LILAC15: day 3

Barbara Fister

Barbara Fister`s keynote

Even though I had enjoyed 7 hours of good sleep (total bliss), my head still felt a little muddled after two days of continuous input. (Images of empty wine bottles and rumours of karaoke bars explained some of the long faces I saw at the coffee table that morning☺) Still, I tried my best to keep my concentration and to take good notes from my sessions…

Academic Integrity

Clare McCluskey and Victoria Watt from York St. John University had started a module on academic integrity, emphasising anti-plagiarism. This was done after teachers expressed concern about the number of plagiarism cases. The module was based on SMILE – an online course in writing skills integrated at the university in 2012. The module developed by the library was designed to be flexible, and the students could choose which lessons to take, which tasks to do etc. The module was constructed around three main parts: Avoiding plagiarism, collusion and self-plagiarism. The teachers in the physiotherapy department wanted workshops in addition to the module, and McCluskey redesigned the module to make it more interactive (with self-tests etc). They have also added more graphics (music, images etc.) to make students realise what they can and cannot do.

They are still working on integrating this module and working on who should administer this module etc. Imperial college has just launched something similar, and perhaps lessons could be learned from them, too…? The initiative for this module at York St.John came from the Academic Integrity Group, and maybe they will have a role in the administration of the module, McCluskey and Watt concluded.

MOOCS

Karina Bradshaw from University of Bath talked about how the library has contributed with a session within a course on Cancer genes and development. The session included information on how to search for literature on the topic, and the session was placed right after the introductory sessions on how to use FutureLearn (MOOC platform used at the University of Bath). Bradshaw used Camtasia studios to record her Powerpoint and add the voice-over, and she used 2-3 days to complete the work on the session. Bradshaw found it challenging to work with this kind of teaching because you have to make it understandable to people of many different cultures, educational backgrounds, and people who do not have English as a first language. Still, Bradshaw also found that working with MOOCS meant that she could reach more people, and after some initial negative remarks on technical quality (sound etc) most people were satisfied with the session. 90 percent of those who entered the library session, completed it.

Keynote: The liminal library (Barbara Fister)

Students are “cherry-picking” information from sources, preferably from the first few pages. They use far too many quotations and are not good at drawing their own conclusions. We are embedded in the subject disciplines now, Fister said, and therefore we need to understand Threshold Concepts (TC).

Fister presented findings from the work done with the new ACRL framework, and two concepts that quickly emerged were Threshold Concepts and Metaliteracy. Fister also talked about the libraries as “liminal spaces” and talked about some of the same ideas as Ray Land presented in his keynote on day 1.

There is now a new definition on information literacy:
Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.(Association of College & Research Libraries 2015)

The old one was made in a time when librarians were trying to define themselves as scholars in teaching. The new one is richer in meaning, said Fister. Still, we cannot make students information literate, Fister continued. They can only achieve that by doing the work themselves. It is also much more interesting for students to be able to create their own knowledge in stead of having it handed to them. First-year students are both overwhelmed AND excited when they receive a new paper, according to Alison Head (2013).

We need to be more involved, finished Fister. It is not enough to get in with small fragments here and there in a casual manner. We need to use our time and skills to train the teachers so that they can train their peers and their students. We have to give teachers the opportunity to share their experiences in IL training, too, so that they can be more involved and included.

After lunch there were two more sessions, but my head was full and I had to leave for the airport, too. I went home so full of ideas and inspiration that I wrote most of my conference report (to be published in ”Bibliotekaren” – the journal from the library union) on the flight back to Oslo. Today, I have relieved some great moments at this conference and I had fun looking through my notes as I was blogging. I know these blogposts became very (!) long, but I hope that they`ll serve as an inspiration to others and as a reminder to myself. I really hope I get the chance to go to Dublin next year for LILAC 16. And to my fellow delegates: Thank you, all you lovely people! You inspire me!

Literature

Association of College & Research Libraries (2015) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. [online] ACRL. URL: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.

Head, A. J. (2013) Learning the ropes: How freshmen conduct course research once they enter college. [online]. URL: http://projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_2013_FreshmenStudy_FullReport.pdf (07.02.2014).

LILAC15: day 2

I missed the keynote on the second day, but I heard that even though the subject was relevant, the speaker concentrated on things that may have been more relevant in the UK than in eg. Scandinavia, so I didn`t feel too bad about it. I used my extra hour talking to fellow delegates and having a look at the sponsor showcase.

Storytelling

 

Storytelling workshop group - great people!

Storytelling workshop group – great people!

My first real session of the day was therefore “Let me tell you a story”, a storytelling workshop given by Elisabeth Tilley and Helen Murphy from University of Cambridge. I admit that I was a little apprehensive, because I don`t usually like workshops at conferences. If I am completely honest, I always prefer to just sit and listen and take notes☺.. but as it turned out, it was one of my favourite sessions in LILAC15.

Tilley and Murphy held an intro about how they got started with the “Stories in teaching” project. The project was designed to answer the following questions: “Do stories impact learning?”, “Do stories build communities” and “Can we as teachers use stories better?”. They developed stories, based on real happenings in the library, and tested them in class, and after a month they asked the students what they remembered. The project showed evidence of impact on learning, and told the librarians that personal stories engage students in the learning process, that empathy and a little drama contribute to learning, that using stories can create new opportunities, and that it is important to store stories for future use. If I understood Tilley and Murphy correctly they will soon publish a book chapter on storytelling, so I`ll keep my ears open (I sadly missed the title of the book…)

After the introduction, we were working in teams. Tilley and Murphy encouraged us to find a story that could work for storytelling. We were also asked to read through some of the short stories that Tilley and Murphy had brought, and to analyse them, hashtag them and to look for common denominators. We were also asked to throw some ideas around on what a common problem could be addressed in class. My group chose “Planning” (or lack thereof) as our problem. We then wrote down what we would do in class to help solve this problem, and to choose one or two ideas to work on. Maybe this sounds a little messy and confusing, but Tilley and Murphy led us all through the workshop, and my group got so engaged with the tasks that we barely made it down to lunch☺.

Teachmeet

There has been a teachmeet on several LILACs, and I really like this concept. You sign up for the teachmeet, and get to choose 4 x 2 short presentations (8 min each) to attend. The presenters sit at tables and repeat their little presentations four times. The delegates move between tables. After four rounds, the tables are reset with new presenters. The reason why I love this is that you can get a lot of input in a very short time. Often times, I feel that I don`t need all the information in a long paper presentation, I just find it interesting to see what is going on in university libraries all over the world. These short presentations give me an insight, and I know that if I want to know more, I can contact the presenter directly after the session or conference. It`s great!

I went to these short presentations:
• “iTunes U and Youtube: creating visual content collections to aid information literacy”.
• Lecture capture: creating and sharing learning resources made outside of the lecture theatre.
• Using Socrative polls in IL teaching.
• 10 days of RefWorks.
• Using collaboration and past essays to improve research, reading, writing and referencing skills.
• Using live mobile polling (Poll Everywhere) to engage students in information literacy.
• Engaging first year students: a multi-faceted approach.
• Greenhousing for IL: letting good ideas grow.

There were interesting things to be learned in all of them, but I can`t elaborate on all of them. There are abstracts published on the LILAC15 website. I`ll just mention that I have tested the app Adobe Voice that Andy Tattersall talked about in ”iTunes U and YouTube”. It was very easy to use and created professional looking videos in just a few minutes. Available only on iOS, though. I was also very impressed by the ”Destination Kent State” program presented in ”Engaging first year students”. The library was involved in lots of social activities with DJs, pizza night, a ”stress free zone” with pet therapy and free tea and coffee etc. I`ll contact the presenters to learn more there. Clare McCluskey presented ”10 days of RefWork”, an online teaching program for learning RefWorks. They made very short introductions, with little text and just a 60 second video for each of the days in the 10 day program. The program was published on this blog, and it became very popular – has been integrated into all courses at York St. John University.

Reaching the masses/ Feeding the 500

 

IL delivery model from Hull University

IL delivery model from Hull University

My two last sessions for the day had a somewhat similar base – how to engage students in large settings, like a lecture hall? At the University of Hull they had looked at the advantages and disadvantages with an embedded IL program. They found that the advantages of embedding were that it could be tailored to the subject discipline, and that it was possible to give the students relevant tasks or build the instruction around a paper that they already had. The disadvantages were that the students didn`t see the transferability of the skills they had learned into other disciplines, that it is time consuming for the library staff and that they are totally dependent on the teaching staff to gain access to students. Latham and Ewen (presenters) had developed “A concept of IL transferability”. The speakers also talked about how they had gone back to generic IL skills training with several levels, from inductions (10 min), spotlights (30 min), “workshops” and “masterclasses”. They had found that this was easier to handle and had some advantages. The challenges they mentioned were that it is harder to get publicity for the classes (without being booked by teachers, they were dependent on students actually coming to the library) and harder to meet students` expectations.

I have to say I was very surprised to hear that they had moved away from embedded sessions to generic classes again. Almost all the research and projects I have read about the last few years points to the fact that students are more engaged and motivated for learning when the skills are introduced as part of a subject discipline/ a concrete task or paper. I am still working to move away from one-shots and this type of generic information sessions, and I couldn`t be happier to let them go. I really believe that knowledge is contextual.

This was also the main theme for the other session (Feeding the 500). Teachers and librarians worked together to get academic writing skills “in under the radar”. Students were expected to write an essay with a controversial subject: “Do men make better managers than men?” and asked to argue their case using scholarly sources. Findings showed that students are good at finding what others have said about a particular topic, but they are not good at building a good discussion and following through with arguments and referencing correctly. Teachers and librarians supported each other and made a teaching plan that included lectures, hands-on workshops, drop-in clinics with librarians, academic writing lectures and a seminar on good academic practice. Students hand in their essays, they are marked and students who fail have to improve their essay before another hand-in. They continue this work in the students` second year – with a clear progress described in course descriptions.

After this, I only had time to walk back to the hotel for a quick shower and a change of clothes before setting off to the conference dinner. I shared a table with almost all the other Norwegian delegates, and we had a long conversation about how we run our libraries (very different, as it turns out☺), mergers in higher education etc. It was great, and I learned a lot. Although I would have loved to stay longer and chat with many other delegates, I left relatively early – completely exhausted.. oh… and I finally got my suitcase (the day before departure..)

Award winners at the conference dinner

Award winners at the conference dinner

LILAC15: day 1

[warning: these blog posts from LILAC are extremely long, but I prefer to write just one post from each day instead of blogging from each session. I think it is easier to see connections between subjects and to reflect on the conference when the sessions are in one post.]

Bridges in Newcastle

Bridges in Newcastle

Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference, or LILAC as it is more commonly known, has been my preferred conference since my first encounter with it in Glasgow in 2012. I remember being struck by the wealth of choices of sessions, the quality of the presentations and the lovely atmosphere of the conference. I had a great time last year in Sheffield, too, and this year I went to Newcastle – eager to soak up great ideas and having great discussions with fellow delegates. I was not disappointed. What a great set of people there are at LILAC!

Theories and practice

My first session on my first day was an example of what makes LILAC so special: a panel on the relevance of Information Literacy (IL) theories on practice. (The focus is always on the practical issues of teaching, infused with the theoretical knowledge that exists out there.) Jane Secker, chair of CILIP, led the discussion. She had rounded up a selection of librarians who, in different ways, have worked with theoretical frameworks. Merinda Hensley told us about how the group had worked on the new ACRL framework. A particularly important discussion that they had was about threshold concepts (TC). TC is about how students go from novice to expert within a discipline. Students must understand the research processes before they can understand how they find information. The theory influences the practice and vice versa, said Hensley. Emma Coonan asked how one could use TC in information literacy. “Is IL a discipline in itself, or simply an aspect of other disciplines?” Coonan asked. Secker asked whether teaching librarians should rely most on theoretical knowledge or try their own ways as they go. Almost none of the audience had formal pedagogic training before they started teaching, so for the majority the road to teaching had gone through trying (and failing;) combined with reading up on theory. Hensley said that the way to becoming a reflective teacher is to choose to focus on one small thing for a lesson, performing it and then evaluate it – focussing on how to improve it before the next session. Coonan emphasised the need for collaborating well with teachers, and that we need to align our teaching goals with the overall learning goals/outcomes that the teachers have designed. (This makes me think of Biggs` (1999) “constructive alignment”.) Keynote: Ray Land from Durham University gave the opening keynote. He talked about Threshold Concepts (TC) and “troublesome knowledge”. Land explained that to learn something, we have to step into the unknown, and to let go of old ideas, knowledge and skills. Sometimes we even have to strip away old conceptions before we are ready for new ones. This can be very unsettling and difficult. We do not like to let go of knowledge, Land said, and yet – this is very important to be able to understand new knowledge. Troublesome knowledge is a GOOD thing for us. We should and must get out of our “comfort zone”, because it is outside that zone that we can learn. Shulman (2005) called it “Pedagogy of uncertainty”. If we do not dare to move out of our “comfort zone” our learning will be limited, Land said. There must be something at stake. Thresholds are about this change in perception. It is right on the threshold that learning happens, but it is also where students get stuck. It is our jobs as tutors and teachers to help them make that step up on the threshold and through to the next stage. Why do some students get “stuck”? They haven`t been taught how to cope with failure, Land said, and I remember talking to Alison Head about the same thing at last years LILAC. “Liminality” is a term used to describe the state where everything is hazy and messy for the students. The constant rocking back and forth between “I understood that” to “No, I must have misunderstood” and back again (sometimes also called “oscillation”), is the process where students are most receptive for learning. Most of the time when students cross the threshold, it is not felt as a ”Eureka moment”, Land explained. Most of the time the knowledge is integrated little by little. The new ACRL framework describes six different thresholds. Most of the thresholds are about how information creation is a process, how information has value, that information is contextual and about research as conversation.

Collaborate to innovate

Bethany Logan and Antony Groves from the University of Essex talked about how the library had joined forces with the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) center to create a series of events promoting the use of mobile technologies – called “Mobile technology week”. Previously to this the departments (Library, TEL, IT and careers& employability) had just co-existed without much collaboration, and even after introducing the joint “Skills hub”, a single-entry to the support pages online, the departments carried on as before. “Mobile technology week” changed this. The first run was not successful; very low turnout and technology challenges. They tried a different approach, asking themselves questions like: Do students, staff and researchers struggle with the same issues, and if so what are the common problems? Who are we here to support? How can we meet these needs? Where is this support to be given? Logan and Groves told us about how they had included more people from the departments, and asked them about skills they already had and interests. From this basis they put together a new program, and tried to give the sessions something that would appeal to students and staff, e.g. “App swap breakfast” where people talked about their favourite apps in teaching and learning. The organizers also worked on marketing, using websites, social media, short promo videos, physical signposts and getting teachers to promote the sessions in class. The collaboration was a success, and the event led a new set of users to the library. Logan and Groves gave the following tips for organizing similar events: • Find a theme that works and stick to it • Who has ownership to each part of the program? • Identify who the users are (informal, easy questions to identify their needs) • What expectations do we have? Talking about this makes it easier to have realistic expectations, and it can be useful as a motivator • Keep in touch with other departments/people who can help (e.g. marketing department) • Experiment and play with ideas throughout the week and at other times, too • Don`t give up after the first run. It`s important to evaluate, make changes and try again.

sculpture art installation

Beautiful art installations at campus

Find the gap

Alcock and Rose from Newfoundland University Library talked about how they had analysed syllabi in history and chemistry to see where it would be natural to integrate information literacy skills. Alcock and Rose used Boss and Drabinski`s (2013) study on syllabus analysis as foundation for their own study, and added questions like “Is the library mentioned in the course plan?”, “Are library training sessions scheduled?”, “Do instructors teach information skills themselves?”. Findings from the study are described in the slides used, and I`ll have a closer look at them later to remind myself of the details, but I remember that the history students had much more integrated library skills training and much higher use of library resources and were required to do more independent research than the chemistry students etc. I also found it very interesting to learn more about the methodology itself, and I hope to be able to do something similar here soon. Phuh! These LILAC days are long and action-packed, but what an inspiration! I unfortunately had to give the networking event a miss as I had to go clothes shopping after the airline lost my suitcase.. The missing suitcase became a great conversation starter, though, so I cannot be too mad about it☺

Literature

Biggs, J. (1999) What the student does: teaching for enhanced learning. I: Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), s. 57-75.

Boss, K. og E. Drabinski (2013) Looking for Information Literacy: Syllabus Analysis for Data-Driven Curriculum Integration. I, Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice: Springer, s. 352-358.

Shulman, L. S. (2005) Pedagogies. I: Liberal Education, 91(2), s. 18-25.