Thursday, September 19, 2019

This rant is overdue: Skype interviews

Skype logo
Over the years, I have been on many search committees and some of those committees have conducted Skype interviews.  I have a love-hate relationship with Skype interviews (or Zoom or whatever video tool people are using). They allow the search committee to conducted a live video interview with a candidate, where each side can see the other.  When each side is competent at using Skype, it works well. But often they are not and that is a problem.

If you (a job applicant) will be giving a Skype interview, here are several things to consider:
  • Do you know how to use Skype to video chat with someone? If you have not used Skype previously, can you take a Skype tutorial or have someone give you a lesson?
  • Do you have the correct hardware, Skype version, and Internet connection so that the video interview will technically be a success?
  • Can you be hardwired to the Internet, so there will be no video lag?  Video lag could cause the interviewer to not hear all of your answers.
  • Do you have a headset, so that the sound will be the best possible?  Note that even earbud headphones can give you very good sound quality.
  • Can your device sit steady on a table, at a height that frames your face well?  The interviewer  does not want to be looking at the top of your head or gazing up your nose.
  • Does the lighting allow the interviewer to see your face clearly?
  • Does the interviewer have a phone number for you, which can be called in case something goes wrong?

Tips for the Interviewer 

Read all of the tips above and apply them to your role as the interviewer. Yes, you need to be competent, too. 

If you are conducting confidential interviews, you may want to use a personal Skype account, so you can control who can see the call history.  Why shouldn't you use a shared Skype account?  Currently, there is no easy way of deleting the history of Skype video calls.  If that shared account can be accessed by anyone, they may see who has been interviewed and that may be a problem.

Using Skype with Diverse Job Candidates


  • If you believe that seeing your candidates could adversely impact your process - in other words, that it could case bias reactions - then consider a conference call.  You can use Skype for a conference call, but you can also do that with many telephones.
  • Interviewers will automatically assume that the candidate is comfortable with a Skype call.  However, you may want to ask candidates for their consent, rather than assuming. Why?  A candidate may feel that a video interview will disclose a disability and put that person at a disadvantage early in the interview process.
  • Conversely, a Skype interview could be helpful in interviewing someone who using sign language or who needs to text chat along with video.  In other words, Skype could provide useful flexibility.

What Else?

This post has just been about the technology, but you - the interviewee or interviewer - need to pay attention to the other aspects of interviewing, too. Have you thought about the questions that will be used?  Have you rehearsed the questions or the answers?  If you are the job candidate, can you provide examples from your work history to support your answers? As the job candidate, can you explain why you are the best candidate?

In other words, you need to prepare for the interview. Please.



Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The difference between a graduate student and a graduate scholar?

As a follow-up to my first post today, here is a short video I did in 2010 on the difference between a graduate student and a graduate scholar?

By the way, the auto-generated subtitles are accurate, but the subtitles in the video itself are not.

Are you committed to learning?

Seth Godin
This is off-topic, so feel free to stop reading.  However, if you're interested in learning, keep reading.

Last month, I wrote about a section in Seth Godin's book Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School Good For? The book is available online for free in full-text.  That post is The Standardized Mass Contract. With the outdoors beckoning, I am slowly making my way through the rest of the book.  As an instructor-teacher-professor, my mind keeps being drawn back to this section:

27. The decision


We don’t ask students to decide to participate. We assume the contract of adhesion, and relentlessly put information in front of them, with homework to do and tests to take.

Entirely skipped: commitment. Do you want to learn this? Will you decide to become good at this?

The universal truth is beyond question — the only people who excel are those who have decided to do so. Great doctors or speakers or skiers or writers or musicians are great because somewhere along the way, they made the choice.

Why have we completely denied the importance of this choice?
In less than three weeks, the fall semester classes will begin on many college campuses.  Students will walk into classrooms expected to be educated.  They will sit and expect that the information delivered will make them more employable after 2-4 years.  There are many reasons why students head off to college. I wonder how many are fully committed to the educational process, which includes a high level of commitment inside and outside the classroom.  I also wonder how many come expecting - and wanting - their thoughts and world-view to be challenged.  If your thoughts aren't being challenged, are you learning anything new?

In section 44, Godin writes:
Teaching is no longer about delivering facts that are unavailable in any other format.
You may need to read that twice.  In most classes, students are expected to learn how others have thought about that subject. They need to get their thinking in line with everyone else on that topic.  However, what we need is to have students committed to learning what others think and then taking the next step and thinking radically about the topic themselves.  They need to question the topic with questions grounded in what is known, with an eye towards what's next.  Imagine a student who could ask what would happen if "X" occurred, and did so with the knowledge of A-W.

In the movie, Hidden Figures, one of the characters implores his team to "look beyond."  To look beyond, a student needs to be committed to learning, questioning, exploring...and not to obtaining a specific grade.  Going for the grade is easy.  Looking beyond is where the opportunities are.

If you're heading to school, to a conference, or to a workshop, are you committed?  Will you look beyond?

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Secretly Public Domain: U.S. Copyright History 1924-63

Public Domain Mark Last week, Boing Boing published an article entitled, "Data-mining reveals that 80% of books published 1924-63 never had their copyrights renewed and are now in the public domain."  What? According to Leonard Richardson:
A recent NYPL project has paid for the already-digitized registration records to be marked up as XML. (I was not involved, BTW, apart from saying "yes, this would work" four years ago.) Now for anything that's unambiguously a "book", we have a parseable record of its pre-1964 interactions with the Copyright Office: the initial registration and any potential renewal.
The two datasets are in different formats, but a little elbow grease will mesh them up. It turns out that eighty percent of 1924-1963 books never had their copyright renewed. More importantly, with a couple caveats about foreign publication and such, we now know which 80%.
Of course, the details matter and NYPL provides those in its own post, U.S. Copyright History 1923–1964.  I'll note that there is more work to be done to ensure that the data is correct, including harmonizing the variations of an author's name. For now, read the long post from the NYPL and begin to envision how this will change your use of pre-1963 materials!




Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Special issue of Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship on Models for Copyright Education

The Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, vol. 3, no. 2 (2019) is a special issue which includes papers presented at the 2017 International Federation of Library Associations’ (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress' Models for Copyright Education in Information Literacy Program.  Articles included are:
The Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship "is a peer-reviewed open-access publication for original articles, reviews and case studies that analyze or describe the strategies, partnerships and impact of copyright law on public, school, academic, and digital libraries, archives, museums, and research institutions and their educational initiatives."  Past issues are available in its archives.