Professional Development

In the 'Innovative Library Classroom Conference' Category...

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 4:30 pm

For the second year in a row, the Instruction Cave descended upon Radford University (in Virginia) for the Innovative Library Classroom Conference. Here are some of the highlights from our visit.


Carrie Donovan, head of Teaching & Learning at the Indiana University Libraries gave a high-energy talk on how she and her team have viewed the ACRL Framework discussion as an opportunity to shift their role in supporting the teaching and learning of information literacy on such a large campus. Rather than delivering one-to-one instruction (which we’re able to do here, but which one could imagine being quite impossible with a student body north of 40,000) or developing a credit-bearing course program as we have, they’ve shifted their focus to be more consultative during the course development process, with an eye toward integrating information literacy concepts into individual courses and entire curricula. Carrie made it a point to reinforce in us the idea that we’re experts in our field and should act like it when we’re talking with faculty about information literacy concepts and how we can help their students achieve IL learning outcomes.

Conversation Starter: A Framework Tasting: Trying Out an Upcoming Vintage in Info Lit
Ginny Pannabecker, Virginia Tech

This was a great interactive session that allowed librarians to workshop the new Framework for Information Literacy. In the session, librarians were broken up into six groups to discuss one of the six new frames. Each group was then asked to discuss the following questions:

  • What does this frame mean to you?
  • How does your instructional practice already support this frame?
  • What else would you like to try to engage with and support this frame?

Though the questions may seem simple enough, I thought the facilitator did an excellent job asking questions that really engaged the audience with the topic. My group had so much to discuss we didn’t even make it through all three questions. I think the session might be worth duplicating at some point at ZSR.

Can You Kick It? Bringing Hip Hop Pedagogy to the Library Classroom
Craig Arthur – Radford University

It’s fairly common to use “real world” examples to illustrate plagiarism and copyright when teaching students about these concepts, so I appreciated some of the fresh examples this librarian brought to the presentation. For example, when Mac Miller copied the beat of Lord Finesse’s “Hip 2 Da Game” without attribution and, of course, got sued (warning: nsfw language on the videos). It’s a great example that illustrates the complexity of copyright infringement, especially since Lord Finesse’s song also contains short samples of other music.

I think what I appreciated the most about this presentation was the discussion about the intersections of hip-hop production culture and information literacy. For example, he emphasized the fact that traditional hip-hop production actually requires a lot of information and research skills (as highlighted in the documentary Scratch). For DJ’s, acquiring knowledge of older music to potentially sample is an early example of Information Has Value. There is a lot of crossover between the ideas of academic integrity and sampling — the conventions are different, but both involve giving credit to those that have come before. Critical information literacy folks may also appreciate the brief discussion on the hidden history of hip-hop — one that does not follow the traditional “Rapper’s Delight” narrative, but instead starts much earlier with DJ’s/emcees. (Sidebar: this reminded me 9th Wonder’s visit to Wake Forest where he also discussed the lesser known history of the origins of hip-hop). It would certainly be an interesting subject to have students research in the future!

Emotionally Intelligent Library Instruction, Or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love our Feels
Jenny Dale and Lynda Kellam (UNC-G)

Kyle, Amanda, and Joy all attended this breakout session because we knew anything led by Jenny and Lynda would be good! Unless you have been under a rock for the last 17 years, you are probably very familiar with Daniel Goleman’s research regarding Emotional Intelligence which has been used in the business world since 1998. Goleman’s work inspired an avalanche of literature and presentations around the topic of Emotional Intelligence as it pertains to a wide variety of professions. One of these inspired works was written in 2005 by Alan Martiboys, Teaching with Emotional Intelligence: A Step-by-Step Guide for Higher and Further Educational Professionals. We have the 2011 2nd edition available as an ebook through our catalog, but I believe you can get the gist of what he is saying through the first link and that is the book I will cite.

Martiboys states that learning and emotion are intertwined; subject expertise is not enough for classroom success. In addition, we need teaching and learning methods as well as emotional intelligence (2). Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be learned, and Martiboys offers advice for making it part of the classroom experience. An EI teacher is: approachable, accepting, positive, a good listener, empathic, good at making eye contact, non-threatening, open, respectful, good at recognizing students, and not presumptuous (11). Instructors should plan their emotional environment which includes everything from how the classroom is set up to how you start your sessions. Martiboys stresses the importance of learning the names of students. Chapter four of his book focuses on the physical experience of learners. Martiboys says that we must plan the physical learning environment , including getting students up and moving in the classroom. While students do some movement in most of my classes, I plan to be more intentional about this starting in the fall. Another interesting section of this book is p.102-104 which talks about the concepts of “strokes” as a “unit recognition.” A stroke can be any acknowledgement that we give another, verbal or nonverbal, and we all need strokes to survive. As instructors, we are in good positions to offer positive strokes, and Martiboys encourages us to put energy into giving and accepting (not discounting) positive strokes.

How I learned to Love Evaluation and Not Care So Much about Assessment
Annie Zeidman-Karpinski (University of Oregon) and Dominque Tornbow (UC San Diego)

Annie and Dominque used the ABCD objective model to make the argument that one-shot sessions should focus on evaluation and not assessment. ABCD is an acronym for “Audience (Who are the learners?), Behavior (What do learners need to demonstrate to show they’ve achieved the outcome?), Condition (Under what conditions do learners need to perform the behavior?), and Degree (To what degree do learners need to perform the behavior?).” Instructors should be able to categorize learning outcomes within Kirkpatrick’s 4 Level Evaluation Model (Level 1 – Reaction; Level 2 – Learning, Level 3 – Behavior, Level 4 – Results). By this model, LIB100 courses are able to evaluate Level 3 (they are able to demonstrate appropriate search skills in class) and they are moving to Level 4 (where they will be able to apply those skills outside of LIB100). Here is a link to the slides used in this session.

In this session, they used several online survey tools (which I believe would have worked better if I had a device other than my iPhone):
Poll everywhere =
Revised Blooms Taxonomy Action Verbs
Kahoot =
padlet =


Overall, it was a really good day with a great group of people! Attendance at this Conference was limited to 75, so it was a wonderful place to connect with other instruction librarians (including Lauren Pressley!) and to hear what is happening in library classrooms in the Virginia/North Carolina/Maryland region.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014 3:46 pm


(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!

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