December 12, 2014

More on ALA Instructional Design Essentials ecourse

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Since it's a ways off and we've had people asking about when it will be offered again, I just wanted to make a quick post that our next 4-week session of ALA Instructional Design Essentials will be offered in May 2015. Instructors are myself and Erica DeFrain. We decided to wait until May since it's a slightly less busy time for academic library instruction and thought it would work better with people's schedules. Registration will open up sometime later in spring.

We are reflecting and revising from the first session of the course in September/October 2014, but here is the gist:

What you will get out of this course:

  • How to use backward design and instructional design models to create your own teaching, while being critical of the limitations of ID
  • How to leverage learning theories and knowledge of student motivation to create more compelling instruction
  • How to integrate assessment holistically into your curriculum, lesson, or learning object so that you can help students reflect on their own progress, while you reflect on your teaching
  • How to critically select and position technology within your instruction to enhance student learning
  • How to develop an awareness for critical pedagogical practices to create inclusive classroom atmospheres or learning objects 
We use a connected model of learning where participants interact and create content. Everyone is learning from everyone, and a number of students had said they made great connections to peers during the course. We had an amazing group of librarians enrolled in the fall and we really enjoyed being able to teach and learn from them!

Some feedback from students:

"This instructional design course has given me the holistic, systematic, and results-focused approach that I was hoping to cultivate towards instruction, and I look forward to further developing my teaching along these lines. My coursemates were a wonderful resource, and I found several posts helpful in thinking about measurable and contextually anchored assessment, the feedback loop, motivation and the affective domain, and the potential contexts for our teaching. Thanks in particular to [student], whose thoughtful comments were so helpful for assessment and technology applications, and to our instructors, Nicole Pagowsky and Erica DeFrain. This was my first experience in online asynchronus learning, and it has been a very positive one that I’m happy to recommend to others!"

"I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned so much. My biggest take away was to start from the end and work my way backwards when planning for a course and developing curriculum. I have learned that it is not what I want to teach but what I want students to learn. I will never look at instruction the same, and that is a really great thing!"

"I think the thing I found most useful was how the course was structured, i.e. that we applied these Instructional Design principles to a real-life scenario. Going into this course, I had some familiarity with ID concepts, but I had never applied them to my own work. Having an end goal in mind made it easier to explore ID concepts in a practical way. I think the concept that will stick with me most is backward design; it has made me reconsider how I approach instruction, by making sure that I think first of the goals for the course, workshop, etc. before proceeding to how the material will be presented. I struggled most with learning theories, in this class. I think that I have a decent handle on them now, but I’m still not entirely sure of the intricacies of each theory."

"I already want to say thank you to Nicole and Erica for the great course. I learned a lot out of the reading! + the peer-endorsement activity was an eye-opening experience (thx to the blog technology :)"

"What struck me the most was how much my initial class design changed from week 1 to week 4. Without realizing it, I had done an about-face! When I pulled my old posts together and tried to write up this final project post, it became clear just how much the readings and the other participants’ blogs had changed my views."

If you're interested in registering for the course, feel free to contact me or Erica with questions; or get in touch with ALA for any logistical concerns.

December 9, 2014

#acrlilrevisions Next Steps

It seems like we are almost at the final version of the ACRL Framework revisions. I submitted my feedback a couple weeks ago through the ACRL Student Learning & Information Literacy committee that I'm on (we are sending it collectively) and feel for the most part that I have a decent grasp on how we might use these at the University of Arizona. Even though it's not finalized yet, we've been needing to work with the draft as is for projects here, such as badging, programmatic instruction, and constructing our department's IL plan and philosophy not too long after we had a restructuring. I'm helping coordinate our plans for programmatic instruction here so I keep thinking and re-thinking about these frames.

When designing instruction, I like to come up with "big questions" or "understandings," as Wiggins and McTighe refer to. From looking at the frames and trying to think about how can librarians and teaching faculty collaboratively understand these concepts and work toward shared goals, I put some big questions together to try and capture broader thoughts. From there, a colleague and I also worked on writing some outcomes we could map through curriculum mapping once everything becomes finalized. I'm also using these in other work that can't wait for the final draft. I thought I'd share some of this here as some librarians in my department are also sharing this with librarians at ASU and NAU tomorrow at a joint mini-conference that I can't attend since I will actually be presenting our version of the framework so far with big questions and outcomes to general education faculty for their feedback.

Below is our draft thus far. I thought I'd share it in the hopes that it might help others grappling with this stuff. I changed "searching is strategic" back to "searching is exploration" for our purposes because we all liked that version better here. We are also trying to think of more simple frame names that we could use. Even with our bigger additions and small adjustments, it's not perfect, but we're getting there.

Since it seems there is/was some disagreement via Twitter about whether "conversation" or "discourse" might be better wording for the first frame... I am on the side of conversation. If we're talking about opening up the act of research and having students become creators, I think discourse is limiting. Discourses set rules and restrictions, not really inviting in great diversity. As Aleman (2014) says, "Those in power or in control of the discourse normalize certain principles and ways of being through discourse to perpetuate norms, and to demand compliance, conformity, and submission to these norms" (p. 113). Discourse limits diversity in perspective and often in mode of publication. I also love this quote from Ball in Egea that I shared not too long ago: 
So I say keep it "conversation." Ok and now here are our frames and outcomes:

Frame 1: Scholarship is a Conversation
Scholarship is a conversation refers to the idea of ongoing discourse within a community of scholars who create, consume, and critique new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of competing perspectives and interpretations, building on each other.
Big Questions:
Ø  What barriers exist when entering into the “conversation” of scholarship?
Ø  How can we gain greater understanding of topics by examining the connections and ongoing narratives between different scholarly pieces?
Ø  How do our responsibilities shift when moving from just consumers of information to critics and/or creators of it?

Students should be able to:
·         Recognize the metaphor of “conversation” to describe the purpose of research
·         Identify the contribution of specific scholarly pieces and varying perspectives to a disciplinary knowledge “conversation”
·         Contribute to the scholarly conversation at an appropriate level, through the lens of becoming a creator/critic

Frame 2: Research as Inquiry
Research as inquiry means that research is an ongoing exploration, depending on continuous questioning where answers develop new questions or new lines of interest in any field.
Big Questions:
Ø  How could understanding of a topic be improved through uncertainty in the process of research?
Ø  How can varying needs shape the importance of certain types of information?
Ø  How can we know what we don’t know? How do we go about figuring out what is not there instead of only what is visible by finding gaps in thought or content?

Students should be able to:
·         Formulate research questions based on curiosity and gaps in information or data available
·         Describe via reflection how the research process is iterative, requiring persistence
·         Apply research methods that are appropriate for the need, context, and type of inquiry

Frame 3:  Authority is Contextual and Constructed
Authority of information depends on where the source came from, the information need, and how the information will be used. It is constructed and contextual. Authority should be viewed with an attitude of informed skepticism and openness to new perspectives.
Big Questions:
Ø  How or why do we decide if someone has “authority” on a topic?
Ø  What might be expected of us as we become authorities ourselves?
Ø  How might biases privilege some sources of authority and silence others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, etc.?

Students should be able to:
·         Determine attributes of authoritative information for different needs, with the understanding that context plays a role in authority-based attributes
·         Recognize that traditional notions of granting authority might hinder diverse ideas and world views
·         Acknowledge that oneself may be seen as an authority in a particular area, and recognize the responsibilities entailed

Frame 4: Information Creation is a Process
Knowledge can be expressed in different styles, which has an impact on how information is used and shared. It is important to look to the underlying processes of creation as well as the final product to critically evaluate the usefulness of the information.
Big Questions:
Ø  How might information be perceived differently based on how it’s packaged? E.g., why might there be an expectation to use scholarly sources in a college paper?
Ø  Why do certain types of information automatically seem to have credibility where others might not?

Students should be able to:
·         Articulate the purposes of various types of information as well as their distinguishing characteristics
·         Distinguish between format and method of access, understanding that these are separate entities
·         Identify which types of information best meet particular information needs

Frame 5: Searching is Exploration
Locating information requires a combination of curiosity, discovery, and luck. There is no one size fits all source for the needed information. Finding information is nonlinear and iterative, requiring the use of a broad range of information sources, flexibility, and the willingness to make mistakes and try again.
Big Questions:
Ø  How can we best determine what we’re looking for so that we can identify an effective search strategy?
Ø  How might differing information needs change an approach to searching?
Ø  How can failure and mistakes help us in finding information?

Students should be able to:
·         Make connections between the importance of matching information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools
·         Implement more advanced searching skills to respond to a discipline-based information need
·         Reflect on the usefulness of making mistakes in the search process and how searching is not solely transactional

Frame 6: Information has Value
Information has value means that information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. The flow of information through systems of production and dissemination is impacted by legal, sociopolitical, and economic interests.
Big Questions:
Ø  How could value of information be wielded by powerful interests in ways that marginalize certain voices?
Ø  How might the use or absence of citations impact the conversation of research?
Ø  How could something like open access change creation, publishing, and learning?

Students should be able to:
·         Distinguish between plagiarism and copyright violations
·         Identify scholarly publication practices and their related implications for access to scholarly information
·         Identify why some groups/individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information

November 19, 2014

Confronting false neutrality in professional expectations

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I've got neutrality on my mind lately, particularly from many excellent #critlib chats talking about a sense of false neutrality in libraries and library instruction. And also in thinking about educational technology in the sense of how we use it, and how it is designed. Likewise, my ACRL-track panel proposal for ALA 2015 with Emily Drabinski, Jenna Freedman, Kelly McElroy, and Annie Pho was accepted: "But we're neutral! And other librarian fictions confronted by #critlib."

But I specifically wanted to draw greater attention to a good discussion starting on Andy Woodworth's blog in the comments about re-imagining librarian "rockstars" that hasn't gained much traction (yet?). 

Although Andy does acknowledge it is a loaded term, I think the problem comes in trying to neutralize the idea of the rockstar--or leader. In the comments, Andromeda brought up an excellent point:
“all of the nuance that comes with human beings and their personality. Should a role model librarian be assertive, but not overbearing? Be outspoken, but not self-aggrandizing? Be confident, but not arrogant?” 
To me, these are questions that can’t be addressed without also addressing their gendered and racial overtones. You and I doing exactly the same thing – you might get read as “assertive” (a masculine virtue bespeaking leadership), whereas I might get read as “aggressive” or even “bitchy”. And when I hear our black colleagues talk about how they’re read doing that same thing, it’s “bitchy” or “angry” or even “scary”. 
All of those questions you ask carry additional “but not” adjectives that narrow, or even close, the space of the possible, for some people. 
It's problematic to think about what we should expect from our leaders as broad, neutral categories of traits if 1. desirable leadership traits are based on norms of white, middle-class, cis-het males and if 2. we truly hope to increase diversity within librarianship. I added a comment:
These are great things to think about, but I do think Andromeda’s points warrant greater focus. There can’t really be an “ideal” with ongoing systems of societal oppression. We could say an assertive and highly motivated person could be an example of what a good role model would look like, but if a number of our colleagues are judged differently when exhibiting those traits, then the way we think about leaders in the profession has to be nuanced and understood within the greater context of society. Likewise, when white, cis-het men wind up being the majority of keynotes or those who are most visible, that can dictate certain expectations for leaders that seem normal and neutral but are highly skewed.
I don't want the point of this post to be giving Andy a hard time...and interrupting myself, look at that. I clearly felt it necessary to qualify my thoughts and my post to ensure I don't come across as being "bitchy" or stirring the pot. I think it's important to look at how we might easily miss false neutrality in not just library instruction and library services in what we project outward to our public, but also our own internal perceptions and expectations for ourselves as "professionals" (which can be an additionally loaded term).

October 12, 2014

Moving away from teaching to the research paper

As I've been teaching a lot more classes lately that have a big research paper or capstone assignment attached in my new role as a subject liaison, I'm comparing it to my other work focusing on FYE-type instruction and student retention, thinking about engagement. This topic also came up in the Instructional Design Essentials ecourse I'm co-teaching with Erica DeFrain for ALA. Many participants in our course are starting to see the big red flags popping up with demo-based one-shots and student motivation as they have been working through designing their instruction or learning objects. As info lit instruction practice is moving more toward programmatic instruction and ensuring that an assignment is present so that there is more student buy-in and opportunities for assessment, I'm starting to question the assignment and (formal) assessment parts of library instruction... or, at least the research-paper-as-assignment.

The problem with one shots of course is that there is often an expectation to cram a ton of information into a 50-75min session that students will need to just remember for the rest of the semester and be able to complete their research papers "well." Not to mention library instruction becomes an isolated integration into the curriculum, particularly so when this type of instruction is in the form of skill-and-drill. There are many discussions going on--that have been going on for awhile now--pointing out that just teaching students how to use a database via a demo is not effective, and is boring for everyone (agreed!). Once students get to a point where they are writing a huge research paper, I almost feel like we've missed them, that they should have had more incremental, activity-based instruction, because this juncture in their instruction-need winds up being focused more on use of databases and just finding peer-reviewed articles to get the paper "done." I was teaching some undergrad students more context about what a literature review is for their required big paper, talking about their role as creators of knowledge, thinking of research as a conversation and where their research fits in, and crafting a narrative. I also did need to weave in database demos because the students had a certain requirement to fulfill. At the end of the session, I talked to the instructor to see if the session was what he was hoping for, especially since he had another section of the course coming in a few weeks later. He told me I really didn't need to talk about all that other stuff, all I really needed to do was point them to the databases because that's what they need for their paper. Students become so focused on the need to gather x amount of articles that other discussions become irrelevant and inefficient.

This is the issue with huge summative assessments, particularly the research paper. Barbara Fister has written about this problem at length, where she talks about Why the "Research Paper" isn't Working. I don't believe we have problems with student engagement when research papers are not attached to library instruction because our (potential) content isn't interesting, I think it's because traditionally (not everyone and not always, but typically in the past) a library instruction session divorced from an assignment *still* focused on a database demo. A database demo with no purpose, of course, is going to be agony for students (and the librarian). There are so many other things we could be doing, that some of us are doing, that serve as better options.

My perspective is that by the time students are writing huge research papers, they should have already had enough library instruction to where they could benefit from just a review of what they know. We should be scaffolding from the first year up instead of dumping all the boring mechanics of searching on students, with little other context, all at once. Now of course, much of this is out of our control, we get asked to do a one-shot where an assignment is already established, or even with efforts for collaboration, faculty might not want to work with us, or might just not feel they have the time. But when we can have a larger role in collaboration, especially for programmatic instruction, I try to suggest more scaffolding and lower-risk library instruction activities to enable greater discovery and discussion. Some of the best instruction sessions I've had have been with student success courses that don't have a big research paper, working with athletes, and working with a class examining social media that needed less help with "finding" and more so with creating a bigger discussion about information and communication. Unfortunately, I think this problem goes back to faculty not really knowing what we do and assuming we're just there to help students find things, as well as perceptions of librarians tying us to a "helper" role, so I think it just depends on the faculty we are working with and what our collaborative relationships are like. But I do think trying to move away from teaching to the research paper is one step in the right direction.

The Twitter convo continues from above...

September 26, 2014

#ccourses: Modeling student engagement and community

Image via makeuseof
I've had a chance to get to the rest of the #ccourses readings for Unit 1 and am thinking about "disruption," community, and real engagement of students. Although I do agree with Laura that disruption is a not-so-great term, I'm understanding that as used in this week's #ccourses readings, it's in the sense of describing the use of high-impact practices for education rather than traditional seat time. There is a huge initiative on my campus speaking to this, and I am very excited about it.
(Also see this discussion on A Beschdel test for higher ed disruption.)

Although I started off thinking about the WHY of my library instruction for UA students, I am changing gears in this post to reflect on a 4-week ecourse I am teaching with Erica DeFrain: ALA Instructional Design Essentials, for librarians. 

On one hand, we have some constraints: the course is only 4 weeks long, just about everyone in the class is a busy, working professional trying to squeeze in this professional development on top of their work week, and additionally, we are required to use a LMS, Moodle. On the other hand: we have a lot of freedom, we can design the course however we'd like using just about any model we'd like (and we have taken advantage of this!). 

With 69 students in the course and only two of us, we are incorporating a great deal of peer connection and assessment. It's definitely not only because it's a high ratio of students to instructors, but also because we believe this model will be most beneficial to students. Our students have varying levels of expertise, from some who are within 6 months of their first ever library job, to those who have well over 5 years of instruction experience and want to get a fresh perspective. With that, allowing students to share their expertise and form their own personal learning network is important. We want to give them as much ownership over the course as we can, while also keeping it organized enough for a busy, working professional to be able to just swoop in, get the gist, and make a little progress, if that's all they are able to do.

As Randy Bass describes, features of participatory culture communities include:
  • "low barriers to entry
  • strong support for sharing one's contributions
  • informal mentorship, from experienced to novice
  • a sense of connection to each other
  • a sense of ownership in what's being created
  • a strong collaborative sense that something is at stake"
We are integrating these features in our course through relying heavily on a peer network. We encourage student ownership of discussion boards, Twitter engagement, and commenting on blog posts. We also have peers endorse the posts they find most useful to them in their learning for the week. Although I am using and researching digital badges in other ways and am including them in this course, they are not the focus, but briefly, they help visualize the peer process.

#ideala ecourse badges that participants can earn

We feel the badges provide a sense of ownership over what is being created (along with the course Zotero group we created so students have access to readings after they no longer have access to Moodle, and it is here that they are encouraged to add resources that they find important to save and share with peers). This can provide mentorship as well, between who is endorsing as the mentor, and for the endorser to feel mentored by the peer(s) they select.

I love how Cathy Davidson talks about How a class becomes a community, and we are mirroring her discussion of teacher as facilitator and guide-on-the-side. Three of her principles for her course especially stood out to me: "Educators must develop methods of assessment that fit our digital age and prioritize lifelong learning; A model classroom environment draws on every participant's unique expertise for the greater good of collective goals; and There's a difference between high standards and standardization, and it's our goal to discover the digital possibilities to support the former and transform the latter."

We are going to see how this plays out more as the course continues (we are only in week 2 right now), but so far it seems successful. I'm excited to continue with #ccourses content and see how to implement these concepts and praxis into our course, as well as have a lengthier reflection on assessment.

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!

August 15, 2014

Instructional design for librarians

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Instructional design (ID) is an important component of good instruction to understand, but because most librarians (myself included) were not trained in this in library school or afterward, it is something that we should catch up on to close the gap in our knowledge and skills. ID helps an instructor connect learning goals/outcomes with instructional practices and assessment in order to create a learning experience that could be more efficient and effective for learners. I'm sure most would agree that initial instruction experiences for librarians are trial-by-fire. 

ALA invited me to teach a course on an instruction-related topic for these reasons and so I thought instructional design would a good way to cover principles for both face-to-face and online teaching in any type of library. I asked Erica DeFrain to join me in teaching since she has some serious skills, as well as degrees in Instructional Design and (finishing up) her PhD in Educational Psychology. If this interests you, more information follows!

Course Instructors: Nicole Pagowsky & Erica DeFrain
September 15 - October 15, 2014

This four week, online course will allow you to work at your own pace while receiving feedback on projects and having conversations with your instructors and coursemates. Upon completion of the course you’ll have a fully developed lesson plan that includes pedagogically sound instructional strategies and a meaningful assessment plan.

What you will get out of this course:
  • How to use an instructional design (ID) model to create your own teaching, while being critical of the limitations of ID
  • How to leverage learning theories and knowledge of student motivation to create more compelling instruction
  • How to integrate assessment holistically into your curriculum, lesson, or learning object so that you can help students reflect on their own progress, while you reflect on your teaching
  • How to critically select and position technology within your instruction to enhance student learning
  • How to develop an awareness for critical pedagogical practices to create inclusive classroom atmospheres or learning objects
Erica is fancy - here is her instructor bio if you aren't familiar with her work:

Erica DeFrain is a librarian with over ten years of professional experience developing and designing instruction. In April of 2014 she joined the Research and Instructional Services department at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln as an Assistant Professor and Social Sciences Librarian. A doctoral candidate in Educational Psychology, she has an MLIS and MS in Educational Technology from the University of Arizona. A huge fan of the Guide on the Side, one of her Guides was featured as an ACRL PRIMO Site of the Month in April.

Nicole Pagowsky is a Research & Learning Librarian at the University of Arizona, and is the liaison for online learning, student retention and success initiatives, general education, and the College of Architecture and Planning. Both her MLIS and MS in Instructional Design & Technology degrees are from the University of Arizona. Nicole's research focuses on game-based learning, student motivation, and critical pedagogy. 

Hope anyone interested will join us, feel free to contact either Erica or myself if you have questions.

July 6, 2014

Hiring and retaining diverse talent by supporting risk

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We are hiring (soon)! Let me preface this post with the fact that I have little power: by way of not being a supervisor, not being a hiring committee member, and furthermore, not yet having tenure. However, the UA Libraries is a collaborative atmosphere, and since we are going to be hiring a number of new positions (including 2 positions on my team, the Research and Instruction Department, name subject to change), we are all invited to contribute content for the position description and our wording on diversity. My library does have a commitment to diversity and we do have current wording we typically use in our job posts--diversity meaning both underrepresented groups including POC, and also diversity relating to mindset and lived experience. Likewise, I have felt through being interviewed myself for my job and participating in others' interviews more recently that we do seek out risk takers and creative thinkers. But as I think more about what hiring for diversity means at my institution, I wanted to work my thoughts out on how we as a profession overall could improve our efforts because clearly we need to do more.

The book I just finished editing with Miriam Rigby, The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Perceptions and Presentations of Information Work with ACRL Press (read chapter 1 and the foreword as an OA PDF here) discusses implications of our stereotypes and how they negatively impact the collective profession, by way of lower status, pay, and diversity. The more our stereotypes stick around, the more negatively they impact efforts to increase diversity; and the more difficulty we have in increasing diversity, the more our stereotypes are perpetuated. A lack of diversity in librarianship harms everyone. Isabel Gonzalez-Smith, Juleah Swanson, and Azusa Tanaka examine this in greater depth for librarians of color in chapter 7 of the book; and Annie Pho and Turner Masland reflect on diversity and activism pertaining to all underrepresented groups in chapter 12. The authors, as well as many of us, question: why have so few efforts made an impact?

A couple ALA sessions inspired greater thinking for me. As there are many dimensions to increasing diversity within librarianship, I'm going to take a narrow focus to the issue at large. I attended Nicole Cooke, Robin Fogle Kurz, and Safiya Noble's amazing #alaac14 session, Power, Privilege, and Positionality: Applying a Critical Lens to LIS EducationThe panelists described the struggle they have faced with their scholarship, as it has been viewed as controversial, where they have dealt with roadblocks in support, tenure, and even the ability to present at ALA conferences. Although this session discussed what needs to be done in library schools to encourage greater diversity in the field and greater diversity of thought/more radical thought in the classroom, points can be applied to hiring from the institution's perspective. Some snippets from Twitter:
The expectation for this research and action should not fall solely on LIS professors, but all of us. It should be an expectation for practicing professionals as well. One thing that might attract and keep more diverse talent is encouragement to research, teach, and implement more critical approaches to librarianship that the presenters discussed.

In also attending another session at ALA, Introduction to Women's Issues: The Staff Potluck, organized by the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), Social Responsibilities Round Table Feminist Task Force (SRRT/FTF), and ACRL's Women and Gender Studies Section (ACRL/WGSS), the question arose of why did only 15(ish) of us show up? Of course it's a big conference with a lot going on at once, but it's always such a small group at these discussions. TBH, I haven't attended one in awhile, myself. But I made the point that it's a risk to attend. This type of work is not always valued at institutions, and it would be more plausible for people to attend a session on assessment or discovery systems, for example, than these types of sessions. Until our institutions explicitly value this type of thinking, talk, and action, we will continue to have a small number of individuals able to commit to these issues.

I live in a questionable state--AZ--when it comes to taking a more radical stance on issues. Our campus is generally liberal-leaning, even recently expanding the transgender studies program, but we are still funded by the state. I'm even a little nervous about writing this post since I'm still just assistant faculty. And I know much of the research I have done recently related to the book (linked above) sort of counts toward tenure, but not really. Where one chooses to devote their efforts is a risk in itself.

So this brings me to how hiring could change for libraries to attract and retain diverse talent. I think explicitly stating in the job ad that not only is the library committed to seeking out and hiring diversity, but also that the library is committed to retaining diverse talent by supporting (or even advocating) the risks these individuals may take would make an impact. Will the library step up if these new hires engage in potentially controversial research? Will the library encourage new hires to take risks and integrate critical pedagogy into library instruction (for example)? Will the library overall agree that these sorts of activities are positive things that will improve campus, student learning, and the field as a whole?

We as librarians are certainly not neutral as the presenters, and others writing about critical librarianship, have expressed, so instead of supporting the status quo by remaining silent (silence = consent), we should make a concerted effort to change the power structures within libraries and our campuses. Of course this goes for all--not only new hires. For those of us hiring in locations where more diverse individuals might not have instant attraction, if we could demonstrate an even higher level of support for actions and thought comprised of what we say the profession needs, we can better support those we seek to recruit.

(And if these sorts of topics interest you, please join us for #critlib chats on Twitter where we discuss critical discourse and action in libraries typically within critical pedagogy, but expanding to the library as a whole.)

Thanks to colleagues for reading over this post before I published! If anyone out there is at an institution with diversity hiring language along the lines of support for scholarship and service within more critical topics, I would love to see a copy as we solidify our position descriptions. Or please post here as a comment and share with everyone.

July 3, 2014

#badgecurric workshop recap from #alaac14

#alaac14 was great! The first thing I did was Storify the digital badges workshop I did with Annie Pho and Emily Ford before it got away from me, and hoping to put together a bigger post on the conference overall next week.

In the meantime, here is the recap if you missed the session. Thanks to all who attended and participated, we were really pleased with how it went!

June 24, 2014

#alaac14 schedule

I had high hopes of writing at least 1 more full post by now, but have had no time! Anyhow, thought I'd share my ALA 14 schedule in a static location. Excited to see and meet people there!

The specific sessions I'm involved in are:

Friday, 5:30-6:15pm:
ACRL booth-ing (#1847 in exhibits) to promote newly published book (see party below) with my co-editor, Miriam Rigby. You have until Wednesday to enter our raffle to win one free copy over Twitter! We will also have book pins with us

Saturday, 10:30-11:30am:
ACRL NMDG panel on "The Stories We Tell: Academic Librarians and Identity"
ACRL NMDG and Librarian Wardrobe teamed up to have two of our authors discuss their research for chapters they wrote along with 3 other panelists

Saturday, 3-4pm:
ACRL Student Retention Discussion Group, topic is using information literacy learning outcomes for general education. Will be here with my co-chair, Jaime Hammond

Saturday, 9pm-forever (champagne toast and vegan/GF cakepops at 10pm): 
Book release party for The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Perceptions and Presentations of Information Work (ACRL Press)
(This party is part of the larger After Hours party with EveryLibrary, and we will be raffling off 2 free copies of the book!)

Sunday, 1-2:30pm:
Dive into Digital Badges! A Badge Curriculum Workshop - Presenting with Emily Ford and Annie Pho on digital badges for instruction. This session is for all types of librarians at all types of libraries and will be very hands-on. Our hashtag will be: #badgecurric

April 3, 2014

Introducing #critlib chats!

Tuesday night marked the first #critlib chat we had on Twitter to talk about critical pedagogy in libraries. Myself and the awesome @barnlib, @catladylib, @edrabinski, and @kellymce  organized the chat, and I served as moderator for this week. I'm really excited that these are happening, because not only is it important to talk about this stuff, but selfishly, I've been really wanting there to be something like this for awhile.

We created a cheat sheet for the chats to provide information about upcoming topics, how the chats work, and then to post the questions in real time as a reference point beyond the constantly updating Twitter hashtag feed. It's pretty fast paced to do these Twitter chats, and can make having in-depth conversations difficult, but it is a good entry point, is fairly accessible, and open to all. We had a good amount of people participating and some excellent conversations going. It's helpful to have 3 tabs open for this: the cheat sheet, the hashtag feed on Twitter, and then your own notifications feed to make it easy to reply to people without losing #critlib. Thanks to @aszingarelli, we also now have a Storify you can check out to see how the conversation went.

For this first meeting, we mostly talked about definitions. What is critical pedagogy, and what is critical library pedagogy? How do you incorporate critical pedagogy in your library instruction and in other aspects of library work? It was a good first meeting to establish a somewhat common understanding, and provide more context for those who are interested but don't feel comfortable participating yet. Some people mentioned they were just going to lurk, and I think that's great there is so much interest. I hope the chat will make everyone more comfortable sharing their thoughts, it's not meant to be a judgmental place or where anyone assumes they're an expert.

We posted Gregory & Higgins' intro to Information Literacy and Social Justice as supplemental reading since they introduce the concept very well. I was reading Toni Samek's foreword to the book as well, and thought what she said about risk was important:
We should not underestimate the collective will of projects like this one. Each contributor should be thanked for the risk they take on the page. I have, on a number of occasions, said publicly that information literacy is far too often realized in service of the state. This is rarely a popular observation. (And so I have been told.) But for almost twenty full years I have worked under the protection of my right and responsibility of academic freedom. The same cannot be said for all of the seventeen chapter contributors to this work. I admire them for their conviction (2013, vii).
This is important to think about, as these might not be popular opinions. It is somewhat of a risk to discuss these things, particularly for those who are not in tenured positions. So it's great to have a place to chat to support others with these similar convictions. We hope more will join us next time. Tuesday, April 7th will be the second #critlib, and then we will be moving to every other week after that.

Also see our Zotero group with further resources and readings (some of these might wind up being readings for future chats).

March 5, 2014

More on threshold concepts and #ACRLILRevisions

The three threshold concepts in the new ACRL draft Framework for Information Literacy (Higher Ed) are noted as:
  • Scholarship as a conversation
  • Research as inquiry
  • Format as process
From conversations on Twitter, Andy Burkhardt made a great post about how he has implemented "Research as inquiry" in his instruction. These practical examples are so helpful in understanding such a theoretical framework. Since I have been pushing research as conversation, or "Scholarship as conversation," in my own teaching, I thought I would share what I have done as well (for reference, I wrote about my initial thoughts on the new draft framework in a previous post).

Credit course and scaffolding
We have since paused our for-credit courses at the library, but in the last two sessions, I scaffolded research as conversation throughout the semester. I started off with introducing the concept, then made greater analogies to other modules, and in the end, had students create a short, animated video or comic strip (or script if they were not feeling visuals) illustrating a facet of research as conversation. (And this course is where we initially started using digital badges, as a side-note).

Searching online communities
In the fall, I had two additional opportunities of note to use scholarship as conversation, but also the other two threshold concepts. In a course in the UA's new eSociety program, my colleague, Leslie Sult, and I collaborated with the instructor to develop an in class activity and assignment. Students were researching a current event in a variety of formats/online communities (social media, local news, national/international news, news blogs, etc.), and the instructor wanted her students to do some critical thinking in groups to evaluate information and think about bias and point-of-view. I came up with the worksheet below, and we wound up having some great conversations as each group presented on their resource (YouTube and Twitter were especially interesting):

And additional questions we asked to coincide with the worksheet, after a brief lecture on related issues was delivered, included:
  • Open versus closed community: impact? E.g., Facebook closed vs Twitter open – algorithms on Fbook and Google search when signed in (stay in the echo chamber)
  • Primary versus secondary sources: what is the difference and when might you use either?
    • How are messages changed/altered when they are retweeted or shared? Is anything lost? (like playing telephone), how do you account for this in searching? How do you know what part of the message is accurate? Methods for this
  • Search strategies and tools: hashtags, groups, slang, memes, etc.
  • Trolling: how does it affect communities and how might it change your search strategy?
    • How do you know if someone is trolling a group or a topic discussion? Does trolling have significance in your search? Should you seek it out or ignore it?
  • Back to whose voices are heard? What might the effect of being in the “echo chamber” do to whose voices you hear personally? What search strategies could you use to get out of the echo chamber?
The learning outcomes based on the instructor's course learning outcomes in conjunction with Leslie's and my goals for library instruction were the following:
  1. Engage in a focused process of inquiry within an assigned online community in order to articulate the ways in which online communities function across contexts in contemporary life
  2. Strategically access and evaluate information via search in an assigned online community in order to recognize various perspectives including rhetorical, philosophical, historical, sociological, and psychological viewpoints
  3. Develop insight into the ethical aspects of information creation, use, access, and durability in order to be conscious of many group-related issues and practices relative to the use of computing technologies to facilitate group collaboration

Student athletes and avoiding plagiarism
When working with student athletes later in the semester, I more literally included scholarship as a conversation into my instructional design for a session I collaborated on with the Director of the athletes' writing center and my colleague, Niamh Wallace. I started the session talking about the process of research to frame positive uses of citations (how they help a conversation) and the negative effects of plagiarism, accidental or not (how they harm a conversation). To illustrate the concept in their minds first, I read them Burke's Unending Conversation Metaphor that I slightly adapted to more modern language they could relate to. I asked them to close their eyes and....
Imagine that you enter a party. You come late. When you arrive, others have been there long before you, and are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and fill you in. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you get the gist of the argument and join in. Someone answers; you respond; another comes to your defense; another aligns against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending on the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is endless. It’s getting late, so you have to take off. And you leave, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.
Marisa (Director of writing center) incorporated a short lecture on how to write well when using other people's ideas, and as a hands-on activity had students write about their thoughts based on what we had presented to them (having them cite us). Then, using game design for this session, the theme was the "Citation Olympics," and we had students compete in groups for prizes as they learned content. Our format was introduce concept > practice > compete in the Citation Olympics at the end. Each module was a "sport," essentially. Here is a copy of the PPT we used to guide the session for a better idea (though much detail still gets left out from not including lecture notes).

Workshop on avoiding plagiarism for student athletes from Nicole Pagowsky

Anyhow, thought it might be helpful to share, and I hope to see how others have been teaching these concepts to gain a better understanding of how the new framework can be put into practice.