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.
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☺.
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
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..)