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Q&A with Anne Welsh

4 June 2014

Anne Welsh, UCL Library and Information Studies, explains why iMovie is her most invaluable teaching tool and predicts what the future holds for higher education teaching

Anne Welsh teaching Q&A

What are you working on at the moment?

As a new Programme Director, I’m reviewing the MA Library and Information Studies programme, and I’m also sorting out all my digital reading lists, which I’ve been meaning to do for three years, but other more time-urgent student activities have gotten in the way.

The library provides an excellent service. Basically, if it’s an article you just login in to the reading list system and add it. For book chapters, you get a clean photocopy and they do the hard work of getting copyright clearance.

In brief - Anne Welsh

4 June 2014

Current roles

Lecturer in Library and Information Studies

Programme Director for MA Library and Information Studies

Member of the Centre for Digital Humanities


Currently completing PhD on the Working Library of Walter de la Mare, UCL

MSc (Econ) in Library and Information Studies, University of Wales (Aberystwyth)

PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, UCL


MA Hons in English Language and Literature, University of St Andrews

What piece of technology do you find invaluable in your teaching?

My iPad and, particularly, iMovie. I find it completely invaluable as it lets me make really quick videos.

Last year, I suddenly had to fit lots more content into one of my modules and iMovie was the vital piece of tech. It gave me the facility to answer student queries and, as soon as the class finished, I could whack the video on Youtube or Lecturecast for the benefit of the whole class.

Students actually said they preferred the rougher cuts I made with iMovie than those I’d spent time on, making professional, as they said it felt like they were being spoken to directly.

What advice would you give to someone looking to develop the way they teach?

Get some formal education in the field of teaching. I think it’s really important that UCL offers opportunities to get formal recognition. For me, knowing a subject doesn’t mean you can automatically convey that to students. Formal learning, though, has given me confidence that what I do is effective and has an impact.

How do you expect higher education teaching to change in the next five years?

I think it will change in three ways:

  1. More people will gain qualifications in higher education teaching. That’s something being mandated at the moment, and I think it’s very empowering for us as educators.
  2. A build-up of case studies will enable us to get better at online instruction.
  3. As a consequence of that, we’ll also develop a good idea of what is best delivered face-to-face.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I co-authored a textbook that is an international bestseller and used as the core text in a lot of library schools. It’s called Practical Cataloguing, and I’m writing my second book now.

I also feel proud that, after five years here, I’m beginning to see former students get really good jobs in the rare books industry. In vocational courses, you are teaching your future colleagues.

Dr David Bowler, who featured in the last Q&A, asked: Do you find that phones and social media enhance teaching or are they another distraction in the classroom?

I have a rule that they can do what they like with their phones as long as they don’t make a noise and they don’t tweet the contributions of other students in the class – it’s important that it’s a safe and confidential space.

Having these devices can be a great opportunity, though. In the past we’ve had in-class Twitter discussions with experts in the field, which brings in current practice and is really exciting for students.

What question would you like to ask the next interview subject?

Lord Acton famously said: “Learn as much by writing as by reading”. Given that different universities allow different lengths of dissertations, what do you think works best for students' learning? Do you favour a short wordcount to encourage concision, or a longer wordcount to expand the type of research questions students can cover?

If you would like to take part in the next Q&A, please send an email to

Further information

Page last modified on 04 jun 14 18:08

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