Professional Development

Kyle at NC-LITe at NCSU

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 11:52 am

On June 12, I traveled as the lone emissary from ZSR to NC-LITe, the twice-annual mini-conference loosely focused on instructional technology in libraries. We had it here in ZSR back in December, if you recall.

This time we gathered at the D.H. Hill Library at NC State, where they’ve recently undergone a few changes, the most notable of which is a brand-new makerspace. (We got a sneak preview the day before it opened!) This is a purpose-designed space to the left of their main circulation desk, and it is pretty fantastic.

David shows the group the new makerspace

David shows the group the new makerspace

Campus updates

As with most NC-LITes, we started with some campus sharing. Among the most notable updates:

  • NCSU’s Library Stories project is a great example of a library being ahead of the game in sharing ways they can help faculty and students enhance their teaching and learning.
  • NCSU continues to churn out their popular “Teach Yourself” tutorials. They’re really carrying a lot of weight for the entire library instruction field: we use the heck out of their videos, including in our online LIB100 course. They added a new one on source evaluation. There was much rejoicing.
  • A representative from Davidson College joined us for the first time! It was great to connect with her, as Davidson is the closest cousin to Wake in its emphasis on teaching. Davidson is also interesting in that they’ve been doing MOOCs with edX for a few years now. The library has recently been involved in developing a new course on Electronic Literature that starts in October (join me!)
  • UNC Chapel Hill just hired a new digital scholarship librarian, who will be teaching a series of digital humanities workshops out of the library.
  • Duke just opened a new commons for technology, research, and collaboration that they call The Edge (er.. sorry, this is the actual link).
  • Kim Duckett, formerly of NCSU, a founding participant of NC-LITe, and an all-around awesome person, recently took a new job at Duke as their Head of Research & Instructional Services.

Lightning talks

We also got a few in-depth looks at some recent projects. These had the greatest takeaways for me.

Katy Webb of ECU shared how their reference department went to and a shared Google Calendar for patron-driven scheduling all of their personal research sessions. presents users a calendar with available time slots, allowing them to select the time that fits their calendar, eliminates all the email back-and-forth, and pushes the “messy” end of scheduling to happen behind-the-scenes. They call the service “Book a Librarian” and it seems like a great enhancement to their user experience! Check it out.

Hannah Rozear of Duke talked about a collaboration she’s part of with their writing program, in which she’s integrating critical digital pedagogy to make her instruction more student-centered and inclusive of diverse voices, and to challenge students to think critically about the online sources they use.

Rebecca Hyman at the State Library of NC and I shared our experience with developing and running RootsMOOC. We were (and still are) a little exhausted from a year of running the project at full-steam, but the course evaluations are in and and I promise to give the project a proper write-up soon!

Ideas from breakout sessions

I didn’t take copious notes during our breakout sessions (they’re loose, informal discussions), but I did jot down some ideas I wanted to share.

I maintain that Open Educational Resources will be an increasingly important part of the higher educational landscape as the traditional textbook model breaks down. Several libraries are offering grants to faculty who are interested in OER–small ones for attending OER workshops, larger ones for developing their own OER or integrating OER into their classes. As an institution, I don’t think we’re quite there culturally, but I’m keeping my eye on this. See also UNCG, Emory

Lots of people shared frustration with boosting workshop attendance. (Can I get an amen?) I heard some great ideas:

  • co-develop workshops with other groups on campus (example: a “Designing effective research assignments” workshop through the TLC);
  • host webinars instead of f2f workshops (and record the content!);
  • send personal invites to known partners and influencers in the academic departments (even better if there’s a lunch or coffee)
  • rather than advertising the thing you’re going to teach (eg, Zotero), advertise the compelling use case (Hey, grad students, come learn how to do a lit review!)

Always lots of good ideas from NC-LITe. Looking forward to next time!


NC-LITe comes back to ZSR

Friday, December 19, 2014 5:14 pm

Have you ever thrown together a regional mini-conference in the short window between final grades and the holiday break? ZSR just did, and let me tell you, it was awesome.

NC-LITe, a semi-annual meeting of NC instructional-techy librarians, meets twice a year to talk about current happenings in instructional technology and libraries. This time we had about 35 folks from around the state, including representation from, I think, nine different campuses. This time we made some significant changes to the format, wanting to make the best use of everyone’s time. Feedback on the changes was really positive!

Campus sharing

Per tradition, we started with some informal campus sharing. This usually drags on (instruction librarians can be …wordy), but we cut this portion to 30 minutes and gave each campus 3 minutes. After that, they got the hook. Some highlights I was able to scribble down:

Breakout sessions

Sarah facilitates a breakout session

Sarah facilitates a breakout session

The next change we made was to the format of the breakout sessions, which have traditionally been interest-based and participant-driven. This sometimes worked, but every so often a room of people interested in makerspaces would realize that no one in the room had any experience with makerspaces. We wanted to change that, so we had dedicated facilitators at four different tables, and a different discussion prompt at each table. They were:

  • Blue sky: imagine everyone in your group is a member of your library’s instruction team. You have an unlimited budget. What roles do you assign to your ten-member library instruction dream team? What about positions that don’t exist anywhere yet?
  • Fill in the blank: _________ will be the most important instructional technology in the next 5 years. Discuss.
  • Everyone can agree that there are a lot of really bad online instruction videos. First, create a list of the undesirable qualities these videos have in common, then create a list of best practices for creating online tutorials.
  • You have an unlimited budget to design the library classroom of your dreams. What do you put in it? How is the room set up? What kinds of technology does it have, and what kinds of learning does that technology facilitate?

We had some great discussion, and everyone was able to contribute something to each conversation. It worked really well! When I get a chance to compile the notes from these discussions, I’ll link to them here.

Lightning talks

We wrapped things up with four awesome lightning talks.

  • Our own Amanda Foster talked about her experience using Google Glass in the LIB100 classroom
  • Dre Orphanides and Anne Burke from NCSU shared their process for creating the amazing new “Teach Yourself” platform of library instruction videos.
  • Karen Grigg at UNCG talked about an ongoing research study she and her colleagues are conducting to identify transfer students and evaluate their information skills so they can be more effective in reaching them.
  • Megan Johnson at ASU demonstrated their online linked library meta course–essentially a way for faculty in the disciplines to select online library instruction modules for their classes.

The whole day went off without a hitch, and no small thanks to all the help from Joy, Hu, Amanda, and Kaeley, who helped with planning and wrangled, coffee, snacks, signage, and the logistics of taking 20 people to Shorty’s over break, and to Sarah, for volunteering to facilitate a breakout session.

Embedded Librarians and the LENS Program

Monday, July 14, 2014 4:03 pm

This is the fifth year of the LENS (Learn, Experience, Navigate, and Solve) program at Wake Forest, and librarians from ZSR have been embedded in the program since the first year! Each year the program as grown, but this year the number of students increased from 35 to 51, requiring the students to split into two teams, and doubling the number of workshops we held for these students! In addition to all the sessions the librarians lead for the LENS program, we also participate in LENS planning meetings before, during and after the program! About half the LENS students will end up as freshmen at WFU and all LENS students receive an admissions interview while on campus!Fortunately, with the increase in students participating in the program, the leaders of LENS increased the number of writing faculty involved in the program and increased the number of student program assistants. Meanwhile, the ZSR Library’s LENS team grew to three with the addition of Meghan Webb to the existing team of Hu and Bobbie! These additional resources allowed for a smooth and successful LENS 2014!

The Library kicked off its role in the program with a brief technology orientation on Monday, June 23rd, then continued with an Introduction to Google Tools on Tuesday and “Capture the Flag” on Wednesday! On Friday, Bobbie and Meghan led a scavenger hunt in the Library and a session on scholarly research. On Tuesday, July 1st I lead a session on presentation tools and on July 3rd we hosted a game of Humans v Zombies in the Library with the BTFT (Ben Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute.) We wrapped up our time with the LENS program on Thursday, July 10th, with a clicker question survey of the program and attended the LENS concluding ceremony on Friday, July 11th. At the ceremony each group gave a final presentation of their sustainability project with a local community partner! The community partners included, Campus Kitchen and the Cobblestone Farmer’s Market, just to name two!

This is always a rewarding project, and this year was no exception! Even with the larger crowd, the students responded very favorably in the final evaluations and based on the citations in their final presentations, many of them were paying attention during the research instruction session! Many thanks to Meghan Webb, the newest ZSR staff member on the LENS team! Adding another person to the team was a huge help in meeting the needs of the LENS students!

-Hu Womack, Bobbie Collins, and Meghan Webb

NC-LITe at High Point University

Friday, December 20, 2013 2:35 pm

On Wednesday, Amanda, Hu, Joy, and I made the quick drive to High Point University for the winter meeting of NC-LITe, a small (but growing!) group of North Carolina librarians interested in learning and sharing about technology and library instruction. It’s a great opportunity for cross-pollination, and I’m starting to make some great professional relationships with people I’ve met through NC-LITe. I’m always excited for NC-LITe, but this time I think all of us were excited for one reason in particular.

One of the *many* decorated trees. This building smelled like cookies.

One of the *many* decorated trees.


The turnout this time was great–there were about 30 librarians from universities all over North Carolina. Each campus shared some updates, then there were a handful of lightning talks, including our own Hu Womack, who talked about the very exciting pilot project of using a class set of Kindle Fire tablets in his LIB210 class. Here are some other highlights:

  • HPU has some beautiful and heavily-used new library instruction spaces. They’re currently partnering with their English department to integrate online information literacy tutorials into first-year writing seminars, and currently five librarians are teaching a one-credit “research in writing” seminar in conjunction with the English department. They’re also doing a lot of support for faculty who want to assign multimedia projects.
  • UNCG just went to a new team-based model for their liaison and instruction folks: the way I understand it, instruction and scholarly communication people work in functional teams that support the work of liaisons in subject teams. For example, there’s a team for instructional design that can work alongside a subject team that wants to do some ID work. They’re also expanding the services and spaces they offer in their Digital Media Commons–they now have a gaming lab, a small makerspace, and lots of support for multimedia assignments (sensing a theme yet?).
  • Duke is continuing their work with MOOCs. Right now, each Duke MOOC (DOOC?) is assigned a subject librarian. It wasn’t mentioned what kind of work they do for the MOOCs, and I didn’t get a chance to ask, but you can read more about it here.
  • NCSU recently opened some new spaces in the new Hunt Library (which we visited last time). Their media spaces are now open, and to get them just right, they brought in a rock musician, who is also developing multimodal courses at NCSU, as a consultant. They seem to be focusing quite a lot on integrating themselves into multimodal courses and multimedia production, so the library has loose support teams that spin up every time an instructor wants students to create, say, podcasts or websites as part of a course.

Useful Tools & Resources

One of my favorite things about NC-LITe is that I always come away from it with a few new toys to play with and resources to explore. Here are some of the best that came out of the breakout sessions:

  • Amanda mentioned Doctopus and gClassFolders, two scripts in Google Drive that make collaborative student work a breeze. I’ve been using Doctopus for a while now, and I think it’s the bee’s knees.
  • Edmodo, which is used heavily in K-12, is more of a social network for learning–quite far removed from our nearest equivalent, Sakai.
  • Socrative is a rapid-feedback response system that seems to be getting a lot of attention lately.
  • Of those libraries that are supporting multimedia projects, nearly all of them mention Penn State University’s Media Commons and the University of Richmond’s Digital Storytelling as those efforts they’re trying to emulate. Samantha Harlow at HPU did a great job modifying the PSU multimedia assignment guide for her faculty.

Campus Tour

HPU’s campus is pretty impressive. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but what you can’t see from the photos is that everything smelled like fresh-baked cookies. More photos here and here. Thanks, Joy and Hu, for taking pictures!

Kyle and Hu embarrassing Amanda

Kyle and Hu embarrassing Amanda

We caught up with Anna!

We caught up with Anna!

Joy, in her element.

Joy, in her element.

Kyle, in a moment of thought.

Kyle, in a moment of thought.

Hu: "This is my dream retirement gig."

Hu: "This is my dream retirement gig."

Kyle at ALA Annual in Chicago

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 4:20 pm

I learned lots of things at ALA, but one thing I learned almost right away: bring numerous pairs of comfortable shoes. I had heard people say that, and my standard-issue brown slip-ons are *kind of* comfortable (and hey! they go with everything! I only have to pack one pair!), so I mostly ignored all of the advice. After walking all over downtown Chicago, around the massive McCormick Place conference center, and from the conference center back to my hotel on one ill-advised 3.5 mile afternoon stroll, my blisters became a constant reminder of my hubris.

Here are my top three things from #ala2013, in no particular order:

ACRL Immersion Teaching with Technology

You may have heard of (or even participated in) the ACRL Immersion program for information literacy instructors. Usually, participants stay together in one place for a few days in an intensive workshop environment. I’m lucky enough to have been selected as part of the inaugural class of the Immersion Teaching with Technology (TwT) track, run by Immersion faculty Char Booth and Tiffini Travis. TwT is a whole new model: the 60 or so of us spent all day Friday engaged in a rather intense face-to-face workshop, but we’ll be spending the next five weeks in an online community as we design projects for our libraries. The idea is to instill in us a design mindset when it comes to instruction, instructional technologies, and accessibility, and to connect us to a greater community of practice. The first day was awesome–I connected with some amazing librarians who are doing some really cool stuff. My project will be to create an online course (in this case, the Parents Online Learning Community we’ve been talking about) using Char’s USER model of instructional design. Excited isn’t the word.

Talks about MOOCs and Online Learning

As you might expect, I’m very interested in the library’s role in massive open online learning. Literally no one was talking about MOOCs at ALA last year. This year, I heard of at least five sessions (my poster (PDF) and discussion group being two of them) talking explicitly about MOOCs, but I’m sure there were plenty of others. I heard some really interesting thoughts, the best of which, in my opinion, came from Kevin Smith at Duke. In a SPARC discussion group that Molly dragged me to (thanks, Molly!), Kevin countered the arguments of those who claim MOOCs are too expensive and offer too little return on investment, when he challenged us to think of MOOCs not as potential revenue streams so much as doing research on pedagogy. Viewed in this light, MOOCs are cheap when compared to other research fields.

Connecting with People

I have a really bad record when it comes to picking sessions, but I somehow manage to bat 1.000 when connecting to new people. And I connected (or reconnected) to lots of really amazing people. There’s Bill Marino, the elearning librarian at Eastern Michigan University, who is building an online course for graduate students that’s almost exactly what Molly and I want to build in a project we’re just staring to work on. There’s Tasha Bergson-Michelson, a search educator at Google, who has to have one of the coolest jobs in the world, and who was really jazzed to hear about ZSRx. And there’s Laura White, an LIS student at UT-Austin and former student employee at the University of Missouri Libraries, who credits me with inspiring her to go to library school when I was her student supervisor.

That last part made the blisters worth it.

Erik attends POGIL workshop

Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:09 pm

On Thursday I attend a workshop on POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning). POGIL is a technique that was developed in the sciences (Chemistry and Biology) which focuses on active learning and peer instruction.

During the workshop, we learned about POGIL using (you got it) POGIL techniques. One primary method of learning in POGIL is to form small groups (3-4 people) which work through a detailed exercise. Each member of the group has one or more assigned roles (Manager, Recorder, Presenter, Technician, etc). The primary role of the instructor is to serve as facilitator and to deliver brief periods of instruction which build on the activities.

As part of the workshop, we observed a POGIL based chemistry class. It was an interesting experience (40 students learned while the class watched observed) to say the least but I was struck with how effectively the instructor (Andrei Straumanis) coordinated a the classroom and how he used Information Technology to enhance the experience.

Lots more about POGIL can be found at If you want to hear more, talk about how we could develop a POGIL Information Literacy curriculum, or see an example exercise, stop by to chat!

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