As I stated in my previous post, I have been fortunate enough to gain a seat at LOEX 2021, and I am writing up my notes on my blog, as I almost always do during conferences. This year, the conference is virtual, of course, and the time difference as well as a holiday in the middle of the conference has made me a little less involved than I normally would be. I’ll either edit these posts when I get to see all the videos at a later stage or simply add on new posts.
Anyway.. I got some great input on day 2 of LOEX, and here are my notes and thoughts.
Accepting new realities and accepting changes: collaborative survival in a small community college library
Donovan Reinwald and Wei Cen from Middlesex community college talked about their experiences as a small community college library, and the challenges that face them regarding teaching and collaborations. Reinwald and Cen talked about the term “collaborative survival” to explain how they has sought new collaborations as a way of keeping up services and teaching, even with staff shortage. Small libraries can’t make it on their own, they said. They are now co-teaching and they have made more videos etc. to make content available for all students, not just the ones where their professors have active collaborations with the librarians. Cen showed us an example of a video, and they have a YouTube channel where they post the videos.
The librarians have also made a research support site in Blackboard that links to class pages, and a regular newsletter (made with Smore) is sent to faculty where sites and resources are promoted. The librarians are collaborating with several campus partners, eg. the Academic Success Center Tutors, and the aim is to make a more seamless experience for students. ASC Tutors contact the library if they have a student with them that could benefit from a library tutor, and vice versa.
Reinwald and Cen suggested some tips for more and better collaborations:
1. Be proactive and brave (many are afraid to ask for help and collaborations because they don’t want to bother us)
2. Be appreciative and positive
3. We help, and we do not judge (many faculty members may not want us to see their lessons and lesson plans because they are afraid that we might judge)
Go Go Gadget Google Suite: Using Google Suite Tools to enhance online learning
This session was great! Kristina Bush from UC Berkley, Patricia Hermandez and Emily Metcalf from Texam A&M-Corpus Christi held a smashing session on Google Suite. The three librarians showed examples of how they used Google Docs, Forms and Sites to enhance learning online. They warned us against confusing online pedagogy with the tools we use. [Quick note: I couldn’t afterwords remember who had talked about what, so I’ll be using “the librarians” or “they” for all of the sections. Sorry about that!]
In the example of Google Docs, they showed us how they start the session with students by a short information on traditional databases before they share the online document (open for all who have the link). The assignment the students are working on is a database comparison. The students receive their instructions and write in their joint document. They can comment on each others work, and the librarian can keep track of what is going on. (I’m thinking this is a lot better than using the white board in Zoom, where they cannot bring the white board with them back to the main session.) The students have responded that they sometimes go back to the document later when they need refreshing, too. There is a maximum of 100 users at the time, and it can get a little messy when a lot of people are writing at the same time. The librarians suggested this exercise in smaller classes, maybe up to 30 or 35 students.
The librarians used Google forms for worksheets. (It’s not just for quizzes and feedback.) Forms let you separate the content into separate parts (very useful when you want the audience to go to a special page depending on their answer), and the librarians used the separate pages to present tools and worksheets to match. This also works in asynchronous sessions. The downside is that Forms is supposed to be handed in after finishing everything in one go, but the librarians explained a workaround here. They ask the students to send in the form when they need a break or the session is over, save the link to “edit response” and then go back and continue later.
The presenters told us about how they used Google Sites. This is, perhaps, a little less known for many. You use it to make websites (I used it years ago, but honestly I thought it no longer existed..). The librarians got into this because of a request from a teacher. The teacher had inherited a lesson plan from a predecessor, and part of the assignment for the students were to make a Google site. The new teacher had little or no experience with Google sites and asked the librarian to teach the class. The librarian was a little hesitant at first and asked herself if it was her job to step in to teach a tool like Sites, and if such a task was relevant to information literacy. It turned out that many of the previous students in this class had used copyrighted material without proper authorisation, the students barely cited quality sources etc. The librarian therefore said yes to the request and, although she has a part on the technical side to creating a site first, she used most of the class time for information literacy related topics.
Another example of using Sites was that the librarians are using it to build a virtual escape room. They are in the process of building one now, and it is about recognising different sorts of citations etc. We got a preview and a test here. This was really interesting. They hope to be able to use this as part of flipped classroom to save time in class with the students.
I have to say.. this session gave me a lot of new ideas, and so far.. it was the best session. 🙂
Genre pedagogy for the library classroom: Teaching sources rhetorically
Colleen Deel from Bemidji State University (Minnesota) talked about the importance about teaching students genre. (I couldn’t agree more, btw.) She said that students tend to ask questions that cannot easily be answered before one has given the background. The students are given assignments that they are not prepared to solve, and that is where we should start, Deel said. We have to start by giving them more genre information.
Deel mentioned John Swales’ “Discourse communities” (communities are clearly defined, that share a common goal, and has an exclusive language), and how this is also a kind of genre knowledge. Librarians can be considered a discourse community. When we teach, we teach according to an acknowledged genre, and the audience has genre expectations. We follow the genre, even though it might not lead to the best for of learning.
Some genres, particularly in academic writing, are well known and defined, e.g. essay, reflection paper, journal article etc., but library genres are not necessarily so well known and defined.
Deel cited Anderson (2009) and the two library genres as 1) The materials housed within information systems (e.g. ebooks, journal articles, newspaper articles etc.) and 2) The information systems themselves (e.g. discovery systems, databases, digital archives etc.)
Deel’s point was that we ask the students to use these genres, but we hardly ever talk about them as genres. We don’t spend enough time on this, and we tend to stop too “early” in the process; we talk about sources and teach students to find it, but we don’t talk about genres. This means that we also don’t talk about the complexity of information and we don’t talk about the information systems themselves. Deel highly praised Burkholder (2010) for addressing this issue.
There is a model for teaching genre, and Deel presented this:
The idea is to start with the simplest form, teaching a particular genre and then progressing to the next levels. Teaching a particular genre is usually quite easy, it doesn’t necessarily take long and it can be particularly useful for those who have little or no previous knowledge on the genre and for students with English as a second language. However, genre is contextual and can become meaningless if you teach out of context. Deel gave an example of teaching a genre, when used in a library setting:
When we move on to genre awareness, the idea is not that students should be able to reproduce a technique or a genre, but to make them aware of possibilities and limitations. This also applies within the library setting. Let’s say that the students need genre awareness to be able to decide whether to use the library catalogue or a database in a particular setting. The following example was used:
Deel also cited Amy Devitt (2014) several times. It is written for an academic writing class, but there is much there that can easily be applied to information literacy:
Burkholder, J. M. (2010). Redefining sources as social acts: Genre theory in information literacy instruction. Library Philosophy and Practice, 2010(AUG), 1-11.
Devitt, A. (2014). Genre pedagogies. A guide to composition pedagogies, 146-162.
Apologies for the long blog post. But.. Wow, this was a busy day at the conference. I had, of course, had a full day at work before the conference day started (due to the time difference), and I was totally exhausted after these sessions. But oh.. there was so much good content that I felt elated and happy even though I was so tired. What a lovely, lovely conference LOEX is!