Thursday a few of us attended the Metrolina Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte, NC. This was the 8th conference put on by the Metrolina Library Association and I think the 5th I’ve attended. They are always quite good. The conference is close to home, informative, and attended by the great IL and teaching librarians in NC. As Amy Harris said, it is more like a family reunion than a conference. Here are some notes from the sessions I attended, plus our slides for our presentation. The other slides will be up on the MLA site soon. If you have a chance to attend MLIC next year, I encourage you to go! It is great to hang out with the family.
Steven Bell’s Keynote, “Higher Education Rebooted: Exploring New Mysteries of Information Literacy
Bell’s keynote had a lot of interesting ideas, but the main eye catcher was his discussion of the importance of mysteries in innovation. Using business thinker Roger Martin’s ideas, he argued that as we move from mysteries to new knowledge we tend to put that knowledge in neat boxes and overlook the new mysteries around the corner. For example in information literacy we have moved to a more standardized way of handling instruction (through info lit initiatives, etc) and that doing so has been helpful, but has taken our attention away from examining the new, as Bell calls it, wicked problems. He then talked about the role of MOOCs and the place of Higher Education as the wicked problems to tackle and discussed the role of the library in thinking through these issues. He highlighted the role of the library in relationship building and then highlighted ACRL’s new info lit standards and the Assessment in Action program as examples of initiatives that tackle the the wicked problems.
I really enjoyed his presentation (and use of videos to explain certain points), but the part that caught my attention was on MOOCs. He cited Sebastian Thrun’s ideas on the value of MOOCs as a pathway to unbundling of the university experience. Through MOOCs learning can become a lifelong experience and not just something we do for four years. While I hope for the equalizing power of MOOCs, at the same time faith in them seems misguided. I asked this on Twitter and I’m still wondering about it, but I am interested how MOOCs might play into the class system in higher education. Elite universities and their brick and mortar campuses will never go away. They have too much invested in their images to do so, but are we seeing the decline of the rest? If so, how does that affect people like me who relied on their local university to provide a quality education? I would not have done well as a student in an online only environment because I needed/craved social interaction. I also needed the attention given by my individual professors. What would those personal relationships look like in an online class with 30K students? Just some thoughts. A few friends sent some readings my way after I posted this, but if you know of any, please send them on!
A Novel approach to assessment: using worksheet observation assessment in one-shot instruction classes - Jennifer Resor Whicker, Lisa Vassady, Alyssa Archer
One of our former interns gave part of this presentation and did very well! It is always nice to watch our former interns present as professionals. In this case, librarians at Radford University implemented an observational assessment worksheet. The worksheet focused on website evaluation criteria and was filled out during the class. After the librarian instructor wrote a reflection of the session and then graded the worksheets to see how much their reflection matched up with the reality.
I loved most the built in reflection process. We constantly say we are going to do this because all of us know it is important, but never build in time to do it. Plus the approach helps the instructor to question her assumptions about the session. A neat exercise they have on the worksheet gives students a research scenario–in this case whether it is ok to drink water from a plastic water bottle that has been left out in the sun/allowed to warm–and then asks them to brainstorm who, what, when, and where based on the kind of information they should be looking for (in advance of searching for an article). An interesting approach to encourage conceptual thinking.
Critical pedagogy and the 21st century librarian - Jenny Dale
Jenny gave a great presentation on critical pedagogy and its application to librarianship. Critical pedagogy primarily comes from Paulo Freire who was one of the first to talk about the liberating nature of education. Jenny did an excellent job in highlighting the main concerns: movement away from a banking model of education, the importance of faculty-student relationships, teaching based on problem-posing rather than rote memory, and education for social change. Some of the opportunities she saw was to do problem-based, student-driven activities in one-shots, using examples in class that align with crit ped values, co-searching at the reference desk, Patron Driven Acquisitions, and multi-use spaces. While we didn’t have much time to explore more ideas, it was a nice introduction for the audience. I’m a big fan of critical pedagogy and it is something we could think more about as regards to librarianship.
Teaching them to teach: Creating a formal training program for new instruction librarians - Candice Benjes-Small, Katelyn Tucker
This session discussed an in-house training program for instruction librarians at Radford University. While they have a large instruction program, they do not have subject liaisons like we do. So, everyone in the instruction program teaches any of the sessions requested. Radford’s model is based on five components: Pedagogy (readings and discussion groups), Observation, Teamwork, Evaluation, Reflection. You can see the entire presentation and reading list. The coolest part is an exchange program they have set up with VT and Hollins where the instruction librarians will travel to the other schools and observe teaching and then debrief. My favorite part of this program is that reflection and continuing ed (through the reading list) are built in throughout. They aren’t something you do separately or individually or when you “have time”. I really like this idea and hope we could do something similar at the G. If not formally, maybe Jenny and I will start it up.
Lost in emotion: Emotional Intelligence and the teaching librarian - Jenny Dale, Lynda Kellam
Finally, Jenny and I presented on emotional intelligence in teaching. This is a similar presentation we gave at the Lilly Conference that was focused on teaching in general but this one was more focused on librarianship. I think it went very well. I was surprised (and happy) with the number of people who stuck around despite the impending doom of a massive stormpocalypse rolling through central NC at the time. We had a good time despite the doom.