LILAC18: day 1, part 2

[I´m in the process of writing up my notes from LILAC18. Here is part 1.]



Barbara Band: The elephant in the room – why are information literacy skills not an essential part of the curriculum?

To be perfectly honest, I do not know if Band answered this question. Maybe it is even too complex a question to cover in a keynote. While Band delivered a good keynote, I must admit I did not really take any real key ideas with me. It was too general, and not that much new. I hope I am not too harsh here. Writing a good keynote must be very hard.

Band said that we live in a world where our work tasks and roles are in continuing evolvement. We are no longer just “librarians”, but Learning Lounge Managers, LRC managers and lots of other varieties. Band wanted us to take back the meaning of the word “librarian”.

Information literacy is essential for students, so why don´t the teachers demand that it is described in course descriptions etc? What challenges do we face? Is it the education system itself that causes the problem – that nobody wants to think long term? Are the teachers the main barriers? Is the problem that librarians have low status in the workplace – that their input is easy to ignore? Is the problem that libraries are poorly staffed, and that librarians feel they cannot leave their posts to participate in meetings etc?

There are so many models and definitions of information literacy? Is that important or does it just add to the confusion? Is it important that all students adhere to the same IL model? Does that help them in their learning?

We have to change the way we speak about our work, Band said. The word “literacy” does not help us. Information literacy are soft skills that cannot be easily measured. This is not easy in a world where everything is measured.

Teachers have often missed the fact that many students struggle with every single step in the research process, Band continued. We need more collaboration. There is way too little formal collaboration, and everything depends on having a personal relationship with teachers. [So true!] We have to end this practice. We cannot keep doing things in circles, and that everything falls apart if a teacher quits or retires. Information literacy must be integrated in course descriptions.

Another issue is that it doesn´t help that librarians want higher standards than teachers. It doesn´t matter that we teach searching databases, critical thinking and referencing if teachers are willing to accept that students copy from websites and wikipedia.

Information literacy is not a single course, and is therefore not measured on IL itself. Sometimes it can therefore be challenging to give sufficient training and that students acquire the skills they need. Students are, understandably, often very goal oriented, and passing an exam is more important than achieving long term skills. Teaching to the test is not possible or even desirable when it comes to information literacy. And – as teachers get more and more tasks to solve, they have to drop something. IL is often easier to drop than other things on the agenda.

If the library is just a place with books and librarians are just someone who drops in at random times during a course, we will not be seen as a profession of our own, with our own particular field of expertise.


Nephin & Park: Reading group for academic librarians:

The librarians presenting here had started a reading group for librarians at their institution. They had multiple libraries at different campuses, and they wanted to be more actively involved with research in stead of just dealing with the daily tasks all the time. The reading group has chosen research articles, twitter posts, blog posts etc.

The administrator calls everyone in for a meeting, and all attendees must have read the document, but there is no requirement other than that. The attendees can have read, but not understood the document and still be able to participate. There is a delegated leader for the meeting that will lead the discussion.

The reading and discussions strenghtened the community feeling between the librarians and changed the dynamics. They got a lot of information through reading, but it was the discussion that helped them develop their thinking and practice. After a while, Nephin and Park asked for volunteers to lead each meeting. The volunteer could choose a topic for discussion and choose the document for reading. They organised meetings at the different campuses to ensure that as many as possible had the option to participate, and they had some light refreshments served at each meeting. These meetings were very imortant for new staff, and also for people who are not naturally extrovert. The reading group opened a blog where they write small notes on the general “mood” of the meetings and a short report on what went on. The blog has not worked that all that well, as “we are more twitter people”, Nephin said. Twitter was easier, but the blog has been a useful archive.

Tips: You need an administrator. The administrator have to send invitations, make the coffee etc. – otherwise, it will all come to nothing. As in everything else, you need someone to take inititativ. The leader of each meeting did have access to a very general list of opening questions that they could use to help get the conversation started, like “I chose this article because..”, “I found this most interesting..” etc. , but they were not often needed.

A very interesting session! I´ll try to start something similar here, I think.
Emary, Kitchin & Lawrence: Prosess drawing: a tool to promote reflective practice in information literacy.

This session was about using process drawing to encourage good discussions with students. It is not a great method to use with large student groups, but great for small groups. The teacher can give a task, f.ex. Imagine that you have just been given an assignment that is due in two weeks. Draw a map that shows your process from start to finish. Each student draws a map consistent with their practice. Ex: Day 1: brainstorming, day 2 -7: being lazy, day 8: research etc. The student draws the map and explains the process and who they include in their process. The student gets 10 minutes to make the map and s/he can talk to fellow students about it or the librarian can make a sort of interview based on the map. This can enhance the role of the process and make the student more aware of the process itself.

This can be done as a pre-/post thing with the students. Students generally draw their ideal route, but is that what reality looks like? It is important to give them a relevant task, closely related to what they should learn.

Process drawing and other types of reflective activity is important for learning processes, and it can change behaviour.

(I wish we could have had a little more time, as there were many questions from the audience, but at the same time I was relieved to get out, as the airconditioning was out of order, and it was like a sauna in there!)

Fealey et al.: Plugging the gap: can online tutorials be more than just 24-7 support?

The presenters said that they had found that students actually liked pdf versions of tutorials. The students preferred tutorials with no sound. They liked tutorials that just showed the process being done, and then to test the method themselves.

The library where the presenteres worked has made great efforts in better facilitation of online tutorials. They have included more assessments so that they can improve what they have already made. Everything (the tutorials) is located in the learning management system.

The success criteria were: that there were clear structures and content lists, and that there were well-described learning goals and quizzes at the end of each element so that the students could test themselves.

Unfortunately, during the last session, I had such a headache that I could barely make notes, so I apologise for the brevity of the report from that session. The headache was so bad that I felt sick and also, sadly, missed the networking event at the World Museum (with the special display of terracotta warriors!). Nooooo!

2 thoughts on “LILAC18: day 1, part 2

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