LOEX 2021: day 1

It’s LOEX time! 🙂 I am always on the lookout for input, but I don’t think I have ever been craving a conference more. I was fortunate enough to gain a seat at LOEX in 2019 in Minneapolis, and it was such a great experience. So many interesting breakout sessions, so little time.. This year, due to the pandemic, the whole conference is digital. In most ways, that’s perfect for me. No transatlantic flight and jetlag, and at 175 $ for four days of conference, it’s a steal. The only challenge is the time difference, of course.

As per usual, I’ll write up my notes from the conference here. The blog posts tend to be long as I prefer to sum up each day, rather than do one blog post per session. This time, I’ll probably have to write up more blog posts later, too, as I will not be able to watch everything in real time and due to the fact that one of the conference days falls on a holiday here. I’ll probably be watching most of the sessions on video later.

Yesterday (Norwegian time) was the first day of the conference this year, and I was looking forward to the plenary talk, but unfortunately for me, I had miscalculated the time difference, and I missed the whole thing. Silly mistake. I only managed to attend one breakout session, and I’ll be writing about it here.

Microlearning by Yvonne Mery from the University of Arizona

The session started by talking about what microlearning is, and the difference between macrolearning and microlearnning. Mery described how microlearning differs from macrolearning with the following examples:

MicrolearningMacrolearning
Learning to order a meal in RussianLearning Russian
Learning to cook a dishLearning to cook Russian cuisine
Learning to play a songLearning the piano
Learning to use the PubMed clinical queries featureLearning to search for health information

The characteristics of microlearning are that it should be quick to learn, memorable, quick to apply, small chunks, narrow content and easy to access. Although there are variations on what people consider the maximum length of a lesson, most agree that is should be maximum 15 minutes long. Mery suggests 10 minutes max.

Microlearning is closer to the natural way to learn for students now. They are used to small chunks of information (f.ex. through social media, tiktok etc.), and they are busy. It is easier for them to engage with short tutorials. This also means that it is easier for us to make them, as short tutorials are much more manageable for us.

screendump from the session showing the entry page for the Getting started tutorial.
Screendump from the session.

Andragogy theory (adult learning, Malcom Knowles) gives us an idea on how adults prefer learning. Our learning materials should be self-directed, self-paced, always accessible and without fluff. In plain words: just give them what they want (something Thill (2012) called the concierge kind).

Mery noted that not all kinds of subjects are suited for microlearning. Particularly will it be difficult to teach highly complex subject matter in this way. Another issue with microlearning is that, due to the smallness of the chunks of information, it can seem very fragmented, and it can be hard to see the connections.

At the University of Arizona, Mery and her colleagues wanted to look into microlearning, and they used the model of TED Ed to build tutorials. The idea is to give the students chunks of information starting with an overview and then going into more specifics. The students can self-enroll and they can take the tutorials in the order they prefer, but the tutorials go from “Think” to “Practice” to “Do” and “Lean more”, like TED Ed. The content has a CC licence and can therefore be adapted by anyone.

There are various tutorials, and they have even made microlearning videos to use for their Makerspace. The students need to be certified to use some of the equipment there, and they do the video tutorials to be certified. The librarians at University of Arizona have just started a new test of sending tutorials as text messages to the students. They have only just tested it, so no results as to success is ready yet, but the initial feedback from students are overwhelmingly positive. The tutorial goes on for six or seven days, and every day during that period, the students get a text from the library with some information and a task to be done. Very interesting! Mery said, however, that the service they had used for this (Arist) was very expensive and that they would probably have to find another vendor or service if they were to keep on sending texts.

Mery ended her talk by giving us some tips if we are interested in starting our own microlearning initiatives. She said that it is useful to use backward design when you plan. By starting at the end it is easier to plan the content because you know what you want the students to learn. Get rid of the fluff, Mery said. Focus on what the students HAVE to learn, not what could be useful. Make a whole tutorial, not just a single video. Keep it informal and friendly. Make sure to focus on usability and feedback – and don’t go at it alone. Even microlearning tutorials have to be maintained and updated, and it is easier to spot the weaknesses if you are a team.

Comments

It was a very interesting session. We have learned over the years that we have to keep videos short, not have too much text on websites etc. And yet, things are always shifting. A few years back, everyone wanted short video tutorials, but now they are saying (we just performed a survey for a project we are working on) that they prefer short texts rather than videos. I guess we just have to keep asking what they want and try to give them content in the format they want – but also keep in mind that no two students are alike and that we have to give our lessons and tutorials in various forms to suit various learners. Am I right?

Zooming

Well – how the world has changed since I blogged in early March. It is almost unbelievable. Still, I think that libraries here have been more prepared, or rather adapted, for this event than many other institutions. It didn’t take long for the National library to open up all their digital content, and many publishers have taken steps to ease access in this situation.

At the library where I work, we have been making online content for learning for years. I think I started producing videos in 2006 or 2007, and we got our own YouTube-channel in 2010 or 2011. Producing videos started as a way of letting our patrons help themselves, and as a way of saving staff resources. We have been short staffed for as long as I have worked there, and that will be 15 years this fall. In this situation that we have already got a good base of videos that we have used now that the physical library is closed, and we have made many more. The fact that we were used to it also meant that we could produce more content quickly. After our merger in 2016, the librarians at my university also have had the benefit of being used to Skype for business, Teams etc. so the learning curve haven’t been so steep. That said, I have also learned a few more platforms recently. First of all – Zoom.

I held my first lectures (I know, I know) on Zoom a few weeks ago. Even though I have tried to do more asynchronous teaching (i.e. videos, Q&A forums etc.) since the library was closed (due to internet capacity, scheduling issues etc.), I have been zooming (is that a verb now? :)) with some classes. An article in the Norwegian higher education paper, Universitetsavisa, pointed out that many students are struggling with this new situation. The students are having problems getting up in the morning, and often end up sleeping until 11 am, and they only manage to get a couple hours of school work done during the day. They spend a lot of time online, but are easily distracted, and many state that they miss the library space and reading rooms. The outer frames of their study days, that they have been used to, is not easily substituted with their home environments. Many students have moved back home with their parents as all campus activity not strictly necessary has been cancelled, so only students that need lab equipment etc. will need to be on campus. Living with their parents again is not conducive for academic work.  Obviously, these challenges cannot be fixed with a new tool or a new platform of any kind. That is why we are thinking about trying some more informal sessions online, too. Coffee mornings at the virtual library, for instance. Some libraries have started having “shut up and write” sessions online etc. I think that librarians have been able and even eager to try new things to maintain some sort of normalcy for their patrons. It is too early to tell whether we will succeed.

So anyway – Zoom. So far, I think it has been good. It is easy to use, and as long as we have the app from the university, it is secure (or so I am told). It is still quite difficult to teach to the void. I am used to my lectures beeing recorded etc., but then there are still some students in the auditorium. I find it difficult to be a good, engaging teacher, when all you see is 20 black frames with names in them. I encourage the students to use the camera if they have sufficient internet speed so to make them more humans to me, but I get why many (most) are reluctant to do so. I also find that most students are reluctant to ask questions during class on Zoom. I always record the lectures so that students who were unable to join can watch it later, but I have started to say at the beginning of each class that I will turn off the recording toward the end, so that students who have questions they do not want recorded can ask them then. Almost none do.

Zoom (or similar tools) will probably always be an addition to teaching for me, not the main thing. If this situation will continue for a long time, I will need to be more creative with giving the students assignments that can be done in class or before/after, like using “breakout sessions” in Zoom, and asking them to discuss something or reflect on something etc. I know I could use Kahoot etc., but I don’t know.. I guess I just think of that as something entertaining, and not really useful for real learning. Well – as Alexandre Dumas put it: “He who lives will see.” Stay safe, everyone.

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Teaching masterclass style

The more I teach, the more I realise that you always have to try new styles of teaching. In the beginning, I guess I was looking for the ultimate format for teaching – the “one true ring to rule them all” of pedagogy. I am glad to say that I long since put that idea out of my head. I haven’t got a particular schedule for when I want to try new things. Sometimes I try several new ideas in course of a month, other times I stick with what I know for a while. Sometimes new things work so well it becomes a basic part of my teaching – other times… not so much. The joy of teaching a good group of students is wonderful, and I am bolder with ideas when I know the students are motivated.

Today, I tried teaching using the masterclass style. It is a kind of teaching I have never tried in this context, but that I was used to from my music lessons. The occupational therapy students here have rapidly become one of the most enthusiastic and motivated student groups on campus. Teaching them is always a joy. About a month ago I received the first requests for literature searching for their bachelor’s thesis. In stead of giving each group 30 minutes of my time (like I have always done in the past), I decided on doing this the masterclass way. I asked the teacher if I could have a few hours of time, and she, being the champ that she is, I immediately got a “yes” there. (Don’t you just love such teachers? I do!) The students came to an auditorium, and I called on each group – one at a time – to present their topic. I then commented on their search strategy, suggested search terms, tested a few searches, showed them some new databases that could help them or suggested databases that would be of most use. I had 12 groups during the four hours I had the room.

How did it go? Well, I guess I will have to see as the semester and the progress with the theses go on, but I think it went well. The students were motivated (or very good actors:)), they seemed to have no objection to be asked questions on front of everyone, and everyone was eagerly taking notes. We also had a chance to address a few more general questions on citations, on databases etc. I was quite exhausted afterwords, seeing as we had two 5-10 minutes break in four hours, and I had to think on my feet concerning finding good search terms etc., but I think it was worth it. At least I hope so. Later this month, I will test this method with a much larger group and it will be interesting to see whether the students will be as comfortable then.

studenter uformell undervisning

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Trusting sources

I have been reading quite a lot of academic texts lately, and I have been thinking and writing about what I have read. For me, writing is a way to think more carefully about what I have read and I guess it also leads to deeper learning. Some of the texts I have been reading needs more time to sink in, others have given me ideas that are more ready to implement.

One of the texts I read last week was Olof Sundin’s “Den pedagogiske bibliotekarien: Från källkritik till källtillit” [The pedagogic librarian: from criticism to trust of sources – not the best translation, it is much more catching in Swedish…]. This is a chapter in the book “Bibliotekarier i teori og praktik” [Librarians in theory and practice]. Olof Sundin is a well-known, highly cited author and professor at Lund University in Sweden. I first discovered his research when I did my Master’s many moons ago.

Sundin started by saying that false news have become a democratic problem, and that this gives information literacy a new start or maybe rather a new drive. The libraries are often assigned the role to develop their patrons’ media and information literacy. This is done in public libraries as well as in academic libraries. Still, academic librarians teach more than public librarians, and we are in a position to reach patrons.

Sundin continues by saying that there is a false distinction between theory and practice. In reality they are intertwined and co-dependent of each other. Of course. But librarians have to speak the same language as their partners for collaboration, i.e. the teachers – and this means that librarians need more pedagogic insight.

Sundin explains the basis for constructivism, and how the constructivist theories led to more problem-based learning and project work. Carol Kuhlthau contributed with important insights when she published her Information Search Process (ISP) where she included thoughts and feelings students may have when searching. Kuhlthau’s work is clearly inspired by the constructivist approach.

Socio-cultural theory promoted situated learning, and claimed that learning is not a neutral process. Meaning that if we want to teach students how to find information, they need to learn that in a situation that is relevant and meaningful to the students.

So far in Sundin’s text, I don’t think I came across anything new to me, but then he started to write about socio-material theory. I had never heard of that. Socio-material theory (sociomateriality) is not a learning theory, Sundin explained, but it is an idea on how the social aspects and the material aspects influence each other. This is of interest to librarians because we deal with the intersection of technology and people. You can’t separate information skills from the society, from technology or the material, Sundin claims. It is all connected. Sundin also writes that Kuhlthau ignores these links, and downplays the material side of the matter (e.g. knowledge on the resources as such).

Talking about resources, Sundin explains that the digital sphere changes some things. When everything is searched for and read on the same platform, it is easy to forget the importance of information infrastructure. Many of the digital resources that we use are becoming easier to use, and therefore the infrastructure becomes invisible to us. The more intuitive and seemingly easier to use an information system is, the less control we have. We now less and less about why we find what we find. The algorithms decide for us. One of the library’s tasks is to expose the all the more hidden information structures, Sundin continues.

A common advice concerning source assessment and evaluation is to compare the findings with that you can find in other sources, a kind of horizontal evaluation. But due to the algorithms, we are already in an “echo-chamber” that gives us what it thinks we want. We cannot evaluate one source at a time, as a single unit, but comparing horizontally with other sources is not enough either. We need to also include a wider context and the information infrastructure that have influenced us.

Sundin writes about how we can lose faith in established knowledge. It is possible to find single studies that supports any kind of world view. Established knowledge supported by thousands of studies, like on the effect of vaccines or climate change, can diminish in importance with people. The library can have a role here, because our collections are not algorithm-based, Sundin says. We can become stabilisers in an unstable society. “Source trust” is explained as trusting established methods in knowledge production in society and the sources of information that springs from these methods. This can be a frame of reference, Sundin said.

Well – I think it is interesting about horizontal source evaluation and that the echo-chambers influence this. I hadn’t really thought about that. I am not sure we can really help keeping or re-establishing people’s faith in sources based on our collections, but maybe I am being too pessimistic here. I sure hope Sundin is right.

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Reading and thinking

I am having a rather unusual week this week. About five months ago I looked yet again at the rising pile of books and journal articles balancing on the edge of my desk in my office, and sighed because I never seem to get to really go into them. I decided to clear a week in November (generally a little less traffic in my office), to save up some of my dedicated research time, and to plan to read. And boy – have I read! My eyes are red, my fingers are numb with note-taking (I know, old-school). It has so far been wonderful to really dig in.

I almost always have to write to understand what I have read, and I write to organise my thoughts. Most of the blogging about the specific items I have sunk my teeth into will be written about on my Norwegian blog, but I thought I’d share something here, too.

These past years, I have been thinking a lot about standardising information literacy courses. I have thought a lot about pros and cons to these ideas, but I am interested in frameworks as maybe a good way to go. I have been digging into the ACLR Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education in particular, and I have been writing about it here and there for a couple of years. One of the criticisms toward this framework has been that it is difficult to understand, and much less concrete than the previous ACRL Standards that were widely used in the US. I have been having some difficulties, too. But as I have read more, I am starting to connect more dots.

I have been reading “The Intersection. Where evidence based nursing and information literacy meet” and “The no-nonsense guide to training in libraries” this week. Earlier this year I read more about Paulo Freire and his “Pedagogy of the oppressed”, a classic within critical pedagogy. I also read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, an excellent book, btw. If I am trying to connect some ideas together here, it becomes a bit of a pattern. “The Intersection” forced me to think more clearly about the overlap between evidence-based practice (EBP) and information literacy (IL). A big part of IL is to be able to get information and to know what to do with it. That is also a part of “Bad Science”. “The no-nonsense guide” gives you an idea on how to teach IL to a public that may or may not know much about IL, or even to be aware that they do not have enough skills in this field. In “The no-nonsense guide” I got a reminder to use different activities to aid the learning process of a spectre of students, and very practical tips on group work (for example). This goes well with Paulo Freire’s ideas on better power distribution to aid deep learning. And all of these ideas can be found in the ACRL Framework. In “Bad Science” and “The Intersection” I am reminded that authority is not enough to understand the quality of a work. This is a big part of the frame “Authority is constructed and contextual”. Including the student in group discussions is empasised in both “The no-nonsense guide”, “The Intersection” and in the frame “Scholarship as Conversation”.

Learning theories and the whole pedagogy field is a messy affair, with lots of theories pointing in different directions. I still love it.

Reference list:

Allan, B. (2013) The no-nonsense guide to training in libraries. London: Facet Publishing.

Association of College & Research Libraries (2015) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Available from: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.

Goldacre, B. (2008) Bad science. London: Fourth Estate.

Phelps, S. F., Hyde, L. og Wolf, J. P. (2018) The intersection : where evidence based nursing and information literacy meet. Cambridge, MA, United States: Chandos Publishing, an imprint of Elsevier.

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The books I am attacking this week:)

Critical thinking: testing a new workshop

Illustration: colourbox.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about how I need to reboot my teaching efforts. I am not talking about a complete abandonment of my previous efforts, but just a newer and fresher look. I love teaching. Teaching students make me feel like I am part of their process, and however small my contribution is in the whole picture of their education, I feel like I was there. I love talking to students after sessions to hear what they understood, and the best part of it is that sometimes the students are able to connect the dots right there in front of you. It might not be a Eureka! kind of moment, but just a little insight that suddenly made something else clear for them. I will not deny that I sometimes come into classes where none of the students are interested, and I can’t seem to wake them up, or where everyone just stares in complete silence and refuse to engage with you. Most times, though, there are at least a few who choose to participate in discussions or at least ask some questions that allows you to clarify things and move things forward.

I have been teaching for at least 14 years. I have never used manuscripts, because I can’t make them work for me, but in the beginning I think I held very tightly on to my keywords and went through the information like I just pushed the “Play”-button on Spotify. The class started and “Play” and the lecture just came out of the speaker that was my mouth. Fortunately for me, I hardly ever get nervous, so I could do this pretty effortlessly, but of course it probably was of little or no use to the students to hear me babble on about Boolean logic etc.

In the years that have passed since I started teaching, I have tried to continuously improve my practice. Small changes here and there, assessment, new changes, assessment etc. I believe that it is important to evolve as a teacher even though I have taught for years. Every now and then, as I described earlier this year, I get an itch for change. If I don’t act on it, I feel disengaged and lose my motivation. It doesn’t have to be something big. Maybe just a couple of new activities or new assessment forms, or a new collaboration. Anything, really. It usually starts with reading some new journal articles or new books, or attending a conference.

When I came across DeBono’s “Six critical thinking hats”, I felt like trying this with students. I have long felt that we spend way too much time still on the classic one-shot instruction with “Click here, click here” sessions (database demonstrations). I wanted to include more on critical thinking. After reading an article (1) discussing the thinking hats I made a new session in form of a workshop. I found a newspaper article (in Norwegian) on care technology (like GPS, security alarms etc.) and made questions according to the six different hats that the students could answer in groups. I tested the session on my colleagues, and decided to cut quite a few of the questions to make it more suitable to do in one 45 minute session. Earlier this month, I found an article (about ageing and nursing homes) relevant for master students in nursing, and made new (but similar) questions to all  six hats. I gave the students 10 minutes to read this short article (approx. two pages), but most were done in six minutes or less. There were only eleven students present for this class, so in stead of doing it in groups as a workshop, we had an open discussion. It went really well! The students were happy to get a new framework for critical thinking, I was happy to engage with the students in their discussion, and it felt really fresh for me. I don’t expect this to work as well every time, but it felt great to try something new. The evaluation forms I got also suggested that students need more focus on critical thinking skills, and that they were happy to engage in a more active session, rather than a lecture format. Wohoo!

1. Kivunja C. Using de bono’s six thinking hats model to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills essential for success in the 21st century economy. Creative Education. 2015;6(03):380-91.

Bouquet of sharpened pencils

coloured pencilsIn the 90´s movie called “You got mail”, the male protagonist exclaims that autumn always makes him want to buy school supplies, and if he knew the female protagonist he sends e-mails to in person, he would get her a bouquet of sharpened pencils. I get that. August, though technically still summer, has that effect on me too.

The new semester has not formally started yet. We will receive our new students next week. Still, the light rain today got me into work mode, and I got the strong feeling that summer is over (noooo!).

There are so many things to get ready for the new students, and the returning students and staff members. I will give more open courses this semester than ever before, and I try to navigate the changes in study programmes etc. that the merger a few years back made here at our campus. Study programmes are being merged, some are shut down or changed significantly and others are new. In June, I discovered that some of the students I will be teaching this semester had been transferred to another programme and that some were still finishing their programmes according to the old models. Very confusing! What makes it even more difficult is that so much of the information is spread out over many different platforms. Some information is available on the open web, some on the intranet, some in the LMS rooms. The latter is a significant stumbling block for me, seeing as I am usually just a “visiting professor” in most courses, and the administrators very often do not think of including me in the list of people who should have access to the rooms. Therefore, a lot of information that could have been useful to me is not available until I ask directly for access. I am not writing this to complain – it is just a little frustrating to try to puzzle the pieces together on my own. No matter what I read about or write about concerning teaching librarians, I keep coming back to the point that without a well-working teacher-librarian collaboration, we are lost.

There are so many exciting things happening on campus, and I wish I had more time and a better overview of everything. The control freak in me is not happy unless I feel I know what is going on:). I recently had a tip from my former manager of a journal article about how libraries tackle the rapid shifts in higher education with regards to our services. I haven’t had time to dig into it yet, but it is a fascinating subject. Seeing as my main task is to teach, I have maybe not been as involved as I should have been on thinking about changing our services, but I have thought a lot this spring and summer about changing the way that I teach. Every now and then I get stuck in a pattern, and I stay that way until I am aware that I am stuck and then have mustered up enough strength to get out of it. I am a little ashamed to say that this time, I have been stuck (unaware of the fact) for a while, but I am determined to freshen up a little this semester. I have read more about critical pedagogy, and I was inspired by the people I met at LOEX this spring, and I will try some of the principles for students in the nursing department soon. More active learning, less lecturing – those will be some of my guiding principles this year. Fingers crossed!

LOEX 2019: Student research

The more I look at my notes from LOEX2019, the more I think I loved this conference. In each session I attended, there was something new – a new perspective, a new method, a new tool or a new book just waiting to be examined more closely.

One of the really good sessions I went to was about students’ research process. Brianne Markowski and Rachel Dineen from University of Northern Colorado had done an analysis of students’ mind maps of how they do research.

“Think about your last research assignment. How did you proceed?” This was the task that Markowski and Dineen gave their students. The students made mind maps on their processes. Markowski and Dineen wanted to understand how the students perceive their own research process, and they wanted a rich description of data on the maps. Markowski and Dineen analysed and coded each mind map, and they presented some of their findings.

Image of mind map of research process

One of the mind maps collected from a student.

Findings included the following:

  • Students think about the assignments. It was acknowledged as a distinct step on all the mind maps.
  • In some of the mind maps the students show that they have drawn conclusions before they are done.
  • They often emphasise that they take notes.
  • They often place “citing sources” at the end, in stead of something they do throughout the process.
  • Some emphasise that they have asked fellow students or professors.

What does these findings mean? Markowski and Dineen said that we should spend more time on developing their subject/theme/research questions. Maybe we should take some time at the beginning of our courses or classes to think about their research project. What are they interested in? What do they need to know more about? We also need to help the students to think about their sources. They have to reflect on what they read. One way of doing it could be to give them a one-minute paper. Ask them to describe what they want to or need to do now or “What was interesting about this process?” – or something similar.

I have never really thought about asking the students to make mind maps of their research process. I found this very interesting. I would think this kind of assignment would fit right into the “Information creation as a process” frame in the ACRL Framework.

The question is, of course: Were the students involved in this project honest about their process, or did they draw a process that they think they should do? (Alternatively, what they think we wanted to see..?)

image on the categorization of subjects in the mind maps

Categories from the mind maps


Another session that I went to with a similar theme was: “You Can’t Catch Fruit Flies in a Mouse Trap: Teaching Contextual Evaluation of Information Sources”. Gary Arave from Indiana University Bloomington talked about how students often take information out of context. Students tend to scan information sources for sentences they can cite in stead of looking at the sources in more holistic ways. As a consequence, students use sources that are inappropriate to support their claims.

Arave said that information literacy is sense-making. If you are information literate, you can make sense of information. Humans categorise. It reduces the cognitive load. When we experience something new, we categorise: is this a new thing or a typical thing. There is a scale between these two extremes. If something is completely new, we do not know what to do, if it is typical, we get bored. Somewhere in the middle of the scale is good, when it is new enough to be interesting, but we still know how to handle it. We are not either novice or expert – there is a big middle ground here.

We need to give students the tools to see the context the information is created in (I am thinking about the ACRL Framework here..). The CRAAP test (criticised by several at the conference) and the ACRL Framework assumes some prior knowledge. Not all information is suited to every context. We know this, but we do not talk about it (enough).

Arave talked about how he had distributed articles that the students should read before class, given them a tutorial on how to annotate text in Adobe Acrobat, and asked the students to find examples of different kinds of information in the article. For example: “Find an example of demographic information. Mark this with the pink marker.” This was seen as a possible method to get students to reflect on what they read, and to analyse the content of the texts. A good idea, I thought.

LOEX 2019: Collaboration

Those who read this blog on a regular basis or follow me on Twitter know that one of my first interests within teaching in libraries is collaboration with faculty staff. Without having working relationships with teachers and other faculty staff, we do not stand a chance of outreach. Without them, the library remains an island where visitors shove a plank across when they need librarians, and take it with them when they leave. We need our collaborators to make a bridge to the students, and to maintain the bridge when it is in place. Before I am in dager of overusing the metaphor, I will get on with what I learned within this are on LOEX 2019.

Ula Lechtenberg and Zach Claybaugh, Sacred Heart University held an excellent session on “Sharing our compass: Faculty development and information literacy”. (A picture of the compass can be seen in their presentation) The north, east, south and east positions on the compass were substituted with: “Mapping the Quest”, “Packing”, “Unpacking” and “Repacking”. Lechtenberg and Claybaugh used this compass to explain their journey on how they built a new course on information literacy for teachers.

Anyway – Lechtenberg and Claybaugh talked about how their mandatory information literacy course had been cut, and a portion of it had been moved to a first-year seminar. This created some problems. Lechtenberg and Claybaugh, inspired by a similar idea at the University of Arizona, decided to make a new IL course/ workshop for teachers. Teach the teachers!

Lechtenberg and Claybaugh had emphasised interaction in their course, and they used both Round Robin and World Café as methods to get the participants to interact with each other and with librarians. Ahead of the course, learning goals for students were developed. The learning goals were connected to the ACRL Framework, but to avoid all the “tribal language”, librarians had developed learning goals that the participants could understand. For example: “Students will be able to develop creative search strategies to navigate different systems and locate materials relevant to their research assignments”. The course participants could choose three learning goals that they wanted to explore, and they moved around to the tables where their learning goals were discussed. On each table, a librarian facilitated the discussions. The World Café is a similar idea, but the participants were supposed to share ideas, stories etc. that they had from the course, and these were noted on the tablecloth on the tables. These ideas and stories were shared when a new group came to sit down. The topics on each table were connected to the ACRL Framework.

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Claybaugh has made a useful library guide on teaching information literacy for instructors. It is available here.

Several presenters had cited this article from Cowen & Eva (2016). I have saved it, and I am going to get started on it soon.

It is important to find the right partners on campus. Find the ones that have access to students.

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I have been thinking a lot about this session after the conference. I think that we, due to the continual understaffing at the library, the workload and information overload for teachers, that we need to get a better grip on how to deal with collaboration and outreach. I really want to make something along the lines of what Lechtenberg and Claybaugh did here, but I guess I am too much of a realist to be able to imagine having a two-day course here for teachers. I can’t imagine many (or any?) teachers that would make this a priority. I am thinking about other ways to get this done. Maybe in mini or micro sessions? Maybe integrated at staff seminars? Maybe a MOOC?

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LOEX 2019: Motivating students

In this post, I’ll try to gather up what I learned about innovative teaching methods, pedagogy and other bits and bobs on how we use and convey our information litearcy content. See also my other posts from the LOEX Conference: LOEX 2019 and LOEX 2019: ACRL Framework.

Sarah E. Fancher, Ozarks Tech CC and Jamie L. Emery, Saint Louis University talked about the need to get the students to change their research behaviours. 78 to 84 percent of students use internet resources either exclusively or mostly when they research their papers – even after they have received some form of information literacy instruction. That means that our sessions are not very effective when it comes to changing behaviour.

I first came across Simon Sinek’s books in January this year, and I have just started reading his books, but I seem to come across his name everywhere. Sara Fancher also talked about his principle: “Start with why”. Fancher emphasised that we have to spend more time explaining to students why they they need to have better strategies when they do research for their papers. The end goal must be visible from the start. Fancher suggested that librarians should use more backwards design when they plan their sessions. Start with why, or lift the end goal – it makes it easier and better to get the session together. We start with the end goal and then map out how we plan to get there. (This was also discussed in one of the sessions of LILAC18. Interesting topic!)

Fancher and Emery talked about the Rational Actor Paradigm. If we want the students to change their behaviour, we have to change the incentives so that the students understand why they need to change. People act rationally and from self-interest.

When it comes to discussions on the value of libraries, Fancher and Emery found two different types of librarians: those who see the library as heaven – having an intrinsic value that must be obvious to everyone, and those who see the library as a useful resource – kind of like someone trying to make the students eat their greens. As experts, we (librarians) have a lot of information that is more or less tacit. It is difficult for us to realise that not everyone has the same knowledge. We have expert blind spots. It is important that we are aware of this.

Based on an article by Hinchcliffe, Rand and Collier (2018), Fancer and Emery named some common misconceptions on information literacy:

  • Students believe that everything can be found online
  • Students believe that everything is free
  • First-year students think they have to figure everything out on their own/ that they are not allowed to ask for help
  • Students believe that the library is for locating and checking out books and studying in silence
  • Students believe that everything in the library’s collection is credible
  • Students believe that they can get by with only freely available documents
  • Students believe that Google is enough

misconception on information literacy from Hinchclippe, Rand and Collier

When we start with how, and the mechanics, it is hard to find the time for the deeper meaning of information literacy. It is also very teacher-centered. It is easy to fall into this pitfall when faculty staff ask us to come and tell their students about the library. We spend a lot of time on technical skills when we teach, and we tend to present it like a linear procedure. How long does this stick with the students?

“What can motivate our students to learn?”, Emery and Fancher asked. They alluded to the ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) model of motivational design, by Keller. We have to persuade the students that learning is in their best interest. We should focus on relevance. What do the students find interesting? What do we find interesting? In the overlap between these two are the relevance.

Emery and Fancher ask their students how large a percentage they estimate that they search via Google. Most students estimate between 80 and 100 percent. In reality Google search approximately four (4) percent. It students believe they can find everything on Google, why learn to use the trickier databases? They won’t. We need to get the message out that Google doesn’t cover everything.

Emery and Fancher recommended Steiner and Rigby (2019) ‘s book on motivating students. It is on my reading list..


In a session with Sheila Stoeckel and Alex Stark from University of Wisconsin – Madison (“Librarians as Threshold Guides: Blazing the Trail with Competency Based Micro-Courses”) I learned more about the usefulness of micro-courses. I decided on adding something from this session to the post on motivation because I felt that maybe this format can motivate students to learn more.

Stoeckel and Stark talked about how the ACRL Framework is modelled on the theory of threshold concepts. One of the problems here, Stoeckel and Stark said, is that many of us mainly do one-shot sessions with students. Over all, we spend little time with each student, and it is unlikely that the students will (notably) pass the threshold in class. (Note: Ray Land (2015) said in his keynote at LILAC15 that passing the thresholds rarely feels like a “eureka moment”, but that the changes in perception comes gradually.) It is important that we collaborate with teachers to help the students pass the thresholds.

graphic describing threshold concepts in ACRL Framework

Stoeckel and Stark explained how they had analysed curricula or lesson plans and found areas that could benefit from competency-based micro-courses to engage students in research. Micro-learning can happen in many different formats; podcasts, videos etc. It needs to be flexible and scalable. The courses that UW Madison made are open access, and they are available here.

Stoeckel and Stark emphasised the need for collaboration with the right campus partners (that can give insight in the real needs of students – do a needs analysis), the importance of delegating the responsibility for updating content and working with people who have access to students.

graphic of process development

 

References:

Hinchcliffe, L. J., Rand, A. and Collier, J. (2018) Predictable Information Literacy Misconceptions of First-Year College Students, Communications in Information Literacy, 12(1), pp. 4-18.

Land, R. (2015) ‘There could be trouble ahead’. Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge and Information Literacy – a current debate. Unpublished paper presented at Librarians` Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC). Newcastle.

Steiner, S. K. and Rigby, M. (2019) Motivating students on a time budget : pedagogical frames and lesson plans for in-person and online information literacy instruction. Available at: http://public.eblib.com/choice/PublicFullRecord.aspx?p=5626355.