Thursday, June 19 was a beautiful day to attend the Third Annual Information Literacy Conference. Heather and Bobbie represented ZSR at the one-day conference that was held in the downtown Charlotte campus of Johnson and Wales University. The conference was well organized and allotted ample time for each breakout session. All of the sessions were in one building at Johnson & Wales except for the registration and continental breakfast which was held in the Johnson & Wales Library.
The morning session featured an interesting presentation on “Learner-Centered Approaches to Instruction.” During the session, the instructors (Susan Whyte and Beth Woodard) incorporated several interactive learning activities into their presentation. Both Whyte and Woodard are ACRL Information Literacy Immersion instructors and based many of the active learning exercises on the 2002 work by Maryellen Weimer, entitled Learner-centered teaching: Five key changes to practice, which ZSR has available for checkout (call # LB2331 W39 2002).
At the beginning of the session, Whyte passed out crayons to the audience and asked us to draw a picture of our best and worst learner. We shared our drawing with another conference participant and talked about characteristics of each type of learner. Some drawings were mere stick figures with descriptive words while other participants really honed in their creativity. My favorite example of a worst student was from one of the conference organizers who depicted Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. During a brainstorming activity with the entire audience, Whyte and Woodard recorded the audience’s responses to some of the characteristics of our best and worst learners. My favorite morning activity was analyzing 8 quotes about learner-centered instruction from different authors and discussing what struck us as important and what we felt was lacking. Due to the fact that our instructors kept us engaged with other learning activities, the morning flew by very quickly.
Even thought there were over 100 people who attended the conference, the catered lunch line moved very quickly, and we were given ample time to enjoy our lunch and to talk with individuals from other institutions. It was also interesting to meet face-to-face several online classmates from the LIS program at UNC-Greensboro and discuss their take on the conference.
After lunch, we could pick two breakout sessions to attend in the afternoon. One of the breakout sessions introduced SchoolPad, which is a hand-held mini version of the Smart Board. The SchoolPad, currently being used by Information Instruction Librarians at UNC-Chapel Hill, allows the instructor to access computer files, surf webpages, mark-up documents, and paint without being confined to the front of a room or a stationary computer terminal. I volunteered during the presentation to give it a test drive and found that, which much practice and steady hand precision that it was really quite easy and fun to use. Although this was an interesting educational tool, Bobbie decided to stick with the clickers.
The second part of this breakout session was the most entertaining one. David Weeks at Winthrop University discussed his approaches in adapting to needs and opportunities in a constantly changing IL program. He said Winthrop has a long history in providing library instruction to students but have never been officially a part of the Freshmen Orientation Week program. In 2007, though, University Administration asked the Library to participate in the Freshmen Orientation program, providing their event last no more than 30 minutes and it must not be held in the Library. So, given these restrictions the library staff at Winthrop developed an 18 minute movie based on the structure of the t.v. show, 24. The plot for their movie, entitled 24/7, was based on a freshman student needing to find sources for her paper due in 4 hours. Her friend, who just happens to be a student library worker, suggested she go to the Reference department for assistance. Following a very funny bit involving a “Wikipedia alert” and the acting ability of the Dean of the Library, the movie was quite effective in getting their point across while still engaging the students. Their first showing had 22 students in attendance, but with word-of-mouth advertising their next showing had 95! He showed some clips from the movie including outtakes and a gag reel, and the audience found it to be both entertaining and informative. I have contacted Mr. Weeks and he has agreed to send us a copy in case we want to try something similar.
The last breakout session that Heather and Bobbie attended was a panel discussion that focused on “Librarians: Teaching Partners across the Curriculum.” Steve Cramer was one of the speakers, and he discussed his experiences partnering with business faculty at UNC-G. Susan Keely (NC School of the Arts) shared her experiences working with ESL instructors. All in all, it was a very productive and informative conference and it did show that the Library Instruction here at ZSR is quite unique with offering course credit. Many people that I talked with were very impressed that ZSR offers 11 sections of Library Instruction and they are always full.