Carol and I are back at work after attending LOEX in Grand Rapids, Michigan and then visiting family and friends around the Midwest. I already wrote about the business librarians’ lunch chat at LOEX. Here are summaries of the programs I attended. Since I’m not an information literacy coordinator, I gravitated toward sessions with a practical focus.
Friday breakfast keynote
Terry Doyle from the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at Ferris State University summarized the latest findings on the neuroscience of learning. Some of those findings aren’t surprising, such as:
- Getting a good sleep and taking short naps are really important. (So libraries should provide sleeping lounges.)
- Eat right and regularly.
- Exercise (or just walking) reinforces your learning and stimulates creativity. (So don’t apologize for taking campus walks during work hours.)
- There is no science to support the existence of learning styles.
- The brain starts to change (dendrite growth) when learning happens, but the learning needs to be revisited frequently to become a permanent change. (So repeat and review your core lessons over several days.)
- The brain loves novelty. So use bizarre and crazy examples in class. Don’t be routine.
There was lively Twitter traffic during this talk, not only because Professor Doyle frequently dissed social networks and the use of handheld devices.
Simple Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Maps and Information Literacy
by Andrew Battista (University of Montevallo). [Presentation in Google Drive]
Andrew argued “for the place of GIS projects in information literacy learning” and discussed how he has students use Google Maps and Google Fusion to create their own data maps. It was interesting and really rather refreshing to hear Andrew use ESRI’s information literacy model (of a sort) rather than ACRL’s. He described how he tries to get the students to identify data variables related to their research topics and then show changes over time. The next step would be an analysis of the change: is there a relationship? Causality?
Andrew generally works with the students in consultations outside of class. Examples of student work are available at http://www.curationculture.org/archives/1050.
Most of the business librarians at LOEX attended Andrew’s presentation. We appreciated the focus on data and statistics, types of information often conspicuously absent from discussions of information literacy.
Tailoring Information Literacy Instruction with International Flair: Partnering for Global Reach
by Anna Kozlowska (Dickinson College) [Libguide]
Anna, a native of Poland, profiled her library’s required orientation and info lit programming for international students as well as U.S.-born students preparing for study abroad. Her library delivers the workshops in German and Spanish, and has goals of increasing the number of languages offered. (Language skills are requirements in their librarian position postings.) The required sessions for international students include coverage of library e-resources, academic integrity, and plagiarism; the international students are also required to take a tutorial.
Preparing Students for the Real World: Giving Future Professionals a Palette of Practical Information Literacy Tools and Skills
by Imelda Vetter (University of Alabama at Birmingham) [Presentation in PDF]
Imelda profiled her library’s “professional skills certificate programs” for education, business, and the social sciences. (Engineering is coming.) The focus is on true life-long learning, not just skills only useful in college. These are one-shot programs, each on a specific topic (see the presentation for examples). Once a student attends at least 6 programs, he or she earns an unofficial certificate. Some students told the librarians they intend to list the certificate on their resumes. 489 certificates have been awarded in 4 years, mostly in business.
- Education series: http://blogs.mhsl.uab.edu/education/?page_id=635
- Business series: http://blogs.mhsl.uab.edu/business/?page_id=664
- Social science: http://blogs.mhsl.uab.edu/sbs/?p=119
There were also a lot of tweets about this program, particularly when the literature review began to run a bit long, but also regarding a desire for some assessment data regarding how useful the training provided to be in the workplace.
Letting Gogh of the Traditional Lecture and Lab: Flipping the Business Information Literacy Classroom
by Ilana Barnes (Purdue University) [slides]
Forgive me for being lazy and quoting most of Ilana’s abstract from the LOEX site:
“In the 2013 school year, a team of librarians in the Parrish Library for Management and Economics transformed a business information literacy course from a traditional lecture, 40-student, computer-lab class into multiple sections of a flipped, 70 student, computer-less class in order to meet the request of the department that the successful course be required for all 500 students. This process required examining the methods in which the class was delivered and the adaptation of flipped learning techniques for better utilization of library teaching resources. This talk will describe the integration of blended/flipped learning and their assessed results, with key insights for others interested in implemented similar classes or integrating video lectures, quizzes and screencasts into their one-shots or embedded work.
This session is meant for instruction librarians inside and outside of business librarianship who are looking at implementing online/flipped information literacy programs. It may be particularly useful for librarians who have struggled with how to deliver information literacy instruction uniformly across large populations (such as the 500 students) but maintain an active learning environment.”
Ilana provided to be an energetic speaker and provided visuals instead of text on her slides. This is a one-credit, required course (HTM GS 175) for all management students, most of whom are accounting majors. Around half of the students are from China. Because this class is required, the three librarians who teach these sections get a teaching assistant; this MBA student does most of the grading. (Wow, that would be nice! But also essential in this case, with so many students. I wonder how much of the grading is qualitative.)
Ilana reminded us that each academic subject has its own information literacies. In this case, the class is based on business information info lit, and so its learning outcomes will be different from other one-credit classes. Market data and financials are part of the mix, for example.
When first approached to teach this class, the business librarians didn’t want to have one single, large section based on the lecture model. Purdue has a strategic goal to improve student learning in large classes through course redesigns (IMPACT). So instead this class meets in a “cluster oriented” computer lab, with multiple projectors around the room. It fits the 70 students fine.
The librarians teach eight 75-minute sessions a week. Each week between class, the students watch three to five lecture videos, take a tutorial, and take a Blackboard quiz. Then in class, the student teams perform a group activity and have an in-class assignment. Students bring their own device to class. Ilana described how it takes a couple of weeks for most students to learn how to operate in this flipped environment; the worst grades are usually from the beginning of the semester.
They use “Guide on the Side” for database tutorials, created by Arizona. The tutorial content appears on the left side of the database frame. Using guided steps, the tutorials allow the students to do live searches on their own topics.
The librarians conduct ongoing assessment and have conducted focus groups. Many students reported they especially appreciated the building of trust that happened through the class, and getting to know their peers as they began going through their program at Purdue.
Ilana concluded with thoughts on implications:
- Don’t flip your one shot sessions. It takes time for students to learn the flipped classroom process and culture.
- Don’t assume your workload as teacher will decrease in the flipped environment.
- Take risks and don’t fear losing control.
A version for MBA students might be one the horizon for the Purdue business librarians. For the existing undergraduate class, the number of students per class will probably get bigger. So they will need a larger room, too.
The flipped classroom is certainly one of the big buzzwords right now. In a moment of self-doubt I’ve asked myself “Do I have a flipped class or is it the old-fashioned kind?” But remember that the flipped idea comes out of large, foundational lecture classes at big universities — classes with hundreds of students learning the basics of inorganic chemistry, the American political system, or whatever. (I remember classes like that in Ann Arbor). However, if your class is built around student-centeredness and active learning — hey! — you have already accomplished the main goals of the flipped classrooms. That’s my response, anyway.
Whether you should be recording lecture videos and posting them to YouTube for your students to watch between classes, well, that’s another issue. Do you need to lecture to them at all? Can you get the students to learn core concepts through discussion? (Certainly that approach is easier in a small 2- or 3-credit class than a large 1-credit class.)
Anyway, thank you, Ilana, for the very interesting case study. There is certainly more to ponder here, but I do have one more day of LOEX sessions to write about…
Creating New Compositions: Using Prezi Palettes to Reinvigorate Information Literacy Instruction
by Terri Artemchik and Amy Fyn (Coastal Carolina University)
While much of Terri and Amy’s discussion focused on the design of their Prezis to meet customizable lesson plans, I was particularly interested in hearing how they tried to get all their colleagues to adopt standardized teaching tools. That aspect of Terri and Amy’s program relates to our ongoing evolution to subject teams here at UNCG. One of Coastal Carolina’s goals with the Prezi palates was to “promote consistency and programmatic cohesiveness” while at the same time allowing customization in order to “maintain instructor authenticity by adapting to personal teaching style”. Only two of their colleagues need to be persuaded to get on board yet.
The benefits for adopting the palettes include reduced prep time and increased collaboration between teaching librarians.
Terri offered some best practices for Prezi design, including:
- Plan and think ahead of time;
- Use size and rotation to convey meaning;
- Adopt a standard header size;
- Use motion only to make a point.
Terri and Amy have promised to share their templates.
Exposure to Infographics: Focus on Active Learning
Infographics are certainly another hot topic. Are they another academic fad or will they become an established format? Melanie and Lindsey tied infographics into the ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards.
An immediate digression: but where are ACRL’s data literacy competency standards? Bad use of statistics is the biggest problem in infographics, in my opinion. This did come in the Q & A time of this session. (The Junk Charts blog is my current favorite site for analyzing the visual display of statistics.) The librarians discuss data with the students and hope to provide future instruction sessions focusing more on the statistical side.
However, I don’t mean to take away from the useful program that Melanie and Lindsey provided. They described “techniques used in applying active learning and creating an opportunity for students to make their own infographic through an introductory infographics session.” Their workshops aren’t very long but do get students started using PowerPoint and copyright clearance photos to build the infographics. The Guelph library offers these workshops as stand-alone sessions. One of the group exercises for the LOEX librarians was brainstorming how to market infographic workshops.
The Flipped Canvas: Inverting Information Literacy Instruction
This was one of the “interactive workshops,” which LOEX intends to be a “learning experience in which attendees develop or explore teaching and/or research techniques.” This session was my penultimate for the conference, so the focus on creating something and not primarily listening was energizing. As participants entered the room, we had to choose a table based on a posted theme. The choices of tables included online education, one-shot instruction, multi-shot instruction, one-credit courses, and 2-3 credit courses. I chose to sit at the 2-3 credit table, thinking of my ENT 530 class.
Sara and Kimberly began with a quick recap of the flipped classroom: the desire to improve student learning in the big lecture foundational classes. Student learning outcomes should drive your learning strategies. Be clear about student learning required to happen between classes. Use simple online quizzes to learn if students did indeed do the reading or watch the videos. Most students will face a learning curve in their first flipped class. (Ilana mentioned this on Friday.)
My table included librarians of architectural design, special education, and a few other subjects. We had a good opening discussion, but could of course have benefited with much more time. See the handout link above for our main discussion topics. The design librarian had an interesting story about his students’ research assignment. The students had to adopt a city and make a pitch for that city to be an Olympics host. His students often failed to use research in their capstone presentations. He solicited ideas on how to require certain types of research be included without becoming too proscriptive and limiting in the requirements. This issue is something I’ve thought about regarding the capstone work in my 530 class, although those presentations last month were mostly good.
The Art of the Win: Engaging Students in Citing Sources
The video of the UNC football players getting competitive in the Citation Relay race shows off the vibe that William and Lyda intended to recreate in this end-of-the-conference session. They pretty much succeeded. Check out the photos of the LOEX librarians competing in the relay.
William and Lyda also discussed other active learning strategies for learning citations (see the Libguide). These strategies are used for their credit info lit classes but could certainly be used in a one-shot session too.
Final Thoughts from a LOEX newbie:
LOEX proved to be a very rewarding conference! Small and very focused and with emphasis on small sessions and networking instead of big plenary sessions and exhibit halls. I like that. My one complaint is that the conference is held just a little too early for those of us who teach spring semester classes. (The 2015 conference runs from April 30-May 2 in Denver.) That’s usually the last week of classes and beginning of exams. One week later would be more convenient.