Professional Development

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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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