Q&A with Lisa Shappee: Instructional Design Librarianship during a Pandemic
Lisa Shappee is the Library Director and Instructional Designer for Kansas State University Polytechnic. Ms. Shappee received her Master of Library Science and MS in Instructional Technology and Design from Emporia State University. She has presented regionally, nationally, and internationally, on faculty development, distance education, and instructional technology. Ms. Shappee is responsible for creating online teaching training as well as faculty technology training on the K-State Polytechnic Campus.
Figure 1. Lisa Shappee at Work
Instructional Design Librarianship
Q: What is instructional design librarianship, and what does it entail work-wise? What services does an ID librarian provide? And to whom?
A: I am sure that this answer will be different depending on the institution, but my job entails working with faculty. I am sort of a one-stop shop for them. I train them on the best practices for teaching online as well as other educational technology applications. I also offer them research help. I can help them by obtaining journal articles and other various other services as requested. For me, 80% of my job is instructional design where 20% is more library based.
Q: How did you choose this as a career path?
A: I stumbled upon this career path. When completing coursework for my Master of Library Science at Emporia State University, I needed an elective and found an instructional design course offered through the school of education. I took that course and found my passion. I found that I could contribute to creating useful and effective online education, and that I could share than knowledge with others. I continued on to then complete my Masters in Instructional Design and Technology.
Q: What are some satisfying aspects of the work?
A: The most satisfying aspect for me is the problem solving. I enjoy it when someone brings me a technical issue and I am able to fix it for them. I also enjoy helping faculty and making their jobs easier. I am in a service position, so assisting them or training them to be more efficient with technology is very rewarding. They are always very appreciative of my help.
Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Q: How did you first hear of the novel coronavirus? The unfolding pandemic?
A: I first heard about it through the various news media that I follow on social media. I have family in Washington and California, so I follow a few outlets from those areas. We had been planning a road trip for March of 2020, so when I started reading these stories, I then started searching for more information so I could be informed on if we should take our trip. We ultimately decided not to take the trip, which turned out to be a great decision as K-State made the decision to close down campuses over spring break.
Q: Librarians are known generally as avid researchers and fact-based thinkers. Did you conduct any research to learn more about SARS-CoV-2, and if so, what? What are the most salient points about this pathogen?
A: As I stated above, I did do more research to decide if it was safe for my family to go on a trip. Those searches quickly turned into me trying to find ways to ensure we could stay safe and what precautions could be taken. I didn’t get very scientific; I stuck to trusted news and medical sources for my information. I think the most important point to remember is that, if vigilant, you can avoid getting this virus. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and not touching your face are all extremely effective. This knowledge has kept me calm during this pandemic.
Preparedness for Shocks
Q: Is there any way to prepare for the changes prior for a pandemic? If so, what?
A: It is hard to know when something like this might happen, but we have always had the flu and common colds. We should always be washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, and maybe even wearing a face mask to stop the spread of these things. I think we weren’t always as vigilant due to the fact that we have flu shots or generally have mild symptoms. I think this has been an eye-opening event and has changed our workplaces and our world forever.
Changes to the Work and Work Life
Q: How has your work changed during this pandemic? (November 2019 – present)
A: I began working from home on March 23rd, 2020, due to K-State taking all courses online and limiting access to all campuses. My workload has increased dramatically since working from home. My instructional design and technical skills proved to be very important to getting all courses online. This meant a lot of assistance for those faculty who up until now, rejected the idea of ever teaching online. Unfortunately, this meant they had some catching up to do in technology. While no one had to put together the perfect online course as this was an emergency situation, the faculty on my campus always strive to do their best for students. This led to a lot of one-on-one sessions working together to get their content into Canvas and learning different technologies like Zoom that they could use for office hours. While this is a crisis, I have enjoyed the new challenges that it has brought to my work.
Q: What is it like to work from a home office? From self-isolation / home-isolation?
A: Since most of my work is so technical, the actual work hasn’t changed much, just the location and lack of people coming to visit my office. I enjoy working from my home office. I am lucky to have a designated area in my house for an office. One where at the end of the day, I can shut the door and walk away when I need a real break. I think that is the hardest part; really getting away from work. It is a struggle for me because I want to be as accessible and helpful as I can.
Q: How do you maintain professional camaraderie in these times and from a distance?
A: I have a lot of projects happening right now that allow me to meet with a variety of people from my campus. We zoom, email and chat. I have a lot of one-on-ones that often turn into some social conversation once we work through the original intent of the meeting. I also have a few faculty that I know struggle a bit more with technology than the others, so I am sure to check in with them to see how it is going and see if I can help.
Q: When the official emergency orders and shutdowns occurred in Kansas, it seemed that the shutdown extended to a lot of professional and learning endeavors. How does your library encourage faculty usage of library services in this time? Student usage? Staff usage? Public usage? Are these endeavor having the desired effects?
A: Most library services can be done online, and many of them were already being done that way. Libraries have a wealth of materials available through online databases that can be accessed from anywhere. We offer chat services and email or zoom reference help. At the K-State Polytechnic campus we had started online peer tutoring a year ago for those taking online courses, so it was an easy transition to open those services up for all students. Since most of our faculty and students were at least aware of these services, we didn’t have to do a lot of encouraging. We are just sure to communicate how we can help through our Student Government Association as they have done a wonderful job of communication for the student side. Our Undergraduate Services Librarian has also been very involved with our sections of expository writing that have gone online to ensure those students are getting the same library assistance that they would have received while on campus.
Figure 2. Virtual Library Services Section of the K-State Polytechnic Library's Website
Q: What do you see as important technological and other resources for work in this context?
A: Again, most university libraries have already embraced technology that allows us to work from a distance. The online databases, the library chat, and the ability to meet via video conferencing are extremely important for library services to continue.
Q: Do you see lasting changes to work life in the aftermath of this pandemic, whenever that may be?
A: I do see lasting changes in higher education. I think that we are at a point where not all classes need to be online, as not all students want that experience, but all classes should have some online component. We have learned that faculty, students, and staff can be productive wherever they are changing the ways in which we can schedule and hold classes. Having this type of flexibility will allow us to pivot whenever something like a pandemic should arise. I hope that those teaching courses have learned that they can’t just ignore technology and that it is important to be aware of the tools available and have some working knowledge of them. I think we will find a lot of faculty that fought teaching online and technology before this pandemic have seen what it can do and how it can enhance even their face-to-face teaching leading to some different practices.
Q: Do you think humanity will go digital and virtual for the next year or two? Why or why not?
A: I wish that we would go digital until we have a vaccine, but we won’t. We will rush to get everything back to normal because of the economy.
Q: What do you think you’ll remember from this time? How do you think you will have changed?
A: I will remember that this pandemic showed me how amazing people can be towards one another and how terrible they can be towards one another. We have seen so many acts of kindness in our communities and on the news that some have even brought me to tears. Then we see some individuals who believe their freedom to do what they want when they want is more important than anyone’s safety. I will also remember the ridiculous hoarding. However, I will now make sure I have at least a couple bottles of hand sanitizer and a little extra toilet paper in my house just in case!
Figure 3. Coronavirus Safety Tips from the American Red Cross
Future Planning for the Next One(s) [Zoonotic Spillovers]
Q: So various epidemiologists suggest that future pandemics are a given. Do you have work-life roadmap ideas for future pandemics? Is there a way to plan for this?
A: I do think we can plan for future pandemics. I think that you must learn from your past. We need to take all of the lessons learned from this crisis and document all of our processes. We need to discuss what worked, what didn’t, how can we improve and have a set plan. Just like we have emergency shelter plans for tornadoes in Kansas, we should have pandemic plans as well.
About the Author
Lisa Shappee is the Library Director and Instructional Designer for Kansas State University Polytechnic. Ms. Shappee received her Master of Library Science and MS in Instructional Technology and Design from Emporia State University. She has presented regionally, nationally, and internationally, on faculty development, distance education, and instructional technology. Ms. Shappee is responsible for creating online teaching training as well as faculty technology training on the K-State Polytechnic Campus. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shalin Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University. Her email is email@example.com.
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