main headings as well as Supplementary Concept Records that standardize names and associated numbers for chemical, protocols, and diseases that are not main headings. The MeSH edits include existing MEDLINE citations to conform with the 2015 version of MeSH, and other global changes.

Important Dates:

November 19, 2014: NLM expects to temporarily suspend the addition of fully-indexed MEDLINE citations to PubMed. Publisher-supplied and in process citations will continue to be added.

Mid-December 2014: PubMed MEDLINE citations, translation tables, and the MeSH database will have been updated to reflect 2015 MeSH.

For details about the impact on searching from November 20 to mid-December, see: Annual MEDLINE/PubMed Year-End Processing (YEP): Impact on Searching During Fall 2014.

For background information on the general kinds of changes made annually, see: Annual MEDLINE/PubMed Year-End Processing (YEP): Background Information.

In Case You Missed It

Our blog is just one way we like to connect with you! We also have Twitter and Facebook accounts. Here are some of our most popular posts from the past few months:

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