Teaching Librarians Online About How to Teach Online

. . . that’s the title of the poster we just presented at the annual conference for the Association of College & Research Libraries in Baltimore, MD. This was a great opportunity for us to spread the word about our program: a free online continuing education program for library workers to learn how to teach online.

We shared lots of what we learned in the first 2 years of our 3 year IMLS grant, and the work we’re doing now in our final year to make our modules even better and share them on-demand, for free, via WebJunction.org starting in May. If you didn’t get to stop by, you can still sign up for our email list to get an announcement from us when we have the exact date and URL for our launch in May. We’ve uploaded our poster and handouts to the ACRL virtual conference site, but you can also access them here:

Please contact us if you have any questions about this program, especially as we get closer to our May launch!

Distance Teaching and Learning

This is a guest post from scholarship recipient Ophelia Morey, a member of the Design for Learning community who attended the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thanks to the Design for Learning program I was able to attend the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a newcomer to online teaching I felt like a kid in a candy store. This conference offers a variety of sessions for newbies to the advanced educator. There was more than 130 sessions; keynotes, problem-solving session, discussion, demos, hands on mini workshops, speed sessions, plus more. I attended two half day workshops:

  • Integrate mobile devices in your online class: I learned a lot from this workshop because it was highly interactive and gave quick and easy ideas for integrating mobile devices. For example, if you want to engage/survey students before a class begins here are some tips: a) send out a survey with about three questions because it is important to know your students. Example questions: What type of device do you use? Where do you do homework? What are you looking to get out of class? b) post a question on Twitter c) send something via email that can be consumed on a mobile device such as a video. Scott Hamm, the instructor was a wealth of information. You can check out is presentation at this site that also has a blog, list of books and research articles on mobile learning. His digital syllabus for the course Digital Media & Curriculum is also a valuable resource. It features a list of emerging technology tools that you may want to experiment with in your course.
  • eLearning through authentic and distance learning: I learned from this workshop about 21st century skill, learning domains, and authentic task principles to engage learners in online settings. Here are a few resources from the workshop: A Guide to Authentic E-learning and Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview.

I also attended a variety of information sessions and keynotes. Here are highlights from a few:

  • Serving the underserved: How is the promise of distance education being met? The presenters gave insights into how we can think about distance education as being less about technology and more about social justice. This workshop gave a lot to think about in terms of how distance education has a humanitarian mission…expanding the scope of human learning by the promise of access, affordability, availability, continuity, independence and equity for marginalized groups. This is very interesting and I plan to explore this topic further.
  • Tips to promote active learning online: This presentation lists 50 tips from an active teaching lab where faculty tell how they use technology in a course. They give the good and bad lessons learned.
  • Multicultural engagement: Beyond lecture halls to online classes: this session gave tips on how to engage American and Chinese students in a large online course. Some helpful tips include using a PowerPoint presentation with subtitle, facilitate collaboration between students by use of a wiki, have students work on assignments that require the experience of each language group, use tools that students are familiar and provide step-by-step instruction on use.
  • Digital storytelling as an assessment strategy: this session gave insight into using digital storytelling. Keys themes digital storytelling are 1) reflection, journaling and scripts help students to learning outcomes, 2) student sharing and peer reviews are important, 3) use of a rubric is important, 4) use digital storytelling as an addition to traditional methods such as oral presentations and written reports.
  • The Quest for Learner Engagement: This presentation focused on gamification. I learned that gamification is about engagement using parts of a game, but is not a game itself as compared to gamed-based learning which is teaching using a self-contained game. The presenter stressed the importance of thinking about course design and outcomes before technology.

In conclusion, information about these presentations and others are included on the conference Twitter feed and in the conference proceedings.

By: Ophelia Morey

New and Improved Content Coming this Spring!

Since 2015, we’ve been teaching library workers how to design instruction and teach online, with opportunities to practice teaching online.  Our first cohort began working September 1, 2015 and the second cohort began working February 1, 2016.  They included participants from all types of libraries, subject specializations, and library experience levels, all over the country. Based on their experiences with the program, now we’re making it even better!

The Design for Learning Leadership Team is currently very busy revising all our content to make it freely available to the national library community by the end of our grant in May 2017. Our next phase is the development of an on-demand version that will allow self-selected, self-paced experience in the program, available through WebJunction.org.

Please fill in your name and email address to get a notification when our D4L training content is freely available on WebJunction!

Annual Meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SCC/MLA)

This is a guest post from scholarship recipient Tara Malone, a member of the Design for Learning community who attended the annual meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association in Galveston, Texas.


From Oct. 21 to 25, I attended the annual meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SCC/MLA). The meeting took place in Galveston, TX, and I am so grateful for the D4L scholarship that allowed me not only to attend, but to fully participate. I had previously attended a meeting of the SCC/MLA in Little Rock 2015, and this experienced impressed upon me how valuable small, regional conferences can be. Because of the D4L Scholarship, I was able to build on relationships established at last year’s conference, as well as begin to nurture new connections. This is especially vital as someone who works in health information outreach. The states in the South Central Region—Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas—all face a large number of health challenges, and it is essential for medical librarians to connect and collaborate in order to help address the rampant health disparities in our region. Not only was I able to learn from my fellow librarians in the SCC region, but I also was able to do so in a non-intimidating, welcoming conference environment, which can be a big deal to someone as new to the profession as I am.

I was fortunate enough to take part in many conference activities. Colleagues from my department and I offered a well attended continuing education course on active learning techniques, from which we learned a lot as well. I also was able to present one of our department’s conference papers, which discussed the challenges and opportunities of using the NIHSeniorHealth Toolkit for Trainers to teach older adults in public libraries about how to find and apply accurate, understandable online health information. Another colleague from my department presented our paper about our experiences using peer learning to teach database searching in our department. So as might be obvious, it was a busy meeting—so busy that even though the beach was across the street, I only got to go for about 20 minutes!

In addition to connecting with others and getting to both teach and learn, I was really impressed and informed by the speakers at the conference. Two of the speakers were from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch, one of only a handful of Biosafety Level 4 labs in the country. Dr. Joan Nichols, associate director of the lab, provided some truly awe-inspiring insight into how her group is bioengineering lungs for transplantation and the teamwork that made it possible. Dr. David Niesel provided another fascinating (if terrifying) talk on the ongoing fight against infectious disease and bioterrorism.

I didn’t get many pictures, but I’ve included a sample concept map from our active learning class, the fabulous sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico, and a close up of Galveston’s famous oleander bushes. With current budget crises in the state of Oklahoma dramatically affecting our travel funding, I don’t think it would have been possible to attend this conference and learn all I was able to without support from the D4L program. Thank you Arden, my fellow students, and everyone else for all your support and insight over the course of our months together!


By: Tara Malone



IFLA Women, Information, and Libraries SIG UnConference

This is a guest post from scholarship recipient, Bethany McGowan, a member of the Design for Learning program, who attended the 2016 International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Women, Information, and Libraries SIG UnConference: Women & Library Technology – Empowering Women’s Participation in Open Technology & Culture at Northwestern University in Chicago.


On August 11 I attended the 2016 International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Women, Information, and Libraries SIG UnConference: Women & Library Technology – Empowering Women’s Participation in Open Technology & Culture at Northwestern University in Chicago. My attendance was funded by a Design for Learning (D4L) Scholarship. The D4L program is hosted by the iSchool at Syracuse University and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to teach librarians to design instruction and teach online. I’m a member of  Cohort 1 and was thrilled to have the opportunity to supplement my learning with a conference attendance. As a scholarship recipient, I’m required to post a public summary of my experience and what I learned, so here goes!

I decided to attend the IFLA Women and Library Technology Unconference for a couple of reasons. As an IFLA satellite conference, it complimented my role as an IFLA IMLS Fellow by allowing me to see and be a part of the Women, Information, and Libraries Special Interest Group–the Unconference is the group’s annual capstone event. I’m interested in a global perspective of how information science and library services can be used to inform and empower women, and the unconference was a great platform to meet other women already engaged in that type of work.  The day-long conference was small, with about 50 participants, and allowed for a more intimate experience before the larger IFLA main conference, which was the following week. I met librarians from Ghana, Jamaica, Belize, Tokyo, and France doing interesting work and who I see as potential collaborators.

My research into the role of feminist theory and critical theory in library and information science is still in its formative stage, so it was important for me to also meet local librarians already engaged and well versed in those topics. The unconference approach was a good fit because it allowed flexibility in deciding which topics would be discussed and provided a feel for trending topics, even if those topics didn’t get enough votes to be selected for further discussion. And, with the Chicago location, I met other librarians who work within my region of the Midwest.

My top takeaways from the conference were:

  1. The UN Sustainable Development Goals offer librarians a foundation (including financial support) for building global initiatives and interventions. Most of the presentations by international librarians were part of a UN project.
  2. Works by bell hooks, Paulo Freire, and Emily Drabinski help clarify the potential role of Critical Theory in Library and Information Science.
  3. Resources and support for librarians interested in international research and travel are available. The Council for the International Exchange of Scholars offers the Senior Fulbright Scholars Program, and a list of other opportunities are available from ALA.
My post-conference reaction:
The conference helped clarify my thoughts on the role of information design and visual communication in behavior change communication and health sciences librarianship. Before the conference, I knew I wanted my future work to center around information design theory and critical library instruction, but I wasn’t quite sure what that might mean on a global scale. I’ve been able to transition that thought into how designing for information-rich environments helps to accommodate for learner diversity.
I want to establish global partnerships with other information professionals and continue the conversation, so I renewed my membership with the American Library Associaton and accepted a three-year appointment to the International Relations Committee: the Americas subcommittee which includes North America, South America, Latin and Central America, and the Caribbean. I’ve been a member of the Medical Library Association (MLA) since library school, and I’m newly interested in how to leverage that membership to support a more global exchange.
This post is also accessible to the public via my personal blog: http://www.theafroprincess86.com/2016/10/d4l-scholarship-summary-empowering.htm
By: Bethany McGowan

Distance Teaching and Learning Conference 2016

This is a guest post from Ashley Middleton, a member of the Design for Learning program, who attended this year’s Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison Wisconsin as one of our scholarship recipients.

My head was spinning with new ideas right out of the gate at the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference in Madison, Wisconsin this past August, which I was able to attend thanks to the generosity of a Design for Learning scholarship. I have pages and pages of notes! I was also lucky to find other attendees who were open to sharing their experiences as instructional designers.

My biggest takeaways have been competency-based education assessment, how to innovate in a culture that might not want you to innovate, and that ungraded discussions engage students.

I was also able to sit at a roundtable about career paths in instructional design, which was fantastic. I talked a bit about Design for Learning, and many were impressed with the program. Software/websites showcased included Flubaroo (an add-on for Google Drive), EDpuzzle, Dotstorming, VideoAnt, Thinglink, and Touchcast.com.

Here were a few of my favorite takeaways, but this is in no way exhaustive.

Richard Culatta: The first morning’s Keynote Speaker was Richard Culatta, Rhode Island’s first Chief Innovation Officer and former Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Director of the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education. A few of the points he made during his keynote and a later Q&A session:

  • How do we better demonstrate the skills students are actually learning in ways that will be most useful? (What does a B- in English Literature mean?)

  • Instead of a time-based system, competency-based students move on when they understand the material (use badges or microcredentials as benchmarks)

  • Ongoing visual feedback for students can help with motivation and completion rates (think FitBit, Khan Academy’s My Dashboard point system)

  • Using “playlists” for students to move towards a learning objective (interestingly, Lynda.com is now doing this with Learning Paths)

  • Are we archiving instead of teaching? Just digitizing face-to-face learning without good digital pedagogy? Will we digitize — are will we use technology to tackle tough problems?

  • Students often prefer a more engaged/interactive class in a clunky tech system over an unengaging class in a smooth tech system

  • “The biggest thing that hinders innovation is trying to get everyone on board.”

  • If you want to try something new, try something small within a larger project. (What’s the smallest piece you can bite off?) Just do it as a test (pilot, beta) and don’t make a big fuss over it. If it’s just a test, people are more willing to try it.

Copyright for Online Designers & Faculty with Dr. Thomas Tobin showcased a Four-Factor Test for determining fair use, shown for example on Stanford’s Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors. He also has YouTube videos on the subject.

Getting into the Minds of Learners to Guide Teaching with Technology was a keynote session by cognitive psychologist Michelle D. Miller focused on teaching students about maximizing memory, attention and distraction, and making changes that last. They suggested ways to structure assessments for motivation (fast and frequent, starting the first or second week; do quick quizzes often, because feedback/seeing the impact motivates). There was so much to this, so here’s suggested reading:

A 5-Step Design and Delivery Approach for Quality Student Discussions

This session was run by Sandra Huston of Texas Tech University, who runs courses on personal finance for university students. Of course, Sandra dealt with more nuances than what I’m able to easily share here. I’m hoping I’ve understood this well enough to explain it, because it’s a game-changer for me.

This session focused on a paradigm shift: no grading. Traditionally, the criteria for grading has been something like you’re required to post once, and respond to another student. This is not a natural discussion! And if you’re having a discussion where there’s no right answer, why are you grading it?

So they ran a beta test with one instructor: no graded discussions, purely volunteer.  Instructors also don’t give students answers; they facilitate discussion and point students towards ways to find answers on their own. What happened?

Well, the sheer volume of posts didn’t change much, but the quality improved. They noticed that the most engaged students got the best grades, and students who didn’t bother to even check the forums did the worst. At the beginning, roughly 20% of students were Engaged, 45% were Occasional Posters/Readers, and 35% were Ignorers. (my terms)

To combat the lethargy, after every topic, instructors started grouping student grade data into engaged posters, occasional posters/students who at least read the boards, and students who don’t bother with the forums at all. They posted the average scores for these three groups at the end of each topic/week, so the students could see that using the forum correlated with a better grade, despite not getting graded directly on forum use.

As the weeks/topics went on, more students engaged with the forums. By the end of the course, Ignorers went from 35% to 1%. Almost everyone was at least lurking on the forums. They may not contribute, but often post to thank their fellow students for sharing information. The courses have more student persistence, and fewer failures.

Summary: There was so much to learn…there’s no way I can fit it all here. More excellent keynotes, such as Karl Kapp’s on gamification (incorporating PollEverywhere.com and the audience’s mobile phones). This was the tip of the iceberg. I hope I can go back next year! Thanks, D4L!

By: Ashley Middleton

ALA 2016 Report

This is a guest post from Kathy Smith, a member of the Design for Learning program, who presented at and attended this year’s annual ALA conference as one of our scholarship recipients.


Michael Eric Dyson was named by Essence magazine as one of the 50 most inspiring African Americans in the U.S. He is a best-selling author and professor of sociology at Georgetown University. We were fortunate to have him as Keynote speaker at ALA.

He felt fortunate to have a caring Librarian guiding him as a child. He was introduced to poetry at an early age. Mr. Dyson told us “we need diversity to live”. We were asked to question if the shootings at Pulse Nightclub were sexually oriented instead of organized by ISIS which we were quick to believe.

He ended by praising librarians, saying we were underappreciated but that he does appreciate us and thanked those that helped make him who he is today.

There were three sign language interpreters during his speech. One easily caught my attention. While he rapped, she moved and kept the beat with her fingers. I thought she made the words come alive for those watching her.


D4L Organizers spoke during a Conversation starter session: Teaching Online About How to Teach Online: the Design for Learning Program. We had real competition for this session, Margaret Atwood was speaking across the hall. Sixteen people had signed up to attend and more than double that were in attendance.

I was thrilled to win a D4L scholarship to attend ALA and honored to be asked to present during this session. My presentation focused on how I joined the class and what I’m learning. It is available on YouTube@ https://youtu.be/2lhKpCSi0Y4

I enjoyed meeting people who are in my online class. Mary Carol, Arden, Loriene, Ray, Jennifer and Julie went from being online names to someone I was having a face-to-face conversation with. I’m learning that building a sense of community is so important and yet one of the trickier aspects of online learning.

image-4Jazz Jenning knew at an early age she was a girl living in a boy’s body. Today at 16 she is a well-known transgendered advocate, best-selling author and TV show personality. Jazz brought up an interesting point in that it can be awkward meeting people who know more about her then she knows about them. I never thought about that aspect of fame before.

I have watched her TV show, I Am Jazz, chronicling her daily life. She has a loving supportive family and yet she seems lonely. She doesn’t have many friends and her Mom mentioned she’s stays in her room most of the time when she’s home. Jazz encouraged librarians to help others not feel alone by creating book displays with diverse characters, programming and simply being there to offer support and respect.


The Orlando Convention Center is Huge and took time to learn to navigate. Some sections had more floors than others. I was going along the third floor only to have it end and only one section had a fourth floor. People were walking so much they had 10,000 steps before noon. I ended up changing what sessions I attended based on their proximity to each other.

image-1I always enjoy the exhibits areas. This year love it or hate it, badges had a QR Code that was linked to my e-mail address. As you walked through the events area, vendors were able to scan your code and access your e-mail. Since returning home, my e-mail has been full of advertisements from ALA vendors.


I didn’t really go through the exhibits until Sunday. My husband joined me and he got as far as the NASA exhibit. A NASA scientist was talking about solar winds. He stayed there while I finished the hall. I thought other vendors could learn something from NASA to try and command that kind of attention. Makerspaces, furniture with power or usb outlets, and multi-functional items were popular exhibits.

At the Ripley’s Believe It or Not booth books were given to people who landed on the red spot on a wheel. I stepped up, announced my intention to win a book, was told that it was hard, spun the wheel, landed on the red spot, the people waiting in line cheered and the book was mine.

I am currently looking for a job and took the opportunity to have my resume reviewed at ALA. Mike from USC told me I had a strong resume. He suggested that I talk to someone working in the field of Instructional Design.

My husband works at our local SUNY College and arranged for me to talk to the head instructional designer. SUNY still requires a degree in Instructional Design. She sees that changing in the future and knows they’ll start recognizing certifications in the future.

I mentioned that I’ve been working through GSA 508 Tutorials, Guidance, Checklists @ http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103565

She told me about a class on Canvast.net Accessibility: Designing and Teaching Courses for All Learners it’s self-paced and free.

Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.

–R. David Lankes 

Building community in person or online has always been a priority for librarians. I welcomed the opportunity to attend ALA and start building my D4L community by meeting D4L participants for lunch and dinner, seeing them in the hall or attending sessions together. It was a fantastic experience for me and I hope for you the next time you attend a conference.

By: Kathy Smith

ALA Conference in Orlando

This is a guest post from Julie Marie Niederhauser, a member of Cohort 1 of the Design for Learning program, who participated in our presentation at this year’s annual ALA conference and attended as one of our scholarship recipients.

The American Library Association Conference in Orlando, Florida had a terrific slate of sessions focusing on improving library instruction, fostering staff development and encouraging professional development.  As the public library coordinator for Alaska, responsible for developing and presenting continuing education workshops for public librarians around the State, I knew these sessions on instructional design and library instruction would introduce me to new instructional techniques and methodologies while reinforcing knowledge I have learned as a D4L Cohort 1 participant.

a photo of the presentation about the Design for Learning program at the 2016 annual ALA conference, showing audience members seated before a large projection screen

D4L members presenting at the 2016 Annual ALA conference in Orlando

While I was eager to attend the ALA Conference in Orlando, the associated costs were beyond my financial means. Just when I was about to give up any hope of attending the conference, I received an email mentioning the D4L scholarship opportunity. I was thrilled when I received notification that I was a D4L Scholarship recipient.

The ALA Conference initially overwhelmed me. Held in the Orange County Convention center, which ranks as the 2nd largest convention center in the United States, the conference was immense and it wasn’t unusual to see conference participants using a Segway to get around.  The ALA conference program and exhibit directory had over 325 pages; it was the size of a Sears and Roebucks Christmas Wish Book.  I watched some conference goers rip out the program pages they needed rather than lug the entire program through the convention center.

ALA reinforced my passion for librarianship and the good that we do. The first session I attended was Exploring Learning Through Making. During this session Trent Miller and Jesse Vieau and members from the Madison Public Library gave a brief presentation on the Bubbler and their artist-in-residence program.  I found the Madison Public Library’s commitment to serving teens where they are, whether in a homeless shelter, a detention center or the library, inspiring.  Jesse Vieau shared a story about a teen sewing program which meets in a juvenile detention center.   The Madison Public Library had an artist-in-residence who wanted to teach teens some basic sewing skills. She thought it would be useful if the teens could re-sew buttons, hem pants or fix clothing tears. When one of the teens in the program finished before everyone else, she suggested he use some of the extra fabric she brought to sew a pillow. Suddenly the rest of the teens in the program stopped what they were doing. They wanted to sew a pillow as well. The sewing program has become one of the Madison Public Library’s most successful programs. Teens in the detention center want to sew a pillow so they have something to hug and they also want to create pillows so they have something they can give to others.

Participating in the D4L ALA Conversation Starter: Teaching Online About How to Teach Online: The Design for Learning Program  was exciting and nerve wracking. After conversing online for over a year, it was wonderful to finally meet D4L instructors Arden Kirkland and Mary-Carol Lindbloom and my amazing fellow student Kathy Smith in-person. Standing up in an auditorium full of library land’s best and brightest and sharing how D4L has provided me with the knowledge, skills and courage to offer library instruction online to Alaska librarians was challenging. Fortunately, the audience was supportive, interested and kind. Members of the audience asked thoughtful questions and were keen to learn more about the D4L project.   Sitting beside the other members of the D4L panel, I knew we were helping to transform libraries and online library instruction in the United States.

ALA Annual 2016

This is a guest post from Jennifer Shimada, a member of Cohort 1 of the Design for Learning program, who participated in our presentation at this year’s annual ALA conference and attended as one of our scholarship recipients.

Thanks to a D4L scholarship, I was able to attend my first ALA Annual conference this year, in Orlando.  I’d attended Midwinter once as a student a couple years ago, but this was quite a different experience!

presenters, screen, and some audience members at teh Conversation Starter presentation about the Design for Learning program at ALA annualOne of the main reasons it was different is that the first time, I didn’t know anyone, and that was a little intimidating at such a big conference. This time the conference was even bigger, but I was able to meet people in person that I had previously met online! I got to meet, present with (more on that in a bit!), and have dinner with other instructors and students from D4L, which was a great experience. I also used Facebook to find people to room and meet up with.  Being able to recognize people (even just by name from meeting them online) helped me feel like I belonged and helped me make closer connections to people I hope to keep in touch with in the future.

Two other reasons I felt like more than a spectator this time was because I joined a couple of ALA committees for the first time last year (and so was able to participate at committee-related events at the conference) and because I got to do my first ever conference presentation. That presentation was on D4L! A group of instructors and students, including myself, presented about our experiences with D4L. I talked about my capstone project, and how it’s changed throughout the various modules that we’ve participated in.

Aside from presenting, participating in committees, and networking, I also learned a lot from attending sessions! One of the sessions relevant to my capstone was “Authority is Constructed and Contextual,” based on the frame in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy with the same title. There were a lot of good points brought up in that session, but a few that are relevant to information literacy instruction (if not solely online instruction):

  • We shouldn’t just tell students what they don’t know, but acknowledge what they do know. One way to do this is through having less lecture and more discussion in the classroom. (Relevant to our community module!)
  • Academic librarians should collaborate with faculty to help students come to a better understanding of credible sources.  Peer reviewed is not always the same thing as credible. Move away from “grocery list assignments” where we simply ask students to find three scholarly sources and a primary sources. Instead, have students think about what different types of sources (whether scholarly or popular) are good for, and what criteria they would use to evaluate each. Avoid absolutes (e.g., “Peer-reviewed sources are always better).
  • Get students to create something and put it out into the world (can you have them post things in a place that is publicly visible online?). Encourage them to be authorities.

You can see a lot more points by looking up the #AuthorityIS hashtag on Twitter.  A side note that is relevant to our Social Module: I appreciated sessions with session-specific hashtags! Those are less important for smaller conferences, but for a big conference like ALA Annual, following the main conference hashtag (in this case, #ALAAC16) can be overwhelming, and it’s harder to find conversation specifically about a single session. Translating this to a course, think about the size of your audience. If it’s a course with just 20 people, using just one hashtag throughout the course probably would work. If it’s a MOOC with thousands of people, you might want to consider having both a hashtag for the overall MOOC and also one for any special events or chats you’re hosting or about each specific topic.

ALA Annual was a great experience, and I’m very grateful for the scholarship that allowed me to go!

Connecticut Information Literacy Conference 2016

This is a guest post from Jennifer DeVito, a member of Cohort 2 of the Design for Learning program, reporting back from the conference she attended as one of our scholarship recipients.

Accompanying pictures on Storify

On Friday, June 17, 2016, with the generous support of the D4L Leadership Team scholarship, I attended the 2016 Connecticut Information Literacy Conference. Held at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, CT, this day-long conference is a terrific opportunity to learn about new approaches to information literacy in academic libraries.

The conference theme – “Maintaining Focus in a Changing IL Landscape” – was reflected in the keynote as well as the morning and afternoon breakout sessions and led to some interesting discussions about the changes in librarianship and information literacy.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Lana W. Jackman, a passionate advocate of information literacy and the former president of the National Forum on Information Literacy.  Dr. Jackman advised us that to be effective facilitators of change, librarians must get out of the library and advocate for ourselves in other circles – educational, political and national arenas. She entreated those in attendance to familiarize themselves with educational standards for accreditation and, yes, Common Core, to identify the “hooks” that will allow librarians to demonstrate the value of libraries and information literacy and gain entree into the curriculum.

Read the standards thoroughly and look for those hooks, such as NEASC 2016 standards 4, 6 and 7 through which a knowledgeable librarian will be able tie information literacy to the outcomes in the standards.  Using the standards helps librarians communicate with deans, provosts and other administrators who may not be as familiar with information literacy standards.

Dr. Jackman also talked about the importance of branding for libraries and librarians and of using that marketing approach to promote the services that will support student learning outcomes. She encouraged us to have that elevator speech ready to go and seek out networking opportunities like conferences and other educational forums to promote your brand and the value of libraries.  Look for partnership opportunities with school and public libraries to reach students sooner and integrate information literacy skills.

After the keynote, attendees selected one of three morning breakout sessions.  I attended Dear Diary: Adapting the SEA-change model to assess and improve library instruction by Briana McGuckin of Central Connecticut State College. This engaging presentation was based on the SEA-change model covered in the paper by Sen and Ford.  This model uses reflective writing in a situation-evidence-action format as a method of assessment. Ms. McGuckin’s presentation examined how reflective writing can be used by librarians who do information literacy instruction.  Who among us hasn’t led a class that just isn’t going the way it was intended?  Maybe the students aren’t paying attention or you anticipated that the class would have more knowledge and skill than they do and you are left floundering for a 60-90 session.  With practice, reflective writing can be a form of a self-assessment for librarian instructors and lead to modifications that make instruction more effective.

During the breakout session, attendees were asked to think about a situation that presented a difficulty for us.  It could be professional or personal; preferably, it was fairly recent.  We then spent some time writing about it using the SEA-change model. Describe the situation; evidence will build from the situation, which will lead to the action.

First, describe the situation and include details. This is self-assessment so no one has to see it.  What is/was the problem; when and where did it happen; who was involved; how did it evolve?  Next, explain your evidence. How did you know it was a problem? Finally, what action will you take to correct or change the situation? Don’t focus on finding the “right answer;” sometimes different is good enough.

Getting in the habit of this type of self-reflection and assessment can be beneficial in one’s professional and personal life. Writing should take place immediately or very soon after the event so the details are fresh and the evidence and action ideas are authentic.  Consider multiple perspectives and be clear about what actions you will take to make a change.  Reflective writing does not have to take a long time – 10-15 minutes is sufficient.

After the morning breakout session, lunch was served and we had time to walk the campus and tour the libraries on campus. Then it was time for one of the three afternoon breakout sessions.  I chose Lecturing: Not Always an Abomination by Jason B. Jones who is the Director of Educational Technology at Trinity College.  In this session, Mr. Jones talked about the value of lectures in education and how the lecture can be an effective and entertaining educational tool.  Lectures are an important component in education, especially in the humanities, because they are exercises in mindfulness and attention-building and they help teach comprehension and reasoning. In lectures, students learn how to identify important concepts and link them.  Students can take notes, sketch or doodle – anything that will help them connect with the information.

As a group, we thought of the characteristics of some of the best and the worst lectures we’ve attended.  For the best lectures, some of the descriptions were: funny, lively, good pace, stories involved. Vocal variance is also an important element of a good lecture.

Other suggestions to make a lecture effective include being dynamic in your presentation.  After 15 minutes, move.  Change sides, talk about or do something different.  Also, be mindful of the time of day.  If you are lecturing after lunch, you may want to adjust your lecture to keep your audience engaged.  Don’t be a slow talker! Keep things moving.  Use changes in tone and pace to add some interest to your lecture.

Also, keep in mind the attention span of the average audience member. Get your important points in early. Break your lecture into chunks so your audience can regroup and get at the information.  Think of the lecture as academic theater. Ultimately, a lecture should inspire students to do something for themselves.

Even though this session was geared for face-to-face lecturers, those of us who are involved in online instruction can benefit from much of this advice as we prepare for online classes.

The day ended with a wrap-up and a raffle.  It was an informative conference and I highly recommend it.  I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend.  Many thanks to the D4L Leadership Team!