July 8, 2013

#ala2013 recap: Badges, student retention, and over-capacity parties

Wow #ala2013 went by so fast! This was hands down my favorite conference that I've been to over the last 3 years. Here's my brief recap of highlights:

I didn't attend as many sessions as I would have liked; I presented twice, led a discussion group, and reviewed people's resumes for NMRT's Resume Review Service, so a lot of my time was already nailed down, but it was all stuff I wanted to do so it worked out.

On Saturday morning, I presented on the LITA: What to know before gamifying your library panel. We had a range of topics including: Bohyun Kim (moderator) giving an overview of gamification; Dave Pattern's use of Library Game / Library Lemontree at the University of Huddersfield (UK); Annie Pho covering the not-fun-but-very-important stuff on how to create institutional buy in and obtain grant money for these sorts of projects; and Young Lee explaining the technology aspects involved and how he plans to use badges in a law school library. My presentation was titled, "Anchoring the badge: Setting standards for game-based learning in library instruction." I discussed my current implementation of badges for instruction at The University of Arizona Libraries. You can see the Slideshare presentation with everyone's slides; though, since it was such a large panel not all of us contributed slides (myself included). So you won't get much from what I discussed in that link. Here is a very brief summary below; I am sure I will be speaking and writing about this project more as it progresses (have IRB approval!), so I plan to share more information in the near future.

Importance and benefits of using badges for instruction:
  • Makes instruction more scalable, can ensure wider adoption of IL skills: trackable, measurable
  • With trackability and assessment built in, this presents possibilities for customized learning ("microcredentialing," demonstrate specific skills; customization can greatly improve motivation and learning)
  • Evidence is tied to the idea of competency-based learning (use specific outcomes to show criteria has been met for assessment, accreditation, program SLOs, other standards like the ACRL IL Standards, etc.)
  • What we are doing at the University of Arizona: my overview was very brief since I'm still currently studying this and have gotten IRB approval to do so
I left those in attendance with some thoughts from Dan Hickey of Indiana University, via a Campus Technology article, How badges really work in higher education:
  • "What sorts of claims will your badges make about the earners and what evidence will your badges contain to support those claims? 
  • What assumptions about learning will frame your consideration and implementation of badges?
  • How will your badges program be introduced? Will it be a centralized effort or pockets of innovation? "
You can read more about badges and gamification in academic libraries from what I have published in ACRL TechConnect on initial plans for badges at the UA Libraries, as well as our use of SCVNGR back in a pilot:
Char Booth also has a great post on badges at her blog, Info-mational, looking at badging in higher ed and discussing how she is using this form of micro-credentialing in the ACRL Immersion Teaching with Technology track. See her post, MYOB: Make your own badge.
More on Badges for Instruction
On Sunday, I presented a Conversation Starter with Annie Pho and Young Lee: Achievement unlocked: Motivating and assessing user learning with digital badges. Our hashtag was #alabadge, and you can see some helpful Tweets summarizing the session.

Student Retention
On Saturday, I also co-facilitated my and Jaime Hammond's ACRL Student Retention Discussion Group meeting.  You can also find the group on ALA Connect. Our topic for this meeting was:
How do we measure causation versus correlation in the library’s role in student success and retention? The ACRL Student Retention Discussion Group will be discussing the impact of a “culture of assessment” on libraries and demonstrating value on campus in regards to retention. We will discuss how effective demonstration of value in campus retention is through traditional methods and hope to explore ideas participants have for new initiatives.
To help guide the discussion, we used Megan Oakleaf's article on assessment strategies:
Oakleaf, M. (March 01, 2013). Building the Assessment Librarian Guildhall: Criteria and Skills for Quality Assessment. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 39, 2, 126-128.  
We had some great discussions about what people are doing at their institutions, and seemed to have a good mix of academic librarians from community colleges and universities. The minutes should be posted within the next week or so; if this interests you, joining the Connect group will keep you up to speed. We also organize monthly article discussions during the regular academic year, with volunteers choosing articles and facilitating.

Other things included the Librarian Wardrobe + Every Library After Hours Party, which will have a solid recap on Librarian Wardrobe soon. We had a great time helping to raise awareness and $$ for Every Library, and so excited to plan more events with them at future conferences. Apologies to anyone who could not get into the party, it's very, very hard to find venues that allow for a large capacity without charging tons of money that neither LW or EL have to spare. We do have plans to accommodate more of everyone for #ala2014.

There was a lot of other great stuff but I'm going to stop there since this is already getting pretty long. I had a lot of fun spending time with friends and meeting new people at this conference. In the meantime, I am getting ready to go to ACRL Immersion in Seattle later this month for Program Track and have some other, exciting projects in progress as well. Check back here for more updates on badges and other stuff!

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