Professional Development

Author Archive

Amanda at Immersion 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016 4:36 pm

Lake Champlain, overlooking the Adirondacks

What is Immersion?

From July 24-29th I visited Burlington, Vermont to attend Immersion, a week-long, intensive training for librarians working on information literacy. Immersion was located on the campus of Champlain College. I attended the “Teacher Track,” which is ideal for early-career instruction librarians who are interested in strengthening their knowledge of instructional techniques and theory. Here were some of my key takeaways:

Transformative Learning

We began the week by considering information literacy through the perspective of “GeST Windows.” In this model, learning outcomes (as in, what we hope students learn) are seen as fitting into one of three categories:

  • Generic – skills-based (e.g. search strategies for library databases)
  • Situational – situated within an authentic social/cultural context (e.g. giving correct attribution for a Creative Commons image in a blog post), or
  • Transformative – transforms oneself or society (e.g. writing a social critique that challenges the status quo/questions assumptions)

These perspectives are hierarchical, and (I think) they can be in tension with one another. For those like myself, who have both the time and the desire to focus on the transformative, it’s still all too easy to default to teaching only “generic skills,” rather than engaging in the difficult work of teaching ideas that might be transformative for the student. However, generic skills are still essential, and I think it is important not to negate the very real benefits that “generic skills” can have for our students.

Williams Hall on University of Vermont's beautiful "University Row." I climbed up this four story(!) fire escape to catch a better glimpse of Lake Champlain. /brag

Williams Hall on University of Vermont’s beautiful “University Row.” I climbed up this four story(!) fire escape to catch a better glimpse of Lake Champlain. /brag

Learning to “Unlearn”

Perhaps my favorite “tidbit” of the week is the notion that a big part of learning is un-learning the things that we think we know. We began by learning about assumptions — particularly our own assumptions, which can be hard to uncover because often we don’t know that we are making them. We grouped assumptions into three types, based on Brookfield’s Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher:

  • Causal Assumptions – an assumption about how something (like learning) works, and how to change it (e.g. making a mistake in front of students increases their trust in us). These are considered the easiest to uncover
  • Prescriptive Assumptions – an assumption about how we think something should be (e.g. What does a good teacher do?) These are often extensions of paradigmatic assumptions
  • Paradigmatic Assumptions – these are the hardest to identify, as to us they appear to be things that we know to be true, and deal with the way that we have ordered the world into fundamental categories (e.g. “adults are self-directed learners”)

So, we had a great activity in which we attempted to uncover our assumptions about our students (e.g. what do we “know” about our students vs. what we “think” we know). So, an assumption I’ve been known to have about Wake students is that they are generally well-prepared, academically speaking, for college. I’ve met a few students who have challenged that assumption, but it’s one that I know I hold and it directly relates to my classroom and instruction. Recognizing these assumptions, or having a critically reflective awareness of them, is important for furthering student-centered learning.

More of Lake Champlain at sunset, overlooking the Adirondacks

More of Lake Champlain at sunset, overlooking the Adirondacks

The Neoliberal Library Classroom

Immersion came at an interesting time. This summer, there has been a bit of controversy in the information literacy world over ACRL rescinding the Information Literacy Competency Standards in favor of the new Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education.

There have been a variety of different responses to this action, ranging from hurt to happiness to apathy. I like both documents, I find them both helpful, and I will continue to use both, but neither are the end-all-be-all for information literacy.

One of the smartest and more interesting responses I read was Emily Drabinski’s blog post What Standards Do and What They Don’t. It echoed many of Drabinski’s thoughts from Towards a Kairos of Library Instruction, which we discussed at Immersion. Essentially, both articles question our assumptions (there they are again!) about “standards” (and frameworks, for that matter) and what they do (e.g. create professional identity, allow us to bargain for resources) and don’t do (e.g. reveal “the truth” of information literacy, tell us how to teach/what to teach in our classrooms).

In the Kairos article in particular, Drabinski reminds us of what brought about our desire to create professional standards in the first place – an increasing notion that a liberal arts education be tied directly to employment/job-preparedness. Because of this, the “about-ness” of information literacy became defined by a set of skills meant to help students in the workforce. Drabinski reminds us that the focus of instruction should be, “on the particular students in a particular classroom with a particular set of learning experiences and needs” not defined by a list of frames or standards.

I think these ideas have been particularly revelatory (and dare I say, transformative) for me and my instructional practice. I’m super pumped to consider all of these ideas as I continue to revise LIB100 moving forward.

Obligatory Food Photo from Sherpa's Kitchen. This was my first experience with Nepalese cuisine.

Obligatory Food Photo from Sherpa’s Kitchen. This was my first experience with Nepalese cuisine.

Learning Outcomes, Peer Observation, Assessment, Oh, my!

We also spent a lot of time on the bread and butter of good instructional practice — learning outcomes, assessment, incorporating technology, peer observation. I can’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas, but I’m happy to share what I learned.

I will say Immersion served as a nice reminder to not backslide into poor instructional habits (“Lesson plan? I’ve taught this lesson over 30 times! I know what I’m doing!”). See those assumptions? It definitely inspired me to write learning outcomes for each and every lesson this semester, especially since I’m making a pretty big change by having my students create Wikipedia articles. So, thank you Immersion!

Everything Else

Burlington, Vermont was a neat town. The weather was amazing. The town was very walk-able and you can see Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks from just about anywhere. There’s also a lot of beer and ice cream, so, what else do you need to hear, really?

I could talk about Immersion for days. And I did, apparently. If you made it this far, I owe you a Heady Topper! (If it can be found!)

My dorm (yes, this beautiful home is a dorm!)

My dorm (yes, this beautiful home is a dorm!)

Amanda at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Professional Development and Pedagogy

Monday, June 20, 2016 11:51 am

Summer Institute for Intercultural Professional Development and Pedagogy

What is the Summer Institute?
On Wednesday, June 15th and Thursday, June 16th, Mary Beth and I attended the Summer Institute for Intercultural Professional Development and Pedagogy. This was a two day and one night retreat at Graylyn, sponsored by the Office of the Provost. There were 32 participants from all parts of the university — 17 faculty members from the College and Divinity School and 15 staff members from various offices on campus. In terms of goals, the retreat was an opportunity to examine ourselves and to develop inclusive practices in our own work to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus.

My Reflection on the Experience

My personal goal in attending the retreat was to focus on developing inclusive pedagogy in my classroom. Halfway through the first day, faculty with teaching responsibilities were separated to discuss the possibility (and the impossibility) of developing “best practices” around inclusive and complex communities. Some of my takeaways from this discussion were:
“Re-framing” teaching topics to be more inclusive. For library instructors, this might mean taking the time to develop inclusive search examples and discussing issues like the digital divide or the inherent bias in systems of information organization
When encountering student resistance (or apathy) to discussing difficult topics, it may help to “name your intention” in teaching that particular thing
Consider the disconnect between asking students to embrace ambiguity while also asking them to write papers with thesis statements (or other projects in which students feel compelled to demonstrate no ambiguity)

At the end of the first evening, we were given a book called What if I Say the Wrong Thing?: 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People (I’m happy to loan this out if you want to read it). We were challenged to choose one or two of the habits to focus on for the coming year. The first one I chose is “If You See Something, Say Something” which focuses on speaking up when you witness microaggressions (and macroaggressions, too) or implicit bias. The second habit is “Learn to apologize,” (which I find ironic, because I’m also continually working on not apologizing so much). We also talked a lot about accountability, so I’m leaving those personal commitments here for all of you to read and I’ve added “check-ins” on my calendar to remind myself of to check-in on my progress going forward.

On the final day of the retreat, we were tasked with creating personal action plans. My action plan involves engaging more deeply with pedagogies that are more inclusive and applying these pedagogies in my classroom. I’ve set out a timeline with specific tasks to achieve throughout the summer — these include finally getting around to reading Teaching to Transgress and locating readings (for myself and my students) on writing biographies for people whose cultural background is not one’s own. All of this will culminate this fall, when my students will develop Wikipedia entries/biographies of underrepresented persons from North Carolina’s history. I’m really excited about this project, so please ask me more about it if you see me!

Throughout the retreat, we were partnered and grouped with others to explore complex issues. I learned so much from my colleagues, and for me the opportunity to meet and learn from like-minded colleagues was an irreplaceable experience. I hope that we will develop communities of practice around these issues going forward.

I have a strong hunch that this summer retreat will become an annual event. I highly encourage everyone to apply and attend. I’d be happy to talk with anyone about the experience.

Amanda at LOEX 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016 4:21 pm

For me, the main theme of this year’s LOEX was Critical Pedagogy. Critical pedagogy has been buzzing around the library instruction world since at least 2005, but has its roots in the works of authors such as Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Henry Giroux, to name a few. I hesitate to define critical pedagogy, but I’ll try by saying it is a pedagogy that concerns itself with designing learning situations in which students are empowered to question traditional oppressive power structures, be it capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, imperialism, etc…

Clockwise: Andy Warhol Bridge, University of Pittsburg building, mural at Duquense, Skyline, and a group photo at Phipps Conservatory.

Of course you know it wouldn’t be a proper LOEX without a bit of sightseeing. Clockwise: Andy Warhol Bridge, University of Pittsburgh building, mural at Duquense University, Pittsburgh Skyline, and a group photo at Phipps Conservatory.

Critical Pedagogy in Library Instruction

There was quite a bit of talk about the role that critical pedagogy can play in library instruction. One practical example would be teaching students about the white, patriarchal assumptions made by traditional information organizational schemas, like Library of Congress subject headings. (Relevant example, it took until 2016 to switch from “illegal aliens” to “unauthorized immigrants). There are several more great examples in the slides of: Eamon Tewell’s “The Practice and Promise of Critical Information Literacy”

Several photos from the Phipps Conservatory.

Several photos from the Phipps Conservatory. Sorry for the potato quality pics from my phone.

Critical Library Practice

What’s cool is critical pedagogy is not just for librarians with instructional responsibilities. Critical library practice is for everyone in the library. (The Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship recently dedicated their entire opening journal issue to critical library practice). Archivists, access services, and resource services have been engaging in critical practice for years, so this is probably nothing new to them. Nevertheless, I’m happy to see these conversations happening with such frequency and urgency now. You can read more about Jeremy McGinniss’s ideas for engaging in critical pedagogy with student workers here:

“Everything we do is pedagogy”: Critical Pedagogy, The Framework and Library Practice from JMcGinniss
Conclusions

Critical pedagogy is an important movement (maybe the most important movement) happening in library instruction and I think it deserves thoughtful reflection. It seems like it’s no accident that these conversations are ramping up at the same time as local conversations about campus climate and national conversations on racism, sexism, homophobia. transphobia, and other oppressive movements. I’m excited to work on this moving forward. Recently I’ve been having students edit Wikipedia, which is a great introduction to some of these ideas. I’m hoping to have some time this summer to brainstorm more ways to successfully implement critical pedagogy in my own classroom.

Steve, Jeff, and Amanda at LAUNC-CH

Thursday, March 31, 2016 12:27 pm

On Friday, March 18th, Amanda, Jeff, and Steve visited Chapel Hill to attend the LAUNC-CH Conference. This is an annual conference put on by the librarians at UNC-Chapel Hill and features breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to all aspects of academic librarianship.

Keynote Address: Makerspaces in Libraries (Amanda)

The Keynote Address was delivered by Peter Wardrip, a learning scientist from the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, who spoke to us about makerspaces. Wardrip led an upcoming project to create a framework for supporting learning in makerspaces, and he gave us a sneak peak of that framework:

  • Purpose – refers to determining makerspace goals. Who is the audience? What does success look like? In terms of success, Wardrip emphasized quality of experience over number of people served.
  • People – Wardrip argued that makerspaces need to be more than just putting a tool on a table to be successful. He highlighted the need to have dedicated people in the makerspace, preferably people with pedagogical experience. Even though people are expensive, the value in a makerspace comes from the teaching/mentorship.
  • Pieces and Parts – refer to being intentional about tools and materials. Wardrip argued that too many people rush out and buy a 3D printer when it doesn’t fit in with their program’s goals.

Wardrip also gave examples of how different makerspaces are measuring learning/value. An example of this being done well is the Tinkering Studio, which measures on five different dimensions of learning, which can be observed/reported on in the makerspace.

Map-a-thons, Edit-a-thons, and Transcribe-a-thons at UNC (Amanda)

Many of us are likely familiar with Wikipedia edit-a-thons, but GIS map-a-thons and special collections transcribe-a-thons were completely new to me. All of these initiatives work to get students and other library patrons involved in open knowledge creation. The map-a-thon used OpenSteetMaps to create openly available maps of parts of the world where no accurate maps currently exist. The transcribe-a-thon transcribing hand-written documents from the special collections for accessibility. Both of these projects were creative and unique. Personally, I was very excited to hear about UNC’s experience putting on an edit-a-thon through Wikipedia. I’m planning to have my students edit Wikipedia later this semester, so it was great to meet the librarians involved afterwards to get some first-hand accounts of their experiences.

Book + Art = Snowball (Jeff)

This is a topic I knew absolutely nothing about, i.e. the best kind of topic. Artists’ books are works of art that take the form of books. Josh Hockensmith from UNC-Chapel Hill talked about his library and Duke’s joint 2010 effort to stage exhibitions of artists’ books from their collections in a series called “Book + Art.” The benefits of partnership on a project like this range from expanded audience to shared cost/labor to greater diversity of expertise. An unplanned outcome of the events was the organic development of a local community centered around common interest the book arts, which eventually came to be known as Triangle Book Arts (TBA). This group in turn increased awareness of the artists’ books held by both UNC and Duke’s Special Collections departments: a win on all sides. And yes, we have some fascinating artists’ books of our own, right here at ZSR.

Archiving for Artists: Outreach and Empowerment (Jeff)

Elizabeth Grab, a graduate student from UNC-Chapel hill, presented on a day-long workshop called Archiving for Artists, which gathered area artists in an effort to empower them to develop best practices for archiving the products of their studio activities. Attendees were instructed in the fundamentals of digitization, organization, storage, etc. The hope of the organizers was that the workshop might serve as a model for similar workshops to be held around the country in a larger effort to encourage artists to document their work and their careers.

Libraries Unbounded: Partnering With Carolina ADMIRES to Expose High School Students to Scientific Research in a Library Setting (Steve)

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Amy Oldenburg and Therese Triumph, a physics professor and a science librarian, respectively, discussed their involvement in a grant funded program to get 8th and 9th grade students involved in the STEM disciplines, particularly encouraging gender and racial diversity. The program began last year with 20 students, who participated in two hour sessions twice a month for a semester. The students were put into pairs and matched with a mentor from the science departments or medical school at UNC. Each mentor was trained in working with high school age kids. About half the time of the sessions was spent in the lab, which had to be set up to be safe for high school age children. The students developed a research project, ending with a capstone research presentation. The students had to be taught the fundamentals of information literacy, because their initial impulse was to rely on Google and Wikipedia for their research, and they didn’t evaluate the credibility of their sources. One important lesson learned by the programmers was that some of the students did not have access to home computers and had to rely on their smart phones for research and staying in email contact with their mentors. The programming for the second year is taking this into account.

Programming on The Edge (Amanda)

This session informed us about the many new outreach activities taking place at Duke’s recently re-designed space called “The Edge.” No, not that Edge. This Edge. Most interesting to me was the Long Night Against Procrastination — an outreach event that has been successfully done at several other academic libraries. The LNAP takes place during finals week, late at night, much like our Wake the Library event. Library staff were there to provide snacks, games, and other activities related to campus wellness. Duke’s unique take on this was to partner with other academic support staff, like the tutors from the writing center. Writing consultations with three different tutors were booked solid for the four hours they were offered. This sounded like an excellent collaboration and perhaps an opportunity for us to explore in the future.

Researching Reynolda: Teaming up with a Campus Institution to Teach Students Research (Jeff)

Our own Amanda Foster presented on her experience with a project in which she instructed her students to choose some aspect of Reynolda House to research for her LIB100 class, using the house and museum, essentially, as their primary sources. Unforeseen difficulties arose when students chose the very worthy topic of the lives of African-American domestic workers at Reynolda House. The archival record, and Reynolda House’s public persona (can a house have a persona?), were disappointingly quiet on the topic. In the end Amanda was able to use this as a teaching moment; both for herself and for her students. I’ll limit my praise here, but Amanda really gave one of the more interesting conference presentations I’ve seen in awhile, making great use of visuals from Reynolda House’s rich history and a compelling narrative structure. And for the record, she went out of her way to praise Reynolda House and its excellent staff. She did ZSR and Wake Forest proud.

Amanda at LOEX 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 4:06 pm

Earlier this month, Joy and I attended the annual LOEX Conference in Denver, Colorado. Like previous years, this continues to be the standout library instruction conference and I’m so happy we were able to go.

Keynote

I would agree with Joy’s assessment that the opening keynote, presented by Anne-Marie Dietering, was one of the best I have heard. It was the highlight of the conference. If I had to identify a theme for it, it would be about challenging traditional narratives and binaries. Dietering has the full transcript available on her website, but here were some of my takeaways:

  • It’s easy to build up a narrative of what “good” instructional practice looks like. Sometimes these narratives can be helpful, but they are just as easily stressful and harmful, especially when we accept assumptions like “any instruction librarian can fix any bad situation” and judge our performance accordingly
  • Sometimes our assignment design can favor students that are already familiar with traditional assignment narratives (and by extension, good at telling the instructor what they want to hear). Additionally, some traditional assignment designs may result in students “performing” the act of an assignment (e.g. reflection) without actually engaging in the critical thinking the instructor intended. This alone has given me lots of food for thought when designing future assignments.
  • Dietering challenged us to review potentially false binaries in our own teaching (popular vs. scholarly is an easy one to pick on) and how we might re-frame those conversations to include in-between spaces. This topic is very timely, considering the recent introduction of the new Framework for Information Literacy. I feel like I’m hearing lots of conversation in our profession about wanting to move away from teaching “checklists” into how to have more complex conversations about authority, inquiry, and scholarship.
Denver Art Museum

Of course we took some time to sight see. This is the entrance to the Denver Art Museum (conveniently located next to the Denver Public Library).

For the rest of the conference I focused on two main goals: finding new potential learning activities for my LIB 100 classroom and listening to what other library’s are doing for instructional assessment.

Learning Activities:

  • One session focused on developing your own “Choose Your Own Adventure” online game using the storyboarding tool, Twine.
  • Another session discussed creating a “Source Stack” that consists of visual printouts of various library sources on a single research topic. The source stack can then be used for different in-class activities (e.g. information timeline, source evaluation)
  • Joy covered the session on using satirical news sources to teach information literacy concepts, but here is the LibGuide that is cataloging some of these clips if you’d like to browse

Assessment

  • I attended a very helpful session on pre/post test design since we are talking about including one as a LIB 100 assessment in the fall. The session was really on how to write better test questions — I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of writing pre-test questions that are too easy, which makes it hard to get good data on student learning over the length of the course. The presenter offered tips like utilizing plausible distractors for multiple-choice questions, randomizing the test questions, and potentially using open-ended questions graded with a rubric.
  • Another session reviewed one library’s assessment of cited references (using a rubric) to measure student information literacy skills. I’ve done this kind of assessment before and I like it’s authenticity — it assesses the final product of student work. The main caveat is it’s rather time-intensive, and difficult to scale up, so it’s important to consider what the goals of the assessment are and how often/long to collect this type of data. .
  • One library was using course registration data to learn more about their students and how many of them were getting repeat library sessions. While I think we usually avoid the “I’ve had this session before” conundrum at ZSR, my takeaway was that we could potentially use course registration data to “track” first-year students who’ve taken LIB 100. We might use this multiple ways, but I would be interested to see if taking LIB 100 has a positive impact on student performance in later classes (for example, a capstone research class). Grades might not tell us the whole story, so this might be an example of where the rubric assessment of student work could come in handy!
Joy and I at the Molly Brown house in Denver.

Joy and I at the Molly Brown house in Denver. Turns out, she was way more than just the lady on the Titanic!

Amanda at NCLA-College and University Section Conference

Monday, December 15, 2014 4:59 pm

On Friday, December 5th I had to opportunity to present at the NCLA College and University Section Conference in Charlotte, NC. The conference took place at the UNC-Charlotte City Center Campus which is where UNC-Charlotte hosts its MBA program. It’s pretty fancy, check it out:

UNC-Charlotte City Center Building (Credit: flickr.com/photos/kenfagerdotcom)

Confession: I’m not a big photo taker! It never occurs to me until after the fact. So, please refer to the creative-commons friendly image above :)

The Keynote Speaker for the conference was Patrick Deaton, Associate Director for Learning Spaces and Capital Management at NCSU Libraries. He spoke to the audience about Hunt Library. The lecture focused having two years perspective on things that Hunt Library got right and things that they might change if they could do it over again. The biggest takeaway for me was the need for “as-yet-unplanned” space for future unknowns — e.g. what happens when you decide shortly before you open a new space that you wish you had room for a makerspace?

After the keynote, I gave my presentation which focused on how Google Glass was implemented in LIB 100. You can find my slides in the link below:

Ok, Class: Library Instruction with Google Glass from amandabfoster

There were several other good presentations given by North Carolina librarians. I shared a time slot with some of our colleagues at Appalachian State who spoke on creating online library instruction in Moodle for their First Year students. They had several great insights for working within course-management systems. Another of our colleagues led an interesting discussion on using social media to enhance library instruction. There was also ample time provided for lunch and networking, so this was a wonderful conference for me to meet some other semi-local librarians.

Joy, Kyle, and Amanda at The Innovative Library Classroom Conference

Monday, May 19, 2014 3:46 pm

radford.JPG

(McConnell Library at Radford University)

On Tuesday, May 23th, Kyle, Joy, and Amanda had the opportunity to attend the first ever Innovative Library Classroom Conference at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. We joined 75 other instruction librarians interested in new, creative ways to teach information literacy. May is a conference-heavy month for instruction librarians, so we thought we’d give your inbox a break and combine posts.

Keynote Address: Design Thinking (Joy)

The keynote address was given by Lori Anthony, Assistant Professor in the Department of Interior Design & Fashion at Radford University. Her topic was “Using the Design Thinking Process to Address Today’s Unique Educational Challenges.” I am sure that many of you are familiar with design thinking, but I had to do a little reading on this to catch up with what she presented at the conference. Designed thinking is usually discussed in relation to what is referred to as wicked problems. Wicked problems are “problems that are difficult to solve because they are incomplete, requirements are constantly changing, and there are various interests related to them. Solutions to wicked problems often require that many people are willing to think differently on the issue and change their behavior…there are no true or false answers, but rather good or bad solutions” (Rittle & Webber, 1973). Design thinking differs from ordinary problem solving because the design does not aim to solve a problem with an ultimate answer, but rather it contributes to the current state of affairs. In design thinking, people are seen as actors who can make a difference. There are three stages to the design thinking process: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. This is non-linear approach, and there is no predetermined manner to navigate. Lori emphasized the need for empathy in the process. When design process is used, the people represented need to come from a variety of backgrounds. One of the themes of this process is “fail early, fail often” and they encourage using prototypes to test the ideas. She gave a detailed example of how she worked with a team to use design thinking with at Spotsylvania Middle School to work with their special education classes. The five special education classes at this school were self-contained with very crowded classrooms. The design team helped them deal with a variety of identified problems including issues related to: social skills/communication; space limitations/conflicts; and attitudes/behaviors. They used core principles of free ideas and no judgment, and they were able to radically transform and help this special education program (they used 350 Post-it notes in the process!).

I think that most of the time librarians deal with tame problems such as finding classroom space for our instruction sessions (though Roz may disagree that this is a tame problem!). Tame problems are more like puzzles that have clear solutions. I think that wicked problems for us are things like Summon where there are many players involved and the answers are not so clear. I read an article that talked about the introduction of eBooks as a wicked problem (unlike the introduction of DVDs which was a tame problem). As a Library, I believe the upcoming renovation to the Library (specifically combining service desks) would fall in the category of a wicked problem. Design thinking is one possibility for working through the endless variables and coming up with a workable model that you are willing to change as needed. By the way, I believe that if we went with design thinking for talking about combining the service desks, we would need to order a case of Post-it notes to facilitate the discussion!

Design thinkers must be: optimistic, collaborators, experimenters, integrative thinkers, and empathic. Interestingly enough, these concepts were woven throughout the conference, although I think this was mostly unintentional. Overall, this was an interesting choice for a keynote address and I believe that when the next wicked problem crops up, I’ll know one possibility for approaching it.

Courageous Conversations (Joy)

One of the breakout sessions was presented by Carroll Wilkinson who is the University Librarian at West Virginia University and she was an invited guest speaker. The title of her presentation was, “Courageous Conversations Worth Having (To Strengthen Instructional Practice).” She talked about David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney’s Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change. Appreciate inquiry seeks to bring out the “positive core” of an organization and to link this knowledge to the organization’s strategic change agenda and priorities. She then talked about The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World by Ronald A. Heifetz who defines courageous conversation as, “a dialogue that is designed to resolve competing priorities and beliefs while preserving relationships” (Heifetz 304). She then talked about the relationship between courage and vulnerability and encouraged us to listen to Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on the Power of Vulnerability and recommended her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. If you watch this Ted Talk, I believe you will agree that Carroll’s talk was about much more than Instruction Practice. When I was at Immersion in 2004, one of the required readings for the week was Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. In Parker’s book, he talks about good teaching coming from our inner ground and from the community of our fellow teachers from whom we can learn more about ourselves and our craft (141). Carroll talked about Parker’s book, and while at first glance, vulnerability does not seem like a topic to discuss in relation to instruction, when you realize that teaching comes from within, you realize that it has everything to do with instruction both in and out of the classroom.

Carroll gave a couple of other quotes related to courageous conversations and encouraged us to have courageous conversations in our libraries. She also noted that courageous conversations help create a culture of courageous conversations within organizations. We then spent some time as a group brainstorming ideas about when we could use these conversations in libraries. I believe we at ZSR have had some very courageous conversations in our Library such as those around salary and work load/work life balance, and thanks to our administration who has been open to these conversations, we have seen progress and preserved relationships in the process!

Overall, this was a very inspiring presentation!

Data Literacy (Kyle)

This was far and away the best session I attended. Our good friend Lynda Kellam from UNCG presented on some pedagogical strategies she uses to teach data literacy to her undergraduates. The session challenged us to think of and teach data in the same way we teach information in its more packaged forms (books, journal articles, and the like). And this is true–data tell a story, and one can manipulate data to tell almost any story they want. Lynda reminded us that datasets and infographics require the same evaluation skills that we already teach. We looked at some of the infographics published by USA Today and ran one of our choice through the same kind of evaluation we might teach during a website evaluation exercise. I feel that this exercise is perhaps even better than the standard website evaluation lesson, as the websites many librarians typically use as examples are often ridiculous, inauthentic, or intentionally misleading. These infographics, on the other hand, have some authority attached to them. After all, they’re on the front page of a national newspaper. Stephen Colbert calls out one infographic in particular to drive the point home.

Library Instruction and Instagram (Amanda)

One librarian from the University of Montevallo also presented on using Instagram in library instruction. This program is similar to other scavenger hunt-like library orientations you may have seen that utilize iPods or iPads to have students explore and take photos of various library service points and resources. What Instagram brings to the table is the ability to make the connection between social media hashtags and library controlled vocabulary. Students also happen to like Instagram a lot and have a lot of fun coming up with creative photos and hashtags.

Concept Videos for Library Instruction (Kyle)

The crazy-busy folks at the undergraduate library at UNC-CH presented on a new strategy for creating library tutorial videos. Usually tutorial videos are designed to be used in one context, and are often very specific with regard to the tools they are designed to demonstrate. UNC decided to divorce the info literacy concepts from the specific contexts in which they’re taught, making their videos reusable by librarians, faculty, and students at the point of need or any other context. They’re great! Check out their first two: Developing your Topic and Building your Knowledge Base.

Lightning Talks (Amanda)

There were also several wonderful lightning talks in which librarians shared innovative ways they were using technology to connect with their students and faculty. One librarian collaborated with a faculty member to create LMS-embedded Camtasia videos. ODU Libraries presented on their incredibly creative One-Minute-Tips videos made with iMovie. University of Maryland presented on using Twitter as a metaphor for scholarly discourse. We were also introduced to the idea of using the Denzel Washington Venn Diagram as a way to explain Boolean Operators.

Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians (Joy)

The last breakout session that I attended was “Reframing the Standards: A Call for a New Approach to Defining Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians” led by Candice Benjes-Small from Radford University and Rebecca K. Miller at Virginia Tech. I have been an instruction librarian for 14 years, but I never knew that ACRL had a list of Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators. This list has 41 proficiencies for instruction librarians and coordinators have an additional 28 proficiencies listed. Candice and Rebecca proposed that we rewrite the proficiencies and place them in a new framework. After looking at the list, I will say that I completely agree that a new framework is needed. For one thing, these proficiencies are based on the one-shot model. It was definitely worth going to this session, just to learn that this document exists!

Assessment (Amanda)

Instruction librarians from Radford University presented on their new assessment efforts, which include applying rubrics to student’s works cited pages. This method of assessment was also done at my previous institution, Coastal Carolina University. While each method of assessment does have it’s drawbacks, this particular method is generally considered to be a more authentic assessment than the more common post-session surveys. This is because it allows librarian to assess the research portion of an actual assignment to see if learning outcomes were met, rather than rely on 3-2-1 reflections or multiple choice questions. If LIB 100 were ever undertake a large-scale assessment of all our sections, applying rubrics to student’s research outputs would certainly one method to explore.

Overall, we all really enjoyed this conference and look forward to attending next year!

Amanda at LOEX 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014 7:27 pm

Joy and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the LOEX conference in the beautiful city of Grand Rapids, Michigan with 375 other librarians. This was my second LOEX, and again I am impressed with what a great conference this is and how much it has given me to think about. Some takeaways from the conference include:

Online Course Design

Kyle and I will be working hard this summer designing an online version of LIB 100. I attended Mass Producing a Masterpiece, a presentation put on by USC librarians about their creation of an 80-section/yr online information literacy course. While their circumstances are vastly different from ours, this was probably the most beneficial and practical presentation I attended. Some suggestions/lessons learned included:

  • Capping online classes at 15 (check!)
  • Using a backwards design process when planning (check and mate!)
  • Being realistic about how long it will take to grade and provide feedback to avoid all night grading sessions
  • Knowing the capabilities of your technology (Sakai, etc…) going in, as technical difficulties can hamper plans for active learning
  • Being realistic about how long content creation will take (much longer than you’d think)

The session also reminded me about Quality Matters, which is sort of a “quality assurance” approach to online courses and is often used at universities heavily invested in online learning. I found a copy of the Quality Matters Rubric, which is a checklist of sorts for creating online courses, to refer to in the future.

I also attended a wonderful session put on by our NCSU colleagues, Anne Burke and Andreas Orphanides, about using card sorting for instructional design. Card sorting is traditionally used by web designers and other user experience professionals to organize online content, but it definitely makes sense to use for backwards design in instruction as well. I’m hoping Kyle and I can utilize this technique for online LIB 100!

1. In front of the Grand River 2. In front of the Gerald Ford Museum 3. Outside the Grand Rapids Art Museum

1. In front of the Grand River 2. In front of the Gerald Ford Museum 3. Outside the Grand Rapids Art Museum

New Information Literacy Framework

As some of you may know, ACRL has put together a task force to extensively revise the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards adopted in 2000. This revision is in draft phase and is now called the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. Several major changes are underway in this new document. The first change is moving from a “standards” approach to a “framework” approach, which I believe is an effort to make information literacy less prescriptive and more open to adoption in other disciplines. The second change is the introduction of “threshold concepts” as the cornerstone of the new framework. I recommend the article linked above if you’d like to know more about what threshold concepts are, but I liken a threshold concept to a “lightbulb moment,” or when you finally grasp a concept and it changes the way you think about a subject or idea. The threshold concepts currently proposed for information literacy (with possibly more coming) are:

  • Scholarship is a Conversation
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Format as Process
  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Searching is Strategic

Some of these ideas are probably familiar (scholarship as conversation, research as inquiry), but some provide a new way of looking at things (authority is constructed and contextual). Unfortunately, there was very limited formal discussion of the new information literacy framework at LOEX, in what I felt was a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, Joy and I attended the one round table discussion on the framework and our dine-around group also had a lively discussion on the topic. My general impression is that most librarians are very interested in the new framework, but perhaps cautious about introducing it to faculty and uncertain about its implications for assessment. To be honest, I’m not sure that the new framework signifies a huge of a departure from what we already do. As instructors, we will still create learning outcomes, assess them, and change and improve each time we teach. What I envision happening is a re-imagining of how teach and assess these ideas — particularly around the concepts of scholarship as conversation, research as inquiry, and format as process.

Anyways, lots of ideas to work with this summer! I could talk about this topic until the cows come home, so I will stop now, but please feel free to talk to me about it in person!

Assessment Ideas

Another beneficial session I attended was onQuick and Easy Learning Assessments in Your Library Classroom. I won’t go into excruciating detail here, because this is getting quite long enough, but the main thing I took away from this session was “any qualitative data can be turned into quantitative data.” Hearing this was like reaching my very own “threshold concept” about assessment and I’ll be looking into ways that this idea could be adapted in my own instruction.

 

Meyer May House

Meyer May House

Thoughts on the GR

Grand Rapids was a lovely, vibrant city. Joy and I made sure to leave bright and early Thursday morning so we would have an opportunity to explore before the opening conference reception. We hit the pavement Thursday touring the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Meyer May House, learning some presidential history at the Gerald Ford Museum, appreciating the art at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and strolling the Grand River on the Grand River Walkway. Check out some of the pictures accompanying ours posts! Great art scene, great beer scene, great food scene — there is lots to love about Grand Rapids and I hope to visit again!

 

Amanda at SCLA/SELA 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013 5:18 pm

Earlier this week, I co-presented with a former colleague at the South Carolina Library Association/Southeastern Library Association joint conference in Greenville, South Carolina. My presentation was late in the day, so I had the opportunity to sit in on several interesting and relevant presentations.

Keynote Speaker ALA President-Elect Courtney Young: To open the conference, Young spoke about the current ALA presidential theme, Libraries Change Lives, and encouraged librarians to sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries and libraries to host signing events. Young then spoke about her upcoming presidential theme, which will focus on the value of the ALA to both its members and the community at large.

Services and Spaces for Graduate Students: Data-Driven Decision Making in an Academic Library: Florida State University librarians recently underwent a large-scale ethnographic study of their non-STEM graduate student population. They modeled their study off of the Foster and Gibbons University of Rochester study, which included methods like photo diaries and charrettes. The FSU librarians also GPS tracked 10 students to see where they went throughout the day. They learned that their graduate students wanted multi-use/multi-functional spaces, room to spread out, and double monitors . Some barriers to using the library included working long hours, families, finding parking, and having cheaper/healthier food options at home. As a result of the study, they expanded their campus delivery service to graduate TAs and plan to use the findings when planning future renovations. Also, if you are curious, you can see their current grad student space, the Scholars Commons. I have a lot more notes if you are interested.

Teaching Online Library Workshops: Next, Clemson University librarians spoke about their experiences with two online instruction initiatives. First, they moved their freshman orientation sessions online (previously, they hosted over 200 orientation sessions in the library). They used VideoScribe to make some seriously awesome Youtube videos and embedded them in Blackboard. Go watch, What’s In It For Me?, an alphabetical listing of items in Clemson Libraries and come back. No, seriously, go watch, I’ll wait here. Pretty nifty, right? Second, they used their campus conference software, Adobe Connect, to host synchronous, online workshops on topics like Google searching. Attendance was less-than-stellar, but they found that after the sessions several students asked questions unrelated to the topic at hand — and this brought about interesting conversations on using conferencing software (or even Google Hangout) to host personal research sessions. We also discussed the advantages of quality over quantity in reference/instruction interactions. Sounds like they are trying some exciting things!

The Flipped Classroom: A Real Life Adventure in Engaging Students: this was our session! I co-presented with my former colleague, Margaret Fain, of Coastal Carolina University. We spoke for about 10 minutes about flipping our Information Literacy Lab credit course at Coastal — then we flipped the presentation (because, of course)! Our attendees created a flipped classroom lesson plan and then shared their lessons with the group. I’m having a SlideShare to WordPress embed fail, but if you’d like to see our slides, here they are.

Unfortunately, I had to drive to Greenville and back in a day, so I didn’t get to experience much of Greenville. That being said, from my car window, it looked really great! It seem to have a happening downtown, lots of restaurants, shops and even a park downtown with a waterfall. It has officially hopped onto my weekend-road trip list!


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