September 20, 2014

Starting with the WHY: #ccourses Unit 1

The first activity for #ccourses is looking at the why of why we teach. As Mike Wesch says on the #ccourses site:
We usually start by addressing the “What” question first. We have a course title or subject area and we begin populating our syllabus with the “whats” to be learned. Or, we peruse textbooks looking for the text that we think best covers the field. If we have time, we address the “How” question by considering how we can best teach the material. We sharpen our teaching technique, seek out better examples for the more difficult concepts, compile photos and videos to improve our presentations, and seek other ways to get the students engaged with the material. We may jump to incorporate the latest tools and techniques, whether it is social or interactive media or a new technique like a flipped classroom.  Our syllabus, teaching materials, and educational technology in order, we rush into the semester, rarely asking, “Why?”
As a librarian teaching library research skills / information literacy (IL), my first inclination would be to say that I'm motivated to teach students because IL prepares individuals to become active members in a participatory democracy, questioning the status quo, and knowing how to find and use quality information.

This grounding also prepares students to become creators and critics of knowledge, rather than just consumers. I think this latter point especially resonates with me. IL can pair with any discipline to help students find their voice within their chosen area of interest. I also find this near and dear personally from growing up reading, making, and distributing zines, DIY music, and cultural/community events. I felt my personal interests brought me into Freire's notion of "critical consciousness," and once I discovered the library on my own as an undergrad, I finally started to become interested in my courses because I could see how my learning was applying to my life.

Prior to that awakening, I was a disconnected and uninterested student through most of high school and most of college as an undergrad. I dropped out for awhile at one point, planning to never go back. When I did go back to school, I was just going through the motions until about my last year when I started to become energized about learning. I think this strongly affects my perspective on teaching and learning as an educator now.

In my current position, I am the faculty librarian liaison to retention* efforts across campus, so I am always reflecting back on my experiences and how that might apply to current students considering dropping out. Though, as a fairly privileged white, middle class, cisgender and hetero lady, my experiences definitely do not translate to many on campus. However, I feel like I at least have more awareness of issues surrounding retention. So in my work with these groups, my why especially leads me to think about helping students feel connected on campus, on feeling like they can get access to knowledge and information in the library that affects their lives on a personal level and that they can tie that into their studies.

Really excited about what's to come with #ccourses, taking this approach to instruction is so important.

*And of course retention does not mean only students who don't want to be in school. Students who are affected by circumstances out of their control make staying in college difficult, as well as students who might be high achievers who feel disconnected or disappointed and would want to transfer. "Retention" can apply to all types of students with varying circumstances and needs.

September 14, 2014

Instruction bootcamp training: Faculty collaboration!

The last few months have been a whirlwind! We officially started our reorganization at the UA Libraries over the summer and have been getting situated in our new roles since. Before, our teams were functional, so we had an instruction team, a collections and research services team, etc. Now our departments are based on cross-functional areas that require more collaboration. My department is a combining of what was previously the instruction team and the collections + research team since we are following a subject liaison model for campus. With this merging, those in our department with expertise are training others. I helped organize an instruction bootcamp training for back in August where I covered the new ACRL Information Literacy Framework, some basic instruction concepts, and the process of curriculum mapping since we will be working toward mapping all programs (or as many as we are able to).

I was so happy that @susanarcham was willing to let me take a look at her curriculum mapping training materials that they used at Loyola Marymount in LA, and I found a lot of great stuff that I was able to adapt for my colleagues. One of the most useful activities that I wanted to share my adaptation of was helping librarians think about faculty collaboration from our new roles as liaisons. I added in some fun characters and scenarios and thought this activity might be useful for others doing instruction and heavy campus outreach. This is following the theme of "Mission Impossible" that Susan created. My department really liked this one.

Here is a snippet of one of the faculty profiles below. I divided everyone into subject-based groups to brainstorm and role play (sciences, business, social sciences, arts and architecture, humanities), and then we all discussed as a full group.

Find the full activity with all characters and discussion questions here.






































I hope to share the rest of our training materials from the bootcamp if I have more time to blog about this. Otherwise, the next month is going to be focused on the Connected Courses class I'm taking, as well as the ALA Instructional Design Essentials ecourse that I'm teaching with Erica DeFrain.

August 29, 2014

#connectedcourse intro post

I signed up to take an open online course through Connected Courses on active co-learning in higher ed that starts next month. As part of getting set up to do the work in the course, which I'll be using my blog for, I needed to create a first post using the hashtag, so here we go!

August 26, 2014

A short post on #critlib outcomes and assessment


As #critlib is wrapping up for this week, the topic of assessment being prohibitive came up in regards to libraries contributing to social justice initiatives in communities when tragedies like Ferguson happen. I mentioned in the chat that I needed to develop a rubric for a campus committee, where we are working on our equivalent of AAC&U's High Impact Practices. I was able to include critical pedagogy components, and even the new ACRL framework to design it, so I am sharing by request. This is certainly not finalized or widely distributed, so just sharing my work so far:
(^ Click to fully view)



























Regarding the evil assessment talk, outcomes and assessment definitely can have #critlib components and work for "good" (vs "evil"). There are also affective learning outcomes (#feelings) that can tie in especially to feminist and critical pedagogy. Lisa Hinchliffe made some great points:


Although we do have institutional constraints in many cases and need to work with/around those, there are still a lot of opportunities to use assessment for more than just measuring required quantification. Perhaps this is a topic that could use more discussion in future #critlib chats!