Workshop for Instruction in Library Use - Day One

Posted on 21 May 2014 Conference, Teaching, E-Learning

Day one of WILU 2014 (Workshop for Instruction in Library Use) just concluded with a fabulous gala where my library service desk was transformed into an open bar. I rushed home after dinner to maintain the momentum and type up some thoughts. I'm part of the social media team at Western who have been live-tweeting the conference, which has been great for keeping me engaged during sessions, as well as for having something to do during moments of downtime. You can follow my WILU tweeting at @WILU_Crystal or using the #WILU2014 tag, in addition to my regular Twitter account, @ck_mills.

Opening Keynote

The main conference began with the keynote from Trudi Jacobson and Craig Gibson, Co-Chairs of the ACRL IL Task Force behind the draft Framework for Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. They spoke about threshold concepts, inspired by the work of Erik Meyer and Ray Land in the field of economics, as ideas that are: transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, and troublesome. The new definition of information literacy is informed by metaliteracy and metacognition, particularly the threshold concept of "scholarship as a conversation", where the learner is a participant and creator. I love the idea of humanizing the knowledge-creation process. Terms such as "skills" and "competencies" have been updated to "knowledge practices" which emphasizes the broader context of "why".

The presentation began with a task for the audience: Describe student learning in one sentence. The answers were expected, and underscored the importance of the work of the ACRL Task Force:

  • "Overconfident, non-critical, habitual, and last-minute."
  • "They don't know what they don't know."
  • "Superficial, surface learning."
  • "Pragmatic -- whatever gets them by in the moment."

The presenters discussed two example threshold concepts in the new ACRL Framework, shared the timeline for release, and described ideas for a community sandbox for collaboration and making available tools such as assignments or activities.

Keynote Presenter Slide

Head Over Heels: Approaches to Flipped Teaching

In the first concurrent session, Carolyn Doi and Tasha Maddison from the University of Saskatchewan discussed their experiences with implementing a flipped classroom model for library instruction. They described the typical methodology, where students gain first exposure prior to class (in their case, primarily video), freeing up class time for activities that engage a higher level of cognition and allow the instructor to assess learning informally and on-the-fly.

Within the Music Faculty, Carolyn had the opportunity to move from one-shot library sessions to a 0-credit, 5 week, required course, developed in collaboration with an instructional designer and video producer. The demographic played a big part in her success -- music students aren't afraid to share, interact, and be "on stage" during what would traditionally be lecture time. Her students delivered mini book-talks and prepared an annotated bibliography as a final assignment.

Tips for success that resonated with me included:

  • Know your audience and their incoming knowledge level.
  • Set clear expectations for students in advance.
  • Take a flexible approach to classroom management.
Flipped Teaching Title Slide

Take Your Phone Off the Hook: Going Live with Online Instruction at the University of Toronto

Monique Flaccavento and Jenaya Webb from U of T OISE described successes and lessons learned in developing online instruction for their mammoth undergraduate student body. 60 instruction librarians seems like a certified army, but not in relation to U of T's 67,000 undergraduate student body and 14,200 new incoming students.

Their team sought to develop scalable, sustainable, large-scale, synchronous IL instruction. Unfortunately they had to recalibrate their goals in the face of technical issues from Blackboard Collaborate conferencing software. While uploaded slides worked fine, they were unable to demonstrate any live searching or screensharing. Instead, they opted for a basic library orientation during September/October, rather than more in-depth training in library research later in the school term.

Despite significant promotional efforts, enrollment was lower than expected, in-person numbers were better than online, and attendance rates in relation to registrants was 65% for in-person sessions and 31% for online.

Some of the most practical and applicable advice was on the topic of synchronous instruction or video conferencing generally:

  • Consider your background when you're on webcam: Close your office door, or even better, sit in front of a poster advertising library services.
  • "Take your phone off the hook": A ringing phone or any other visual or auditory distraction can significantly interfere with your presentation.
Online Instruction Presenters