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Day of FiTS: Students Filling In Each Others’ Knowledge Gaps

FiTS logo, created by Katrina Maust.
FiTS logo, created by Katrina Maust.

iSchool Graduate Students ended the year on a great note with the Day of FiTS. FiTS, or Filling in The Spaces, is a Lecture series organized by Syracuse University’s Library and Information Science Students Association (LISSA), a student chapter of the American Library Association. Through FiTS, graduate students give short lectures throughout the year on topics in which they have expertise. This program gives students a chance to practice their teaching skills as presenters and fill in the spaces in their knowledge as audience members.

This year, LISSA collaborated with the iSchool Graduate Organization (iSGO) to take FiTS to the next level by offering a full day of lectures, in the style of a mini-conference. The event lasted from 11 am to 4 pm on a Saturday in April. Three presentations were offered simultaneously each hour, and lunch was provided. Presenters and attendees also had the opportunity during lunch to get free head shots taken by a professional photographer, which they will be able to use for LinkedIn and other social media profiles.

Day of FiTS coordinators (photo by Angelica Cabunoc). From left to right: Katrina Maust, Carl Haynes, Anna Chovanec
Day of FiTS coordinators (photo by Angelica Cabunoc). From left to right: Katrina Maust, Carl Haynes, Anna Chovanec

The organizers

The coordinating team consisted of Library and Information Science (LIS) students Carl Haynes, Katrina Maust, and Anna Chovanec. Carl said that as the LIS Representative for iSGO, “My responsibility was to plan an event that would represent LIS students’ interests and engage the iSchool as a whole. I saw the need to share the success of Filling in The Spaces and invite other iSchoolers to share what they are passionate about, and thus, the Day of FiTS was born.”

To organize the event, he teamed up with Katrina, who has a background in event planning, and Anna, one of this year’s leaders of LISSA. LISSA members and the iSGO board then tackled the many tasks required to put on the event, from marketing to photographing the event. iSchool staff and faculty also provided advice and resources.

Alexandra Heidler presenting "Copyright" (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).
Alexandra Heidler presenting “Copyright” (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).

The presenters

In total, 13 presentations were offered, 10 by students, one by an alumna, one by an iSchool faculty member, and one by a Syracuse University librarian. Some presentations focused on building technical skills or giving an overview of a field of study, while others focused on learning, mentoring, and other professional skills.

Katrina commented, “I really like how this event not only gave a learning opportunity but also allowed us to show our fellow students that they already have knowledge that makes them experts. I think it can often feel like, since we are students, we have so much left to learn, and we forget that we bring very unique and multifaceted experiences to our communal experience.”

Gerald 'Jamar' Smith presenting "Mentoring Young Men of Color" (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).
Gerald ‘Jamar’ Smith presenting “Mentoring Young Men of Color” (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).

The presenters certainly seemed to find the platform valuable. Telecommunications and Network Management student Sagar Dubey, who gave a presentation on “Learning How to Learn: Tips & Tricks for Stupid Smart People,” said that  he presented because “I felt like I had something to say and that I’d be saying it so often, so what better time to start getting audience feedback?”

LIS alumna and current iSchool and Newhouse School employee Sarah Bratt, who gave a presentation titled, “Network Science: 7 Degrees of Kevin Bacon for Librarians,” said she chose to present partly as practice for a conference lightening talk she will be giving and partly because she wanted to be part of a “push forward of ownership of the LIS education.” She hoped her presentation gave her audience easy tools for harvesting and visualizing Twitter data.

Participant Feedback

Michael Kicey presenting "Textual Criticism" (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).
Michael Kicey presenting “Textual Criticism” (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).

All in all, the event was a great success, with more than 50 attendees. The coordinators evaluated the event through a survey collected at the end, and they said the feedback was very positive. It showed 95% of 23 respondents agreeing that the presentations they attended were “comprehensible” and “engaging,” 82% saying they were “confident they could have an intellectual conversation with someone else about what they learned,” and 91% saying they “would participate in this event again.”

These results reflect my own observations. As a LISSA member, I collaborated with iSGO member Shantanu Karmarkar to live stream and record the event through Adobe Connect and then archive the videos. I therefore had a chance to see a little bit of each presentation, and I was impressed by how informative and engaging they all were. It was clear, also, from the conversation at lunch and the enthusiastic audience participation in the presentations I attended, that people were excited about the event.

Michelle Tarshus presenting "Spoken Word Poetry & the Creative Expression Initiative" (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).
Michelle Tarshus presenting “Spoken Word Poetry & the Creative Expression Initiative” (photo by Angelica Cabunoc).

LIS student Margaret Craft said that she attended the Day of FiTS “to be inspired,” and was not disappointed. For instance, she noted that while our program teaches us that we should listen to the needs of the communities our organizations serve, it is harder to learn “definitely how one gains access to those needs: how to talk to people, how to reach out to new groups of users, and how to tap into who we are as individuals to do either of those things and start to make a real impact.” Through hearing LIS student Michelle Tarshus talk about her own advocacy work in her presentation, “Spoken Word Poetry & the Creative Expression Initiative,” Margaret learned that “advocacy works best when you tap into your own passions, and therefore learn to recognize, ask about, and work to encourage the presence of passions in other people.”

Day of FiTS presenters (photo by Angelica Cabunoc). From left to right: Marcene Sonneborn, Michael Kicey, Trudi Antoine, Sturdy Knight, Kenneth Roman, Chad Harper, Sagar Dubey, Sarah Bratt, Aravind Gopalakrishnan, Gerald 'Jamar' Smith, Alexandra Heidler
Day of FiTS presenters (photo by Angelica Cabunoc). From left to right: Marcene Sonneborn, Michael Kicey, Trudi Antoine, Sturdy Knight, Kenneth Roman, Chad Harper, Sagar Dubey, Sarah Bratt, Aravind Gopalakrishnan, Gerald ‘Jamar’ Smith, Alexandra Heidler

Future Plans

Based on the success of this year’s event, LISSA plans to make the Day of FiTS an annual tradition. Carl said that next year, “I’d like to see more faculty and staff involved, so we’ll have to figure out what would attract them to student-run events like this so that students can establish close rapport with them outside of class.” When asked about his favorite part of the event, he said, “Honestly, when all the presenters got together for their group photo and then Kat, Anna, and I took one afterwards. There’s nothing like celebrating with the people who work hard to make something like this happen.”

These are the presentations that were offered:

Check out #dayoffits on Facebook to see the recordings.

Presentation Title Presenter
“Collecting & Curating Comics/Graphic Novels” Sturdy Knight
“Copyright” Alexandra Heidler
“Folk & Fairy Tales” Kenneth Roman
“Google Scholar Profiles” Linda Galloway
“Learning How to Learn: Tips & Tricks for Stupid Smart People” Sagar Dubey
“Mentoring Young Men of Color” Gerald ‘Jamar’ Smith
“Network Science: 7 Degrees of Kevin Bacon for Librarians”  Sarah Bratt
“Productivity Hacks” Aravind Gopalakrishnan
“Social Media: Best Practice Tools & Tips for Social Media Management & Analytics” Trudi Antoine
“Spoken Word Poetry & the Creative Expression Initiative” Michelle Tarshus
“Starting and Running a Small Business” Chad Harper
“Technology Convergence: Shortening the Half-life of Tech Products” Marcene Sonneborn
“Textual Criticism” Michael Kicey

Did you attend the Day of FiTS or would you like to next year? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

 

Anjali Parasnis-Samar

I'm a first year graduate student in the MS in Library and Information Science program at the iSchool. Email me at aparasni@syr.edu.

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