Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Discussion Points from ILA Meetup - 10/23/14

Eleven instruction-minded librarians gathered after the ILA/ACRL meeting to discuss, brainstorm, and sympathize for the IPAL IL Interest Group informal meetup on Thursday, Oct. 23. We began with introductions and jumped right into instruction ideas. (If I missed anything or my notes are incorrect, please let me know in the comments!)

Jen Bishop, Kirkwood Community College, shared a fun idea: Zombie Concept Map. Focusing on critical thinking in her College 101 courses, students are given the scenario that zombies have taken over campus and that this class of students are the last humans on earth. Students are given 5 minutes to find good hiding spots in the library, and then come back and report back to the class their chosen location, describe it, and explain why they chose that location. (This helps orient the students to areas within the library, and helps get the activity rolling.) Next they are asked to discuss in groups what is most important to know, do, and save during a zombie apocalypse. What knowledge must be preserved? What skills or other knowledge would be helpful? Turning issues into questions to be answered, the students come up with research questions such as: Would I have to kill my dog? By discussing this question, they can shift it to research similar to what they might be doing in classes, looking at human-to-animal disease transfer factors, etc. I believe somewhere in this process a winning group is chosen by the course instructor and the other groups become zombie bait.

I posed a question about online instruction. I have struggled, and have seen others struggle, with making online instruction engaging and helping students achieve higher-level thinking. We've all seen examples where the coursework is standard: read, fill out a worksheet, post something in a discussion, take a test, repeat. We've also seen great examples of engagement and interesting discussion, but unfortunately that sometimes feels like the exception to the rule. We discussed options for two-way communication, engaging assignments/activities, and other ideas.

  • Students can create videos as parts of their assignment (can help those who may have stronger speaking skills over writing, and also helps the students -- & instructor -- feel more connected, like they know their classmates rather than just a name on the screen. 
  • Sara Scheib (University of Iowa) mentioned that Dan Gall (also U of I) has students do a video assignment where they essentially flip the classroom; the students select a database and create a video teaching that database to their peers. 
  • Discussion boards can sometimes be tricky. Some just use them as correspondence between an individual student and the instructor, while others use them to help connect students (students post and also respond to the posts of others). 
  • Instructor feedback for every activity helps students feel more connected. 
  • Course wikis: good for a running log/discussion (rather than having to go and click into each discussion post), better flow perhaps?
  • Can we use full online programs/colleges as models or glean best practices from them to use in our blended or completely online courses? Can they help serve as a model for us?
  • Online courses can be helpful for introverts or those less likely to speak up in a traditional classroom; in the online environment each student is individually held accountable for their contribution to the discussion
  • Identifying what types of students are attracted to online over traditional study:
    • Self-starters?
    • Adults?
    • Other life circumstances?
  • Identifying characteristics of online learners can help us craft a better online learning environment for them
  • Tools for feedback:
  • University of Wisconsin Milwaukee has online instruction modules that balance video, text and worksheets
  • Libguides can help
    •  You can have upper-level students create libguides to helpstudents who will be coming after them. A "what I wish I would have known/had" experience; gives students choice and a sense of power and helps first-year students
  • Skype or Google Hangout office hours weren't really utilized 
Some of the other things we discussed were:
  • Satellite office hours: it's best to have regular, established hours (so they know your schedule/routine); shows students you are part of the department and can help engagement with both students and faculty in that department
    • Instances of "oh, yeah! I was going to ask" or "since you're here."
    • How to make it scalable to research/state schools? 
  • How to get more librarians willing to teach/more comfortable teaching? Breaking them out of their comfort zone a little...
    • Offering observation time
    • Collaborative prep/lesson development or developing the lesson and providing it for them
    • Asking for their input (they're experts in another area; you're developing a lesson plan for that area; ask for their help with developing the lesson; ask for them to come observe you as you teach) - This may help them feel more comfortable with the idea of it if they've had input about what should be taught, how it should be taught. 
There was also discussion of having some more similar brainstorming/work sessions during both IPAL and ILA/ACRL conferences in the spring, so keep your eyes peeled! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

IPAL IL Interest Group meet up at ILA

Are you an instruction librarian attending  ILA this week? You should join IPAL’s Information Literacy Interest Group for a short informal chat on Thursday afternoon. We will be meeting in whatever room they assign to ILA-ACRL’s business meeting right after they finish about 5:15 on Thursday. (They told me it’s reserved…but not which room. I’ve heard rumors it’s Grand A room (2nd floor). Check the schedule when you get there.)

No need to bring anything or prepare any ideas or questions. We’ll keep it light. Just a check in to see how the semester’s going, a chance to address any issues or questions, and share any triumphs you’ve had in instruction so far. Many of our spring workshop attendees indicated interest in an informal meet up at the spring workshop, so we thought we’d try it! We’ll wrap up before the social hour at 6pm.

Questions? Contact Becky at bcanovan@dbq.edu