We want to send a HUGE thank you to listener, Megan Ondricek, for volunteering to help us catch up and create transcripts for our past episodes (starting with episode 9 below) and provide this important resource to our community!
Jessica: Welcome to episode number 13 of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching podcast! I'm Jessica,
Amanda: and I’m Amanda,
Jessica: And on today's episode we're going to be talking about using storytelling in your instruction. But before we get started with our conversation, how are you doing? Anything going on this week?
Amanda: Week two of working from home! The added layer of also watching my child alone, so that's been interesting. A lot of Zoom you know, bombing, you know, I know there's like this article going around about other “real” Zoom bombing, but like, she loves to come into the camera now so whenever my laptop is on, she actually waves at it and says “Hi!” you know, expecting someone to be there.
Jessica: [chuckling] Oh my gosh.
Amanda: So um, but other than that I think it's been going good. Um, we actually started this new initiative where we're doing drop-in research hours through Zoom with students who are used to face-to-face, you know, reference support. We just started promoting it, so we haven't had any students come in yet, but I'm hoping you know we'll get some more students, we're going to do another email blast to our students next week. And hopefully we'll have some students drop in for some one-on-one support. What about you, what's going on?
Jessica: Same here. Week two, pretty much two and a half, working from home with a three year old, and same thing - he loves when he sees me talking to the computer, he comes over and pops his head up and everybody's like, “Oh my God, he's so cute!” So, you know, it's fun, and everybody understands that he's home so I don’t have to hide him or anything. So, it is definitely a lot, and I'm definitely just trying to balance the productivity and screen time and being with him, and just accepting all the emotions going on with everything. It is a lot to handle, but it hasn't been too bad. This is week one for us, actually, of our spring semester so last week was spring break and it was super quiet. This week it's ramping up a little bit but obviously chat and emails from faculty are much quieter than they normally would be week one because it's an adjustment for everybody coming back to specifically online classes so we're hoping that next week we at least get a little more interaction with students. Chat has been busy, but not as busy as we were expecting, I think we were expecting to be a little more slammed. So, we'll see. One day at a time. That's all I can do. I can't do any more than that.
Amanda: Are you guys doing all asynchronous, or are you allowed to do, like, live Zoom things with the students?
Jessica: It's a little bit of both, depending on what the faculty's requesting. I know, before there were all these calls for avoiding the synchronous. Some faculty had already scheduled stuff with some of our teaching librarians to do synchronous stuff. So some of the librarians have done those timed classes and they went well, but I think going forward a lot of the faculty are probably going to avoid that and start just having us put in tutorials, make LibGuides, do email reference and support with students. I've emailed two professors so far about April sessions that I had scheduled in as on-sites and I haven't heard back yet to see how they want me to handle that. So we're doing a little bit of both.
Amanda: Oh okay. Interesting, yeah I think we're going to be doing all asynchronous, which is something we're used to. So, I'm not concerned that we don't know how to manage it, it's definitely, like, you kind of talked about last semester, last episode, it's kind of disheartening that you know your, your instruction is going to get a little less dynamic. So, I'm trying to balance it, like a part of me wants to be like, “Okay guys let's strategize and we can make all these interactive tutorials and we've got, you know, four weeks til the semester is over.” When another part of me is like everyone is just trying to maintain like, stop trying to like, you know, go crazy, I guess. I don't know but -
Jessica: Yeah but well I was watching one of the ACRL webinars about, you know, transitioning your instruction online in this pandemic and you know one thing that the first presenter mentioned was just, you know, thinking about how, if we're trying to adapt with our personal lives, students are doing the same thing so they're, they may be caring for a child or a sick loved one, or they may not have strong Wi-Fi, or a good laptop and so we just have to remember that they may have access issues to these great things and I think what she said, actually I wrote it down, she said, “Don't create materials that are master works of instruction, because they may not even get used,” and I thought that was a really good way to put it.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, it's definitely hard because you want to be dynamic, but then you have a little bit more of a, you know, realistic expectation.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly. So, I think that was part of what they talked about was just balancing it out, you know, making it something that students will get the point. So really identifying the most important learning objectives and just making something that you know everybody can see, everybody can read, everybody can understand, making it accessible for everybody, and going from there and cutting ourselves some slack.
Amanda: Yeah, I was absolutely...it's interesting because I feel like this is such a big conversation now about learning, and you know, for people who are non-academics, and I was watching a TV program yesterday, and they were on talking about how all these college students are gonna want to do online instruction now because of what they've experienced and I'm just like, I don’t know, you know? I don't think I agree and then like, they're like, oh, and you know it's gonna be cheaper, and people are gonna, you know, not want to go to on-site classes but like we kind of talked about in the last episode, online learning doesn't necessarily equal cheaper learning or less expensive learning, you know?
Jessica: Right. Yeah, right.
Amanda: It's great that people are talking about higher education and the costs and, you know, what it takes, but like, I don't think they get the whole picture of what it means to have effective online learning.
Jessica: Yeah, right, it's not going to be...this is not going to be what real online learning would be. So I don't think that everybody's going to be swarming to online learning from this.
Amanda: No, I don't think so either. Yeah. So on to our topic for today: so as Jessica mentioned, we're going to be talking about storytelling and your instruction, and just a little bit of intro about the topic. There was a Harvard Business Review article that said, “Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures storytelling evokes. Auditory learners focus on the words and the storyteller’s voice. Kinesthetic learners remember the emotional connections and feelings from the story.” So storytelling can be informational, it can be memorable, and it is a great way to reach novice learners. So just to get things started, what is your experience, Jessica, with storytelling in your instruction?
Jessica: There hasn't been as much as I'd like, but one thing I do remember doing was just asking students at the beginning of the class to reflect on a time that they struggled to find information for something, and I didn't get any responses, most likely because it was my first time in that class and it was a one-shot. So I had no rapport with them yet, so starting the class with that I think made it difficult at first, before I realized that I think it kind of turned me away from doing it a little bit, but I would definitely try it again in a class, either maybe a class that I'm seeing multiple times a semester because I can try it one of the second or third times I'm seeing them because I can develop a rapport at least a little bit, or maybe at a different time in the class, maybe later on in the session when we've at least gotten to do something else first, or giving my own examples, instead of asking them for examples. But I’d definitely like to try it, and preparing for this episode was really helpful in giving me ideas that I want to try to use in the future, because I think information literacy is really ripe for storytelling, it's very relatable we all use information there's so many different stories that we can pull from. What about you?
Amanda: Um, so I have a little bit of experience in the classroom itself. I mostly have done like a scenario base that's kind of creative, or I create very very brief stories to set up an activity. We do this thing in our English 101 class where we talk about why information literacy is important and I always use real life personal examples. And it's funny because my examples change as I get older, so I know I've talked about this before, I've been, you know at my institution for almost 11 years now so I've gone through a lot of major life events. And when I was looking to buy a new car, I would use that as a story to tell about using information seeking skills. When I was looking for a house I used that example. When I had my daughter I used her as an example. So, as I grow my, my stories also changed as well but I think they're relatable, I think the way I tell them because it's so authentic they become relatable to some of our students, you know, whoever are in those stages of their life.
Jessica: So how do you actually use the examples like from buying a house? You'll talk to them about how to pick a mortgage company or how do you talk to them about it as a story?
Amanda: So, um, what I've done in the past is I've said like, you know you need these information seeking skills to make important life decisions. And I'll say for example, when we were looking to buy a house there are a lot of things that we needed to think about and, you know, some of them might not be at that point, but like they can kind of make the connection so I say to them: what do you think one thing would be that we would want to look for in the area? And some of them would say crime rates and some of them would say, school districts and then I would say yeah you're absolutely correct. It was important to me that, you know, we picked a good school district because I believe in public education and I went to public school and so like, I kind of asked them and then also weave in my, you know, real opinions on these things. And they, they get it, you know, they kind of get the connection and then I think one of the things that I think most of them can relate to, because when I'm speaking to a younger student population, is the buying of a car. And they always say, Oh, you know, you have to look at the Carfax or you have to see if it’s been in any accidents or the gas mileage and so I always kind of tell them the story of when my car got stuck in the parking lot at work, and I was forced to buy a new car, right, that night.
Amanda: Yeah! Oh yeah, so my car would only drive in reverse. And I was leaving from work, I was gonna go home and I - it's funny because I had just moved out so I had no choice. I literally that night I went to the dealership and I bought a new car and I was freaking out because not only did I buy a new car, but it was the first brand new car I ever bought! So, I like to tell that story, and like, I get really into it because it’s so unbelievable. And I talk to them like, how like I’m at the dealership and I'm googling things and I'm trying to make sure that I'm getting the best deal possible and I'm looking at the car and the safety reports and, you know, and they just, they pay attention.
Jessica: Right, yeah because you're acting dynamic, you're really into it so they're into it, and it's a funny story so it's like who wouldn't be into it, it's crazy!
Amanda: Totally crazy story but it's a true story so, I've used those kinds of examples, but the one time where I was able to give a really like, a long storytelling project was for our library orientation. We have an online library orientation, where we have two characters: one who's used the library, and one that hasn't. And each module in the orientation follows the students as they learn about library services. And it was so exciting because we named the characters and we gave them personalities and we gave them funny lines and we're like, Oh, I don't think Carlos would say something like that, you know, he doesn't know a lot about the library. So like we really took the time, I mean we did this for eight months, this was an eight month long project. So this was like the most dynamic type of storytelling, and it was intense. It was a lot of work, I mean we must have met like 30 times over the course of, like eight months to get this done, but I think it's still one of the most rewarding and dynamic things I've ever done as a librarian.
Jessica: Yeah, I do like that, that orientation was great.
[14:15] Amanda: Yeah. So those are some of our experiences, so why don't we jump into some examples that we have not tried? When I was doing some research for this, one thing that I found was interesting, and that I'm kind of interested in doing more with, is using infographics and telling a story with data. So, you know, I've always been fascinated with visuals, even when I do PowerPoint presentations, I'm very visual, but I liked the idea of using an infographic. So in the past we dabbled with using infographics to promote some of our services but I think it would be great to do it to explain how students can get started with their research. You know you can almost see this as a bite-sized instruction resource you know? Like, you could put it in your LibGuide. So I was reading this really great book called “Infographics: The Power Of Visual Storytelling.” And it just really dives into why people like visuals, and why we gravitate towards this version of storytelling and I just think that that might be something interesting, I mean, it's, like I said earlier, it's bite-sized. It would be something small, like if you were a student how to brainstorm keyword terms and then it would be like, you know, different graphics to kind of chunk the information together, and that's one way it could be a visual. Also maybe it could be, we could be using our data to tell a story about how we previously supported students. I did this once where I put together an infographic of how librarians supported students in the previous semester and it was like different data points, we had this many chat, we had this many one-on-one instructions, we were in this many discussion boards, so it's all in a way, a story. We're telling a story of our support.
Jessica: Right, yeah, exactly. I love infographics, I mean, I've always been into marketing in libraries and I'm always into using them, either within the marketing or afterwards to show what we've done through our marketing, to show our value to our stakeholders, and stuff like that and I'm just a visual person in general. Thinking about infographics and storytelling it reminded me of this book that just got published this past year. It's by Michelle Rial, it's called “Am I Overthinking This?” She has a great Instagram page where she does like cute little, they're more, I guess, they're kind of sometimes infographics, sometimes just cute visuals where she'll use a Venn diagram and what she does is she uses the graphics to tell cute little jokes and things about everyday life. And so they're super relatable. And so I could see using something like she does with maybe using humor, and the infographic and information literacy and kind of combining it all together. I'll link it in the show notes because people may be inspired and they'll do something fun before I do it, but I think it could definitely be interesting and it also teaches data literacy at the same time that we're teaching information literacy because we can show them how to read the graph and how to show them if there's problems with it so it could be a lot there to do with.
Amanda: Absolutely, absolutely. I think it's just, it's a gravitational pull, you know what I mean? They get sucked into the image and they're engaged and it's memorable and it's, you know it's, in the book that I just mentioned about infographics and the power of visual storytelling, it was talking about how it's memorable in a sense that they will store that information differently than they will if someone just gave it to them.
Amanda: So um yeah, that was one way that - I am not using it consistently - but I think I'd like to, I mean especially in my LibGuides. I'd love to kind of make my LibGuides more visual. It's always something that I strive to do. I was actually just in a meeting yesterday, we were revising our SWOT LibGuide. We have this like, really great text explaining the different aspects of SWOT, but it's so text heavy and I'm like, we have to visualize this somehow, we have to tell it in a better way. So, visual is always important to me.
Jessica: Yeah we're going to be going through our LibGuides this year and making them more teaching focused, like actually making them teaching tools instead of just a guide, we were going to start that project right before everything happened with the virus so it's like now it's getting pushed back again but I'm super excited about it because we are probably going to make it more visual. And I hate to make generalizations but I'd like to see some research on whether or not it's true that the past generation and current generation are more visual creatures anyway. I'm wondering if that's, I think that's a generalization that goes around these days, but I'd like to see some research to see if that's true, and it would [inaudible] using infographics in the classroom for a lot of reasons.
Amanda: Yeah, you know what the interesting thing is, I love visuals, but I also like written instructions. So like, in our last episode or maybe the one before that we were talking about YouTube tutorials, and I like to do both. I like to watch the tutorial, but then also look at the printed instructions. So I like to do both. Now I don't know, like, if that makes a difference in the storytelling process but like, to me, I just like both.
[20:16] Jessica: And now that you are saying that about the written instructions too it also brings in the accessibility component of if someone can't see the infographic there needs to be alt text and does the alt text do enough to explain what's going on in the infographic? So there is that aspect of it too, of making sure there's some type of written record that a screen reader can read of that graphic to make sure that people would be able to understand it, too.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Another idea that I had was to have the students be the storyteller. So, I think, as a former student and as you know, in my experience providing instruction, I think students like to tell their own experiences, and I think this could be easily done by just asking students to reflect on an experience. I think that's a big part of the learning process. When you give a student an opportunity to reflect on their prior knowledge and build upon that knowledge, and I think we forget, but that is a part of the storytelling process. So anytime you say to a student, “Oh, think back to a time where you had a challenging research project” or “think back to a time where you needed information and you couldn't find what you were looking for.” Whatever they're thinking about or whatever you have them write down, that's their story, so they are using storytelling techniques to reflect and learn and improve in some capacity. So I think, you know, I, again, I don't do that enough. I think that would be an easy thing to explore. It's just a matter of remembering to incorporate it into my instruction process.
Jessica: Yeah, and even though I, when I tried it, I didn't have a positive experience of all these students wanting to express their ideas, I mean, I'm just even thinking of transitioning from asking an open question and asking them to respond to making it a think-pair-share. That's an easy pivot that could just make them a little more open to talking to the person next to them about it and then sharing together as a pair, might open them up to it a little bit more.
Amanda: I think in my experience, they're a little more forthcoming in a discussion board. Back in my instructional design program, a lot of us were professionals who were already working in the field, and we would reflect on what we were currently doing at our jobs and that's how we told our story and that's how we reflected. And that's how we learned from each other. So I think it also depends on the types of experiences and your audience so I think that’s another thing to think about is your audience, you know what type of experiences do you think your audience will have at that time. So sometimes you can be really specific and other times you might have to be, you know, a little more simplistic in your quest for getting the students to quote-unquote “tell a story.”
Jessica: Yeah, you know, that's funny that you say that. I'm thinking back to a lot of the discussion boards I've facilitated and I feel like they are so much more open about giving personal details and things like that about their research and about how they're doing in their lives when they're doing it in print. Which is just funny I don't, I'm not psychoanalyzing it right now but I just find that interesting.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, so you kind of already talked about a little bit of what your barriers might be with storytelling in the classroom. Are there any other barriers?
Jessica: Yeah, I think my big one is kind of knowing what to tell. I know we talked about, in a couple episodes, is kind of talking about our own struggles of researching in school and things that we've gone through, you know, even if I'm researching for creating the class. I feel like I never have a good example of, because either I can't remember it or I feel like it's not going to be relatable, at least my own examples. So I think I probably would shy away from those because they just don't feel natural to me. But I think I could definitely get better at when I come across something from real life or you know my real life or social events that are going on in the world, I just need to get better at finding a place to log them like, this would be a good example for class as a story. And so that I could have some type of record of them that I could pull from. Yeah because I think using history, current events, stories from even student disciplines, because I mean, nurses are going to have so many stories to tell from everything going on right now. Even marketers might have it or business students or history students, environmental students, they may have great stories from their disciplines that I could pull from. And like we talked about before, you know, student stories. So I think I'm just gonna have to overcome my memory barrier by shifting to other types of storytelling.
[25:21] Amanda: Yeah, I definitely agree with that, I think my stories are great when I could think of them. And I think that's my problem - I don't think it's a problem, but I think I don't gravitate to storytelling that often because I want it to be authentic. I don't want it to be rehearsed. I don't necessarily say okay and this is the point of my instruction where I'm going to talk about this story, you know? Like a lot of the times, it'll just come up naturally in the conversation, like there's only one or two times like I kind of talked about earlier, in that English class where we introduce information literacy, where my stories are kind of canned. You know they're my tried and true stories, but like I said they change as my life moves forward, but I use them like, I'll be in like five or six instruction sessions for that class in a semester so I'll stick with the same story. But you know for my other classes I want it to be more authentic, so it's not consistent. It's just when the occasion arises.
Jessica: Right and that's definitely something that I struggle with, and that I've always loved about your teaching, is that you can just like pivot on a dime and that's just not a strength of mine. Like I don't read from a script, but I do need to have all my examples labelled out, I need to have all my points labeled, and I'm not very good at just coming up with something on the fly. So that's something that I work on, and I think it's why I really liked that podcast episode I brought up in our online teaching episode with Flower Darby, she's an educator who talks about being an introvert in the classroom. And I think it's just part of who I am and I have always put myself down about it, that like, I'm never going to be a great teacher because I can't, I can't be like an actor and an authentic person like that in the classroom. But hearing her speak about being an introvert in the classroom as a professor, it's just my personality, and that doesn't make me a bad teacher, it's just not a strength that I have. I have other strengths and that's totally okay. So, I think maybe I won't be that person who comes up with examples on the fly but there's other ways that I can incorporate storytelling to still seem authentic, just in a different way. Does that make sense?
Amanda: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, so, um, let's move on and talk about some pie in the sky storytelling techniques that you might want to try in the future.
Jessica: So, a pie in the sky idea that I have that totally isn't fleshed out in any way, but
for a credit bearing class or if a professor wanted to think pie in the sky and work with me on it, would be like a podcast episode for a semester project where students had to maybe do research on how to storytell in a podcast and it would have to be about their discipline or about a topic that they really wanted to talk about. I think a lot of what I've been reading about storytelling and information literacy, a lot of stuff comes up about digital storytelling. And I think that counts as kind of a digital storytelling format so I think that could be a cool way for them to be the storytellers, about the information that they're researching and learning about, so that could be fun.
Amanda: Oh my god, that would be so amazing. I could just see it like where you're, it's almost like instead of a student doing like a boring PowerPoint on a topic, they could make it more dynamic, with a podcast where they could, you know, they could use video or choose not to use video, have interviews or not have interviews, and they could tell a story in some sort of way. So I think that would be so fun. And I think you know what, at this point, students are using Zoom. So, they have the technology to do it, and I'm not saying all students, but I'm saying with what we're going through right now, I think we're stretching all of our capabilities in terms of what technologies we have or have not used. So, I think it would be an interesting project especially if it was like a semester-long project where you train the students to use the technology. You know you could even like start small, where you could say okay, get on Zoom, record yourself and tell me a two minute story about yourself, you know? Almost like an online version of like a public speaking class, you know? And then, like, they just grow and grow and grow, and it becomes like a full length podcast episode of some sorts.
Jessica: Yeah, that would be really cool doing all that kind of scaffolding up to the full episode.
Amanda: That would be really cool yeah for sure.
Jessica: So another idea for a credit bearing class which is kind of simple, and I guess could be done in a one-shot, maybe, if you had them continue to do it after you leave, is to ask students to keep a research log for the entire semester. And they could be given prompts to reflect on their process, and then at the end of the end of the semester kind of look back on their log and come to one final story about how their research process went. I saw something like that in one of the articles that we’ll link to in the show notes. It was about using a research log in a psychology class like for graduate students, and they had to reflect on their own research process but then connect it to their discipline. But it could be used for any level by just getting students to think about their research story, and how they're writing this, this paper.
[30:59] Amanda: That is interesting. I did something kind of like this in a way, I was really interested in focusing on growth mindset questions, and I was in a discussion board where they did three sets of questions. The first question was, they had to pick from a list of research things that they struggled with, and they had to say why they struggled with it. And then the second part of the discussion board is where they applied what they learned from the lecture. And then the third part was they go back and they say whether or not they think they grew, and that they, if they learned something new from, you know, the part one of the discussion board so it was like a full-circle reflection. So that would be, you know, that was one of my experiences and the students really liked it, they really liked that, um, the reflection part.
Jessica: Yeah, they're like writing their own research story.
Amanda: Right, right.
Jessica: The other article that I liked was one that you found about a library orientation that someone created that used stories to explain why information literacy skills are important. So, they had the opportunity to kind of start from scratch with this library orientation from a program and so they picked out historical examples of where information literacy should have been used more effectively. I think one was about a presidential campaign that was called too early. And so it was something about reading data and making assumptions about information. So they took the historical event, and then pulled out what those people should have done for information literacy wise, and they said at the end students were really engaged and interested in information literacy because they were seeing it through this lens of story, and I thought it was super interesting because I could definitely bring that idea to my department, as we redesign our University 101, hopefully for the fall. And we don't know what's going on. But I thought that was a really cool idea.
Amanda: That is such a cool idea! I love stuff like that, I think it's engaging, I think, like I said, you know, earlier, it's those real life examples that students really connect to. And even if it's a historical example I think it's, you know, it's fun to reflect back on something that happened, and really kind of just be like well how did it go, you know?
Jessica: Right, right. And the last one that I saw was on, actually recently, in the keeping up with digital storytelling from ACRL, they sent around an email newsletter about it, which was interesting timing because we had already scheduled to record this, but there were some great examples of digital storytelling assignments, and this would especially be interesting in higher level classes where students are getting really engaged in their discipline area. But I watched this whole video because it was so interesting, the story that they were telling. It was about, I guess they were kind of marketing this archive that they have, and they told the story about an author who got in touch with their department in the library, because he was researching for a book about Italy and World War II. And this author had traveled to Italy, to this town, and found a man's name on the wall, and the soldier turned out to be someone who was there who wrote his name there on the town wall that he was there in World War II. And this archive happened to have an interview with that soldier, telling about his time in Italy in World War II. So the story that they were telling in the video was about how they helped this author find this real life interview. So, it was super cool and it was created by students and it was marketing the library's archive and so I could totally see that being something that they could, that the students could do. It's kind of like the podcast thing but using a video.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, that does sound like a lot of fun. I'm just listening to you tell it reminded me that one of the things that I loved when I was reflecting back on my experience of being a student, like, four years ago, was every week we were required to watch a video, and most of the times the video started off with someone telling a story. And then once that story was told to introduce the topic then they got into like the nitty gritty definitions. So I think that's definitely dynamic for sure and I think it's an easy way to get people interested in certain topics.
Jessica: Yeah, right.
[35:48] Amanda: So I have a few ideas. One, it would be some type of LibGuide where, I guess it goes along the sense of library orientation that I talked about earlier, but maybe less labor intensive. Each page or each video, a student, you know, you'll follow a student completing a research project, but like the same student will be with you along the whole way of the research process, and that way you're like following a student. So I think it's doable, but it definitely like takes a lot of coordination to get it done but that would be something interesting to do.
Jessica: Yeah, definitely. I like using LibGuides because it’s a platform that we know how to use, it's easy to teach students how to use. There's a lot of different components that you could incorporate in that, a lot of different types of technology you can use. That would be interesting.
Amanda: Yeah, and then another one that I thought would be interesting is, like, if you have like a standardized learning experience that you know happens every semester, or you have like a cohort learning, perhaps get some testimonials or interviews of students as they're going through a particular experience, and then have those students share their experience. So for example, I know I previously talked about, I support our Honors Program, and every year it's a different cohort. So like one example could be an interview, like a brief 30-second or minute long interview with a student and say, I'm saying to them, “What's one piece of advice that you would want to give this cohort on working on your annotated bibliography?” What did you learn, what should they focus on, etc. It’s just this idea of students learning from previous students, you know, in a storytelling way. Now that would be a lot to coordinate. I think if you have those particular learning cohorts where they're used to being tapped for, you know, events, or promotional stuff, or they want to pay it forward. I think with our Honors Program, it's very much a pay it forward kind of thing. We do have a lot of our previous cohorts, they'll come in as guest speakers or in a sense they’re doing that but I was thinking almost like a virtual version of that. That might be an interesting way for the current cohort to learn from the previous.
Jessica: That's true, it's kind of like student ambassadors when you start a new program or you go to a new college or whatever, there's the students that have been there for a while and they tell their story to get students comfortable and it's less of a teaching thing more of a psychological support thing, but I think it could definitely work as a teaching thing too.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, I think because also they relate to each other a little more. And they might have some insights on the process that we might not have. So, I think it would definitely be a worthy thing. Like I said it'd be a lot to coordinate, very pie in the sky but I would love to explore that idea. So, do you think storytelling is an effective instruction technique for one-shots?
Jessica: I mean, as I mentioned I had trouble asking the students to openly share their experiences because understandably they didn't know me yet. Perhaps they didn't feel comfortable sharing their experiences, you know, the rapport that the faculty set in the class too, before I even get there makes a huge difference. If the faculty member hasn't created an environment where they feel open with one another then I'm just walking into that and they're never going to open up. So I think that makes a big difference for one-shots, but I think there are ways to do it kind of how we talked about maybe doing think-pair-share first or just having them write it down whereas even if they're not sharing it with the class they're at least reflecting on it themselves and thinking about it and incorporating it into what they're thinking, or using the, building the scenarios or historical examples into, into the lesson itself would probably be the best way to do it.
Amanda: Agreed, I think, to kind of piggyback on your comment about that you've had trouble with students getting to tell their story and experiences, as being from a librarian perspective if, again, we can remember to incorporate it into our instruction, a student might remember us and be comfortable with us if we share our stories. I can't tell you how many students I've had come to me and say, that car story is unbelievable. And then start a conversation with me and come back to me for other class support, because I shared that one story with them. So I think it also breaks the ice with, you know, humanizing us as librarians. So I think it can be effective. I think if we remember to use it, if we feel comfortable using it, and I don't have all the answers of how to get myself more comfortable being a good, effective storyteller, but I definitely think it's something that I would like to work on. Even if it is a little planned out, I think it's still a worthy, worthy cause. I think I could see myself focusing more on the digital storytelling aspect of it, because I think I can control it a little more, and make sure that I’m like, you know, being dynamic by storytelling.
Jessica: Mm-hmm. Right.
Amanda: We have a few suggestions of small ways you can incorporate storytelling into your instruction. One example is to share your searching experience and we've talked about this a few times. You know, provide an example of a specific time where you as a student or librarian struggled with a research problem and how you overcame it, or maybe a situation in real life where you needed to use information to, you know, like debunking misinformation that your aunt posted on Facebook. I know I've tried to do that before where I'm like, I don't think that sounds right, I'm gonna go and find and prove them wrong. So I've definitely shared those examples before in my instruction. Share a time that you've helped a student, you know, we talked about this too, we help our students so often but like I think, because we're so like, on to the next thing we don't necessarily always think back and remember every single interaction we have. Another example is to share a short story that introduces a topic, like I mentioned already with my buying a house or a car, etc. Create a case study activity: so this is a little more involved, but I think it's something to consider. Role playing activity: where the students kind of take on certain narratives. Have the students be storytellers: we talked a lot about this, I think they like reflecting, and I think it's one way to break the ice.
[43:35] Amanda: Yeah so those are just a few examples and this isn't an exhaustive list, this isn't, you know, exhaustive examples or ideas but we definitely have a lot of great links in the show notes to more in-depth resources. I think I actually linked to a book that is explicitly teaching information literacy through stories so that's like super on point, super targeted, so I would definitely recommend people checking it out. I haven't had a chance to get my hands on a copy of it, but I was able to kind of skim through some of the chapter headers and stuff like that and it looks really interesting.
Jessica: Yeah, I think I want to check that one out. That sounds really interesting. Although I haven't finished reading all the articles that I had planned yet for quarantine time so once I get through those first, then I will move on to some of the new stuff.
Amanda: I feel so jealous, like everyone's going through their reading pile and I don’t feel like I’m doing any of those things!
Jessica: I haven't gotten there yet, I'm trying to weed through it little by little, but you know, working at home with a kid is like, plus I want to read my own stuff, I want to get through my Goodreads challenge and of course I picked like the longest book on Earth to try to get through first which wasn't smart.
Amanda: I haven't picked up a book, and I think my problem is that my Kindle is by my bed, and like I read it, I get through like four pages and then I pass out. And so I think that’s my problem. But um I haven't been, I feel like I haven't been taking advantage of any of the free anythings. Like I'm not bingeing any shows, I'm not using any of the free resources that are out there, like I'm just maintaining like, that's it.
Jessica: Right. Well, nothing has really changed other than like, I don't have a commute anymore, so I don't listen to audiobooks, so that's out the window. Otherwise I'm still working eight to four, I, my husband still comes home at five o'clock because he's still working,
and it's our same evening as if nothing has changed so it's like, you know, I don't feel like I have any extra time like, maybe some other people do. But at the same time, maybe those people are not employed, and I'm praying for them, because I'm blessed to, you know, still be employed, honestly.
Amanda: For sure, for sure, yeah, but I'm definitely not, you know, I don't have a stockpile of articles I think I'm going to get to.
Jessica: Right. They’re there, but you're not going to get through them. [chuckles]
Amanda: Maybe I need to ease up on myself and like actually take the time because like we've talked about this too like that professional development guilt that I have about reading or watching a webinar during work hours. So, maybe I should ease myself, you know, take it easy and actually take some time to do that. So, we'll see. You know what's interesting, the one thing that I have been doing while I've been home that I haven't been doing since about a year now is taking a lunch break. I have not, like since I went back to work after I had my daughter, I would not take a lunch break and I would just leave early. Now that I'm home with her, I need that lunch break. So I'm taking it and it’s so weird, it’s so weird! But, I like it, I like the lunch break.
Jessica: Yeah, that's true. I mean I never took a lunch break for years and then at this current job, I finally really started doing it because it was something everybody did and I'm definitely doing it now that I'm home because by noon, little boy needs a walk outside, so it's like noon to one is still my lunch break and we go outside for a walk, because we have to.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure.
Jessica: Well that was a tangent.
Amanda: Tangent but moral of the story is, if you have the time to read these extra articles or books that we're linking to please check out the show notes because they are exhaustive, you know, heavy reading material but they are, they really dive deep deep deep into the art of storytelling and teaching. (End tangent.)
Jessica: [chuckling] Right.
Amanda: All right, so we're moving into our weekly segment of triumph or fail, or both. Jessica, you want to start?
Jessica: Yeah, so the triumphs and fails are a little, they're a little different this time obviously because things are different but my triumph this week was making a LibGuide! I have not made a LibGuide in what feels like such a long time but I happened to get lucky and get this professor on chat who asked if we had any resources about historiography, which I did not even know about. It's apparently writing about historical perspectives about an event, you're not writing about the event you're writing about what people have written about it. Which is super interesting and he sent me a LibGuide from another college, and he said, Do we have anything like this? and we didn't have a LibGuide. So I put together something that was just our Pace resources with some resources he gave me, and it was just fun to make a LibGuide after a while. Especially since I guess it's not really a fail because it's not my fault, but my fail is that I'm feeling kind of out of sorts not teaching, because I have no teaching to do right now, so it was nice to have a LibGuide to make and feel like I'm still teaching in a little bit of a way. So, yeah,
I'm kind of, I kind of wish I was doing some of these synchronous classes because everybody's like planning things and making PowerPoints and I'm like, oh just over here. I'm planning lessons for like standardized instruction for the future, but I'm not going to get to use it until I don't even know when. It’s sad.
[49: 24] Amanda: Yeah interesting times for sure. I think I have a triumph. My triumph is that I think being in this situation has forced my group to completely think again about our outreach messages to faculty and students, and even departments. We even had a conversation about how can we get our message out there to departments about what the library does and our services. So I, I guess the triumph is that I feel re-energized to, you know, come up with new ideas on how to provide outreach, whereas in the past if we weren't going through this current situation I would just be like, alright we have projects to get through, let's go. I feel like we have a little bit more time and space to kind of think about some of these other, other things. My fail is that my team now we've met, this the second week we met, and I feel like I'm still trying to get back to “normal” with our meetings, and like, kind of talk about projects that we were working on before we all went remote, and I think it's failing because we're still in this, “Alright, how do we support students remotely?” And I think I'm forcing it too hard, um, because I had a lot of pushback. But I think I kind of like, I found a balance. So the first meeting, like I said, which was, which was a triumph was, we only got to, “Hey how's it going?” And then, this week's meeting, we talked half, like coronavirus update, and then the other half was instruction, like project related. So I think next week, we'll be in a little better place to talk more about some of our instructions. Yeah, we'll get through it. So I feel like we're still moving our services and our programs forward.
Jessica: Yeah, I don't think you're alone in that. I think that's probably going to be what everybody's trajectory is going to be. It's like week one is like, what is happening? Week two is okay this is feeling normal and then the later weeks will be a lot more, I hate the word “normal,” like, at least functional, let's call it functional. Let's stop calling it normal.
Amanda: I like that idea, it’s functional, right? We're functioning in this new forced work setting, right? You know I think it's a fail because I'm so concerned that it'll turn into a bigger fail that these projects won’t get completed. Because like we have deadlines, and I feel like these deadlines are out the window. And I'm flexible but I don't want them to not ever get completed. So, I'm trying to prevent the fail from snowmobiling into another fail.
Jessica: Right yeah and I'm super nervous about that too, like, when I first started working from home I made a list of the projects that I couldn't work on anymore, because they were either tied to an event that was canceled or something like that. Like I'm really sad that our Qualtrics assessment of all our English classes is kind of up in the air right now because we had finally gotten the ball rolling on that right before everything went online and I feel like we're gonna have to start again. And we have half of good data, and that we may not be able to do anything with. So it is kind of sad that certain things are just kind of like poof, they may never materialize.
Amanda: I know! Just before this happened, I was having really great conversations and making meetings with chairs to talk about information literacy in their programs, and then this happened. So I just emailed a professor, I felt like enough time had passed where things had calmed down and I emailed him and I said, hey listen, are you comfortable with picking up this thread and meeting for Zoom because I don't want to drop our progress. But if your workload has changed or you want to wait to be back on site that's fine, but I'm game to do it via Zoom. So we'll see if he responds, I don't know, but those are the kinds of things I'm kind of worried about like dropping like threads on the progress that we were making beforehand.
Jessica: Yep, exactly. So I guess we are just kind of up in the air for a while.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. All right, so that wraps up another episode of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching. Here's where you can find us. You can find the podcast at @Librarian_Guide, you can find Jessica at @LibraryGeek611, you can find me, Amanda, at @HistoryBuff820, and you can email us at InfoLitTeachingPodcast@gmail.com. Don't forget to rate and subscribe to our podcasts wherever you listen, we love to hear from you in the reviews as well.
Summary keywords: students | storytelling | visual | instruction | infographics | story | dynamic | information literacy | learning | reflect | discussion board
Episode 12: What's On The Horizon For Teaching And Learning?: Our Thoughts On The 2020 Educause Horizon Report
We want to send a HUGE thank you to listener, Megan Ondricek, for volunteering to help us catch up and create transcripts for our past episodes (starting with episode 9 below) and provide this important resource to our community!
Jessica: Welcome to episode number 12 of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching Podcast! I'm Jessica,
Amanda: and I'm Amanda,
Jessica: And on today's episode we're going to be talking about our thoughts on the newly released Horizon Report. But before we get started with our conversation, how are you doing? Anything exciting going on?
Amanda: It’s hard not to talk about it but you know this is like, week one of completely remote work. It's definitely had some challenges, new challenges now with the fact that my daughter's daycare closed, so that's like a whole other layer of challenge but um yeah so it's been an interesting week of trying to find a way to return to quote-unquote, “business as usual” in terms of, you know, making sure that our students are still supported and that, you know, we're, we're still following through with some of the instruction or appointments that we had previously made. Trying to make sure those things didn't fall through the cracks so that's been interesting. But I'm looking forward to trying to find a new routine as we hunker down in this current situation. What about you?
Jessica: Yeah, pretty much the same, this is week one of remote working from home. I'm definitely a little sad that we're working from home now, in one respect because you know all my on-site instruction is about to get a whole lot less dynamic, but you know I think it is, it's going to be interesting and I, it's going to be new and different and so I’m kind of trying to find the positives in it of you know the fact that I'm going to get to read a lot of the articles that I've had stashed away and and do some positive thinking about new projects for when we get back and, and stuff like that and spending a lot more time with my son, which, you know, has positives and negatives, when you're trying to work from home, but these are exceptional circumstances. So I'm also trying to learn how to balance my social media intake and just try not to get too overwhelmed with everything so it's definitely an exercise in balance, which is something that I think I need right now. So, trying to make the best of it.
Amanda: Yeah, I feel like I've definitely been refreshing my Twitter feed, a lot more than I typically do. I think just because I'm so fascinated and interested and you know it's a lot of great conversation going on right now and banding together and our community sharing the resources, and I think it's so great, but it's definitely a little distracting I'm definitely, you know, finding myself stopping what I'm doing, to like, go and look. And I guess it's okay every once in a while but, like, I know I'm doing it a lot more.
Jessica: Yeah and I'm starting to get a little bit of outrage fatigue with just like, and I understand the outrage, it's totally in the right place, and it makes sense, but it just between the library situations going around between public and academic libraries and everything political and all the fear based stuff with the virus itself, it's just, there's a lot of negative emotions and outrage that I'm, I just have to take a step back a little bit sometimes with my, my history of anxiety and stuff like that I need to know when to protect myself and so I'm doing that a little bit too of like okay I'm feeling overwhelmed, I gotta step back, and I'll dive back in, when I've recharged a little bit so like I said, taking time to practice that balance which will be a great practice to have when we get back to normal, so.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, I think I like what you said about the outrage fatigue. Last week when I tweeted out and published our last episode I paused, I felt a little hesitant about it. I felt like, Oh no, what if people don't, you know think it's inappropriate that we're still publishing content in light of what's happening. But then another part of me feels like this is good, like people need to step away from you know all of that outrage and they're going to need new content to binge and listen to so hopefully this is a good distraction, and a good way for some people to maintain some type of normalcy when it comes to their consumption of podcasts, so we'll see.
Jessica: Yeah, that's true and I'm loving watching how so many different artists and performers are doing these new virtual performances, and stuff like that that's going around, I think it's really cool. You know that's the fun side and then there's a lot of professional development for librarians that’s going online, so it is cool to see how all these different communities are coming together and shifting things online, so it is kind of a communal international banding together which is fun to see in the midst of all the terrible news and craziness, so.
Amanda: Yeah, definitely. I think one thing that you know, if we are going to be doing this in the foreseeable future, I was listening to a podcast, Life Kit, and they were talking about how to manage working remotely and one of the things that they recommended was to think about having like virtual coffee breaks or virtual meet-ups with people that you don't necessarily get a chance to talk to. So I want to try to make the best of the situation and I might try and coordinate something like that next week or so or in the next two weeks with my colleagues, I think it'll be good for morale and I think it'll be you know, give us an opportunity that we don't necessarily get to take so I don't know like just, I'm gonna try that. Because I think it's important that we still have social connection outside of our social media so I'm definitely gonna try and take advantage of Zoom in that capacity.
Jessica: Yeah my director’s going to do the same thing. Because, like she said, we don't know when we're going to see each other again. And we're doing department meetings individually like, I'm in the instruction department so the six of us get together and meet once a week but, but that means I don't get to see my friends in reference or technical services so she's going to set up an optional informal Zoom just to chat, you know, we can bring our cats and dogs and kids and just kind of say hi and I think that's a good idea. I think all libraries and all companies should do that to just, you know. I miss my lunch buddies, you know? So let’s all get together and say hi. We gotta get through this together.
[6:41] Amanda: Yeah, definitely. So, let's talk about today's topic which is the Horizon Report, so a little bit of introduction about the Horizon Report, it's been published since 2002, with the goal of providing educators with information on upcoming trends, so that they can learn what's going on and be part of innovation happening in the field. Jessica, you had some interesting thoughts about how the report has changed. You want to share some of those?
Jessica: Yeah, I really liked their introduction to this report because they talked about the way that they reframed their methodology on predictions, because in the past, they had just selected different trends and said, which ones are going to be trends immediately, which ones are coming a little bit later, or which ones are hotter trends than other ones, and they realized that they had kind of a low accuracy rate with those predictions in the way that they were doing it, and that it may not have been that helpful to anyone. So, this was a quote from the introduction it said, “Why would EDUCAUSE bother to continue this publication if its level of accuracy is so low? In assuming ownership of the Horizon Report, EDUCAUSE recognized the challenges of anticipating the future.” And: “The Horizon Report was never meant to be a fun, “cool” list of hyped technologies for the field to debate and debunk.” Which I think was kind of what was happening to it. So, quote, “It is meant to inform decision makers and help learners, instructors, and leaders think more deeply about the educational technology choices they are making and their reasons for doing so.” end quote. So I think framing it this way in the beginning was helpful so that you could understand why they changed the way that they did it. Now they're really just listing out what the different technologies are, explaining them, and grouping them differently as opposed to just like, this is a hot trend, you should expect this trend in three to five years, because that doesn't necessarily help anyone, so I thought it was great that they started out that way and really framed the whole report that way.
Amanda: Yeah, you know, I think they had to. I think it was a real big departure from the way that they organized the report in previous years, so I’m glad they did take the time to explain those changes, and I think it's really great that they actually acknowledge the accuracy level. It's not something that you find, you know, I think they even say something like future prediction is very tricky and, you know, few people like to do it, because, you know, once you do it it's published, it's in writing and people can go back to it and say oh you've been wrong x number of times, why should we trust you and blah blah blah. So, I think it was really great that they did that. My initial impressions with it was, it was a little overwhelming. The way that it was set up, it was very more than two or three sittings to read through it and then you know once I kind of get my thoughts around it I really kind of went back to those specific sections that I wanted to highlight so it's not an easy read, maybe it's not meant to be an easy read. But I think it's an important read for sure that I don't know, in libraries at least, I don't know how many librarians are actually going to sit down and read the whole thing so hopefully our colleagues will find this useful, but I definitely encourage people to read it. You have the time now, why not?
Jessica: Yeah, right, exactly. I liked that they included little, there were a lot of links in it, to link out to more explanations so that, I guess that shortened the report so that they didn't have to include all these explanations of these technological concepts but you could click on some maybe more easy to digest things on some of the trends that I understood less, for example, that was cool.
Amanda: Right, right. So, what do you think were two pieces of information in this report that you believe were the most important?
[11:04] Jessica: So the two I picked out were: the trending AI predictive technology and student data privacy, and also the mental health needs of students. They really dove less into the mental health needs of students, they really just put that in as a social trend, but I think it's important for us to talk about as librarians because it does impact the way we engage with students. I mean the report references the statistics that are out there about the increasing number of students suffering from anxiety and depression, and it impacts the way they approach their schoolwork, the way they reach out for help. So librarians need to consider how they're going to approach both reference, but also as instruction librarians, reaching out to students in new ways. I mean we can go into the classroom for our one-shot but if they don't feel comfortable reaching out to us, we have to think of new ways to reach out to them. Many of them still suffer from library anxiety and that's been discussed in the library literature for a bit now but I think we need to continue to address it perhaps more now than we have in the past.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, I definitely agree there and I think, um, you know, the conversation is, I think, increasing about the mental health needs of our students so I think it's great that we're having more of these conversations. And I think a report like this definitely elevates that you know, the importance of it, so I think that's great that that was included. I'm actually, just today, we were talking, we had a meeting, and a colleague said how has chat been, has anyone on chat had any, shown any signs of concerns or stress or anything, so you know it's on our minds, you know, we definitely had our fair share of students come into the library and express concerns about, you know, grades or this or that or depression or whatever. So, you know, we're in a whole new world now with just supporting our students mostly virtually now so I think our senses are even more heightened with this topic.
Jessica: Right. Yeah, and it should be. So the other one that I picked out like I said was the AI predictive technology, and after our episode with Barbara Fister I'm thinking a lot more about it, about our data, the privacy, our relationships to sharing our information. And so this is a quote from the student data trends section, they said quote “Institutions will need to be more proactive in protecting student and employee data, and must make careful decisions around partnerships and data exchanges with organizations, vendors, and governments and institutional relationships with technologies such as Facebook and Google should reflect larger cultural preferences and tolerances for privacy” end quote. So yeah, I think we're going to have to evaluate our tolerances for privacy, as we talked about in the episode with Barbara. We talked about the algorithm report that she co-wrote, and they talked about the fact that so many students don't know how their data is being used in LMS’s, and that's going to have to change going forward. I mean, do a lot of students understand how their data is being used in the predictive technologies? And I understand why those things are valuable, they aggregate all that student data, but I'm still wary of it and the fact that it comes to these conclusions about student success and their potential, and the way advisors are using it. So I just think it's, it's one of those trends that, if it goes unchecked, it could really lead to some unintended consequences, especially when we think about the way algorithms have just kind of taken off, and we haven't really considered the ways that they don't belong in certain fields in certain areas, and we really need to learn from that and look more critically at this predictive technology and student data in the same way we're starting to look at algorithms. We really need to all keep that in mind.
Amanda: I totally agree, I'm a data nerd, so I love the idea of using data to create positive change, and I think it's great that institutions are trying to do that. I'm not a big fan of the ethical part of it, but I love the idea that they put in there that the University of Iowa is actually making it student facing and letting the students see it. I think that is crazy awesome because maybe it'll motivate them, maybe it'll get them to think about their success in a way that they're not thinking about their success because you know what, I personally have never had an opportunity to see all of the details, you know, I've never gotten around to play with the data. So I don't know all the data points that's being collected, but like, I think it would be so great for a student to see that because they didn't do X Y Z this is why they're predicted to not succeed or if they did this, they would do better. Like, it just, I think it might motivate students. I think yes, at first, they'll think it's a little creepy, but I think they might start to use it to their own advantage, and really, like, take it seriously, that they are in control of their success if they do X, Y, and Z.
Jessica: Right. You know, that's an interesting take. I wonder if...I'd actually like to read more about that Iowa project and see if there's information out there about how students are feeling about it so far, because I think in the report, it's kind of just a blip, right, about what they're doing?
Amanda: Very tiny little blip, yeah.
Jessica: Yeah, so that might be interesting to read a little bit more, it's definitely an interesting project that they're doing. I wonder how it's gonna have, how it will pan out.
Amanda: Yeah, I wonder if it will end up with students like demanding to opt out of these analytics or anything like that. I think that'll be interesting, too, honestly, I think it really is interesting that it's kind of like the wild wild west right now, you know, data collection in these LMS’s and the predictive analytics and that kind of thing like, I'm surprised it's not more regulated, honestly.
Jessica: Yeah, right. I think that kind of goes back to what Barbara said about it has to be used in an empowering way not a disempowering way, and I think that what I was doing is a little empowering so let's hope it continues that way.
Amanda: Definitely, yeah.
Jessica: Alright so what were yours?
[17:47] Amanda: So mine were the demographic changes, and the tech trends of the next generation digital learning environment. So with regards to the demographic changes, I think it's so true. I think we need to be having more of these conversations about how our student populations are changing, and that, you know, it's not necessarily that first-time, full-time that's going to be our population, our majority of our population. I think we need to have more conversations about financial aid systems and the way we measure graduation rates, and the way we score these - our institutions - because of this idea, you know, that the traditional student is changing. I think we need to change with the times and I don't think we're having enough of these conversations about that.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah, that's true.
Amanda: Yeah, I mean, I hear from the students all the time like I have to take a full load of classes because I won't get my financial aid but if they can't do it because they're working a full time job and supporting their family, we're setting them up for failure, you know like, we need to be thinking about, I mean not “we” librarians but like higher education like needs to be thinking about like, maybe this full-time load isn't going help the students succeed.
Jessica: Right and I think that was one interesting thing that I found in the report in general, that, that so many of the trends were very interconnected, you know, the demographic changes of students plus the lack of funding for higher education the alternative pathways to different types of education, the changes in the types of pedagogy that we're working with, like all of them are related to each other, and if you change something in one it can impact something in one of the other ones. So I liked that they were all interconnected and it's going to be an interesting couple of years to see how these changes and what policy, governmental policies, might change things, how different funding changes or teaching changes might change all of them all together, it's very puzzle-like.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And just to reiterate the other piece of information that I thought was important was also the tech trend of the next generation digital learning environments. You know I think we really need to embrace this idea, and work towards reimagining what learning and learning environments look like, you know we all have experience with online learning and some of those, you know, restricted molds and ideas, you know, of the credit hour. I know that was a big push at my institution for a few years that the students had to have like, had to explicitly outline how each credit hour was being accounted for. And you know, also like what measurements of success look like and how to provide practical grading and what tools we should be using. You know, I really think we need to push the limits here and try to create a more flexible learning experience. I know some people are trying to get away from the LMS. Now, personally, I don't think that will ever happen 100%. I think there needs to be like a hub, but I think the LMS needs to be more flexible, it needs to interconnect with third party tools in different ways. I think our technologies need to talk to each other better. I know we, we move over to Canvas two years ago, three years ago, and it's a little better but our institution is very like strict about, what, what tools we use, and it's like, what's the point of having all this great technology, if they're not taught one, they can't talk to each other, and two, we're very strict about what's on the approved list of technology, you know? I think we need to enhance the learning experience but not restrict it with all these like strict policies. A few weeks ago before the whole Coronavirus thing happened and exploded on Twitter, there was a really interesting conversation about grades, and how there shouldn't be grades or it should be pass/fail and, you know, I'm, I have mixed feelings about it. I need to see what it looks like a little more but like, I think that's just one of those other ideas of how we measure success, and how we need to think about how we measure success changes, but within reason to be able to still measure success and not just, yeah, this student got what I said or whatever you know like there needs to be a balance but I think we need to change for sure.
[23:08] Jessica: Yeah, actually, I've been really interested in the past couple of months because our English department, some of them are piloting labor based grading in some of their classes and so it's been really interesting to read through how they've rewritten some of their assignments, and the contracts that the students in those classes have to sign about what work goes into their classes and how their grading will be different from what they're used to. So it's been really interesting to be a part of that because with the English classes the librarians have standardized lessons that we offer, we don't have to go into all the classes. But they shared it with us so that we could be aware of what those particular faculty are doing if we go into their classes so it's been really interesting to learn more about labor based grading in real time, not just reading a paper about it but seeing how it's being implemented by professors. It's still kind of, like I said in the pilot stage, so I'm still learning the basics but maybe I'll report back on it as it becomes more official. It's really interesting.
Amanda: Yeah, that is really interesting. Um, I definitely would love to learn more, for sure.
Amanda: Yeah. So moving on, was there anything in the report that surprised or concerned you?
Jessica: Well, the first one for me, I guess, more disappointing and concerning than surprising, but they broke down certain trends based on whether there's going to be growth in education or collapse or constraint or transformation. And in the collapse section they talked about how higher education as we know it is really really collapsing almost, due to costs and funding and things like that. And it's being, quote, “replaced by a system of education that prioritizes the needs of the job market and the acquisition of discrete skills over programs and departments unable to provide a return on investment” end quote. Which you know they're referring to liberal arts and humanities and stuff like that and I really just hope that, in that shift, we don't lose the fact that, in the humanities and liberal arts you learned so much about communication, about critical thinking, about writing, and that there's so much value to those classes and to learning those things. I mean I know that there needs to be updates to a lot of the canon in a lot of those classes. It is very white and male. I 110% agree with that and I wish I had learned a lot of different voices you know, when I was in college, many years ago. But it's still so valuable, and I don't want us to move forward as a society ignoring literature, and English and communication and philosophy. Those are still, and history, those are still so important. And if our students in K-12 are teaching to the test, then they're not getting it there either, so that was just a little concerning and I hope that we find a way to adapt those into the curriculum in another way, so that it's not lost because it's still important.
Amanda: Yeah that's something that I always think about because I got my bachelor degrees in the liberal arts, I got a history degree, and you know, I obviously, first I thought I was going to be a teacher, then I was like no, I think I’m going to be a librarian. So I was very fortunate that there was a job for me and I'm very fortunate that I got a job right out after I graduated. There are a lot of people that I know that never use their library degree because, you know, we were told there was going be this big need for librarians because massive amounts of people were going to be retiring and these people never retired and so the job market was scarce for library science. Like for me, I would love, in the future to see colleges take more responsibility about how many people they let in per major, I think, that’s more responsible than saying forget liberal arts and forget the humanities, because, you know, it's such a big conversation. I mean my brother is you know, his second semester in college and he's paying for it out of pocket he refuses to take out loans, his generation, they're very conscious about student debt, they're learning from our generation. And if that's the case then I think our institutions need to be more responsible in that sense of, you know that the market is flooded with, I don't know, criminal justice majors right now but there's not enough jobs out there, be responsible, and not just take everybody and anybody into that major, because it's popular, you know, be responsible to the job market and to these students. So I hope that's the direction that this goes in and it's not just about let's just slash the arts, but we'll see.
Jessica: Yeah, that's where it all gets interconnected too because, you know, they're trying to accept these students because of their lack of funding. So, if, one changes and hopefully there can be positive changes in the other area. So my other one was similarly concerning but very relevant was this section about, they had a section about the campuses being impacted by climate change. And while that's not necessarily what we're dealing with right now, we are dealing with this pandemic situation which had similar parallel points. They were talking about the fact that if campuses have to shutter or move due to climate change due to major weather problems or there's no food in the area or something like that, you know, they talked about online programs, and the fact that they can save higher ed money because they don't have to move a physical campus anywhere they don't have to, you know, have people coming to a physical location. Well yes, that makes sense. The report cautions the fact that equity of learning has to be considered between on-campus and online, and that we need to make sure that students and faculty have the same infrastructure of technology and internet, the fact that we need to provide the same level of support for different learning modalities. I mean, and that's where the other part of the report about enhanced curriculum design and learning engineering could help, but it's still a lot that we're learning right now in this whole pandemic situation that maybe we’ll unfortunately have to take in the future, and libraries would have to be a part of that too because we'd have to do different outreach to students who would be adapting to receive in-library services online, which, again, we're also doing right now. So we may have a lot of insights now, if God forbid, that becomes an issue in the future but it is something that the report brought up which is concerning. But that we know may be part of our future.
[30:03] Amanda: Yeah, you know, it's sort of related but maybe not 100% related - I've just finished listening to this podcast called TOPcast, which is called the Teaching Online Podcast, and they recently interviewed, I forget what her title was or where she was, but she was like a part of this growth of an online program at this university. And they, they talked about how they needed all this extra funding to make these things happen, and they did that through the technology fee. And this technology fee allowed them to hire people, it allowed them to pay their faculty to review the courses to make sure that there's high quality, it allowed them to invest in technology, and then eventually I forget who exactly, but like they were told they could not charge that technology fee forever. And because of that things had to change you know, so luckily people didn't lose their job, they were just shifted, but they couldn't offer stipends for peer review like, things changed. So online isn't necessarily a savings. There's still a lot like you said, there's still a lot of work: curriculum design and quality that goes into online learning so I'll link to that episode in the show notes, but I thought it just kind of...what you were saying kind of made me think of that.
Jessica: Right, yeah exactly it's, we're not just going to automatically be able to as we're learning, just throw learning online and expect it to, to all work I mean, just like we talked about in our episode about online teaching. It doesn't - it's not a one for one match. You don't just stick the puzzle pieces in and all of a sudden learning is fantastic online. There's a lot more work and thought and pedagogy that has to go into it that's so different from on-site.
Amanda: Yeah, agreed. So, two things that surprised and concerned me was the fact that there was only one librarian on the expert panel. You know I might be slightly defensive because you know, I think there could have been better representation but, you know, our librarians, many librarians, interact with students every single day, and we play such a major role in the teaching and learning process, especially outside of the classroom that, you know, I think there should have been better library representation here in terms of talking about trends in higher education. You know, librarians were only mentioned twice in this report: once when they talked about the AI chat box, and then the other time was when we talked about instructional design which I'll talk about a little bit later. But, you know, librarians focus really hard on teaching and learning. You know, we obviously, we’re engaged in that I mean this is the whole point of our podcast, you know, teaching and learning. So, I think, to not have a better representation was, you know, kind of disappointing to me.
Jessica: Yeah, and there's a ton of rock star research librarians out there who are doing amazing things, searching the way that they teach in the classroom and all the different, even library teaching trends, and things like that so there definitely could have been some more representation.
Amanda: Yeah. And the other thing that surprised me was, we're still talking about online learning as a trend. You know, I mean, we're still struggling to figure it out all these years later! I mean, how many years has online learning been happening - at least 20? I know, back in what - 2000, 2004, maybe, I was taking an online class and it wasn't like, “new new” so it was happening before my time so we're still trying to figure it out, like to me that was kind of like disheartening that it’s still a struggle.
Jessica: Yeah, and honestly I mean now that you mention that online class you took in 2004 I mean, I'm thinking back to my grad school for my MLS and honestly I don't know how much it has changed, like, when I look at Blackboard classes at any of the colleges I've worked at since getting my master's degree, which was 10 years ago at this point, I don't think things have really shifted that much. I mean we're still in Blackboard in Canvas, and we're still posting lectures and it's still discussion board based and there's definitely people out there doing innovative things but when we're thinking about the broad spectrum of what students are probably experiencing it hasn't shifted that much or gone outside the box that much in the last 10 years so it'll be interesting to see what the next 10 years hold and hopefully there will be this big paradigm shift, but so far, not yet.
Amanda: No, no, definitely not, I mean I got my master's degree in instructional design in 2016 and still very much the same, like okay, read this article, watch this video, respond to the discussion board, it's still in that mode. So that was kind of sad. Yeah. So moving forward, what are some recommendations on how librarians can use this information to create change, or to impact or change or improve on their teaching?
[35:42] Jessica: Yeah I think so overall, would be to just be aware of these trends and start to be involved in it, especially if you know there was one librarian represented on the panel, we may not be involved as much in the conversations unless we are prepared to be in the conversation. One of the ones - one section that I really didn't know that much about was the adaptive learning section. And from reading one of the articles that was linked, it seems like it could really create some contention in the future. It seems like it talks a lot about personalized learning, where the systems, really AI is using the student’s answer to give them the next question based on the difficulty level of what they just answered. So we're definitely putting a lot of the teaching in the hands of a computer and doing the pre design and then hoping that that does the teaching for us in a way, and some people, from the article that I read, someone called it the promise of a robot tutor in the sky, which sounds a little scary. So I want to learn a lot more about it, and it seems like librarians should really be on the forefront of understanding that so that when we're asked to be at the table, or have an opportunity to be at the table we can really be there to be part of this innovation. Like I said, I haven't heard a lot about it outside of the K-8 context with like math help software and some of those things but I hadn't heard much about it in higher ed, so it's something that I'm going to start looking into just to at least have a surface understanding.
Amanda: Yeah I'm so fascinated by this idea of adaptive learning, I think, I think it's something that would be, it's extremely expensive to produce. I think you can't do it for every single program for every single class, but I think it's what people are looking for in some instances, they're looking for that individual learning experience, they're looking to demonstrate and prove that they have advanced knowledge in certain things, and that is able to move forward and not be stuck in this like mold of learning things that they might have already learned or that they've already picked up super quickly. So I think I'm fascinated by it and I would love to do stuff like this with my library, I don't think we're there yet. I could see us doing like dabbling in it slightly like, kind of like, a test your knowledge where like, you know, if you answer these three questions right you can move on to XYZ activity and skip the you know, whatever like so, like, in the sense of like prior knowledge it gives them the ability to move forward. I can see us adapting something like that, and, you know, using SpringShare products, you know LibWizard and LibGuides. So I would definitely love to do something like this but, you know, pie in the sky kind of thing.
Jessica: Yeah. Right, exactly. So my other one was what you touched on a little bit already was the demographic changes. I know some colleges and libraries are really already on the forefront of this and they already support non-traditional students well. But I think traditional colleges are going to be the ones that are really going to need to get on this now, and librarians are going to have to consider the ways that we teach information literacy, both in the classroom, and in one-on-ones to adult students, first generation students, international students, all types of non-traditional students and really consider more culturally responsive teaching, whether that's including different texts, different examples in our one shots which we've talked about in past episodes, using more of our students’ prior experiences to teach them in the classroom so that goes back to what we've talked about before of you know, less demo, more talking to your students. And that can be hard for some people who have traditional modes of teaching, it's hard for me to, to shift out of those patterns but I think it'll be important as these demographic changes become more prevalent in higher ed. So it linked again, as we talked about linking all of these different trends together, it linked to the equity and fair practice social trend that they mentioned. They discussed that changing certain pedagogical practices is going to happen on a broader higher ed level. So librarians are going to need to be prepared for those potential changes to change their teaching, just like that labor based grading is happening in my English department, it's already impacting us, little by little. We've really had to reflect on updating our assignments that we come in and do with the students, do we have to change it for this new way that the class is functioning. So, personally I'm already trying new things in my instruction wherever I can, and adapting to the different variety of students that I'm encountering so I'm trying to take all these different ideas from culturally responsive teaching, critical librarianship, open educational resources, and just practicing bringing it together now and I think that's what's important about these reports is that it reminds us that these changes are happening around us and don't wait till the last minute to just start adapting them; learn about them now so that you're really ready.
[41:03] Amanda: Yeah that's definitely a great recommendation for librarians to consider and I think, you know, we've talked about this too in previous episodes, start small, no one's saying you have to change everything all at once, just make a small change into one class, see if it works, see if it has an impact, and then do it again for another class.
Jessica: Yeah! Exactly, you can take incremental changes. So what were your recommendations for librarians?
Amanda: So I think librarians really will have an opportunity to play a major role in this idea of the elevation of instructional design and learning engineering. I think it's an avenue where we can really shine. Now in the section of the report it mentions that, you know, different educational stakeholders need to be seen as collaborators and not service/support. I completely agree with this idea. You know, I think we need to shift the mindset of how we are perceived from different stakeholders. So I have an example for you: at my library we have what we call the “request a librarian” form and this is where faculty can request a librarian to come into their class, collection development recommendations, collaboration for developing a course with materials from the library. And it's very service-oriented so you're requesting a librarian and I would love to change that form to “collaborate with a librarian” where, you know, it just changes that mindset that yes, we do provide services but we would like to collaborate with you on these services - we want to we want to do this together. It's a small change, that obviously I'd have to talk to my people about, but I think it does shift that mindset, like, oh, we'll just take care of it for you.
Jessica: Right, right, right, exactly. That's very true. I definitely would love to do more collaborating, and I think like you said it has to be a shift in mindset for everybody. It can't just be, you know one person, collaborating with one person, it's got to be a whole, whole shift so I really hope that one happens too.
Amanda: Yeah. And just another thing that I think is that, you know, when I’m responding to faculty I always make it an effort to use that type of language, you know, I'm so excited to be collaborating with you this week or this session, I look forward to collaborating with you on future projects, you know I really try to stress the emphasis of us doing it together. And you know I think there are other opportunities for us to kind of elevate our role in this, you know, learning engineering. We could be presenting more professional development opportunities for faculty. We could make recommendations to our teaching and learning centers, about information literacy or anything like that. I think our librarians, like I said earlier, we take on a lot of professional development in the teaching and learning space and I think it's just really an opportunity for us to shine.
Jessica: Yeah, that's definitely true.
Amanda: Yeah. My other takeaway that I think librarians need to push back on is this idea that chat bots are the solution for supporting students, or that in the future students will have what did they call it, AI research assistants? I think we need to have a strong presence in this conversation, and truly press upon administrators that librarians are knowledge workers and professionals and humans and should be valued for the services that we provide. We can't just be replaced with a chatbot that scans our FAQs. I think we need to continue, you know, to fight the good fight and push for information literacy to be more integrated into curriculum. This idea that in the future students will have a research assistant to help them, an AI research assistant to help them, you know, with their projects - it's just sending the message that students don't need to have the lifelong information literacy skills. I don't think that's the direction we need to be going in and I think we need to press upon even more, the different ways that students need to be prepared to find and use information outside of being a student.
[46:00] Jessica: Right. Yeah, exactly. You know I think I've seen, this was a couple years ago so things might have changed but there was a library that was, they developed the chatbot themselves to take over for when they weren't able to staff the reference desk like after hours, and at one point I could kind of see how that makes sense, like, if they can't have the staff available during that time. But at the same time I agree with you too, that it's like just shooting an FAQ at them as opposed to empowering them to know where to go to find it themselves might actually be the better solution to that than having a piece of technology do it for them. But then at the same time and I'm just like, I'm just shooting out ideas at this point but, you know, does that free up their time to learn more detailed contextual information-finding that is more important? Playing devil's advocate there and I hate that term but I haven't found a new one to replace it yet.
Amanda: I think you do bring up an interesting point, but I think, I don't know, I think there's the art of teaching yourself how to find something or learn how to do something. I think there's still something to be said for saying okay, I'm gonna learn how to use this - whatever - I'm going to go online and look at a tutorial and just pause step by step, and learn how to do it. I mean I do it for a lot of things like, work-related, not work-related I mean, just yesterday I was trying to teach myself how to crochet a star. And I was on YouTube, paused it, did the two steps, you know, watched it, did it again. I mean there's just something for teaching yourself, and I get it like, time, blah blah blah. But that's something that I taught myself and I feel really proud that I was able to find that, what I was looking for, and then I was able to move forward and build upon that and I just, I don't know, I'm just not into the whole chatbot thing. I think, you know it's funny because I use it in my spiel when I'm talking to students in the classroom, I say to them, you know, we have a chat service, you know it's real librarians it's not robots or anyone from like, you know, Idaho, it's real Berkeley librarians. So, I don't know if I really subscribe to the whole chatbot thing.
Jessica: Yeah, and it's interesting that you, you say that too because I do think from what I've read that, you know people in the younger generations do use YouTube a lot to teach themselves things, so they already are doing that. So I guess there's just maybe a resistance to do it if it's not something that they see the value in, so maybe that needs to be part of the conversation of, you know, it's important to teach yourself these research skills. So maybe that message is still being lost a little bit, and if we could hook them somehow in getting them self motivated to do it, they would just apply the skills that they already have like you did of teaching yourself to just find a YouTube tutorial and it's not like we're not creating tutorials, I mean, librarians are freaking awesome at making tutorials and they're there, so it's just a matter of - and the FAQs are there. So it's just a matter of giving them the motivation to go out there and get it as opposed to having a chatbot bring it to them.
Amanda: Right, exactly. Yeah, yeah. So definitely, you know, take those to consideration I think those are a few great takeaways of things that librarians can take from this report because I think these reports are great but I think it's important for us to take a minute to say well how can I apply this, what can I personally do with this, you know? Some of our listeners might not be administrators, they might not be sitting at the table of these big conversations but there were, like we shared, ideas that you can implement or think about, to implement in the near future.
Jessica: Yeah, and now with all of us, many of us, working remotely we may have some time to dive into this report a little bit so hopefully this episode is well timed for people.
Amanda: Yeah, were there any other thoughts or comments that you had about the report that maybe didn't fit into the questions that we talked about?
Jessica: No, I think that was good. What about you?
Amanda: Yeah, so it was hard for me to get through those future scenarios, like I know that they were based upon opinions but you know the way that ideas were presented, they were presented in a way that just made it feel - and sound - like so unreal. And I know it's just a matter of reframing it, but I think I would have read them a little more easily, if it was just someone or several people saying, “This is my future prediction.” Rather than talking as if these things had already happened, it's such a little thing but I don't know it was just, it was a real struggle. I think I read those sections like the most, like over again, kinda like, to you know, process.
Jessica: I was a little scared of them so I stopped reading them. I think one of them was like, and there's a recession in the year 2022 to 23 and I was like what? No, I don't want that to happen! Of course, now they're talking about a recession like this year so maybe it's coming early but, no I found them a little bit doom and gloom, so I kind of stopped reading them, but I agree with, with what you're saying maybe they would have felt less doom and gloom if it was just so-and-so from the university saying, I think this is what's gonna happen but the way that they were worded was a little bit scary.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so it's a lot to process, but we hope we provided you with some interesting nuggets on the report, and if you, you know have any comments about it please tweet at us, we, you know, we'll be online. So let's move into some triumphs or fails. What do you have this week, a triumph, a fail?
Jessica: I have a little bit of both. So I mean, working from home with a toddler is a triumph and a fail every single day. Because getting anything done is a triumph, and I always wish I was doing more. I'm tracking what I'm doing, because that's just my personality and it makes me feel accomplished to say like I did these things today and I'll get this done tomorrow. This week is spring break, which is great because it's giving me a chance, like I said to kind of get into the swing of a rhythm with him. So I'm really ready for next week when more students are going to need our support and I'm hoping that next week, a triumph is going to be a successful Zoom citation workshop that I'm running with a colleague. We had scheduled them already, and then all of this happened so we just transitioned them online, we made Zoom bitly links and promoted them on social media, promoted them to professors, you know, we're not anticipating hundreds of students because we know students are still trying to digest everything that's going on in their personal lives, everything that's going on transitioning to online learning, but if you know even a couple of students really feel like they need the help we just want to at least be there for them as a resource. So hopefully that'll be a triumph that we at least get it to work, we'll see. What about you?
Amanda: I think I have, I guess, a little bit of both, but they're kind of not amazing, like they're not traditional triumphs or fails. So my fail is like that I feel like I'm beating myself up about not being on campus with my colleagues. So our institution is still open. You know, our classes have moved online, but my colleagues are still going in, using rotating shifts, and because I'm pregnant I am not. So I feel terrible about it, but I know I shouldn't be beating myself up about it so it's like a bit of a fail, I think on my part for feeling so bad. But my triumph is that today we had our first meeting, all of us together, talking about like what's going on and how is it going and I had this whole agenda planned and we didn't get through half of it but that's okay because I think we needed to have this conversation first before we can move forward and talk about, you know, being productive and finishing the semester on a high note and preparing for the spring. So, you know, even though we just got past “Hey how's it going?” I think that's okay so I consider that a triumph, I think, you know, my colleagues just needed to talk and we did it. We didn't, we didn't feel guilty about it, you know, we didn't, you know feel like oh my God we got through nothing, it still felt like we accomplished something.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly, my Zoom department meetings this week have been a little bit of experimenting together with Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate and then part of it has just been like, like I said, Hey, here's my cat isn’t he cute?, like, like how are you guys handling all of this? And I really, I really believe that as the days go on, everyone will get more productive. I think right now it's just shellshock. Because it's not just like we're working from home because it's a snow day, like, there's an international problem happening, and it is scary and I think it's okay that we all are a little mindful about it and just, you know, take a breather for a minute to adjust to everything that's happening and we'll settle into the new temporary normal and everything is going to be fine eventually. That's how I'm looking at it, I'm having those positive ideas around it and so I think it's all okay, we're gonna get through it.
Amanda: Yeah, for sure. I agree. All right, that wraps up another episode of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching. Here's where you can find us, you can find the podcast at @Librarian_Guide, you can find Jessica at @LibraryGeek611. You can find me, Amanda, at @HistoryBuff820. You can also email us at InfoLitTeachingPodcast@gmail.com. Be sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen, and we love to hear from you in the reviews as well.
We want to send a HUGE thank you to listener, Megan Ondricek, for volunteering to help us catch up and create transcripts for our past episodes (starting with episode 9 below) and provide this important resource to our community!
Jessica: Welcome to episode number eleven of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching podcast! I'm Jessica,
Amanda: And I'm Amanda,
Jessica: And on today's episode we're going to talk about teaching outside of the classroom through programming. But before we get started, how are you doing? Anything exciting happening this week?
Amanda: Yeah, so this week is all about grading, um, I’m an honors librarian, and our honor students are currently in the process of getting ready to start writing their paper. So in theory they should be done with their research, and they have to submit annotated bibliographies, uh 25 sources each. So right now, all of our honors librarians are poring over at least ten or more each, um, annotated bibliographies and reviewing them and grading them. So it's a, it's a unique opportunity that I enjoy, but it's definitely something I'm not used to since we don't get an opportunity like this too often to grade papers and have the faculty just take our grades at face value, so I'm elbow deep in annotated bibs.
Jessica: I do kind of miss doing those; it is so time intensive but it is a very unique experience and I did enjoy partnering with the faculty to really talk about these annotated bibliographies and their research projects and so, it's fun but I know what you're going through it is, it is a struggle too.
Amanda: Oh yeah, the struggle is real man.
Jessica: Yep, exactly. So this week, is we, everybody knows, like we are, we are impacted by the coronavirus officially at my university, so not that anyone has it, but we are in the full swing of our contingency plan of working from home officially as classes have been moved online so this week, it was all about, how do I prep to teach online if I have to and support students online. Thankfully I don't have any classes scheduled this week but I did have to teach myself some online tools like Blackboard Collaborate, Kaltura Capture, I've never used those tools before so I did get to learn um, something new, and we'll see if I have to use it. If there's going to be students who need it and so it's going to be an interesting couple of weeks coming up in terms of supporting our students in this new, new way.
Amanda: Yeah definitely, um, not to go off on a tangent but, I definitely, I read an article today in the Chronicle that talked about how if this is the big experiment of all classes going on online because of emergency reasons, and you know there might not be enough um, time for the experiment to like, you know, evolve to get real, you know, interesting insights. But um, basically, the article just went on to say that students who take online classes don't do as well, um, since on site is their preferred method. So it can, it can be a challenge for sure. I mean, there's this list going around of how many schools are closing and I've looked at it this afternoon and it was like up to like 110 schools so, across the country, so it's definitely an interesting thing that I don't think we've ever had to deal with before so I would be curious to see like, if we learn anything from this, you know, forced decision.
Jessica: Yeah, I heard, someone tweeted or said it and I was, I heard them say that, you know, get ready for all of the conference proposals and presentations and articles about both for how libraries prepare but also how higher education responded and I'm sure there will be a lot of what you just talked about, you know, how did we react to putting all the classes online, what did we learn what could we take away from it. So yeah, get ready for that coming up in the fall and next year.
Amanda: I already saw someone on Twitter this morning saying, you know if they were interested in doing something for ACRL to DM them about it so...
Jessica: Right. It begins.
Amanda: I mean, it's practical for sure.
Jessica: Yeah, true.
Amanda: You know, but it's definitely, it'll be interesting to see what comes out of this whole thing.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Jessica: All right, well, let's move on to our topic for this episode, as I said we're going to be talking about instructional programming. And so when we say programming is instructional, we're talking about events and activities in libraries that teach information literacy skills in some form. So these are programs that are more focused on bringing people together to teach them information literacy skills as opposed to just promoting the library and specific resources. So we're going to talk a little bit about some of our most successful programs. I'll start out with one that I did last year that was pretty successful. I collaborated with one of my colleagues at Berkeley College on this, and it was a Wikipedia edit-a-thon. We did it a little different than I think some other colleges have done it. Some colleges will do more of a timed event, and have students sign up to participate in a computer lab, but since we usually don't get that type of student response at Berkeley where I was when I did this, we actually partnered with faculty members and came to their classes. So we did two sessions in the class, spread apart two weeks apart from each other. The first session was teaching about Wikipedia, about representation as editors and why we needed to be more diverse, and the ways that editing can happen. And then in the second session, it was really the workshop where we demoed editing options and then students worked in pairs to find and edit articles. And Laurie, my colleague, did it a little differently in the first session she had them do for homework, research on what articles needed editing so that they came to the second session with an article prepped and ready to go. But we also had different class levels, mine was a 101 sociology class, hers was like a 300-level, gender and class, class, so there was a little bit more prior knowledge for her class, so I kept it really simple and just had them work to do basic edits. And the takeaways were still there and were still valuable, they still learned about representation about how easy it is to make a link edit or type into Wikipedia, they learned about the bots that can go in afterwards and remove their edits if they're inaccurate so they still learned a lot of stuff. And it was really successful because we got the buy-in from the faculty to do it in class over those sessions. What I would have liked, probably was more sessions to maybe come in and do three or four sessions, but I think that's something Laurie might be trying, eventually, to do it again. And she made a really great LibGuide about it that we can share in the show notes, it was definitely one of the more successful things I've done in terms of faculty response and student response. So, it's something that I'd like to do again, and I know other colleges have done it where they partner with student clubs, because the clubs have a specific theme that they're focused on, and so it's easy to tie it into a Wikipedia theme. So like I said I'm still new at Pace but it might be something I want to try in the future.
Amanda: Yeah, I never had a chance to participate in the Wikipedia edit-a-thons but I definitely heard a lot about it from you and Laurie. I think it would make a great assignment, like a long-term, you know, like you said you would have loved to have gone back in so I think it has potential to be that kind of capacity for sure. Obviously, then it's not a program, but it's still, it's it's exciting because there are multiple steps involved because you do have to kind of teach them how to do it and teach them the basics and, but that's definitely an interesting, I think somewhat exciting project. How did the students react to it, were they interested in editing Wikipedia pages?
Jessica: Yeah, surprisingly, they were! I was a little nervous that they were going to see it as too much of like an instruction session workshop feel, but you know walking around and especially because they got to work with a partner, and I let them find pages of things that they were interested in. It was for Hispanic Heritage Month, so there was that theme around it, but they, they then were able to find at least things that they were interested in whether it was a musician or a neighborhood or something like that. So they were interested in it and they were asking engaging questions and at the end we kind of did a little wrap up with the faculty member and a lot of them were saying you know I'm so surprised at how easy it was to edit things and I didn't know that it was that easy. So there was a great discussion at the end about a lot of actually things that are touched upon in the ACRL framework, so it does touch on a lot of the frames and you can teach a lot of it, even in the two sessions that we did so, it was popular with students.
Amanda: Oh yeah, were they nervous at all to edit the pages?
Jessica: Yeah, that's, it's true. Some of them were, some of them were like, “Wait what do I hit, I'm a little nervous about messing something up” and you know I had to remind them it's editable: A) It's okay. And also there is this whole culture and of people and bots that are there to kind of, you know keep things in check as well so it's not the end of the world if
you know, you put in the wrong thing, you just have to check yourself. You check your work the same way you check all your other work.
Amanda: Yeah, oh that’s interesting. Yeah, definitely sounds like an exciting project. So one of my successful programs is a series of symposiums that we did, that we still do. So every spring the library decides to offer some type of symposium about something that's going on and relevant in society, we try to keep it broad, so that we can invite a range of classes to participate. So, one that we recently did last year, which I think was one of the most successful ones was a panel on blockchain. And Jessica happened to be representing the library on that panel but it was such a diverse panel we had a professor who was really into data science. She was offering a course on blockchain so like, the timing was perfect. We had someone from career services who talked about you know, what it's, the job market, future job market looks like. We had someone from IS, our IT department, come and talk about it because like that was like his thing, he was interested in it. We had another professor talk about it from like the business aspect of it, um, am I missing anybody? I think that was everybody right?
Jessica: Yeah, I think there was, uh, there was two professors, there was also the one that Zoomed in.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, I got him. And so it was really engaging so we got to invite business faculty, legal students, liberal arts students. There were so many different levels that we were able to invite, and they all talked about different things and I think what's exciting about the panel is that it's different perspectives, and they all have different perspectives, even, even though we asked the same question they all kind of answered the question differently. And the students were really engaged. The faculty were really engaged too, the ones that, that decided to bring their classes to participate. They were really engaged in it and the students learned a lot so they learned about something that was kind of, like super relevant to them. They learned about information, um, it was just really engaging. To be honest, our career services person, when we reached out to her to invite her she said, “You know, I really don't know a lot about this topic, but I'd be happy to be on the panel,” and she learned a lot herself so I think that was it also a great learning opportunity for her to kind of stay on top of certain things as well. So we've done the panel thing in the past, and that's been successful, and we're actually in the midst of planning our next symposium but knows with the coronavirus if that's going to happen, whether it's going to be April or May, but this year we're going to do it on big data and algorithms. So it's gonna be a wide range so again we're going to ask, we're going to ask a range of faculty to come, career services again. And then a few other people to be on the panel, and really like, talk about privacy and data sharing, oh we're gonna invite a marketing professor to get the perspective of how is your data being sold, do people care that their data is being sold. So it's really going to be like this interesting panel so, um, you know, again, it touches on a lot of frames, and it's, it's not just a lecture, you know, so because we've done a lecture style presentations, too. Um, but it’s more than one person talking.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly. And I remember a lot of students got up and asked the panelists very specific questions related to their major. So they were definitely really interested in the topic which was great. And I think in that regard, they're both learning something about their discipline but it also just: A) gets the already interested students more curious and develops that kind of lifelong learning, interest in the topic and then for students who may have not known about it as much, then they'll get even more interested in it, by listening to the panel. So I think those panel discussions are really interesting. They’re a lot to plan, as opposed to just like a tabling event or like a one class session, but they're rewarding for everybody involved. I definitely learned a lot too. I didn't know a lot about blockchain. I knew little snippets about how it impacted libraries but I learned a lot in my own preparing and also from everybody else it was, it was interesting.
[14:32] Amanda: Yeah, yeah. And the symposium also, I guess in a way, evolved from another program that we used to do every year which was Information Literacy Month programs. So, back in 2009, President Obama made this declaration that October was National Information Literacy Month, so we jumped on that bandwagon so hard. We did programming, like specifically around, you know, information, information literacy and like we didn't - we started at one campus. So, Berkeley, we have multiple campuses. We did it at one campus and I remember we were able to pick whatever topic we wanted so someone did something about Wikipedia, where he did a debate with the professor about Wikipedia. You know, so 2009, you know, to use it. I did something on - what did I do mine on? Privacy, maybe? Then, another librarian did hers on Google. So hers was like Google like a guru or something, and it was all information literacy, information seeking, types of like presentations, and it was really exciting and then the next year we blew it up even bigger. And what was really interesting and I think kind of was the demise of it was that after that first year it wasn't a declaration anymore,
and nobody talked about it, I mean, and ALA didn't even jump on that bandwagon like nobody nationally was talking about it. But we kept it going, and it evolved over time where, at first it was like, you do your own thing. And then it became, okay, let's pick a theme, and go around the theme. And then, you know, we, it was kind of complicated to coordinate ten locations, with the same program. So we then voted on the themes, and I thought that was kind of interesting where we all kind of decided together collectively, what we wanted to kind of focus on. But I think, like I said eventually because nobody was really doing it outside of us, it kind of petered out, but I did like that that we said okay, October is when we're going to push, and we're going to really promote information literacy and really promote these skills outside of the classroom and like we have this declaration so we have a platform but because it was like, from 2009, it's not like we could put that in our documentation and say, you know, oh, according to this proclamation, you know. Yeah, that was kind of like, you know, it was good while it lasted, but then we kind of evolved, which is fine though because we evolved to the symposiums anyway so it worked out for us.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s true, it evolved into something that, it's working out, even better, you know, we have to evolve with our students and the times and kind of what works for our um, our infrastructure, so.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, and I think we'll definitely talk about that a little bit more later when we talk about failures and tips about you know just like trying to just, you know, you have to grow and evolve when it comes to your instructional programming.
[17:51] Jessica: Yeah, I guess that leads into, leads in well to my next one is kind of trial and error. One thing that I did so many times at Berkeley was tabling events, because a lot of my students were commuters and a lot of my students in general, both the commuters and the resident students, worked full time. So coming to a scheduled event at two o'clock or even five o'clock and then staying around for a half hour or an hour for a full program just wasn't feasible. So we kind of had to meet them where they are, and the tabling events were a great way to do that. So I, most of the time, picked a theme and used LibWizard to just make quizzes that they could take on the fly. Um, in terms of, a lot of times it was just promoting resources to them but in terms of the instructional programming, quizzes worked well because I could tell them like, “Here's a five minute multiple choice quiz about this topic, you know, let's learn something new.” And, you know, they could take a snack, afterwards, and food was always a great motivator. So I've done like Women's History Month, um, information overload, disinformation, and the LibWizard quizzes are so easy to make and you can make them simple or hard with logic or not so students love to take those. Although before we had LibWizard I even made an old school poster, like a trifold with the flaps, and it had trivia questions, and I think I did that one about voting and information literacy around voting, so it was really low tech but students could just stop, have a conversation, learn something new and then go to class. And we could feed them, which always felt great. So the tabling events were always my favorite because, you know, students have a short attention span, but I could still have, they’re very low stakes, and I could still build relationships with students. I could give them short mini lessons, I could even see how they're doing in their classes, and then that eventually led to, you know, scheduling, research appointments with them that would eventually lead to more teaching, or maybe they would tell me that they have a paper coming up, and their professor hadn't reached out to us about doing an information literacy session so I could reach out to their professor. So the tabling events were great for making more connections on top of teaching, because a lot of times you can't do that in the classroom events or the big panel events or scheduled events like that so I think those were always my favorite. I kind of want to find a way to get back to doing those. I actually saw a tweet the other day, this is not teaching students related but it was a tweet about someone who did a faculty lounge tabling. It was just like, hey, ask me questions about the library. So I've been asking around about how I can try to make that happen into one of the faculty buildings, so maybe that'll be a triumph coming up soon.
Amanda: Oh yeah, that, that sounds like a great idea. I think, you know, it's important to be where they are. Just like our students we need to be where they are, we definitely to be where our faculty are.
Jessica: Yeah they’re busy, so, might as well.
Amanda: Exactly. Uh, another program that was successful and fun is a board game, it was a take on Candy Land, but a colleague of mine and I, we renamed it “Library Land.” It was, the students had to, they picked a game piece, And we created our own Candy Land board using Power Point, and we blew it up like huge poster size, and it was like four or five tasks that they had to do to demonstrate their information literacy skills. And we didn't teach them how to do it, but we like, these were skills that we thought that they should probably, like, know how to do. They were like basic things like search the catalog, find a database, you know, find something in one of the textbooks or something, and they, so they learned about our textbooks on reserve. And it was, it was so much fun. And we also, it got a little complicated, um, we actually also paired it with videos, that would give them additional clues. So that got fun as well and we found a lot of success I mean I'd say like a decent amount of students, I was in one location and he was in another, a decent amount of students actually participated in it. We were able to offer prizes so there was incentive, and then the fact that the big board was up there in the library and they watch their game pieces move every time they completed a task like they found it really interesting so it was, I think what was one thing that was successful about it was that it was self paced, they can do it at a time that was convenient for them. And then if they struggled or they got something wrong, we would of course help them and make it a teachable moment. So that was good too, um, and then I actually took this a step further and converted it for a class, and I did it as a lab activity, I still use the game pieces. But I switched up the activities to be specific to the class. And that was really successful too, the students were engaged and they were really engaged because they had half of the class period to do it and quote-unquote “beat their classmates” and get to the finish line. So that was like you know the whole gaming element was what was like super fun about it for them, and that you know like, information level skills that they needed to complete the task so that was pretty successful.
Jessica: Yeah, that sounds super fun I'm kind of sad that I wasn't around for that but I remember seeing some pictures (chuckling). And it's true, it's kind of like we talked about in a bunch of episodes about Kahoots and how students love competing with their classmates even for the multiple choice questions, so it's a great way to get them to want to do your program and the self pacing thing definitely makes sense because they can kind of come and go and do it as they please. How did they watch the videos?
Amanda: Um, they would get emails from us about it. They signed up, they'd have to put their name and their Berkeley email, and we'd send them emails like to...it was a nudge, and it was also a clue. So, I think two-in-one kind of thing to kind of like help them along if we saw them getting stuck or if they're struggling, and they, you know, they weren't doing anything after a while.
Jessica: Oh that's cool. It reminds me of some of the really interesting stuff I've seen on the Facebook page for the Library Marketing and Outreach Group, I always shout them out because everybody on there is just so freakin talented, and I'm always stealing ideas from there and then reposting what I did and saying like hey you guys inspired me, and everybody's so supportive and that way so if you're not a part of that, I'm going to post it in the show notes, the link to it so everybody can join, ‘cause everybody there is super cool.
Amanda: Yeah definitely.
[24:59] Jessica: And another one I wanted to highlight, partially because it was good for online students too was um, Celebrate Berkeley Libraries month, our online LibGuide that we had. The uh, the month was a brainchild of our library marketing and outreach committee, and it was kind of that, the basis behind it was that April was always a bad month for us for National Library Week, we always had our break in between our semesters during that time, so we were never really able to take full advantage of that whole celebrate your library kind of thing. So we took it, and made January our month to celebrate our libraries. So, the first year we did information superpowers, that was kind of like your information literacy skills were your superpowers. And then last year we did the magic of libraries and being an information wizard, and last year's LibGuide had a lot of cool interactive stuff on it, and it was good because we could push this theme, and make it instructional, but for both on-site and online students, so we could really, we pushed it out I think via email to the online students and people put it in their emails to students when they supported them, and the guide had informational videos, it had links to some of our tutorials, and all of our Harry Potter books and wizarding books so it pushed our resources and IL skills, but it also had activities. So, I had created a “What's your Research House?” quiz. So that was fun to create because I am a Harry Potter fan, so it sorted them based on their answers to research questions into different houses. So I think like Slytherin was like, fake news, the fake news house. The Gryffindors were like, the researchers. I'm trying to think of how I framed it. I think I based it on each one off of one of the ACRL frames or something. That was really fun to come up with and again I'll link it in the show notes because it is public. And there were also weekly research questions. So those were just kind of like multiple choice research questions, and in the library we had them at the reference desk so when we checked out a book or an item to them, we would ask them if they wanted to answer the question, and then be entered to win a prize. So, it helped with our interacting with them at the reference desk, and it was a fun little way to get them to talk to us about research because then if they got the question wrong, it was a great little mini teachable moment. And I'm sure that could even be expanded, you know outside of a monthly themed event, it might just be fun to do at reference desks too. Yeah, so we, we also hoped that, having the educational videos on there that the quizzes would eventually lead to them watching that content. So, I don't remember the stats from that, but that would definitely be something interesting to look at.
Amanda: Hmm. Yeah, I wasn't really a part of those programs but I was definitely always aware of them, and I did hear successful things about them so they do sound engaging and they don't, I mean it sounds like a lot of work putting it together but you had a lot of people helping with that, organizing it, right?
Jessica: Yeah, we had like six of us on the committee, but it wasn't too, too much I mean especially if you split it up between three even three or four people and one person building the guide because that's a lot of work, one person creating the quizzes. Maybe someone else kind of being the Harry Potter expert, we had one librarian who was really the Harry Potter expert even more than me, so that was helpful. Yeah, but it was fun to be creative, and also do instruction at the same time and I think that's a lot of what's fun about instructional programming in general, is you get to be creative and pull in these themes and ideas and activities that maybe wouldn't always work in the classroom in the same way.
Amanda: Yeah, I definitely agree with that, I think it allows you to, like you said, be creative, and also teach to some of the frames that you don't necessarily get to teach to in the classroom. Sometimes there’s just no space for it like we know at Berkeley, at least from our data that we rarely get to teach scholarship as conversation, it's just so rare for us. So programming gives us that opportunity. I think another good thing about programming is that you, as the librarian and instructor, you get to hone in on your teaching skills as you're presenting because you're still providing instruction in some capacity. So it's great practice, and you're also really enthusiastic and passionate about it because a lot of the times when it comes to this programming, you're picking the ideas of what programs you want to provide so it's not just something that's like a request came in or you were kind of thrown into it, it was something that you, you're personally interested in so you know you know how that goes. When you're personally interested in something you're really gonna throw yourself into it and get super involved with the planning process. So, I mean it always ends up being a better program because of that, you know.
Jessica: Yeah, and it's a little more low stakes because you're not necessarily teaching to objectives or nothing's going to be graded, they don't have an assignment coming up that's based around it, it's, it's just an added opportunity to get them interested in libraries and lifelong learning and being curious and information literacy so that's a good thing about it too that it's just this kind of added thing that we get to do and have all these benefits of it.
Amanda: Yeah, so those were some of our successful programs so of course with our successes, you know, we, we’re going to talk a little bit about our failures. I have, I mean I've definitely had my fair share of failures when it comes to instructional programming, but one that sticks out to me that I did, like, a million years ago was a program called 10 and 10, and it was 10 things about something in 10 minutes, and the reason I came up with the idea is because one of my biggest struggles was getting people to attend my events. And I was like well maybe it's just not, maybe they just don't have time, you know, so it's like they have 10 minutes, you know, so I would develop these programs like I did 10 things you need to know about social reading, 10 things you need to know about Chrome versus Mozilla, like I tried to make them interesting but also in, you know, instructional and they were literally 10 minutes I mean I stuck to it. But it was, I guess it was a fail, and I don't know if it's my fail but it was a fail because attendance was always so low. You know, it was hard to get people to attend, even, even being a 10 minute program, it was still a challenge so that was unfortunate. Um, so I, I think it's something we all still struggle with when it comes to programming, wouldn’t you say?
Jessica: Yeah, definitely. That was probably one of my biggest problems too. I didn't hone in on a particular program because it feels like all of my programs that were failures or at least 90% of them revolved around not getting faculty buy-in to go into the class to do the program or students just didn't want to attend the scheduled session, and a lot of that is out of our control. I mean, I guess programming is in a way related to, under the umbrella of marketing, so a lot of library marketers would say well you should be doing your marketing research before you're doing any type of outreach or programming, so that you know what your students want and how you're going to be able to reach them, but sometimes that's out of our control, too. I mean, we've been told that students have survey fatigue, so we may not be allowed to do a survey to students to find out, you know, when can you come to a program, what programming are you interested in, and sometimes even that data wasn't helpful for me. It still kind of led to failures, I would ask students at the end of events to fill out a survey and the survey would have questions about, you know, when's the best time that you would attend events, what was your favorite Berkeley events that you've ever been to library related or not, what do you want to see? And a lot of times the data just wasn't necessarily relevant to the question, or it didn't lend itself to instructional programming the way I was interested in, or all of them would put different times that they could come, so it was like what, do I just offer the event at every time of the day everybody wants it? So, and I usually had very small sample sets of people, it was probably like if I only had five people come to an event, and three of them filled out a survey, well, that's not really a big enough marketing research data set anyway. Some of it has to do with our institution too, I mean I had a very small campus so I think maybe if I tried to do that type of research at Pace with many, many more students, it might be, might be a different story. So, you know, maybe coming soon, I’ll have more information on that.
[34:36] Amanda: Yeah I think that's a common problem that every person who's trying to do programming faces. Um, you know I think back to when I was a student, I never attended programs outside of school, because I was working two jobs and I was taking six classes I didn't have time. You know, I, I think I could maybe think back to maybe one or two programs but I think they were all driven by extra credit, or I was required, kinda sorta deals, which I don't think is necessarily bad. I think students don't sometimes appreciate those moments, but sometimes they do end up learning something that you know they walk away with something even though they wouldn't have themselves attended that program. But it's, it is definitely a challenge but I still think instructional programming outside of the traditional classroom, research based is is important. I think, like we talked about, like there's a lot of different things that you can do with those programs, you don't, there's no real room for them otherwise in, like in a traditional setting. So, you know...
Jessica: Yeah it’s worth um, being creative with your formats, and trying different things that work.
Amanda: Absolutely, and I think that kind of goes through a little bit, um, is the challenging part right? So what are some of the challenges that come from preparing and presenting instructional programming?
Jessica: Yeah, so just a few that we came up with and maybe there's more but obviously they take a lot of time to plan, we talked about it a little bit with Celebrate Berkeley Libraries month. Those LibGuides and all the quizzes, they took time to come up with, I'm sure “Library Land” took a while to come up with, right?
Amanda: Oh yeah. Um, one thing that I always feel like I do is I never plan ahead enough. [Jessica chuckles] I do! I don’t know why, like, I always feel like I'm not, like, we're like, just down to the wire, getting it done kind of sort of deal and that's always been one of my struggles is to plan it but I think another thing that goes along with that is sometimes it's out of your control when you're collaborating with other departments.
Jessica: Mm-hmm yeah, exactly. When you, when you have other people involved that you're relying on it can be, it can be hard to coordinate all of that. And we already talked about our third challenge which is lack of student attendance. And lastly is marketing to them, how do you reach them to: A) find out why they're not attending or B) to let them know about your event. I just was thinking about the event that I've been trying to do at Pace is citation workshops, we've been working with the writing center, and it's like, those are directly related to what students need to accomplish for their class. And it's, we're helping them out, but even marketing on social media, marketing on flyers, um, we haven't been able to get too many to attend so but we're going to try to flip our format and try something different so you just have to try different ways.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah I think something that's not on this list is buy-in from maybe your supervisors and the time to do it, right? I know something that I experienced was, um after a while, my supervisor was like, Are you sure you want to invest time into this program? No one came to the last one. You know what's the value of it, what's the purpose of this program? So I think get even getting that internal buy-in from your own department, you know, supervisors, might be a challenge sometime and I think, I think it's important for you to be prepared. You know, when you're getting ready to propose some type of instructional programming to, you know, state that this isn't just a program that's, you know, arts and crafts, it's, you know we're providing instruction. And I think that kind of lends itself to the next section, which is some types of, some tips when it comes to, you know, the process of instructional programming. So one of the tips we have is to know what topics and engagement methods are important to your students. Right? I think that makes sense, that makes sense.
Jessica: Yeah, get to know your students, get to know what they want and how to reach them.
Amanda: Yeah. Another one is to be sure to assess your programming. So for a long time we didn't really collect a lot of data on our programming. And I have read this really great article in In the Library with a Lead Pipe about how to actually assess your programming and then it inspired me and a colleague to come up with this whole form that we use in LibInsight, and then eventually you and Bonnie evolved into this, like, it was a really complicated form, but I think we were capturing really important data when it came to the programming process, and I think it allowed us to collect meaningful data that we could then use to make decisions about future programs.
Jessica: Yeah definitely! Um and Bonnie and I just wrote an article about it that we shouted you out in. So, (chuckles) that’ll be coming out soon! That’ll be a triumph of mine once it gets published over the summer. Um...yeah and I think that's also related to our next tip is tying your programming to your mission or goals of your department and institution, and the next one: collecting meaningful data because in the form that you had originally designed, it did have a field for tracking what, uh, what library goal and what institution goal does this go with. So um, that was, that's definitely a good tip as well because you can present that to your stakeholders that your programming is instructional and it's engaging with students, but it's also meeting the goals of the department and the institution.
Amanda: Yeah I think that's very helpful when it comes to looking for funding for maybe materials or refreshments, and it allows you to also look at your data and recognize when something isn't working, that's another, I think an important tip too, you know, not only collect the data but say okay well what programs we offer in the past year and how did they go. Should we offer them again, and then also kind of recognize, well, you know this program didn't work we've offered it three times, and we just haven't gotten buy-in, so maybe we should move on. I think that is important and the only way you're going to get to that point is, if you collect that data because there could be people in your institution where they're like, Oh, we've always done this program, you know, that's just what we do. And I think if you have the data to show them that you know that program isn't working anymore, perhaps they might be receptive to new programming ideas. And you know, switching it up a bit.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly. And our last tip is to make sure that you tie your program back to the IL skills that you want to be taught because we are talking about instructional programming, so you want to make sure that you know exactly what IL skills you're gonna teach and try to track them so that you know what was taught, and then you can always use that as part of your meaningful data to demonstrate value.
[42:30] Amanda: Yeah, I think when you, you look back if you do a year-end review, and you look back at well what skills did we touch in the class, what skills did we touch upon to the students in reference. And then, you know, maybe you do it twofold, maybe you do it either. You're doing it to report on it or maybe you're doing it to look for gaps. So if you were looking at your data and saying okay, we're not getting to the students for these skills. Let's see if we can create programming around it because we know these skills are important, we know that they need them but our curriculum just doesn't lend itself to those skills. So I think, you know, constantly reminding yourself that these are instructional programs. It allows you to be mindful of what is or isn't being taught.
Jessica: Yeah, definitely. And so we want to ask, or end, by asking you a question! We want to hear what your most and least successful instructional programming has been, we'd love to create a list and we can share it on Twitter so send us an email or a tweet or a direct message and we'll try to compile that.
Amanda: Okay so we are going to move into our weekly segment of triumph and fail, Jessica, do you have a triumph and fail or one or the other?
Jessica: I think I have both. So my, I think are both actually related to each other, so I had a peer observation this week that went well, it was all voluntary, it's not tied into my annual review or anything like that but we just decided as a department that if we wanted to be observed by someone within the department that we could voluntarily do that, and since I’m new I definitely wanted to get more feedback, and it went well! The person that I had observe me has been around at Pace for a very long time and has done teaching so I liked learning tips from someone who's been doing it much longer than I have, and has been teaching specifically the Pace resources but also just information literacy and searching in general. It was great to learn from her. And I guess my fail is a part of that was, I didn't realize that our quick search, our discovery system, automatically only included full text links out to all of our resources and so I think I said something to them about, oh, well, if you click this search-for icon it might direct you to interlibrary loan, which you would never do if all of the information was full text so I was like, oh duh, I shouldn't have said that and she told me that afterwards. But, you know, it's not like it messes with anything that students needed to know they'll just never find an interlibrary loan link but, so it was just a little bit of me still getting to know our extensive set of resources that we have and all those little tidbits about how it works. So oops. [chuckling]
Amanda: Oh, I'm sure you're not the only person that's ever done that before so...
Jessica: Right. So what about you?
Amanda: So I have both. So my triumph is...no I’m going to start with my fail. My fail is that, once again, as per usual, I tried to do too many things in one semester. So part of my job is to lead our Instructional Services program, and move it forward. And that entails different types of projects, and I tried to coordinate too many projects at once and my fail is that I'm failing at doing this because I want to be involved in every single one. And I'm also struggling to get some of them off the ground because librarians are working on other projects, so I had to pull it back. And so it's a fail because I feel like I failed, that like you didn’t get to do the project, but then I also feel like this is just a chronic problem that like I stretched myself too thin. And I stretched my people too thin, so I'm trying to scale back but it's very hard for me because I like to juggle multiple projects at once but I don't think other people like to as much as I do so, that was definitely a fail this semester that I'm going to try to correct next semester, we'll see if I can do it. So my triumph is my nagging for librarians, my people, to confirm their LibCal appointments, finally paid off. I was asked by my supervisor last week to confirm like patterns in services and appointments to demonstrate where we need the most support for certain locations, and that's going to impact how we staff our locations. And you know, I feel like a constant nag always saying to people, make sure you confirm your appointment, make sure you, you know, provide accurate data, and it finally paid off because now I was able to, you know, provide her with that information, and it's being used to make real important decisions about staffing our libraries to be there for our students, when they need us the most, so I'm happy that that kind of worked out, finally.
Jessica: That’s so cool!
Amanda: Yeah I’m excited! I haven’t got to share it with my librarians yet, I'm gonna share it next week at our meeting so I'm excited that I get to kind of like, you know, share it and hopefully that'll also encourage them to continue to confirm those LibCal appointments.
Jessica: Right. That’s awesome! Great triumph.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. So that wraps up episode eleven! Here's where you can find us: you can find the podcast at @Librarian_Guide, you can find Jessica at @LibraryGeek611, you can find me, Amanda at @HistoryBuff820. You can also email us at InfoLitTeachingPodcast@gmail.com. Be sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen, we love to hear from you in reviews as well.
Jessica: Great! And send us an email or a tweet to share your questions, ideas for potential discussions, or your triumphs and fails in the classroom. We want your feedback, your questions, and encourage you to share anything to be read in an upcoming episode.
Summary keywords: students | programming | faculty | quizzes | information literacy skills | events | panel | symposium
episode 10: What does it take to “Thrive as a Library Professional?” Interview with Susanne Markgren and Linda Miles
We want to send a HUGE thank you to listener, Megan Ondricek, for volunteering to help us catch up and create transcripts for our past episodes (starting with episode 9 below) and provide this important resource to our community!
Amanda: Welcome to episode ten of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching podcast! I’m Amanda.
Jessica: And I’m Jessica.
Amanda: And on today's episode, we are talking to the authors of the new book, “How to Thrive as a Library Professional,” Susanne Markgren and Linda Miles. Their book covers topics that range from determining a career vision and cultivating relationships to using narrative to make connections and employing mindfulness, compassion, and self forgiveness. This book will help librarians at all stages of their careers to take charge and forge their own way in the vast and shifting landscapes of information science. A little bit about our guests: Susanne is the Assistant Director of the Library for Technical Services at Manhattan College, in Riverdale, NY. She has worked in libraries for more than twenty years, and has written articles, book reviews, essays, and chapters for a variety of publications. She is the co-author of two books: “Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career,” and “How to Thrive as a Library Professional: Achieving Satisfaction and Success.” She received her MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin, and her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College. Linda Miles is the Assistant Professor, Open Educational Resources Librarian, and Liaison Librarian to the faculty of Early Childhood Education and the Visual and Performing Arts at Hostos Community College – City University of New York. Linda has been very active in the library community in NYC for some time, and currently serves as the co-chair of the ACRL/NY chapter’s New Librarians’ Discussion group and a co-convener for the Metropolitan New York Library Council’s Reference and Instruction Meetup. She researches, writes, and presents about students’ reading- and college-readiness, game design for media literacy instruction, and librarians’ career development.
Jessica: So welcome to you both! Thank you so much for coming to talk to us today.
Linda: Well thank you for having us!
Susanne: Thank you so much for having us. This is so fun!
Jessica: [chuckles] Well as soon as we saw the title and the description of the book we knew we wanted to have you on to talk about the book and how it can be a part of reflecting on our careers and the work that we do. So, the name of the book starts with how to thrive so we wanted to ask you, What does thriving mean to both of you?
Linda: Well, it's a great question. I think that thriving is really a combination of two things: success and satisfaction. It’s really both about accomplishing good work and also feeling good about it. Um, it feeds on itself too, it adds up, it's cumulative. For success, sort of, success can be almost anything, and it's different for different people. It's whatever you need it to be at a given moment, and it certainly changes over time, even for an individual, and it changes with context. In the book our focus is really on this sort of steady and deliberate and creative approach to building a career over time. So success in that sense is kind of a journey, there's a, there's a, time dimension to it. You start from establishing a vision of where you're headed, and then as you progress in your career you recognize milestones that you reach along the way. And I think everyone interprets success differently and celebrates it differently as well. And it's also important to understand that success is never something you achieve and then that's it. It's never one and done, and it requires some maintenance, some care along the way.
Susanne: Yeah, absolutely. And, in full disclosure, the word “thrive” was kind of, um, picked for us from our publisher and our editor, which often happens when you write a book. But we, we, we’ve grown to kind of love it so, you know, it's kind of a catch-word, a keyword, but also just to talk about the word, you know, “satisfaction” also. And the title, similar to success, it's, it's really defined individually. And it's an affective experience. And, you know, speaking from our own personal experiences, it comes from a combination of feelings, really. So feelings, um, like what we do is helping in some way, which is really important. Whether it's helping the patron, the organization, the world, you know, just feeling connected with colleagues, feeling competent and supported by our own organizations and optimistic about what's coming next is kind of a big thing. And also feeling excitement at the next challenge, rather than feeling stressed or fearful or overwhelmed, which is often the case.
Linda: I was just gonna say so, it does, it adds that layer of the affective, the way you feel about your career to the actual nuts and bolts of getting the work done.
Jessica: Right, yeah, exactly. I think that was something that I never reflected on when I started in my career. I think I always just had that idea of the very external-based idea of success, you know, write papers, or present at conferences, get promotions, but did I even really want those things? I don't think I ever reflected on that, and it took me, you know, into my 30s to really figure out what success looked like and that it was okay for it to change. So I think that the, those are very important points, especially for someone who's new joining the field or new to their career so I think that's a great way to define
Susanne: Yeah, I think it's very true and I've, you know, I've held many different types of jobs throughout my long career, and it's different, wherever you go and you have to define that yourself, and you have to grow from the next, you know, job to the next job, and it's it's great, you know, I think that's, that's the whole point like we, we learn and we grow and our success and satisfaction changes depending on what we do and what we want to do, and it has to be internal I mean it's external obviously, as well, but it has to be also internal.
Amanda: Yeah definitely, I can definitely agree with that. Um, you know I've been at one place for pretty much all of my library career - it's been over 10 years - and I've held different positions in this, you know, in this college, at Berkeley. But the success definitely changed as my roles evolved. And I think success internally has gotten a lot harder for me as my responsibility and my roles have increased and changed and broadened so it's definitely, success is definitely different for me now, for sure, than when I first started.
[7:44] Amanda: So another question we have for you guys is, you know, the library world is small, in ways. So that can you know be a positive and a negative for building relationships. Based on your research, what are some tips you recommend for librarians at any stage, to develop, you know, those networking skills within and outside their job environments.
Susanne: Okay, this is great, like, this is huge for us so we're all about building relationships and networking and it’s how Linda and I met, but this is like so crucial and important to our career successes and satisfaction so yeah we can talk about some of the research in the chapter that we did, but also just our personal experience of all, you know, along the way doing this building different relationships. But personally, like the people that I've met throughout, you know, from library school through my various jobs to where I am now have been absolutely critical in my entire journey, and that brought me to where I am and, you know, I will say that, I will scream that, you know, at the top of the mountain. And I'm still in contact with so many of these people, and they're so important in my life right now, people that I've known for 20 plus years, you know, past library school classmates, past colleagues, past directors, past mentors, and I still call them, you know, my mentor, I'm still so, um, you know, ingratiated to them it's been fantastic. And so, I can't stress that enough and they've all had an impact so big on my career and I, and I…. That's why I'm so invested in giving back, and I hope that I've impacted other people's careers, and I'm very passionate about mentoring new librarians and people, you know, you know, getting into the field, and I've been a part of the ACRL New York mentoring program I helped to develop that and it's been going strong for about almost 10 years now and I've been the coordinator of that program and it's been fantastic so I, I, really can't stress that enough.
Linda: Yeah I would say that mentoring is a really important relationship for me too. Um, we were talking a little bit about, sort of, the emotional satisfaction you get from your work and those relationships are part of that satisfaction and part of why we do what we do. And you're right, you know, some people do find it difficult to even figure out how to do the networking, especially if they're new, in the field. And I think you mentioned, you could be in a very small library or a small organization or maybe you don't have a very supportive network within your organization. So, we would often encourage people to go outside of their institution to get the support that they need. As Suzanne mentioned there are mentoring programs like the one at ACRL New York; joining local associations can be really big. Volunteering for committees, um, really finding people who do the same kind of work you do in a different, in a different context, in a different library, anyone I've ever reached out to to try to make a connection has responded positively and some of those relationships are still going strong as well.
[11:20] Susanne: So, in the book, um, was some of the research that we found we talked about different types of relationships. Some of these are, as Linda and I just talked about, uh, mentoring, uh, mentor-mentee relationship but other types of relationships that they talked about are sponsor, friend, colleague, supervisor, and how these different roles are, you know, can be very beneficial at different stages of one's career, and then they can also overlap like it can be, You know, one or two at the same time with different people, um, and they can also be very complex so it's it's good to, kind of, think about the different relationships you have with the different, you know, the people that you work with, and how you can grow these relationships or if they are beneficial to you or if they're not, because sometimes we can be in positions that it's, it's not a healthy relationship with certain colleagues and that's just, you know, we've probably all been in positions like that before, and you just need to realize that and then, you know, you need to maybe step outward and find someone else that you can have a healthy relationship with that will fill that role. So we talk about that, a little bit, in the chapter and we also talk about collaborators and accountability partners, and that's - kind of, defines Linda and I’s relationship very well. [All chuckle] We collaborate on so much and we have, you know, over the years on, you know, the book and presentations and programming, and...
Linda: We definitely hold each other accountable!
Susanne: ...and we hold each other accountable. So I mean, the biggest tip is just try to surround yourself with as many good people that you can to fill these roles, who can help you, you know, with people that can help you, push you to the next level to help you succeed.
[13:21] Amanda: Something that I, I've been, I've been hearing that you're not really saying, but I think, you know, it's worth to point out is that, you know, these types of relationships take maintenance, you have to continue to develop them. And, you know, if you want to stay in touch with people from library school you have to make that effort to keep that relationship alive because it's very easy to like, I don't, I don't have a professional relationship with anybody in library school. But since I started my career, I've maintained the relationships that I've gotten professionally, but not through library school but I think it's so true that the maintenance part of it, it's work, you know you need to sometimes be the one that reaches out and follows up in order to help a relationship grow.
Linda: You’re - that’s exactly right and, what can be frustrating for some people is that they'll see that it doesn't seem quite as effortful for when others are doing it so some people get discouraged because they feel like they're the only ones who find it difficult, but it really is a task on everybody's to-do list, you know, whether they're explicit about it or not, whether they put in place systems to know, “Oh I need to...I know I need to reach out to so and so every six weeks so let me put that on my calendar.” I mean there are things you can do to hold yourself accountable as well. But you're absolutely right. It takes effort to maintain.
Susanne: Yeah, I agree, it does and you just have to put yourself out there and just do it, just reach out to people, and I'll get together maybe once a year with an old, like, old, old, old director of mine who I consider a mentor. And she's like, “Let's get together for lunch,” and we’ve maintained that, so yeah.
Jessica: And I think if we all talk about it as a community and realize that this is how these professional relationships work it makes people more confident to feel like, “okay I can reach out now that it's - even though it's been a year,” um, maybe give people a little confidence to reach out, because we all understand that that's just how this maintenance process works.
Susanne: Absolutely, yeah. And we're all busy individuals and, you know that, so just, yeah, to have that kind of awareness and be like, “You know what, whenever you need, just reach out and we'll get together.”
Jessica: Yeah, exactly. Great. So, one of your other chapters is on um, habits. So Amanda and I have always been big fans of being self reflective on our habits and doing things in ways that are most productive to achieve our goals. So what are some of the habit pitfalls that people may fall into when trying to develop new habits?
Susanne: Great question! This is...and, and in all honesty this is probably one of the hardest chapters to, to really write, and to think about, and to reflect on, because habits are hard. And Linda and I agree, like it's, it's, it's really, there are a lot of pitfalls. So, you know we tried to cram a lot into this chapter of different ideas for different people because everyone has different, different ways to deal with this. So, um, and, and habits can change and we know that as people's jobs change and routines change, but it's, it's kind of just paying attention to the different habits that we have currently. And then trying to think about, um, are these healthy habits like right now in my, in my current
life or my current work environment, and can I develop better ones that are maybe going to work better for me, and better for my routine right now. So, it is…it's tricky, we totally get that. But that's, I mean, that's kind of the point of reflection and reflection is like a, you know, we've said this before, reflection is as our final chapter in the book but it really covers all of the chapters, we've talked about reflecting on all of the things, and all the chapters, and it's just reflection habits work really well together because we have to kind of reflect on what our current habits are and if they're working for us, and try to develop new ones, and develop good routines that are going to help us be successful.
[17:50] Linda: Yeah. So on the one hand one of the reasons that you want to develop habits, right, is to make certain things a little bit automatic, so that you don't have to think about them so much and you can divert that energy to other things that may be more important or that you may have to be more present for. But, pausing for the reflection, kind of is, um, it’s a little ironic, right? You want to not pay attention to these things, but now we're saying, “Wait, hit the pause button, let's pay attention to this for a minute and see what's really happening.” And, and how our habits, and our work routines are operating. And then there's another potential pitfall that in my mind is a little bit the opposite of that, and that’s that some people, myself included, tend to fetishize new techniques that come out for organization or time management. And I kind of get into this endless cycle of trying out new approaches. I like to call it the “New Year's Eve resolutions syndrome” or something. Every semester I need to try out some new thing, a new way to stay organized and on top of things. One semester it was, you know, that “getting things done” GTD system from David Allen. One semester it was bullet journaling. And then when it kicks in and it takes some effort to learn that new system and maintain it, then, you know, it just becomes too much, and my resolve just sort of fades away. So this is a problem that I recognize in myself and I think it's a big pitfall when it comes to these um, productivity habits. And I haven't completely solved the problem, I'm just really attracted to new ways of thinking about becoming organized, but I think there's two concepts that helped me manage this a little bit. I stopped beating myself up when I quote-unquote, “fail” in this way, because that just paralyzes me further, and I give myself permission to modify whichever model I’m trying in the current semester in order to customize it to my needs and I think recognizing the fact that these out-of-the-box systems that worked for so-and-so or so-and-so aren't necessarily gonna work for me, without that customization. And again, taking a reflective approach helps me, sort of, understand myself - how I work best and what might work best for me. And, um, with habits as with - I don't know, I would say maybe with a lot of things - adaptability and flexibility are really important. So if the thing that I say I'm going to do on New Year’s Eve I end up not wanting to do anymore after January 15, I can grow and I can change and I can try something else. There's a little bit in our, in this chapter in the book about Carol Dweck’s concepts of the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. And anything you can do to sort of, avoid a defeatist attitude and develop some optimism about your ability to manage your routine at work, I think that can all be very constructive.
Jessica: Yeah definitely. I think it’s, it’s interesting like you almost have to make a habit out of reflecting, because you can't just reflect once, and then be done with it, because, as you said you - you're starting these new things but you have to reflect at some point is it working? So, a habit in itself is reflection and continuous reflection, it's not a one and done kind of thing.
Linda: Yeah, right.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. I'm definitely with you, Linda. I definitely like to try new models and constantly downloading productivity apps and trying to figure out new ways and um, you know, I keep going back to, just like an online Google task list. And that's it. And I, no matter what I try, I keep finding myself going back to the same thing, so I stick it out now for a while to see, um and I do think it is working for me, but I have to force myself to not want to jump to a brand new one right away, um, or so quickly.
Linda: Yeah. My mom, I always say my mom can’t pass a bookstore without going in. I can't pass by a new, you know, productivity idea without trying it.
Amanda: So uh, another thing that seems to be everywhere, right now besides habits, is mindfulness, it's a big topic that's being discussed. So how does your chapter on mindfulness and self compassion suggest that librarians tackle this topic?
Susanne: Great question, um, yes, so yeah, definitely mindfulness is, has been, extremely popular lately, and, and it's something that you know we've all heard about that probably something that we don't all actually practice or relate to our professional lives. But we've definitely, you know, that it can, you know, practicing mindfulness and self compassion at work can help us be more aware of how we relate to others. How we react and respond to certain situations and, ultimately, kind of how we judge ourselves. And so in, in the chapter on mindfulness, we do offer several tips for how to implement it, which you know stems from like the very personal, of, like doing mindful meditation breathing exercises, and then to the more broader, offering mindfulness programming or classes to your library, which many different types of libraries are doing. And then reflecting on our own positive qualities and stuff like keeping a gratitude journal. These are some of the ideas or exercises that we have in the chapter on mindfulness.
Linda: Yeah it’s easy, sometimes, to let your workload get the best of you, you know, you say yes to too many things, and you end up over-scheduled and really consumed by the things you're trying to get done, and by the things you’re not getting done, and you can, it can really affect your perspective and your, your frame of mind, so that you might feel less engaged, or you might feel a sense of complacency, or even burnout. And I think again deliberately taking some steps to focus in the moment and increase confidence, and um, take better care of yourself, helps us better relate to our emotions and it also helps us deal, I think, more productively with both success and failure, in a sense.
[25:03] Amanda: I definitely agree with that, um, when we track our instruction at Berkeley, I have a, we have a form that we use, and on the form I ask, we ask librarians to say how did it go? And it's a sliding scale from one to 10, and sometimes, you know, librarians are like, “Ugh why do I have to do this every single time?” But at the end of the year at the annual review process, they can go back and see how they felt! You know, because in my experience sometimes those really bad opportunities stick out in their head but when they look at the bigger picture, it's, it's a small percentage of the other successful, you know, experiences that they had. So, you know, it's just one little way for them to kind of, like you said keep the successes and failures in perspective.
Jessica: Alright so, thank you guys so much for answering those questions about the book! Uh, we're going to move into our weekly segment called triumph and fail so we're gonna share, um, you can share one or the other - a triumph or a fail - or you can share both, if you have them. Amanda, do you want to start?
Amanda: Sure, so, I was invited into a class last minute, it was a management class, and I wanted to do something interactive like the presentation was already put together and, but I wanted to do something a little more engaging with the students, and I didn't have a lot of time like literally, I had like two hours in the morning to put it together, and I ended up just like, you know, kicking it old school with like a paper form no tech at all. And they did group work, and it was so successful, they just, they were talking to each other, and they were filling it out like they were excited about filling it out on paper and they were just, they were writing a lot, like I couldn’t believe how much they were writing, I was so excited. And it really, it kind of set the tone for the rest of the class because they had them do it right at the beginning before it even started. And it really just felt so good, to get them that engaged over something so simple.
Jessica: Right, exactly. That does feel nice! [chuckles] Great so, Linda, Susanne, do you guys want to go?
Linda: Sure, I um, I would call this a win, or is that what we're saying? Win, or, or failure? So I, yesterday I taught, I had three library workshops back-to-back for the same professor, and it’s um, a public speaking course, and I had worked with her before there's - she has a worksheet that she has the students do and it’s called the library exercise and it takes them through a few steps and um…. So I had been doing it, and I did it this way, this time too, I've been doing the exploration of how to brainstorm a topic and think about a topic and manage a topic, and then going into this little unit on strategies for searching and using interfaces, first focusing on the Gale Virtual Reference Library and then focusing on our one-search discovery layer, and I've done it in that that sequence ever since I started teaching this course to her and I kind of had an epiphany yesterday, in the middle of one of those classes, that I really needed to do the Gale Virtual Reference Library first, where they're getting background information, then have them brainstorm topics, and then take that more specific information into using the discovery layer. So I can't say that I've implemented it yet, but I consider it a win because it's what I'm going to implement next time, next semester when I work with the same professor.
Jessica: Epiphanies count as wins, that works.
Susanne: Yeah, great. I think I have a fail and a win. I'll try to, try to be quick and also I'm not an instruction librarian so, sorry guys, but um, this is, I'm tech services. Um, but I was, um, we recently acquired O’Reilly for Higher Education, which was the old Safari thing, and I needed to put all the MARC records into the catalog. And I - it’s 54,000 MARC records - and I needed to...and I categorized some of them wrong. They were all, I put them all in as ebooks, which wasn’t correct because some are, 8800 of them were uh, videos. So I had this huge file in MarcEdit and I was trying to wrap my head around how to parse out the film, versus the ebook and, and then I called in my colleague who was, who is very smart, and the two of us, as we usually do, figure it out together. And we played around with um, find and replace, and if/then statements, and, and, and it worked. So I removed the old file and put in the new file, and all is good.
Jessica: Woo hoo!
Susanne: And I'm not a cataloger I'm a tech services person but I'm not...so I was like, “Yay!” success.
Jessica: (chuckling) That's awesome. So it was a fail that you turned into a win?
Jessica: That works. [All chuckling]
Jessica: So mine's kind of about instruction, it’s about faculty outreach. So I've only been at Pace for four and a half months or so. So I'm trying to do some outreach to some of the departments that we don't do as much instruction for, and that I haven't made connections with yet so, I've been doing that over the past two weeks and I've had a lot more bites than I was expecting and I have my first meeting with the Environmental Services department tomorrow. So very excited, get to talk about [inaudible] ourselves in the department.
Amanda: Well that’s great!
Linda: That’s awesome.
Jessica: Alright, so thank you guys for both talking to us about the book and for sharing your triumphs and fails.
Amanda: Yes thank you so much.
Susanne and Linda: Thank you for having us!
Jessica: We’ll definitely include in the show notes where people can get the book.
Linda: This was really fun.
Susanne: Yeah, thanks you guys.
Jessica: Thank you!
Jessica: Here’s where you can find the podcast! You can find the podcast on Twitter at: @Librarian_Guide. You can find me, Jessica, at @LibraryGeek611. You can find Amanda at @HistoryBuff820. And send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to rate and subscribe wherever you listen! And send us an email or a tweet to share your questions, ideas for potential discussions, or your triumphs and fails in the classroom.
Summary keywords: library | habits | success | career | book | relationships | mindfulness | routines | reflect | mentoring |
EPISODE 9: INTERVIEW WITH BARBARA FISTER ON PROJECT INFORMATION LITERACY IN THE AGE OF ALGORITHMS STUDY
Amanda: Welcome to episode nine of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching Podcast! I’m Amanda.
Jessica: And I’m Jessica.
Amanda: On today’s episode we are so excited to talk to Barbara Fister to discuss the new Project Information Literacy report called Information Literacy in the Age of Algorithms. It was released on January 14 and Barbar is a co-author on this really interesting report that has great data and recommendations for librarians, educators, and anyone interested in the future of information. Barbara Fister is a Scholar-in-Residence at Project Information Literacy and co-researcher on PIL's latest study, "Information Literacy in the Age of Algorithms: Student Experiences with News and Information, and the Need for Change." For three decades Barbara coordinated the library instruction program at Gustavus Adolphus College, a liberal arts college in Minnesota. In addition to collaborative teaching with faculty across the curriculum she has developed courses on research methods, book culture, first term seminars, and most recently launched a new course on Clickbait, Bias, and Propaganda in Information Networks.
Jessica: Welcome Barbara thank you so much for talking to us today!
Barbara: It’s great to be here!
Jessica: We were both very interested to read this report when Project Information Literacy first promoted it and it does not disappoint. There are so many insights into technology, student behavior, information literacy, and education in general. So we are excited to talk about it. I guess first, could you give listeners a quick summary of the report for those who may not have read it yet just to frame our conversation?
Barbara: Yeah, um, so if you don’t know, I don’t know how familiar your listeners are with Project Information Literacy, but for 10 years, a little bit more than 10 years, it's a independent non-profit research institute with Alison Head as the principal investigator and she's been leading these studies of student experiences of information - college students - and their experiences of information now for ten years. This one came about after the last study last year which dealt with, it was a big study, that dealt with students and their experience of news, how do they consume news. And so this is a kind of follow-up, it’s a smaller, qualitative study that looks at how students relate to the algorithmic networks that we experience so much of our information through these days. So it was really a chance to talk to students about what do they know about it, what do they think about it, and how does it influence their experience of information and selecting and evaluating information. So it was a qualitative study with 103 students in 16 focus groups at different institutions and we also interviewed 37 faculty members at those institutions and analyzed what we heard from them and drew out some kind of key takeaway points from those conversations. It was really interesting for me, it was the first time I had worked on a project information literacy research project and it was just very cool to see this team pull all this information together. So, we had, like, four takeaways from this research. We found for example students do take defensive measures when it comes to their privacy. Much more so than the faculty who we talked to, actually. They learn from each other, um, they are very interested in figuring out how things work from peers, rather than expecting to learn any of this in the classroom. Um they are highly skeptical of information and actually just not trusting information was a bigger problem in many ways than their skepticism which is well developed um, and they had this ambivalent feeling between um, feeling both sort of resigned to dealing with these algorithmic systems that they feel powerless to change or influence but also really frustrated with the way that they take their private information and use it and influence what they see. Um, so those are some of the takeaways that we found as we talked to the students. The biggest surprise to me, and this came both through the conversations with the students and with the faculty members, is that there really isn’t much conversation about this in the classroom. This isn’t their experience of what we call information literacy or even the critical thinking that their professors talk about. Um and that seemed very surprising to me because the faculty were very concerned about this for the most part, like, “Wow, this is really big problem, this is a big social issue, we need to really think about this as a society, it has so much impact on everything right now.” And then when I asked what are you doing in your classes it was like, “Um, oh well, oh, um, hmmm… we do critical thinking. We talk about peer review.” [Barbara chuckles]. But not really drawing the connections between what was really concerning to them and how students learn about information in their courses. And from the student perspective we also heard kind of a dismayingly, um, a sense that what they were learning in their schooling, both in K-12 and in higher education just didn’t really relate to the way that they experienced information in the world in their daily lives, um, so that was a big wake-up call for me personally.
Jessica: Yeah I agree I think that was definitely one for me as well, I mean, I do probably 99% one shots and have for my whole library career but even that take away and the combination of the fact that the report also said that, kind of, the research that Project Information Literacy had done on student behavior over the past 10 years - that their learning behavior hadn't really changed over that time either - and it really made me consider, well, what am I doing in my one shots that I could change to make more of an impact on both of those issues.
[7:00] Barbara: Yeah it’s an interesting point because a lot of the report, the first section is really kind of looking at what do we mean by the “age of algorithms,” um, what does that entail, but then also looking back at what do we know from 10 years of this Project Information Literacy research and some of these issues that keep popping up are, well, for somebody that has been has been involved in information literacy for 30 years is really kind of depressing [Jessica chuckles] that uh you know we haven't really changed a whole lot. One funny thing too, and this is kind of a minor footnote, but I noticed um one of the Project Information Literacy studies looked at what kinds of assignments are students given and so much of it is this traditional term paper, like research paper, that’s very kind of rigid in its design and has things like, things have to be cited a certain way and the margins should be a certain limit, and so on. And so, um, like 80% of the assignments they looked at were of that traditional type and then I found a study from the mid-1980s saying, “Guess what? 80% of the assignments are the traditional research paper” and we found a survey from 1960-something, ‘64, I forget what it was, saying “80% of assignments are the traditional research paper.” So that - that’s a real challenge for us, I think, because we haven’t really in spite of all our work, and in spite of a lot of faculty creativity, we still haven’t really nudged away from that kind of traditional box that we use to define research for college students. Which is troubling, and not really helpful in an age when so much information is coming at us and is being mediated through some methods that are changing the way that we relate to each other and society.
Amanda: Yeah. It kind of reminds me of a conversation that we had on a previous episode about critical digital pedagogy. Um, we were talking about sometimes online learning can be rigid and they're very particular about their assignments and, um, we were talking about well how can we create these, you know, critical assignments and one of my recommendations was to make it a low-stakes assignment because um faculty don’t know how to assess these crazy dynamic critical, you know, out-there projects that don't fit into that specific rigid paper mold, um, can be a challenge. And you know we’re trying to break that mold but as you’ve said, you know, over the years, you know… It's funny I was working today on chat and a student was asking for help with citation and said I'm not finding the sources that I want that I need to use but I'm finding other sources outside of the “approved resources” I'm allowed to use. And it just made me think like, ugh let me talk to your professor! [Jessica and Barbara chuckle] So uh, I definitely think it’s still a challenge for sure.
Barbara: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah.
Amanda: So um, you know we talked a little bit about the summary and the takeaways, um in another part of the study you guys make some recommendations. So which recommendation do you think would be the most difficult to implement?
[10:29] Barbara: Yeah um, I’ll tell you it was kind of scary trying to come up with recommendations. [Jessica chuckles] After all of this to kind of figure out where should we go with this? And I really wanted us to have recommendations that had some practical value, because I know how hard it is to do information literacy instruction in the... all these, sort of, structural impediments that you run into when you’re dealing with departments and faculty and all of these conflicting incentives, um, just being able to talk to faculty can be a challenge much less really change things. Um, so we tried to keep some things that maybe people could look at and say, “You know what, we could do this thing, we could start something in here” as well as some bigger picture ideas. Of the 4 recommendations one of them is aimed actually at the journalists and the journalism organizations. In part because one of our funders was the Knight Foundation along with the University of South Carolina Library & Information Science program um, ER&L which is an Electronic Resources & Libraries Conference, helped fund this. Um, a lot of individual donors, um, contributed to this report and we also had funding from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. So with Knight in mind we thought you know, we’re talking to journalists as well as to educators in higher education. So one of them is kind of for them. And does it really deal with what librarians do although I think there’s some really interesting potential to work with local news organizations in some ways because they’re very motivated to find ways to help people understand good information and find out who you can trust. So there’s some possibilities there. Of the other recommendations the one that I find most challenging I think it has to do with responding to what we heard from students, which is that their experience with information literacy across K-12 into college was so disconnected and so scattered and in many cases they really felt it was inadequate to a large extent. They were, you know, like, “well we have these checklists but they don't really help us out with the way that the internet works today.” Or, “you know, they keep telling us to trust .org instead of .com.” That was bad advice 20 years ago and apparently it’s still happening in various places. So I think it would be really helpful to try to get together and build some kind of cohesive program across the entire educational experience with students in mind. And, you know, Canada, the UK, Australia, they have this kind of thing embedded in their education system but we don’t because we don’t do education that way. We’re all rugged individualists around here. [Jessica chuckles] So you know we have some suggestions for maybe ways organizations can work on this and this can be really hard. Um, but maybe on the local level people working information literacy can maybe call a meeting with some teachers working in the local school system and maybe some people involved with adult education in the public library and say, “What are we all doing? What kind of words are we using, what language, what strategies, how can we help each other out, how can we, kind of, build a scaffold for our students so that what they learn in the school system carries through to what happens in their entire education and where do you see the need for students?” Because I think there's a lot we can learn from each other and we could do a lot better job if we had those bridges of creating a system that students would find more coherent and meaningful.
Jessica: Hmm yeah definitely that was one thing I was thinking when I was reading the recommendations I was thinking, “Oh this would be amazing if this could happen!”, but just knowing what I know that all these areas are just so siloed that it's like how do we break down the silos to make this happen and I was thinking about, you know, well has this been shared it needs to be shared so widely with all these people, but that’s a good point that you make that if the donors are involved you would hope that the donors are also sharing it with those that they know in journalism and higher ed and then even lower ed as well.
Barbara: Mm-hmm yeah yeah. And there has been a lot of initiatives to try to promote, um, all kinds of literacies especially since 2016 and the fake news crisis with the attention people are paying to it. And yet, we don't really have a good sense that anything has been the “silver bullet” that has really worked. Um the Stanford History Education group came out with a study not too long ago, one of several studies they've done, of students and how they, um, deal with what they call civic online reasoning. And when it comes to like evaluating things they find on the web, they’re really not good at it. They also studied how historians evaluate what they find on the web. They’re really not good at it either, they don’t really have the sort of heuristics for dealing with the kind of information that comes flooding at us. The people who they studied who did get it was um fact checkers and they had some strategies to help them very quickly, like, you look at a source and then you go out and find other sources and compare it to them. You don’t do that in-depth analysis and go through long checklists trying to figure out all kinds of things about the source without first doing that kind of comparative work. So um that it was depressing because they did a study and said you know what we’ve been doing so much work in schools now to try to do news literacy and boost people’s ability to make assessments of what’s true and what’s false online. And it doesn’t seem yet to be working terribly well.
Amanda: Yeah. You know what’s so interesting that you mention local level and kind of building that bridge in the K-20 because I am currently living that challenge. I have been a part of, um, a committee it's - we call it a user education committee. And it's been a project that we try to do every few years I mean I've been on this committee for like 7 years now and every few years we’re like, “we have to reach out to, you know, the K-12 teachers we have to let them know what's going on in college and blah blah blah…” And it's just we start it and then it never goes anywhere. And it’s so frustrating because you would think it’s so simple but it’s just... it’s hard to get off the ground.
Barbara: And we have very different cultures and we have different incentives and different barriers that I think make it really difficult to do what seems like a pretty simple thing but it’s really complex, so, I do think that would be quite, quite the challenge of these recommendations. The one that I think, I feel, would be most fun or exciting is the last one, which is to see this as an opportunity to think about algorithmic literacy as education for democracy. And think about ways that you can find people at your institution who are coming at this from different perspectives and pull them together and try to build a way of educating the community about some of these issues. And I think for librarians and for our instruction programs it's a real opportunity to show leadership because people really are concerned and they're really baffled; they’re like, “I have no idea what to do about this.” Well that’s a great time for us to step in and say, “You know, well as information professionals we do have some ideas and here's some things that we could work on.” Um, I know last, um, the last time I sent out an announcement to the faculty who were teaching the first term seminar. We used to send out “connect with a librarian, we can do these things with your class, we’d like to work with you…” And it was fine, it kind of chugged along for years and years… But we had this idea of let’s create a menu of options. We can talk to your class about fake news, we can talk about copyright, you know, a bunch of things. How do you evaluate sources, how do you… anyway, it was a long ambitious list and I sent it out and then suddenly all the faculty were like, “Yeah! We want to do all of those! [Jessica and Amanda chuckle] “Like can we do the fake news one and I wanna do a copyright one…” And then all my colleagues were like, “Oh my god what did we get ourselves into..” So we had to quickly come up with imaginative ways of talking to first semester students about these issues but it was the best fun and I think for the faculty it was kind of a wake-up call like, “oh so you're not just going to show us databases how wonderful! And you know what, you know, we didn't really know how to tackle this ourselves so this is great.” Uh it was some of the best instruction I experienced in thirty-some years, it was really fun. The other thing is, you know, talking to the students in the focus groups and when I’ve talked to students about these things in classes they’re really interested - they find this fascinating. You know how they can kinda get a little glazed looking when we’re helping them do things to manage that assignment blah blah blah, peer review blah blah blah... I’ve done this before do I have to do it again? You know, we don’t get an opportunity that often to talk about really, kind of, meaty, meaningful, ethical issues so I think in some ways if we can pull this stuff in and draw on their own experiences and their own thoughts about this…. I mean I was really impressed with the way some of the students in the focus groups would start out just talking about like, “oh yeah the ads they follow me around, it’s creepy.” But then when you started, we kind of broaden the conversation to, you know, “what do you think when people are getting different kinds of news because of the way the algorithms are feeding them and what do you think about the way algorithms are influencing things like who gets hired for jobs, and who gets a loan, how long a prison sentence you’re going to get.” That surprised them, like, “oh yeah actually algorithms are being used in these ways.” And they got really engaged. And then they would pull in stuff that they learned in their history courses or sociology, you know some course they took in racism in society or something. And we’re applying all of that knowledge in some really interesting ways to information problems, so. I just think there’s some great opportunities to do some meaningful information literacy work that engages them in those questions. And...and... isn’t going to hurt at all when it comes to doing what they need to do for those courses. Um, although yes there will be times when do they have to use a peer-reviewed source and they’re not allowed to use those other sources but I think it could at least put those things in in conversation with what they're actually experiencing in the rest of their life and maybe give us a chance to talk about what is peer review, why does it matter. Why does scholarship matter, why does it matter that experts weigh in on these things and do so in a way that follows certain ethical guidelines. How does that relate to other kinds of information? So I see great potential here actually, for making life interesting.
Jessica: Yeah. So, um, Amanda do you want to ask your question? Cause I think that leads more into what she was just talking about.
Amanda: Yeah sure! So, we, you know, it really depends on the environment, but uh, what are some of the first steps librarians should take to start to implement algorithmic education into their classes? We know some of our listeners, you know, teach credit bearing courses over a semester. But the majority of us do one shot instruction. So, how do we get started in incorporating this, um, into our instruction?
Barbara: Yeah, I think you're right, there's some real kind of structural and power relationship barriers to being able to do everything that we would like to do. Although I, like I say, faculty were really responding well when we said “hey we can talk about this stuff.” “Oh, great because I have no idea how to talk about it.” I know that we, um, we had, I did a session for a first-term seminar with a colleague about fake news and the teacher afterwards said, “Y'all have to have a course on this, this is really important, you need to teach a course - everybody should take your course!” And of course, that wasn't something you were necessarily prepared to do for the entire campus but it did lead to us developing and proposing a course. And it fits into students schedules, ‘cause it’s just 2 credits, um, and it's “Clickbait, Bias, and Propaganda and Information Networks” so it gave us a chance to really talk about systems and algorithms, and, um, how do you actually find your way through this, and then the students researched and wrote book chapters about the different social media platforms that they were interested in. And so it was a new course, it was not a required course but it gave us some, some chance to try out some things that we could then, maybe part of an exercise or thought into other classes as well. Umm yeah, I think, um, we certainly heard from faculty that they found it hard to know how to relate this to their subject areas, but we did - I interviewed one faculty member who was all over it, he was like, “This ties in beautifully to my subject area, I can use this to engage them with ideas that really then connect to theories about sociology and this is great.” And he was wonderful. And he just spoke in full sentences and just was very passionate about this and said, “Every student should have this.” So he was, he was very refreshing to hear that from. And I think in a lot of cases there are examples we could go in that relate to health sciences, or, um, biology, or certainly political science, statistics, there's so many ways that I think we could take one little thread and plug it in there and say, “And here's a story, you know, that came across recently that is about this issue and what do you think and how do you think that works?” I think just as a way to kind of open up conversations, um, it would be possible to pull that into a number of instructional situations. But it might take a little, a little finesse to try to figure out how to, how to bring that up and fit it in, maybe at the beginning to the start students where they are experiencing information in their lives. And how do you sort through that and what's going on with that, yes, there are these algorithms doing these things. “What do you think about that” before you move into the “And here’s what you need to do to your paper.”
Barbara: Perhaps that would be a way to engage them and also to, you know, kind of pull out some of the, the knowledge they have about the world they're experiencing and fill in some of the gaps that they do definitely have. But particularly if you can find in a one-shot a way to tie it to that topic of the course, the discipline at least, and I think almost everything has something that would connect in some way. And I had - one of the people we interviewed - actually teaches an information literacy course, and was making the case that you can't treat this like a vaccine; you can't teach it once, you can't even have a for-credit, credit bearing course and say, “okay we're done.” This has to be something that comes up again and again and again, because we're here once or twice, it's scary. And you don't want to deal with it, you just wanna like, back away, like, “ugh, I can't deal with that.” Um, I have to use these systems. I don't like what they're doing, but I guess I’ll just try not to remember that I'm using them and what's going out in the background. And so, you know, I really liked what she had to say which said, “Just keep bringing this up through their four years so that they get a chance to practice, and to really think about, you know, that computer they carry in their pocket, what's going on with it and what are the implications and what are the kind of information ethics around the ways that society is using data, these days.
Jessica: Right, right. Yeah.
[27:51] Barbara: And I think the other thing is for us is to be leaders in terms of helping the faculty learn about this stuff. If you have a faculty development program of some kind or a teaching and learning center. You know, we would be really good people at helping faculty come to terms with this and think about all of the implications that I wish my students were aware of and thinking about, because, you know, they really seem to be looking for some leadership in this area and some guidance. This is stuff that they're concerned about so maybe this is a chance for us to not necessarily just teach the students, but to really work through faculty who have such an influence on student learning that, you know, if we can help them learn about this, maybe they will be able to take some of that and integrate it into their teaching and learning too.
Jessica: Yeah. And I think that ties nicely into our last question, because it seems like there's a lot of that helplessness versus I want to change things paradigm kind of in society at large, especially when you look at places like Twitter where people want to post petitions to complain and spread awareness, but at the same time they just surrendered and they're still using Twitter and Facebook and all of those platforms. So, how do we help students who kind of feel that same way of kind of they've surrendered but they're angry about it, push past that threshold of helplessness and really move to change their motivation to the next level, how can we do that as librarians and educators?
Barbara: Yeah, and I think that's a really good question because it's not just the students, the faculty too are feeling really lost here. And so I think one thing that we saw students doing was teaching each other about how to protect their privacy. So, you know, bringing that kind of knowledge out and helping each other out is one way of doing it. It shouldn't be on individuals, though, this is a social issue of unequal knowledge and power between us and these companies that we rely on. So I think it would make sense to talk about what can we do, how can we change the culture and how can we, um, how can we be activists about this, how does this connect to the things you care about. And are there ways that we could bring this to, to other people, to build action about this, what kinds of legislation might be considered or is under consideration, because I think it's really important for people not to feel powerless. We held a group of people - an interdisciplinary group of people - who came together to discuss the first findings that we have in this report and one of the people was really into, you know she was saying, “We can't just let them feel helpless, we got to help them with action, you know, moving through their helplessness and realizing they have agency, they can influence society.” A lot of our students are activists. They're, they're really in touch with ideas and they really care. And so, I think, just saying, you know, “We don't have to take it. There are ways to change this. We can push against these things as a society” is really important and helpful, I think, for them too. I'm reading a book by Ruha Benjamin right now, Race After Technology, which does this really good job of analyzing how all of these technologies have a racist element or they can amplify hierarchies and racism in ways that are hidden behind a kind of weird neutrality. Instead of just talking about it as a problem, she's also really interested in solutions and so I haven't finished the book yet but she has a whole lot of... I mean she's really interested in this issue too to say, “You know what, here's some things we can actually concretely do about it.” So I think that would be also worth our thinking about as we work this into our teaching and learning plans for students.
Jessica: Right. Right. Exactly. Great. Well, that's all the questions that we have for you and thank you so much for sharing all of this information and your insights into the report. And not only is the report itself really valuable and choc-full of information you had so many resources within, like the “Thinking Leaders” section and things that they recommended so we recommend that everybody read it from start to finish [chuckles].
Barbara: Don't be daunted, it's long but there’s nice little chunks you can take and there's a list of suggested readings and we're feeding new information onto the platform too so that if you want to see what are some new news stories about these issues we're trying to keep it up to date. So yeah, I hope people will get something out of it and if you're really pressed for time there is a 3 page executive summary you can at least take a look at.
Amanda: Great, thank you so much!
Barbara: Great. Thanks for having me on your podcast!
Amanda: We're now going to share a tweet of the week. This week's tweet comes from Jesse Stommel, who tweeted about an article that was recently published about a professor who
makes his students turn in cell phones at the beginning of the class. Um, this tweet was interesting to me on several levels, first because he decided not to share the article, in, in his tweet, so I had to go and find out who he was talking about at first. And then, um, I really thought it was interesting, um, how, there were so many points, wrote up about the article and I think what was interesting to me is that this is still happening in classrooms, because to me I mean there's studies and, in, in this tweet chain that we'll link to in the show notes. So many people list all of these studies that talk about how cell phones are a great way to engage with students, when it’s appropriate and in dynamic ways. Yet people are still having these conversations that, um, we shouldn't be using cell phones in the classroom. Another thing that I thought was really interesting was that people were writing comments on this article on the website of the publication, and the author, actually, was responding to people's individual comments.
Jessica: Whoa that's interesting.
Amanda: I thought that was kind of intense so it's been an intense week. A lot of people have been talking about this piece.
Jessica: Yeah, that is, his tweet was definitely powerful and so were a lot of the responses that people had to it. And I liked some of the questions that he brought up because as you said this is a problem that's been happening for a while. And he brings up these questions like, people should be asking, professors should be asking, who are our students? Why are they here in our classrooms, what challenges did they face, getting there, what level of basic respect do teachers and institutions owe to students? How does that basic respect help them learn? I mean, I consider myself, if I was going to college, and my son was in daycare, I would want my phone to be able to make sure that if anything happened… I mean it did happen. A couple of weeks ago my daycare lost power, and they said I had to get my son in three hours if it didn't come back. So, if I was in a three hour class, what would have happened? And a lot of people were tweeting about the fact that that's, you know, it's racist, it’s against those in a different socioeconomic status, people have families and things that they need to - this is how we live now, right? So we need to adapt instead of penalizing our students in this way and as Jesse said you know have that basic level of respect for our students. It was, um, an interesting chain.
Jessica: And that's it for episode number nine. We hope you enjoyed it. So here's where you can find us. You can find the podcast: @Librarian_Guide on Twitter. You can find me, Jessica, at @librarygeek611. You can find Amanda at @HistoryBuff820. And you can email the podcast at email@example.com. Be sure to rate and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen!
Amanda: You can also send us an email or a tweet to share your questions, um, ideas for potential discussion, or your triumphs and fails in the classroom. Or suggestions for a tweet of the week. You can also hashtag your tweets with #LibrariansGuideToTeaching.
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Amanda: Welcome to the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching! I’m Amanda…
Jessica: And I’m Jessica!
Amanda: On today’s episode, we have Bonnie Lafazan as our guest and we’re going to talk about all things professional development. Why it's important, how to make time for it and how to build a culture of lifelong learning at your library. Bonnie is a former media licensing lawyer who changed careers and became an academic librarian in 2008 and has not looked back. Bonnie works as the Library Director of the Woodbridge Campus Library at Berkeley College in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Bonnie is a robust contributor to the professional librarian community both locally in New Jersey and nationally, currently serving as past president of the ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) New Jersey chapter, also NJLA CUS (New Jersey Library Association College & University Section) and now co-chairs its Strategic Planning Task Force. Bonnie serves as a board member for LibraryLinkNJ, a New Jersey library cooperative and serves as a board member of the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information Advisory Board. Nationally, Bonnie is the past co-convener of ACRL’s Library & Marketing Outreach Interest Group, is currently on the ACRL Professional Development Committee and the ACRL Conference 2021 Committee. On a personal note, Bonnie and I and Jessica, we’re all close friends and colleagues and we've done a lot of different collaborative projects together so we're so excited to have Bonnie on the show today.
Amanda: Welcome, Bonnie! Thank you for coming to talk to us!
Amanda: All right! So we're going to jump right in. Let's talk to personal development. Why don’t we all start with our experiences with professional development either as a facilitator or participant? Also maybe discuss why we think professional development is important. Bonnie, do you want to go first?
Bonnie: Sure! So for me, professional development whether it’s required or not to my position will always be one in the same. I find that professional development is really enriched in who I am as a lifelong learner. And it's as a librarian professional who always is continuously learning and teaching others. I feel really grateful that I have opportunities for professional development and all these different experiences I’ve had because it’s really helped me grow as a leader and as an instructor and as a librarian.
Amanda: And maybe share an experience?
Bonnie: Yea, so I've had many different experiences as you might have heard some of what I've done in my bio but I've both presented at conferences, attended conferences, I’ve been in a number of different types of sessions as both participants and also as a facilitator in workshops, panel sessions, poster sessions and more. And beyond that I’ve served committees that have planned conferences such as the New Jersey Academic Librarians Conference. I have served as co-conference chair with Amanda in the past and that was a really incredible experience. Also in my work and my committee work, we’ve presented as committee members together at local conferences and also in my work at ACRL, the Library Marketing and Outreach (LMAO) Interest Group. I also presented with professionals from all over the country which is really cool.
Amanda: Great. Jessica?
Jessica: Great! That’s really cool. Yea, I’ve had a variety of different professional development experiences too much like Bonnie. We've presented together at national and local conferences so I've done poster sessions and presentation sessions. And actually I got my job at Berkeley from presenting a poster at VALE and meeting you guys!
Amanda: Yea, that’s right!
Jessica: Yea, I talked to you guys and you said there was a position open at Berkeley coming soon I got the scoop on that so you know that can be a benefit of professional development in networking. I also really loved creating, co-editing the Library Buzz with you, Amanda, our bi-weekly staff development newsletter. I miss doing that. But I am on a team now at my current job, a staff development committee, so we're working on creating a different process we're not going to do a LibGuide or anything but we're kind of polling everybody to figure out what professional development they’ll find rewarding. And we’re creating some type of experience because that culture doesn’t exist yet. So I think that’s gonna be fun.
Amanda: And maybe a little bit about why you think professional development is important?
Jessica: Yeah I definitely agree with what Bonnie said about lifelong learning. I mean as librarians,I think we always just like to enrich ourselves and know what's going on in the field, keeping up with trends. I think sometimes it can get overwhelming to try to do too much and take on too much and we can talk about that a little bit later I guess, how to balance everything. But I think it's just important to keep up with what's going on in our field and to network with others and learn from others.
Amanda: Yeah, so true. So I'll share a little bit of my experiences. So I've done a wide range of things. I've done external professional development where I have presented at conferences and shared what was going on, what we’re doing at Berkeley. I've also, as Bonnie mentioned, I’m the conference co-chair of our ACRL New Jersey Annual Conference so that's something I’ve been doing and I just finished up my 5th year of running that conference. I've also been invited to facilitate workshops at other institutions. I’ve done some courses through ACRL and RUSA (Reference and User Services Association) where I’ve facilitated month long courses. I’ve also done a lot of internal development. I think internal development is so important. I think you don't have to spend money to learn and grow. I think every single person in your team has a talent that they could share and I think it's an untapped resource, honestly, when it comes to professional development. I think professional development is so important because you have to be a lifelong learner. You have to keep learning and moving forward and changing with the time but I also think as an instruction librarian since a lot of us don't have that formal education the only way we're going to grow and learn is if we make space and time to work on learning new things in our given field especially with that instruction focus.
Jessica: That’s very true. My mom always asks because my mom has a master's degree in art therapy and when she was coming out of it she always had to do continuing education credits and she always thought it was funny that we don’t have to do that. We’re not required to do that for any certification that we have but I always tell her that it's just such a part of librarianship that we're kind of doing it anyway. Because it's just important.
Jessica: Alright, so Bonnie, could you share some examples of professional development experience that you have either facilitated or participated in over the years? Maybe one that was successful and one that wasn't so successful?
Bonnie: Sure! Some of my favorite professional development experiences and that were very successful were panel sessions that I’ve helped facilitate. I find that having quick lightning talks in a panel session of maybe four or five academic librarians from different institutions is really successful because you can hear stories and struggles from each both successes and maybe failures. But we all know that no matter what type of institution we’re in, sharing our stories and a lot of it is more of the same than not.
Jessica: So I guess a follow-up question - how do you decide which opportunities to take? Did you just in the beginning of the new librarian, just going to take everything that was presented to you just so that you could get experiences? How would a new librarian decide where to go with these opportunities like the ones you had with LMAO?
Bonnie: Yes, I think it was a slow learning, a lot of these were slow learning opportunities where eventually there was an opportunity to be a committee chair of an organization or to co-chair or convene an organization. But I think it it started out as becoming a member and participating in meetings and participating in online webinars and online YouTube channels.
Jessica: Right, so people can't just expect to join a group and then all of a sudden be presenting.
Bonnie: No, you have to be part of the team to get those opportunities that come. So let's say I was chairing a committee and I said, “Hey we're going to have academic librarians talk about their, you know, successes in marketing and outreach in a library, do you want to be on the panel? Because that person was part of that committee and was on that meeting they have that opportunity to be a part of that.
Jessica: Right, right. So then what about maybe one that wasn't so successful?
Bonnie: One that wasn't so successful - I remember presenting with you Amanda a while back at our New Jersey Library Association Conference and I know we were so pumped for our session. The topic of the session was actually about learning and growing together as a library or library department. How when you align your own personal interests and strengths as a library you can really grow professionally. But it just didn’t go over well. There weren’t that many people in the session, not that that it always means it’s going to be successful. You can still have a successful session, in my opinion, even if you don’t have 50 or more attendees. It was just that the ones that were there just didn’t seem really engaged. They seemed bored. It was just disappointing.
Amanda: Yea, I remember that. It seemed like it fell flat. I think it could have been a combination of things - that it wasn't the right audience, that they didn't have that culture or they felt they would never have that type of culture. So it was a variety of things. But I agree with you, that was probably one of those experiences where it didn't click for people.
Bonnie: But on the flip side, we’ve had so many successful experiences. That reminds me of when we presented the internal workshop on how to present at conferences.
Amanda: Oh, yea!
Bonnie: We had those interactive activities in the workshop where participants actually planned out proposals, like real conference proposals of ideas of what they're working on at our college. And some of them went on to present after that.
Jessica: Yeah I did! I presented a poster.
Amanda: That’s right. I was just about to say that.
Bonnie: That’s right, Jessica, you were in that when you first started with us.
Jessica: Yea, that was like the first presentation I went to. The first professional development thing I went to at Berkeley that I went to. And yea, it worked out into a poster. That was great.
Bonnie: So to me that was a true success because it was internal, we didn’t have to pay, we didn’t have to take a day off of work, and yet so much came out that. I know that others presented a poster at ALA, too, from that session.
Amanda: Yea, those are great examples. I definitely agree with some of the points you made that it just starts with just participating. That’s how I started. Someone said to me, “Hey you might be interested in this committee” and I joined the committee and three years later I was the co-chair of that committee and then three years after that I was asked to run a conference and I did that, you know. And a lot of the collaboration across institutions happens in these meetings. It's where you have dedicated time to network with your peers and talk about professional development and not feel guilty about it. Because I think sometimes we feel a little guilty like sometimes I'll find a really great article and I’m like, “Oh, I really want to read this article but I'm not going to take the time at work to read it” even though it’s all about work. So I think participating in those specific committee meetings gives you that space to feel like it's okay to talk about things that you wouldn't necessarily get to do everyday on a daily basis.
Jessica: Yea, and everybody learns in different ways so some people need to talk it out. Some people need to be in a group of peers and have a conversation about a topic as opposed to just reading an article about it and sometimes I think that's why podcasts are successful because you hear other people talking about topics and it clicks a little better for people.
Bonnie: I think we live in silos. We all as librarians, we all have to work together, no matter what library you’re at or what type or what type of institution you’re at.
Amanda: Agreed. Agreed. And I think it allows us to sometimes extend the conversation because in New Jersey at least, we do get to see our colleagues present but we don't necessarily get to have the conversations with them that we want to but when we see them we get to maybe talk and say, “Hey I saw your poster and blah, blah.” It really does put it into a different context and it extends the conversation in a way.
Jessica: Yeah and going back to, you know, like you said being an instruction librarians we have to grow and I think presenting taught me a lot about being a teacher. Because I'm presenting and doing...I think that has always been the least successful part of my teaching, the part where I had to go to the most, was in the doing things on the fly, presenting to a group getting over my stage fright, and I think presenting at conferences and doing posters was a part of my growth. It really helped me, even internally within to my colleagues, I mean sometimes that is scarier to do a presentation for 10 of your close colleagues as opposed to 150 strangers. That can be even more nerve-racking, so you know professional development can actually connect to your job responsibilities when you're practicing new skills that you may not have the chance to practice otherwise.
Bonnie: What you guys were talking about before just you know about being an instruction librarian really just, it came to me about. ACRL has a model/role model for what a teaching librarian should look like and one of those roles is that he or she is a lifelong learner, they’re always seeking out opportunities for continuous learning. So we should never really feel guilty because that is what it is to make us better teachers. Make us reflective in our approaches to instruction.
Amanda: I totally agree. And I think that actually lends itself really nicely to our next question which is how do you make time for professional development? Bonnie, you want to start?
Bonnie: I think I make time for professional development because I enjoy it. So when I see that article I'm going to read it because I want to. And I think it's part of also what I do. So I know at some institution’s it’s required as part of your tenure position or things like that but I think it’s part of who I am, of being a librarian, like I said earlier. So if I have a meeting that has to do with an organization that I am involved with it goes on my to do list. If I have tasks that have to do with my professional development activities, I put it on the list with all my regular work tasks.
Jessica: Yes, so I think for me it's a kind of a balance between doing things at work and doing things at home. I used to want to learn about so many different things and get a deep understanding of everything both out of curiosity but also to stay involved in library discussions. But I just realized I don't have the mental bandwidth for that. Because professional development is supposed to be that. You’re developing yourself on top of representing your institution and networking and all that but I've noticed that if I'm rushing through it to get to the next thing I'm not developing, I’m just memorizing things. And after I had my son and having some health challenges you know I really had to prioritize my health, by sanity, and doing less stuff at home. So I push myself a lot less and I do less overall and I think that's okay, you know? I'm re-prioritizing what topics and projects are important to me and what I do at home and what I do at work. So for example I used to be really passionate about marketing and outreach. And I used to do a lot of that with Bonnie. But it's so much less of my position now, so while I'm still in the amazing Library Marketing and Outreach Facebook group, I’m spending a lot more of my time researching things that make an impact on my students like on a teaching in critical librarianship which we talked about. And honestly, I really have to make time for things that are free. We haven’t really touched on that a lot yet but I don't have a lot of funds for most of the things that maybe used to be covered from my job and we share a big pot of money and I have really have to show justification of what I can attend. But there's so much information out there and free opportunities that librarians should be taking advantage of those and maybe we’ll include some ideas in the show notes. For example you know I follow a lot of people on Twitter for article recommendations, I listen to podcasts, I read the publications that come with our memberships from ACRL and ALA. And while presenting does take work, it does create more of an incentive for our institutions to fund us for conferences so I do like to spend time writing and presenting to make that happen and that kind of stuff, like Bonnie said, I do that at work because I am presenting for my institution so there's a benefit to them there. And there's also a lot of scholarships that people should apply for. Don’t be ashamed to apply for a scholarship. I remember winning an ACRL new librarian scholarship for the ACRL national virtual conference and I got access to all that content in one of the first year after grad school and that that was really valuable. Sso I think it's a balancing act in a lot of different ways.
Amanda: So true.
Jessica: What about you, Amanda?
Amanda: So for me, I have to schedule it. I have to make time for it and feel - I have to prioritize, too. I’ve had to make decisions. There were sometimes I’d say in the last 5 years where I’ve just presented anything and everything, any opportunity I could get, but I really have to be a little more selective just because of personal reasons. I have a daughter now and you know, monetary reasons so for example, this year with the way our budget falls is the Distance Library Conference (DLS) and ACRL 2021 falls in the same budget year. So I have to prioritize and I’m not going to go to DLS, I’m going to go to ACRL because it’s a little more important to me. And it’s sad because I really, I like both of those conference but you have to prioritize. I also oversubscribe to a lot of things. (Jessica and Bonnie laugh) A lot of list-servs. And then I browse through, you know, like if I find myself in between tasks, I’ll stop and I’ll browse the list-servs and try and follow the conversation. I'm very active on Twitter. I follow a lot of people on Twitter. My Twitter is all library stuff mostly. Where I get a lot of my free professional development from. You know, I also look for those found moments to read. When I’m standing on a line or when I have a few minutes in-between meetings or something, I'll pull out whatever article that I printed out in my bag and just read. And I’ve been doing a lot of audio these days. I drive about an hour each way depending on what campus I'm supporting that day so audio is really easy for me to have access to and have the time to listen to. So those are some of the ways that I make time for professional development. But I agree with both of you, conference proposals or chapter writing, all that stuff I do make time for that during work hours because you're right you are representing your institution so to me, I don't feel as guilty so I've learned to get over that guilt.
Jessica: And like Bonnie said we're talking about being non-tenure. I know a lot of tenure librarians, maybe not everybody because I can't speak for them, but you know they have writing time or they can take research days and stuff like that, you know. We're talking about not having that but still wanting to get in that professional development.
Amanda: Agreed. So I guess one last question to wrap things up is a few of our listeners might be thinking, how do you build a culture of professional development at your library? So perhaps we can share a few tips on how to build that culture at your library? Bonnie, you want to go first?
Bonnie: Sure. I think one way and I think I've done this over the years is by setting an example by being an active participant in your local library organization, whatever that might be. Attending conferences. I mean we have a free academic librarian conference in New Jersey every year, and going back and sharing. Sharing with colleagues. Sharing with others. And I think just by hearing about it that others wanted to be part of it, too.
Jessica: Yeah definitely. I would also say kind of to make it fun. I think that was one thing about the Library Buzz that made it interesting for everybody. I mentioned it before. It was a biweekly LibGuide that we emailed out to everybody that was Amanda's brainchild and everybody could submit things and it was all in different format and it was fun for us to create. We even started our first mini-podcast on there which was the brainchild for this. So it was fun for people to be able to participate in that so it made them want to. But also you know getting input from everyone. Where I am now we don't have that same culture that we had at Berkeley of staff development but are University Librarian wants to build it and so he asked us to get input from everybody and ensure that everybody's job responsibilities are represented especially at libraries where not everyone is a credentialed librarian. That's why we don’t use the term professional development where I am specifically for that reason so we’re just ensuring that there’s a culture of respect first as well which is key.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, that's true. I’ve spent a lot of my time in my recent roles, I’d say the past five or six years to build a culture of professional development at Berkeley and a few things that I think are really important is it to have to give people a wide range of options. People might feel comfortable attending a one-day workshop but then there's other people who maybe want to tackle something more challenging. I created a thing called 23 Things where librarians had a whole entire year to master 23 technology skills and that gave people the space to learn on their own time. And then I have also done things where it’s a week-long course. So I think giving people a range is important because everyone is at a different level. I also think it's important to give people a say in what their professional development is. Every year we are very fortunate that we do an internal conference that you know sometimes it's 2 days or 3 days and all of the workshops are done by Berkeley College librarians. But it didn't start out that way. In the beginning it was me and one other person that planned it and we would force people to collaborate. We would force them to research particular topics that we thought were important and people resented it. People were not happy. People would not feel like they were learning what they wanted to learn. So we completely changed that process. Now it's very much vote on what you're interested in. Participate if you want to participate. I think it's really helped develop that culture of people wanting to learn and being a little more open to say, “no, you know, I really don't want to learn how to do this” or “No, I don't want to participate this year as a presenter but I really want to learn x, y, z.” So I think that’s another thing. And I think you also have to not make assumptions about people’s skill levels. Even things like, and this kind of a generic answer but, don't assume everyone has the same skill level of making a LibGuide. Everyone is on a different level and that's okay. But don't just say, “okay we’ve had LibGuides for 5 years. Everybody should know how to make a LibGuide.” I think you're going to shun people away and they're not going to want to learn new skills so I think it's important to be ready and prepared to help people where they’re at.
Bonnie: Yea, absolutely. So I know also because I'm a library director as well. So I really, as a manager, really try to encourage it. And in a lot of the tips that you said and making it a goal. Making the yearly goal to participate in a conference or to join a committee. And I think that by that sort of mentorship I think also helps build that culture of professional development as well.
Jessica: Yea, it has to come from the top down, definitely.
Amanda:Yea, yea. So that wraps up our questions session for this. We have a question for our audience that we hope you share with us whether you tweet us or email us - what are your go-to’s for professional library development? We hope to hear from you!
Jessica: Alright! So we're going to roll into our weekly segment and we’re going to do a work triumph and work fail with Bonnie. So Bonnie, do you want to start?
Bonnie: Yes, a work triumph for me this week is I finally incorporated a legal research introduction module and advanced legal research module into three courses this week. I worked really hard with Amanda who's the director of research and instructional services here at Berkeley College for several months in creating these active learning tutorials and they're now in the classes, they’re now live and we're really excited to see the responses from the students and also feedback for the faculty.
(Amanda and Jessica say, Yay!)
Amanda: Go ahead, Jessica.
Jessica: Alright, so my triumph is that I am updating my English instruction with some critical pedagogy concept. So I have about five different lesson plans to update. I removed a lot of the demo, I added a lot more discussion, I updated my examples to include more social justice information so I'm really looking forward to teaching those in the coming semester.
Jessica: For a fail, it’s kind of a fail in that I didn’t expect students to respond a certain way in a discussion board so it became kind of a missed opportunity. I’m in this online class for the intercession. It’s a short class so students had to participate in like half a week for me. And I should have asked them to tell me what their topic was when they posted a bibliography but half of them didn't. So I didn't get to really respond to them because all my response was like “what's your topic?” Because I wanted to give them research context for their sources and so they never responded because they had to move on to the next thing. So I should have edited the discussion board instructions to say post your topic but I didn't think about that in advance so it was just a little bit of a missed opportunity but the professor said it was valuable for the ones that did participate. So womp, womp. But that’s ok. What about you Amanda?
Amanda: I have a fail. So in our last episode we talked about critical digital pedagogy and breaking that mold of online instruction and I did not break that mold. I, and you know what, I think it was hard because it was two of our winter semester and I just was not prepared to revamp something so quickly. And it really frustrated me halfway through the week because I was responding to these students and I'm just like, “Ugh, this could have been so much better.” Like it’s been on my to-do list for awhile to revamp this course and I just didn't get to it and I really paid the price and I was just like this is so awful. It's just, and it’s my fault you know. I totally mismanaged my time and I just didn't revamp the content in time to make it dynamic like all those exciting ideas that we talked about in episode 7. So it's definitely on my to-do list because I do support this class every semester so it’s definitely on my to-do list. I think I'm actually going to start doing it now so that I don't run out of time, and it doesn’t sneak up on me again. So fail on my part but I know the students got something from it but it wasn't that amazing spectacular critical digital pedagogy instruction.
Jessica: Right, I mean, also like Romel said it too in episode 4, you fail and you get back up and you do it again. Next time will be awesome!
Amanda: There’s always next semester! That’s how I look at it.
Bonnie: There’s always next week, next semester and there’s tomorrow.
Jessica: Exactly (Chuckles)
Amanda: Alright, so thank you so much, Bonnie, for being our guest. We’re so excited we got to talk to you and share all your exciting ideas with everybody about professional development and how to get started.
Bonnie: Thanks so much for having me!
Amanda: Alright, so that wraps up episode 8!
Jessica: So you can find the podcast on Twitter at Librarian_Guide. You can find Jessica at LibraryGeek611. You can find Amanda at @HistoryBuff820. And you can email us at InfoLitTeachingPodcast@gmail.com.
Be sure to rate and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen! And send us an email or a tweet to share your questions, ideas for potential discussions or your triumphs and fails in the classroom. You can also hashtag your tweets with #LibrariansGuideToTeaching!
Jessica: Welcome to episode number seven of the Librarian’s Guide to Teaching Podcast! I’m Jessica…
Amanda: And I’m Amanda.
Jessica: On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about a topic that was requested on Twitter - online information literacy instruction and some related concepts as applied to that environment such as critical pedagogy.
But before we get started with our conversation, how are you doing? Anything exciting happening this week?
Amanda: Anything exciting happening? (Laughs) We’re recording this during the holiday break and my little one has been sick so I’ve been quarantined home so I've been spending a lot of time at home so nothing exciting going on. I'm actually looking forward to getting back to work next week and getting back into the routine. What about you?
Jessica: Yea, pretty much the same thing here. I keep seeing all of these memes on the Internet about how nobody knows what day it is and that this is like the lost week where people are just eating all the food and losing track of time. Today is my sister in law’s birthday and I had to keep reminding myself to call her this week, not because I don’t remember it’s her birthday but because I just really don’t know what day it is. (Laughs( But also, I’m kind of looking forward to getting back into a routine and into the new year like you said. And just getting off to the right foot.
We have wanted to do an episode about online information literacy Instruction for a while so we were happy to see this request on Twitter when we asked for suggestions on what you all wanted to hear about on this episode! Librarian, @melodylynn457, suggested an episode on online instruction and added a few specific concepts like critical digital pedagogy and open online pedagogy. But before we get started with those concepts and how we feel that they could be incorporated into the online environment, let’s start with our basic experiences with online instruction. So, do you want to go first?
Amanda: Yea, I can definitely start. So I've been doing online teaching for about 10 plus years now since I basically started at Berkeley. I basically got thrown right into it. I’ve done a variety of things. I've just placed, you know, Powerpoints and videos into online LMS’s (Library Management Systems), I've supported discussion boards, some that were mine, others were that faculty had created the questions and I just kind of jumped in here and there. I’ve also created self-paced learning opportunities. You have done this with me before with our Honors Program where you have a stand-alone LibGuide for the Honors student where it's integrated into their curriculum but it's basically online activities. I've also done at the very basic level generic “Ask a Librarian” discussion board where students at any point in a semester can ask a librarian a question. Which in my experience I've never had a lot of success with but I’ve heard other librarians having some. I guess it just depends on the students and how engaged they want to be with their embedded librarian. What about you?
Jessica: Yea, kind of similar. So you've done a little bit more activity related stuff but I’ve really only done one shot instruction online with the exception of one embedded type class where I had an English professor who wanted me to be embedded the whole semester. That was pretty much a one-time situation. Most of the instructors I work with just wanted it to be a one-week discussion board facilitation so I would create a PowerPoint or a video as the lecture part of the week. So yea I just went along with what the faculty wanted up until about the last year or two when I would still maybe do a Powerpoint but then I would do more of a workshop type LibWizard form to have them search for sources for their upcoming paper as opposed to just having them put that information in a discussion board. It seemed just a little bit better to do it in a LibWizard form. So right now since I’m still pretty new in my position, I’m still in the process of developing relationships with faculty so I’m hoping that 2020 will be the year that I get to incorporate some new stuff into my online instruction. To be honest, I wish I had had more knowledge on some of the concepts for today’s show because it really could have improved some of my previous work so I’m looking forward to talking about these.
Amanda: I have to say that from talking to a lot of librarians about their type of online support to us it seems like, I know I get very frustrated with it but when I talk to my other colleagues at other institutions they're not even doing anything like that in some instances. So sometimes they don't even - they're not even supporting online classes and if they are they’re literally just emailing the professor the PowerPoint or the video and that's it and then the professor embeds it into the course. So I know we're very fortunate at Berkeley that we have that flexibility and status but I think after we finish having this conversation today I know that there are so many more opportunities that we could be taking in terms of supporting our students in online environment.
Jessica: Right! So that’s interesting to know that there’s such a wide range of spectrum of opportunities taking place across higher ed libraries in terms of online instruction going from doing nothing to just the faculty taking off work and putting it in all the way up to this great stuff we’re seeing with critical digital pedagogy.
Amanda: Yea, definitely. So why don’t we drive right into some of these concepts. Do you want to maybe give a little bit of a definition about critical digital pedagogy?
Jessica: Sure so when I was doing some research on this concept because we already talked about critical pedagogy a little bit with Romel in episode 4 so I was looking for things about implementing this digitally. And I came across a website by Sean Michael Morris. He is the Director of the Digital Pedagogy Lab which is an experimental, exploratory professional development gathering for a global digital pedagogy community.
So he’s got a blog on his site which has some great information. And he runs the Digital Pedagogy Lab as I said which helps educators implement these concepts. So I’d like to paraphrase some things from his writing that we felt captured these concepts.
The first one is a quote: “Where critical pedagogy centers on social justice and liberation, critical digital pedagogy fronts with the complications of learning in digital environments, critical instructional design looks directly at applications” and it really does forces us to ask what are the first steps we should be taking to teach a concept, not just allowing assessment methods or library management systems to dictate that for us.
He also says quote: “The critical instructional design approach prioritizes collaboration, participation, social justice, learner agency, emergence, narrative, and relationships of nurture between students, and between teachers and students. It acknowledges that all learning today is necessarily hybrid, and looks for opportunities to integrate learners’ digital lives into their digitally-enhanced or fully online learning experiences….it works against the standardization of so many educational technologies, and aims for the fullest inclusion possible.”
So critical digital pedagogy asks the big why and how questions around technology in education. So around privacy surveillance, assessment, representation. So how do we communicate these issues to our students.Those are some of the things that are being asked in this concept. Some other questions we should be asking would be how can students participate in meaningful learning in meaningful ways in the online classroom? And make the online college environment as good as on-campus learning. And that's something that we'll talk about it a little bit later. Lastly, in an article that we’re link in the show notes Morris quotes Henry Guiroux who writes in his text on critical pedagogy that quote “critical pedagogy asserts that students can engage their own learning from a position of agency and in doing so actively participate in narrating the identity through a culture of questioning that opens up a space of translation between the private and the public while changing the forms of self and social recognition.”
So as I was reading this all of this stuff I was just like wow that is not what my online pedagogy looks, right?
Amanda: Yea, no, definitely not.
Jessica: Yea but then that led well into the other requested concept which was open pedagogy. So you want to bring that up a bit?
Amanda: Yea! Sure so when we were doing research for this episode there was this great website, it was called the Open Pedagogy Notebook - Openpedagogy.Org. which we’ll link to in the show notes. It defines “open pedagogy we engage with it, is a site of praxis, a place where theories about learning, teaching, technology, and social justice enter into a conversation with each other and inform the development of educational practices and structures.”
The website goes on to say - “First, we want to recognize that Open Pedagogy shares common investments with many other historical and contemporary schools of pedagogy. For example, constructivist pedagogy, connected learning, and critical digital pedagogy are all recognizable pedagogical strands that overlap with Open Pedagogy.” This website has some really great examples of open work projects which I think really helps people get a little better understanding of what this concept really means and how to actually implement it.
So with that being said now that we provided some context definitions, what do you think this looks like for online library instruction whether it be credit-bearing, one shot or embedded?
Jessica: Honestly this took a lot of thinking outside the box. In reading up on this topic, I listened to two episodes of the Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast, which is awesome if you don’t already listen to that as well, and both guests I listened to discussed how online instruction is really so new compared to the teaching that we’ve done and studied over the past hundreds or thousands of years. So we’ll link the episodes in the show notes but the guests were Flower Darby who spoke about her book “Small Teaching Online” and Rajiv Jhangiani who is the co-director of the Open Pedagogy Notebook which we’ve also linked in the show notes. They both talked about the fact that what we’ve really done in online instruction is just let the online LMS models dictate what we can do - like stick the PowerPoint here, get students to respond there - but what we should be doing is critically thinking about the teaching and pedagogy and making the online environment work for that. And I’ll admit, I never really thought about it that way.
I’ve been letting the LMS and the faculty lead the way whereas I know we’re capable of doing a lot more in this. When thinking about the one-shot model it does seem even harder to adapt critical digital pedagogy in online instruction because there’s can be such a limitations of one week of class which seems like it’s more than the one and a half hours we get for on-site teaching but it’s really not when you have to give students days and hours to to respond and participate. So there's the timing aspect and then there’s the limitations of technology, right?
Amanda: Yea, I definitely agree. I think it's easy to fall into that cookie cutter trap of how an online class is set up and expectations of online learning. You know, online learning is marketed as “Complete the work anytime that's convenient for you! You have all this extra time to do work!” And you know I was recently, about three years ago, I just finished my master's degree in instructional design and it was completely online and let me tell you I almost wish I went to a physical classroom every day because the online work to me it was not always engaging and it seems like a lot of busy work. Most of our our engagement was through discussion boards but they were not engaging. I think there's a lot of frustration with discussion boards because there's a lot of mixed ideas of how much does a faculty member step in and participate in a discussion board. Do they respond to every student? Do they respond to every student that response to another student? Or do they just jump in periodically and check? So I think that's also adds a layer of interesting kind of weirdness to the online learning environment as well and though from a teaching point of view I think it’s easy to just go with the flow and get into that “okay this is how it's always done” kind of rut.
Jessica: Right, exactly ! And discussion boards are hard in general, cause as you said as a student you’re dreading them and we dread reading them and grading them so obviously students don’t want to do them. So we have to do that thinking outside the box of what other options are.
One of the resources for this episode, the Critical Digital Pedagogy Textbook is an open access book which has a chapter on Discussion boards that talks about how weekly discussion boards just take the spontaneity out of the true discussion that can happen in a classroom. So right now students are just posting to get the points and they’re responding to a classmate because they have to.So they recommend using some external tools or even places that students DO freely to talk such as Twitter, but that really might require some students to actually sign up for it. Not everyone has Twitter. So that might be something to think about. They’re might be some other tools that they recommended int that chapter.
Amanda: You know what? In theory, I think that is great. As a student, we had to create a blog. And that blog, I mean I know I can delete it but even after deleting it that blog still exists in some places and anytime you Google my name that blog comes up. And I know it's a part of my learning journey and I shouldn't be embarrassed about it but like 10 years from now am I really going to want someone to find that blog out there about me talking about some instructional design concept.
Jessica: That's a really interesting because as we mentioned in the definition of critical digital pedagogy, it was talking about you know privacy issues and bringing those to light. (Inaudible) It’s kind of their right to be forgotten and it’s (inaudible).
Amanda: You think about other social media like Twitter - I feel like I remember at my institution reading somewhere that if a professor wanted to use Twitter that they had to get approval to make students create social media accounts for that class. Like it was like a waiver. So it does get complicated. When you want to use some of those like external third-party tools which I think just adds that whole layer of complexity to things when you're trying to be exciting and engaging in an online environment but these are things that you have to think about it. It's kind of - you get kind of divided between students right to privacy and preference and engagement levels.
Jessica: Right, exactly. On the one hand, it could be a great discussion point to talk to the students about what you had to do to prepare and the relationships between information and the online and the digital world and things like that. So that's actually a great teachable moment. But like you said what if it doesn’t work out and you have to be prepared for that aspect, too. So that does throw a wrench in the works a little bit but it may at least be a way to explore and fail and try something different that will work eventually in the future. Like we have to have to have these growing pains in the process in order to get to the next (inaudible).
I did think of some ways, some hopefully easy ways, that we can incorporate critical digital pedagogy. And as we discussed in our episode with Romel, one easy way to incorporate social justice is at the very least making the topics that you pick as examples be things that are timely and are bringing important issues to light for students. And if possible making it relatable to the class. For gen ed classes, like English, that opens it up to many different topics because there are so many students with different majors in the classroom but issues of representation, climate change, racial disparities, etc. So adding these examples to your PowerPoint or your discussion prompts, if you’re using those formats, can just bring these conversations to light and bring those aspects into your online teaching.
Amanda: Yea, that’s a great example. I always try to refresh my tutorials or PowerPoint every semester. If it’s a Powerpoint, refreshing it every semester to make it relevant to something that's going on in the world presently.
Jessica: One other thing would be something I saw in the Open Pedagogy Notebook was instead of a video and a LibWizard like I’ve done, was maybe contributing to an annotated bibliography as a class. It might take a few short videos to scaffold the process and maybe even two weeks instead of one, just thinking about the logistics of how to teach them exactly what to do and also leave time for them to do it and leave time for discussion. And it could culminate in a discussion board reflection of their process if that type of assessment was needed. And as I mentioned, there is an example of this on the Open Pedagogy Notebook of a collaborative annotated bibliography on immigration and refugees. So the students there are contributing to something that already exists out in the world and that opens up to a whole conversation around Scholarship as Conversation. It does take a little thinking outside of the box on how to actually make the assignment work piece by piece but it probably is really worth taking that time to actually figure it out.
Amanda: Yeah definitely. I have to say again just time for drawing on my own experience - when I was in school a few years ago, the most engaging opportunities that I had was when I was able to talk about my experiences. When I had choices about an assignment to complete. So like sometimes you would get to you do your assignment in either a video format or a website format. It didn't necessarily have to be a paper so that was also very exciting to have that agency. You know, that's what we read about in the description of critical digital pedagogy about learner agency. So that was also really exciting to me. And then when I had real engagement with the faculty like that was really engaging to me. I really liked having a professor respond to me and not just saying “great job” or not just saying you know “fix your citation”. But like true engagement. And you know that does take time. I think and this is going to sound really strange but maybe not that strange but I think in order for us to get this type of level of engagement it has to be a not a standardized week. It needs to be a low stakes graded assignment that can just kind of happen on its own. As I think in online learning it’s very standardized. It's very like “This discussion board have to meet these three requirements” and these type of like super engaging out of the box activities it's hard to assess them and give them a lot of weight. People don't know how to wrap your head around that kind of grading. So I say if I were to want to, and I do, try something like big like this I would recommend it as a low stakes graded assignment and not a standard “give me one week” type of thing. I don't know what that would look like but a few examples - and then I was trying to think about like what could be done is - would be like maybe something small would be like an embedded Padlet where the students can just like all share a response to a question and they can see everyone's response. And if you're not familiar with Padlet, what’s great about that is that you can embed video links, website links, images, text. So it could be a whole class’s shared response to a question in a visual way.
Jessica: I’ve never used Padlet. So they can share a video and and a link and all that stuff, too?
Amanda: Yes, because it’s an open - it’s almost like a Google Doc. But it’s like you can do other - like you can link to other things and you make it open so that anyone that has access to it can add to it.
Jessica: Oh, that’s cool!
Amanda: So like you can embed back let's say on a LibGuide or into an LMS and they can just add to it right there.
Jessica: That’s pretty cool.
Amanda: Yeah but then it becomes how do you assess that? So that's why I'm thinking maybe not like a standardized assignment. And then like big huge pie in the sky activity is maybe for like a capstone or like a research methods class. I was thinking we help our criminal justice research methods class a lot. And I’m thinking because they have to do like a research study where they have to ask a question. They have to do a survey. They have to do an interview. I'm thinking maybe they do some type of multimedia mash-up and they put videos together of like interviewing people and images from what they're studying and then that all gets put on to like a class LibGuide and it's more of a visual representation rather than papers. Something different. So instead of maybe presenting it. Well for an online environment - we do a lot of sections in the online environment - so you know in its face to face you would present it to your class but in the online environment it would be a multimedia project.
Jessica: Right, exactly.
Amanda: But that’s also complex too because you have to make sure that students have the skills to record and edit, to use the tools that you're providing. You can’t just say, “Make me a video”. That’s also a challenge too, but I did, it feels like a thousand years ago but I read this article about how this one Professor, I think it was in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, I’ll see if I can find it, about how this Professor was engaging students in a math class by every student would have to answer three or four problems, right? They’d submit it and then if they got it right they would then have been have to teach their classmates how to do it and they would all take turns, one week one student would have to like do it. Like they have to record themselves as if they were in front of the classroom teaching them how to do it. So that's kind of engaging too where they're learning from each other and they're also learning about technology and they're learning about themselves and how they speak in presentations. And so it's a lot but you know it's probably nerve wracking for a professor to say to the student, “Hey, you have to do this” and give them all the tools to be able to do it. But it sounds super engaging!
Jessica: Yea! It almost sounds like a big jigsaw activity where they’re all teaching the whole class. But we’ll talk about this later but if we create the right online culture and online environment that there won't be so much fear around if they feel supported. That they would be more open to doing that. So I think that’s a really cool idea. And I know that Melody Lynn had suggested this topic said she teaches a credit bearing class so I mean that would be awesome for definitely a credit bearing class over a whole semester. Maybe not a one-shot.
Amanda: Yea, no probably not for a one-shot. I also think what’s exciting about doing something like a Padlet is that they’re contributing in a way to like answering a question and maybe in a sense they're doing something collectively but it doesn't feel like the traditional group work, you know? Because online group work can be very challenging especially when you're in different time zones. I mean when I was back in school three years ago, I had a group where we were all in different time zones so we were meeting at 10 p.m. my time because that was the earliest everyone else could meet. So that could be a challenge for groups to get together as well as for students to get together if you ever wanted to as a professor or a librarian have that synchronous opportunity.
Jessica: Yeah that just adds a whole other wrench to things as well in working in groups.
Amanda: Yea, so do you have any other points for that question?
Jessica: There was also a lesson I saw in the ACRL Book called “Framing Information Literacy” - it was that set of books about the Framework that came out a few years ago. There was a chapter that talked about using Wikipedia and compared the background information you would find on Wikipedia to what you would find in the library’s resources. And that author did teach a credit-bearing course so they were able to build up to this lesson plan. So that would be a little different for a one-shot. So the lesson teaches the Information Has Value Frame and as I said it might be difficult to adapt in a one-shot but it could be possible. It got me thinking about doing a Wikipedia editing session with an online class because that really lends itself so well to all the frames and gives an opportunity for conversations and discussions. And if you have a good relationship with the faculty, perhaps you can ask for two weeks in a class to help with that facilitating. And as you said, maybe it’s not perfectly assessable with all the checkboxes that we’re used to doing in online but using assessments other than discussion boards in this case could be really engaging.
Amanda: Yeah, that does sound like an exciting assignment to test out in the online environment.
Jessica: And I guess my last thought on this is really that it’s a great opportunity for embedded librarianship that we kind of spoke about in the last episode. It could be great to have librarians working with faculty from the start of a class to really incorporate information literacy concepts in authentic ways. And actually incorporate critical digital pedagogy. And it goes back to the quote from Henry Giroux earlier, where students can “actively participate in narrating their identities through a culture of questioning”. So librarians being part of that throughout the process and planning would be really valuable.
Amanda: Yea, definitely I think that actually kind of lends itself to my thoughts on the next question which is How do we create an online class culture? And I really do believe that while there are multiple ways, I think it starts with a librarian building a relationship with a faculty member as you were saying and getting them on board with you interacting with their students in multiple formats and multiple weeks. I don't think you can cultivate a culture in a week. I don't think he cultivated culture in just a discussion board. I think it needs to be several separate opportunities where they're interacting with a librarian. And I think you know we already kind of touched upon this being a challenge but I think online learning needs to break that mold of asynchronous is an advantage all the time. I think there needs to be some synchronous sessions. Whether you know, you commit to it. It’s kinda like that concept of blended learning. When you sign up for a course you commit that you're going to attend two of the five synchronous sessions. It gives that face to face connection because a lot of students don't feel connected to their professor. They don’t feel connected to their classmates in the online environment so if they're interacting with students for a whole semester and they're still not feeling it, they’re not going to feel connected to a librarian in one day. So we kinda dabbled with this a little bit at Berkeley and you and I've done it where we set up an optional session for an internship class where it was particularly challenging so students who wanted a face-to-face time with a librarian, they could “drop into” the Zoom meeting. And we didn’t get an insane number of students but we did get some who were interested in interacting with a librarian and it was helpful. And we actually have a librarian taking that concept a step further. She's like the Online Associate Director. She's doing that with drop in research hours where any student can drop in to talk about any topic so we'll see how that goes. I think that's how you create a culture. You give students different ways to learn, different opportunities to learn, and engage with you and their classmates.
Jessica: And I remember those asynchronous sessions and the students that did attend said, “I’m so glad that I did this because I got to meet you guys and I got to ask my specific questions and I feel more confident in my assignment now”. So just having that as an endorsement for those sessions was really motivational to keep trying it. And I think you’re right, it wouldn’t be too much to ask to say that you have to attend one of these asynchronous sessions a semester and it wouldn’t really affect the marketing of online classes at all. And I think it’s true that the professor sets a lot of the tone for the class as librarians. It’s the same thing as on-site classes. If a faculty member has that negative or just not engaging rapport with the students, it gets passed on to us when we teach our one-shots. So the faculty member has to build that culture because as you said, we can’t build that culture in one week. We can make engaging activities but it’s only going to go as far as the culture and motivation allows. So that's tough.
Amanda: I used to do this and I think I’m going to get back into it. I used to do a (indecipherable) 45-second whatever intro video where I would introduce myself and say who I am and what I’ll be doing for them and with them for the week. I don't even know how many of them watched it but I just felt like sometimes that made the difference. I felt like sometimes they knew a little bit about me, a little more comfortable and it's something simple and it doesn't have to be perfect. It could be messy. You can stumble, you can hesitate, you can say um. It’s more authentic. It's not as cookie cutter as some of these like intro to the course videos. So I would anyone interested in getting a little bit more connected with your students to create a 40-second video. Just put it there and don't try to make it perfect.
Jessica: That’s funny that you said that, too. One of the episodes that I mentioned from the Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast, the one with Flower Darby, the about small teaching online episode. They talked about just that. Leaving the blips in and if your dog walks in when you’re recording your lecture video, let it happen, you know. Because showing you’re a real person helps to build that relationship with them. So I think that’s a great tip.
So the next thing we were going to talk about was whether the one shot model really works for online library instruction at all and creating engaging content and learning objects. What do you think?
I mean we kind of touched on it a little bit in what we’ve talked about. We really didn't come up with too many learning object ideas because it’s hard in a one-shot.
Amanda: It is hard. I think I think the answer to that question is that you have to try, right? If you only have an opportunity to be in that class for one week, take that opportunity. But I would say just continue to work on it and try and work with the same Professor every semester and try to build upon what you've done any maybe tweak it here and tweak it there.
Jessica: I think it also depends on what we mean by “does it work”. We could say technically what I’ve been doing worked because I do have, based on rubrics that I have, students are finding sources for their assignment so ok they have the basic information literacy skills, that’s great. But if we want to be doing things like critical digital pedagogy where we’re teaching them to really think, and grappling with these big questions, then according to that metric, then no, it’s not working. Because my stuff wasn’t working on that metric. So we need to do what we talked a little about before and break the mold of online learning and try all of these new things. But then there could be the potential to break a relationship with a faculty member by doing something they don’t like and so we’re tip-toeing a line a little bit with keeping relationships, teaching students the information literacy skills we need them to learn and getting them to think critically about these big questions around information. And all doing this while being tied up in the time frame of online and the technology. So it’s figuring out what does “work” mean for your goals and your institution and then trying to go from there.
Amanda: At the end of the day I want the students to walk away with the skills that they need. Sometimes it's not super pretty and super engaging and you want learning to be exciting and fun all the time but I just don't think that's possible with larger factors. Like you said, maybe there’s a mold. Maybe the professor is not comfortable because it's outside of what they're doing or what they've ever seen a librarian do before. So yeah that can be that can be a huge challenge. And I have an example. I was supporting a public speaking class and I wanted to be engaging and actually one of my questions was - and this was not even required - it was an optional activity for students to record. Because what I was doing was I was going in there helping them to learn how to find sources for a persuasive speech. And what happened was is they were finding sources and then talking about the sources and I said in a question “If you want additional feedback on how to integrate this source into your speech, attach a 30-second clip of how you would talk about this source in your speech.” And the professor emailed me and said, “Can you take that question out? They’re already doing a lot of videos. I don't want to overwhelm them.”
Jessica: Yea, because you’re trying to engage the students and the faculty member is putting up a barrier there. And I just tweeted this from our Twitter account. It was a blog post from librarian Kevin Seeber. He did this whole blog post about faculty/librarian relationships. And this just reminded me of that. I mean, we could probably do half an episode on his blog post. It was great. He talks about how within faculty, each discipline doesn’t tell the other one how to teach their concepts so why is it that we allow faculty to tell us as the experts in information, how to do our jobs? And I think this is something that has been talked about in libraries for a while but it was interesting to see it articulated in this way and it kind of goes to what you just said, why are they telling you how to do your engagement?
Amanda: I think because we're being invited in. We’re invited guests so I think that that's why if they think they have the agency to do that to librarians. I definitely get a lot of librarians who, and like you said, I think this could be a whole episode, who are very like they tiptoe around faculty. And I’m not going to go beyond that. Whereas I kind of push it more in face to face. For example, the professor will say, “okay I'll give you 20 minutes” and say, “yea, yea, sure” and I'll be in there for 45 minutes. Or I’ll be honest with them and I’ll say to them, “Listen. I can’t do that in 20 minutes. I can do this in 20 minutes but not what you're asking me to do.” And they’re surprised to hear me say that. They think that, you know, this is what they are giving us and we're just going to be okay with it. But you know I think that it's even more challenging in the online space because I think if the faculty is very engaged in their online course the way they should be they are very on top of every little detail of all the activities that the students have to complete in a given week. Like this professor, she didn’t miss a beat. She saw my question and there are some professors that just don’t even pay attention and they’re just like, “Oh this is one week that I don’t have to participate in a discussion board. The librarian is just going to handle it.” Whereas this professor, she knew. She read all of my questions and made sure that I knew she read my questions.
Jessica: Which, honestly, we would want anyway because it’s the equivalent of in person and having the faculty just not be there. But at the same time, you had a plan in mind of how you were going to get the students interested and that threw a wrench in it though. Yeah so that’s an interesting example.
Amanda: Yea, that article was really interesting - blog post I think. It was really interesting. I read it as well and meant to tweet you. (Jessica laughs)
Jessica: It would be good on an upcoming episode. You may hear about this again! (Laughing)
Amanda: Yes! Absolutely. I think it's definitely - he definitely talked about a lot of important things that librarians need to be talking about for sure.
Jessica: So we want to hear from you! “what does critical digital pedagogy or open pedagogy look like to you in the online environment?” Or if you have resources that you love about these concepts, we want you to shout them out! Send us an email or tweet us or hashtag LibrariansGuideToTeaching.
Amanda: Ok! So we're switching things up a little bit this time around since we're on break. We don't have any triumphs or fails to share but we thought it would be a perfect time to talk about goals for the new year. So Jessica what are you thinking about some goals for the New Year?
Jessica: I definitely first want to incorporate more of these concepts that we talked about today into my instruction and be more reflective in my teaching practices. In my new role, I’m lucky to have the ability to take that time to think about my teaching and evaluate it more so definitelyI plan to make the most of it. And this is a little bit deeper but I do plan to do less work for the sake of achievement. And as I get older, I’m just reflecting more on what I spend my time on and while I’m really incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished in my career, I want to focus less on the “shiny” achievements and work on things that truly fulfill me. And if that resonates with you and you haven’t read the Meredith Farkas blog series called “Thoughts on Being a Mid-Career librarian”, definitely head over to her blog and check it out. I’ll also link it in the show notes. You don’t have to be a mid-career librarian to appreciate what she says but it definitely spoke to me as I approach 10 years in librarianship. And I think it’s definitely something I’m going to take into the new year with me. And lastly, in that vein, I want to build relationships with some of the students that I’ve met so far in classes although I’m not sure if it’s going to be harder in this much larger campus environment that I’m in. You know, I’m coming from almost 400 FTE to 6000 so (Laughing) And I did like 30 English classes this semester so it may be a little harder but it’s definitely a goal that I have to really get on a first name basis with some of my students.
Amanda: I think those are great goals. I know it can be a little overwhelming going from 400 to 6,000 but I'm sure there are small ways that you can definitely make a difference and make your presence known to the students, for sure.
Jessica: Yea, so what about you?
Amanda: Okay, so I definitely want to step up my LibGuide game. I want to create some more interesting, dynamic, engaging LibGuides which I don't think LibGuide are boring but like I definitely want to create some more interactive opportunities on them. I want to make more connections with faculty. In my role, I’ve been in my new role of the director - this is my second year. I'm going into my third. I mean, being with the college for 10 years I definitely have relationships that there still a lot of faculty that just don't know who I am or know my name. So want to get myself out there a little more with faculty and look for some of those opportunities. I know there are opportunities throughout the semester that I maybe I don't go to because I don't know if it's like a fit for me or I don't see the value in it but I think I'm going to push myself a little bit to be a little more social and kind of work the room a little bit. Maybe I'll actually get my business cards made up. I haven't even got my business cards made. I know it’s ridiculous, I haven't done it. But bigger goals that I want to achieve but I'm not going to like kill myself if I don't is I'd like to publish something whether it be an article or book chapter on my own. Completely by myself. I have had great opportunities to publish book chapters with colleagues but I've never attempted to do anything by myself. So I would love to, you know, do that. Even if, even if I don't get accepted and I get rejected at least I can say I put myself out there and I put my ideas out there.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s a good one! That’s a nice one.
Amanda: Yea, 10 years later (Laughs)
Jessica: And then we have our shared goal of presenting internationally. (Laughs)
Amanda: Yes! You know, last year I didn't get the present last year and I chose not to. I had a baby andI was still trying to figure out the whole mom thing. And now that I’ve gotten a little better handle on it, I really want to get back into presenting at some of the conferences so I'm definitely going to look to apply to some of the upcoming things. And internationally is definitely on my list.
Jessica: It’s on the bucket list!
Amanda: Yea, right (Laughs) So here we come, 2020!
Jessica: Yup! Exactly, we’re coming at ya!
Amanda: Coming at ya! And with that, that is the end of episode 7.
Jessica: You can find the podcast on Twitter @librarian_guide. You can find me, Jessica, @librarygeek611. You can find Amanda @historybuff820. And you can send us an email at InfoIitTeachingPodcast@gmail.com.
Be sure to rate and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen and we'd love to hear from you in the reviews as well. We'd love to read your review on an upcoming episode.
Jessica: Welcome to episode number 6 of the Librarian's Guide to Teaching Podcast. I'm Jessica...
Amanda: And I'm Amanda.
Jessica: So on today's episode, we're going to talk about the future of information literacy instruction and ask some kind of big questions. But before we get started with our conversation, how are you doing? Anything exciting going on?
Amanda: Oh, I'm doing good! You know, we're wrapping up our semester and I sent my email off to all of my people about end of semester tasks and I'm feeling like, you know, we had to at least take a look back at what we accomplished because sometimes you forget all the things you accomplished. So I actually took the time to go back and it ended up being like a 30 bullet point list of all the exciting new concrete things that we did the past year. So it was nice to see it all together because like I said you just forget the things that you do and it was just - we really did accomplish a lot. So I was super excited to see that and share that with people, too. Because I think they forget as well in our day to day stuff. What about you? What's going?
Jessica: Yea, kind of similar over here. Wrapping up the semester. Stuff like that. But what I'm doing this week is kind of fun is that I've started taking an online mini course by Mike Caulfield. I follow him on Twitter and he's actually the Director of Blended and Network Learning at Washington State University in Vancouver. But he has this website called Check, Please! And it's really about this different method of evaluating sources online. And so the course is really directed at students who would be taking it to understand how to evaluate online info but taking it as a librarian is interesting too because it's challenging the methods that we're usually taught to evaluate information and showing me a really different way that I can show students how to evaluate information. So I'll put it in the show notes but it's been kind of fun to do this week.
Amanda: That does sound exciting! Yea, I definitely want to check that out as well.
Jessica: Yea, it definitely makes sense. It's a cool method.
Amanda: Great! So let's dive right in. So the two big questions that we're going to be tackling today is "will librarians always teach information literacy?" and "will it ever become fully adopted into curriculum and only be taught by faculty?"
So why don't we get started with the first question. What do you think? Will librarians always teach information literacy?
Jessica: I mean, there's definitely probably some philosophical angles we could take to this question and really do some deep diving into that part of it but I think when I was thinking about it I was thinking it from a more practical perspective and I think maybe you'll cover a little bit of the philosophical end of things. I mean, first, there's so many institutional factors first of all. We have to get that out there. At certain institutions it might be easier to hand it off to someone else whereas other institutions it definitely wouldn't work. And there's also the situation of support in the library and faculty and what their relationship is. What's the relationship with the library and administration? So it can be different anywhere you work. However, there may be some situations where it might be easier for librarians to not teach information literacy. So there may be some situations where it's just as easy for a faculty member to do the information literacy instruction as it would be for a librarian. We know that maybe some English faculty are already probably doing this which is why they don't reach out to us to come in for one-shots. So even though it seems like faculty have a lot to cover, it may be just as easy for them to do these one-shots that we're doing, right?
Amanda: True, yea. I personally think that librarians will always teach information literacy. I think again, you kind of mentioned this, it depends on the institution size. If you think about a teaching college where you have a lot of faculty who are experts in your field but not necessarily experts in teaching and have formal backgrounds in teaching adding that layer of teaching information literacy might be overwhelming to them. They might not know how to fit that in. I think librarians have really have this stronghold on information literacy instruction and I think we’ve built culture around it and I just couldn't imagine us not doing it. I read this article when we were doing research for this episode about information literacy and this article was by Barbara Fister from Inside Higher Ed and she was writing how we’re in - information literacy is in third wave. First information literacy was about bibliographic instruction to show and empower students how to use the library for research. And then the second wave was when the internet exploded and it was to show students how to use resources outside of the library. And then she said what this third wave is, that it's our response to the commercialization and portability of networked information. And how it’s still more important than ever that librarians are teaching information literacy so with that being said I don't see librarians just giving up information literacy as a job task. I just don't think that faculty will ever be comfortable teaching it on their own. Especially because I had so many conversations with people about how they try to talk to faculty about the Framework and they just grapple with it and they don't understand it and so how can we expect a faculty member to teach information literacy if they’re not even comprehending our framework and our standards of how we teach information literacy?
Jessica: Right, right. I’m thinking devil’s advocate for the fun of the conversation but what if there were lesson plans created for faculty? Think about how Credo Reference does modules and they’re provided and purchased and sent off for people to use, right? What if someone decided to make that happen in the future so that they could take it off librarians’ plates. Again it would depend on the institution, it would depend on the motivations behind it. Why would anyone want to do that? I’m not sure. But could be something interesting to think about.
Amanda: The problem with those is that faculty don’t need to do anything with those. Those are pre-packaged and kind of run themselves. I don’t think a faculty member would take the time to interact with the Framework and then develop a lesson or even use a lesson that a librarian created to then teach it to the students. I just don't think that's ever going to be a part of their expertise.
Amanda: Not that I don't think they're capable. I think faculty are definitely capable. I just don't think they’re going to add that to what they do. I don’t see that happening
Jessica: That’s true because like you said their focus is their discipline area and that's what they want to focus on, rightly so. So I think that it does make the most sense.
Amanda: Right, right. I know a lot of people have said that information literacy should just be part of general education. And that it's a discipline in itself if you think about it that way. We are the subject matter experts when it comes to information literacy. So I agree with that but I don't necessarily agree that it just belongs in General Ed courses. I think it belongs in all disciplines. So I guess that kind of segways a little bit into our next question which is: will it ever become fully adopted into a curriculum and only be taught by faculty?
Jessica: Right, I don't know about that one. Like you said, how exactly would it be implemented in every single discipline. I mean there could be a way that it would be may be taught as a gen ed full credit course which it is at some institutions, but then I'm not sure how it eventually gets integrated later on into the disciplines and the majors without having the librarian do it. As we already mentioned you know the faculty are working in those major areas and they’re teaching those areas they’re not necessarily going to start all of a sudden teaching information literacy outside of maybe just little snippets here and there within their lessons.
Amanda: Yea, I have never been a fan of the full credit bearing course. I think it's just an easy “get out of jail free card” if you will that like “okay we checked his box. They took this information literacy course. Now they know everything they need to know about the information literate”. I think we know from our personal experiences that the students don't transfer their skills as much as they should into other classes and I think if you only front load it at the beginning of their educational career they're going to forget it. And they’re not going to apply it in the majors. I think that it needs to be integrated throughout all the discipline, all the majors. And I know that can be a challenge. I'm currently living that challenge. My personal experience right now is that we are working our way through the School of Professional Studies. And it’s a very slow process. We just finished integrating it into our Legal Studies program. Now next semester we're doing a syllabi review and then we're hoping to integrate into their curriculum but it’s gonna take time. And it depends on your workforce. But I don't - I think the only way for it to work is if it's not only adopted into the curriculum but acknowledge how it's actually going to get implemented.
Jessica: Right, because the way that you're talking about it and the way that you guys are implementing it into the curriculum is the standardized instruction in maybe one course?
Jessica: So if it’s Professional Studies and that major has to take 10 courses, you're still only having your standardized instruction in one course out of those 10, right?
Amanda: So here's how it is. So we have relationships in some of the Gen Ed classes so like we're in the Freshman seminar so they're getting exposure there. We’re in the English 101 so they're getting exposure there. And then in the majors they have two other opportunities at the 2000 level and the 4000 level let’s say in our legal studies program. So they're getting 1, 2, 3, 4 standardized opportunities for information literacy and they do build upon each other because we planned it that way.
Amanda: And then we always help them in the internship and a lot of time, the Research Method classes so they’re getting additional opportunities but at least we know we're hitting them on those four courses. So that's my goal. And like I said, it required a lot. I mean it took us a whole semester to plan out the learning object, you know, draft it, get the faculty feedback. And now we’re implementing it next semester so it's time consuming. And you have to have the manpower and skill set to do it. But I just - I don't see faculty doing it. And I’ve read articles about how librarians are doing boot camps and teaching faculty how to do information literacy or trying to empower them to teach information literacy on their own with guidance from a librarian and I just, I just don't think that that's going to happen. I just don't think that's going to be successful. I did come across this white paper and I thought this was a really interesting quote that I just want to read. It’s kind of long but I think it's important.
It says: “Our efforts to teach students have undermined our ability to integrate information literacy throughout the curriculum by using up time and energy that would be better focused on institutional-wide initiatives that lead to shared educational goals and objectives around the campus. Furthermore faculty control the learning environment and are in a better position than library faculty to create situations which allow students to see information seeking as an essential part of problem solving in a discipline.” (“Philosophical Shift: Teach the Faculty to Teach Information Literacy”, White Paper written by Risë L. Smith and Karl E. Mundt Library)
To me, I get it. So basically she's saying that the one-shot is not worth our time and that we're losing our sight And I agree. It has to come from the top. It has to come from the institution. The institution not only has to acknowledge that it's an important skill to have but also be prepared to do something about it in a methodical way. Not just check a box and say, “Yes, information literacy is important and here’s a research assignment so they're definitely getting information literacy skills here.”
Amanda: Just because there’s a research assignment doesn’t mean they’re being taught the research skills that they need to complete that assignment.
Jessica: Right and just because it's listed as one of the core competencies of a program - is it being assessed appropriately? Or are they just doing a research paper and checking the box that it's done? That doesn't equate to information literacy.
Amanda: Right. Definitely, not. Definitely not. That’s been my experience. And I saw this really interesting thing that SUNY Albany is doing where they made information literacy be integrated into their general education. But in a very specific way. And there’s a form. And I'll put that in the show notes. Where they had to really sit down and explain how information literacy was being taught in the class. And I think that would have warranted conversations with the library and librarians saying, “Well how can we collaborate to do this? Because I don’t know how to do this. Let’s do this together.” So I think it was a lot more harder than just saying that information literacy is happening in this program.
Jessica: Right, exactly. I mean kind of what you're talking about a little bit is reminding me of some of the classes that colleges have tried to do like the Writing Across the Curriculum? Where the classes, even if it was a math class, they’d somehow have to implement writing. I mean I kind of think something like that could potentially work for information literacy if it was - but again it has to be a real partnership situation where librarians are in the department meetings, they’re are part of the curriculum development, they're part of creating the assignment which just in our experience - me not so much at my new institution because I’m not involved in those meetings as of yet - but just our experiences together you know that hasn’t really happened on a consistent basis.
Amanda: No, no. And I think going back to Barbara Fister’s article about the three waves of information literacy, I think some faculty are still stuck in that first wave of “show them the library”. Librarians show students about library resources very like “how to” and not necessarily skill-based. And I think that's the problem and I think that's the mentality that's the barrier of them accepting and acknowledging that information literacy is more than just how to access a database.
Jessica: Right, exactly. I mean I think there's even still now in this third wave that Barbara Fister was talking about is kind of confusion about information literacy vs. digital literacy. I mean I was talking to someone the other day and they were trying to say that information literacy was part of digital literacy and I was like no flip that around. The umbrella is information literacy and digital literacy is a part of something that lives underneath that. Information just exists online and you need to know how to look at it in that context. So if people are still thinking about information that way then we have a language problem. We have some definition problems and we kind of have to tackle those to even figure out what we're talking about and what are we trying to teach and that's a barrier.
Amanda: I mean how do you even get faculty engaged in that conversation. That’s kind of been part of my challenge. I've tried to frame it where it elevates it and talks about like “We need to collaborate together. Let's do this together to make sure your students are information literate. These skills are important.” But then I’m in a meeting and the Dean is like, “Information literacy is important. Amanda’s here to talk to you about it and the librarians are also going to do this for you.” And like, it’s true we are but we also want their feedback and we want them to engage in what we're doing. We don't want them to just plug in what we did or you know what we think and not have any feedback or recommendation or ideas about whether or not that’s a right fit, you know? I think that's my biggest challenge that I think engaging faculty is tough to get them over that hump of what it is that we do and why it's important for them to kind of accept it...
Jessica: And the possibilities of what we could do. Like the fact that we could sit with them and look at their syllabus and say, “Oh, for this topic we can fit in the ACRL frame and this is what the frame means and this is the potential for what we could be explaining to them and think about the conversations that that could open about your discipline area.” So but it's like you said getting in the door to even have that conversation.
Amanda: Yea, and that’s why I don’t think librarians are going to be giving up information literacy anytime soon.
Jessica: Yea, that’s true.
Amanda: You know, sometimes I think we spin our wheels doing one-shots but at the same time, at least what I’m trying to do at my institution like I said is implement one program at a time where they're getting those standardized opportunities. And I go back and forth about standardized opportunities because, you know, is it too cookie cutter? Is it that engaging? But I think the fact of the matter is that at least we know and we can speak to it when we have to go to our accrediting bodies that our students are getting information literacy in these courses, these are the skills that they’re graduating with and here’s our assessment. Because I don’t think that’s happening as often as it should. I really don't.
Jessica: Right, exactly.
And another reason why librarians are probably not going to give up information literacy anytime soon as well is that we remain up-to-date on the technology of research and the evaluating sources online and how that changes with different technology and the bias and algorithms and all that stuff. Faculty are doing their own research on their own disciplinary is so you know it’s like you said we're the experts in this area so we can stay up-to-date not only on the pedagogy but also the technology behind research and how to do it and keeping up with the databases so that's something that I think is always going to be our expertise and we'll always have that to be there as support for faculty.
Amanda: Yea, I definitely agree with that. I don't think faculty are going to be keeping up with these things. And I think, the how to’s and the theoretical stuff have a place in your instruction. I do both. I don't do one of the other and I don't think faculty will be able to successfully navigate through databases the way a librarian could teach a student how to do it.
Jessica: Right, yea exactly. And either way I think we're going to be there for consultations. I mean just like The Writing Center is always there for students to drop in and have appointments we’re always going to be there for them for that as well. Faculty can’t be there to counsel students on writing and research and then teach full classes. It's going to be a team effort of all the support services so. And I find that to be one of the most rewarding things that I do anyway is I'll come to the class, I'll teach and then when they come to me two days later and go, “you know I tried all these things and my topic is still really hard. Can we sit down and talk about it? “ That's some of the most rewarding stuff that I do.
Amanda: Yea, the one one one consultations are really great. I think they are great reinforcers and they are great ways to get students to be more comfortable with talking to librarians and asking for help because you know they are so nervous and I think they're also overconfident. I think having that opportunity to have them come to us I think is a great resource. And I don't know if we were no longer teaching those classes if they would be going to their professors like “how do I do this research?” I don't think that would happen.
Jessica: That’s actually something a lot of faculty say to me is, they say, “you know I tell them this stuff all the time but hearing it from you is that more valuable because it's another voice”. And so even that is valuable to be able to be that other voice to say, “Hey you know I know you know evaluating sources is important but let's look at it a different way” or you know I'm a different person saying it to you and maybe it's going to stick what I said.
Amanda: Yeah yeah. I think in the dream ideal situation a librarian and a faculty member would develop a course together and it would just be a co-taught course and it would be a combination of discipline and then also information literacy skills that work for that course. I really think that would be an ideal set up. Again I don't think that means the student should never have exposure to information literacy instruction but I think it would add value to how faculty perceive librarians and information literacy and I think it would add value to how students see the library and what librarians do on a day-to-day.
Jessica: Yea, that was actually one of the most interesting experiences I had at Berkeley was there was an English faculty member who was super supportive of the library, we had a good relationship. And she asked me to experiment on an embedded course where you know I looked at her syllabus I said “I can put modules in you know week 3 week, week 7 and week 9 but also have a discussion board open the whole semester and these are the places and topics that I feel like it would be helpful for students to get some research help”. So it was really cool to be a part of the class the whole semester and getting to interact with students every couple of weeks and having them email me when they had questions so that kind of embedded library instruction was really cool. And I know some librarians at some institutions already do that but I don't think it's as widespread as it could or should be. It would probably be valuable for a lot more places.
Amanda: I mean, I think it would almost be interesting to have that in maybe one major - one course for every major.
Jessica: Yeah, right.
Amanda: Interesting...that would be a nice way to expose students to - especially in courses that are like Introduction to Research in Marketing. We have a lot of those courses. We have like Intro to Marketing Research and then Advanced Marketing Research, you know? I think having a librarian co-teach a course for the faculty at the intro level kind of sets the student up for the skills that they will learn about and then also the one that they that they don't even know that they're going to need that moving forward and then at least they have a librarian as a resource during their time in the program because they interacted with the librarian in that way.
Jessica: Yea, that’s true.
Amanda: I think that would be a unique experience.
Jessica: So we actually had put out a call on Twitter about this episode and kind of asked all of you this question and we did have a response from @librarybon.
She had said, “I fear worse than librarians not teaching information literacy that it just won't be taught at all. So another reason to keep info lit on the forefront of the minds of administrators and state lawmakers continuously proving our value because if librarians aren't teaching it we fear it won't be taught.”
And I mean that's kind of a good point, right? And we know Bonnie and she's advocating doing amazing work in New Jersey for elementary and middle school and high school librarians to get them into the schools where they're actually missing so I know that that's something of a passion for her. But she makes a point if we're not there and we're not seen as valuable then who's going to teach it? That would be bad.
Amanda: Agreed yeah. I guess from the context that you're providing it definitely makes sense why she would say something like that. Yeah but in higher ed, I just can't imagine that librarians would not be teaching information literacy and that information literacy would just be out of the conversation completely.
Jessica: That like all of a sudden all of the instruction Librarians would either be gone or be put on the reference desk,
Amanda: Or just a consultation research only. I couldn't even imagine it. I’d be out of a job.
Jessica: Yeah, right!
Amanda: So I couldn’t even imagine it but I mean I see where she was coming from in that context. But yea I mean, I guess this is something that we will just always continue to struggle with and fight for you know that quote/unquote seat at the table when these conversations are happening about curriculum development and information literacy and I just wish that we were a part of the conversation from the jump. And that we didn’t have to go in after decisions were made because I think it just makes it so much harder.
Jessica: But I think some of the conversations being had in a general public, not just the library world, about this third phase of information literacy - they're not calling it that but I think all of the problems that we're having with information and digital literacy are - they may change the conversation and really bring us out into the forefront a little bit. I mean I don't think the problems as a society information-wise are going to be solved by some one-shot sessions or or by information literacy instruction in general. But I think changes that we’ve talked about in this episode and changes within higher ed could make a difference.
Amanda: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think this is just one of these things that it's just going to be many more people will talk about and write about and...I don't...like if we reflect back on this conversation about five years from now I think information literacy will still be in the same place. I think my librarians will still be teaching it and it will be mostly one-shots.
Jessica: I hope you're wrong. Just for the record. (Laughs)
Amanda: I hope so, too, but I don't think librarians are losing their position in terms of teaching information literacy any time soon.
Jessica: So let's move into our weekly segment of our Work Triumphs and Fails. So Amanda, what's your triumph and fail this week?
Amanda: I have a Triumph. As I’ve previously talked about on a podcast I have been working with other librarians to integrate information literacy into our Legal Studies program and it’s been a two semester-long project. Actually three semesters. We’ve been working on this for three semesters now and we’ve actually finished the modules, with the assessment and shared it with faculty. And the triumph is that it was widely adopted and accepted and they were thrilled. They were super excited about it. They actually completed the module and had questions. So they really engaged with the material and did just yes us to death which is super exciting. And we're going to pilot in the winter and the hope is to integrate into their syllabi as a standardized assignment in the spring. So I'm so excited. It was a long project. It really took forever to get together but it's happening so I'm super pumped about it.
Jessica: Yeah that's rewarding!
Amanda: Definitely rewarding. So what about you? Work triumph or work fail? Or both?
Jessica: I’ve got both. So one comes off of a triumph. So one of my triumphs recently was our partnership with the Writing Center and their new director. And so we had scheduled citing workshops - one MLA and one APA. And we'd reached out to faculty and classes and stuff like that but of course the one citing workshop that I was going to do - the MLA one - was scheduled for the day after the snow storm. So we had nobody come. So while that could have been a total fail if everything was super context-based and it was only for that workshop that we had created something, it really would have been crappy, but what we created can really be adapted into classroom lessons and stuff like that. So not too bad. And people did show up to the APA one the day after which we weren’t surprised about because the snow was all gone and it was ok.
So that's my fail. But for a Triumph my supervisor and I met with some colleagues from the Assessment Department and so we are re-energizing an assessment project of our standardized English instruction. So I'm excited to be a part of that and we're going to be doing a combination of like a Qualtrics survey module but also looking at student work and creating a rubric to actually analyze their finished products. So we're going to have a little bit of a qualitative and quantitative assessment so I'm really excited to dive into that project at at my new job. So that'll be cool.
Amanda: Yea, definitely! That’s pretty awesome! And don’t be so hard on yourself for that fail. You can’t control the weather.
Jessica: Yes, it's true, I know. And I mean we are going to schedule them again so it's not like I said it's not something that is just a one-and-done. We're going to try to do it every semester and what’s the worst that can happen when you schedule something? If people don't show up we just pick new times and that's something that I've always been used to trying at Berkeley, was trying different times and methods of outreach and seeing what sticks.
Amanda: That's great, that's great. Well hopefully the second time’s the charm!
Jessica: Yea, exactly!
Amanda: Alright so that wraps up another episode of The Librarian's Guide to Teaching! So Jessica, you want to tell them where they can find us?
Jessica: Sure! So the podcast is on Twitter @librarian_guide. I am on Twitter @librarygeek611. Amanda is @historybuff820 and you can always email us at InfoLitTeachingPodcast@gmail.com.
Amanda: Be sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen! We love to hear from you and your reviews as well.
Send us an email or a tweet to share your questions, ideas for potential discussions or your triumphs and fails in the classroom.
Jessica: Welcome to episode number five of The Librarian’’s Guide to Teaching Podcast! I'm Jessica…
Amanda: And I’m Amanda.
Jessica: So on today's episode we're going to be talking about classroom management and some of the different tips that we’ve used or that we might try in the future or recommend. But before we get started with our topic, how are you doing anything? Anything exciting going on?
Amanda: I’m doing great! Yea, it’s week 11 in our 15 week semester so things are winding up and also winding down at the same time. I'm done with my in-class instruction for the semester but I'm doing a lot of behind-the-scenes things right now. So I previously talked about modules that are being created to be embedded into classes so all of those projects are starting to come to a close and they're really coming together. So I’m super excited about actually meeting with the faculty to share the final finished products. What about you?
Jessica: Well you know, on a personal note, just prepping for Thanksgiving. It’s always crazy how that sneaks up on us. We’re not having too many people over, thank goodness. But still planning the menu and making sure...what’s everybody's bringing and stuff like that. And at the same time trying to also just simplify my evenings and weekends and you know, mindfulness is a big thing in libraries right now and I think I'm definitely trying to incorporate some of that this time of year. But the good thing is that work things are slowing down too so I think I did my last scheduled class for the semester today. So for the rest of the semester is going to be last minute classes or prepping for next semester's instruction. And we're going to be having a conversation about some of our standardized instruction and potentially updating that based on my experience as the newest instructional librarian. So that should be fun.
Amanda: Absolutely! We're lucky. We're not hosting Thanksgiving this year. We're going to a family member's house. So I just have to show up and bring a dish so I'm excited for that.
Jessica: Nice! What are you bringing?
Amanda: I don’t even know yet. I’m not even sure. I think I'm definitely going to do a dessert and I think I might do like a green, green bean casserole. I made that a few years ago and people seemed to like it so…
Amanda: That’s what we might do.
Jessica: That’s a good one.
Amanda: So let’s jump right into our topic today. Classroom management can be a struggle for librarians who don't have an education degree or previous experience teaching. And it can be difficult to manage at the same time as the content. It can also be a challenge since we typically don't get to develop a rhythm or rapport with the students since we most often provide one shots but we’ll mostly be talking about tips that can be used in either in person one shot or semester-long course. Because all of our experience comes from one shots there maybe addition strategies suited for full credit courses that we may not address. So now we're going to go back and forth with some common classroom management concerns and solutions. So one concern is getting and keeping them engaged. Right? We’ve all kind of struggled that before.
Jessica: Yea, definitely.
Amanda: So one tip or solution is telling stories. It would be much more interesting than a lecture. I love this idea. I think we sort of do it when we can think of the story but I think we should be doing it way more because we should be drawing and on our experiences from helping students when they come to the library. And I think student would appreciate that story.
Jessica: Yeah I think I am good when I give examples of helping students with the same assignment and what may be topics they did but sometimes I struggle with doing it when it's about my research struggles. You know, not that I've never had research struggles but I either feel like I can't remember them in the moment and, or I feel like I feel disingenuous sometimes when I feel like it's not going to relate to them or they're not going to relate to what I'm saying. So I don't want it to fall flat. So I think I worry about trying it. So I think maybe I just need to see someone do it a couple of times and that would make me feel a little more confident at doing it.
Amanda: Yea, when I was back in school when I was getting my second master's degree, I found myself talking a lot about my research experiences as a student. And I would draw from that a lot. And I was saying, “I’m a librarian. I do this for a living and I am super frustrated with the research process”. And I think that really engaged the students. And like you said, sometimes I just don't think of those examples in the moment. So I think it's such a great tool to use storytelling but I just I don't always remember it.
Jessica: Yea, I think I need to do a little more reflection on, I mean, because I haven't been in school since like 2011 so I just think I need to do some reflection and tap into those experiences of what it was like or even doing the research that I have to do to prep for classes. You know, I don't have to tell them that that's what it was for. I could tell them it was for when I was in school to make it a little more relatable. So I think that's one of the next things on my to-do list is thinking about ways to be a little bit more of a storyteller.
Amanda: So another solution is if it fits with your session, start your session with a pre-knowledge Kahoot. It creates an engaging atmosphere in the room that can make students open up later. Have you ever done that before?
Jessica: I’ve done Poll Everywhere which I guess is kind of similar. Because one thing I struggled with when trying to a Kahoot! was it's a quiz so there has to be a kind of a correct answer. And sometimes with the theories and concepts that we're trying to teach, you know, I'm trying to be more framework based, they can be a little difficult to just be cut and dry with a correct answer. I'm trying to really get their pre-existing knowledge about how they research not necessarily about what the right and wrong answer is. But I think it could fit in certain situations.
Amanda: Yea, I think it also helps you manage the room, besides the real engagement, it allows you to know what level to teach at. Depending on how you ask your questions.
Amanda: Another solution would be to ask them to do the work in the demo. For example, you could say, “I have these search results. Now what do we do?”
Jessica: Yea, I actually did that today. They weren't as responsive and I was hoping but you know, it's different with every group. The dynamic is different every time. But it has worked pretty well in the past. Some of them will say, “I’m going to read the title.” Some of them will say, you know, “I'm going to pick on the third one because it's the New York Times” and then we have a discussion about why they feel like that's the best one to pick. So sometimes asking them to do the work and walk me through everything is helpful.
Amanda: Yeah yeah you are actually found this really great tweet about what one librarian is doing. Do you want to share that?
Jessica: Yea, so her name is Laura Woods on Twitter and she was inspired to do a choose-your-own-adventure. So I don't think this would necessarily work in a class where you're teaching to an assignment but she was more just asked to come in and do a library demonstration. So she prepared give 15 minutes sets of content on topics like advanced searching, planning a literature review, evaluating your sources, etc. And she let the students pick two of those to go over and she provided them resources like tutorials or references on how to do the rest of them. And she said they were still engaged because they got to pick what they were learning and either way no matter what they picked it would be applicable to their work. So I thought that was kind of cool because you're giving them an option. And I kind of tried to do this the other day in a tiny way. Because I do a demo of two things in this one class. I do a demo of searching Google for news and then a demo of our library website. So together the whole demo is was probably like 15 minutes and then at the end they workshop it and do their own searching. But after the first Google session, I said, “So do you want to stop now and search Google or do you want me to continue and search both on your own?” And they said that they wanted me to go to the whole demo and then just do one big chunk of searching. So it was a little bit of giving them autonomy and so I think they just appreciated being able to pick.
Amanda: Yea, that’s exciting. You know, many, many moons ago, I did a, like a true Choose-Your-Own PowerPoint adventure where I had the iclickers and everything. And I would to give them scenarios and I would say, “Eric is searching for such and such a topic. Where should he start?” And then all the students would vote. And then based on the most popular vote, we would go. So some of them would say Google. So then we would like, “Ok, Eric’s search results has a million results. What should he do now?” And then they would vote and then that's the direction we would go.
Jessica: Oh my gosh!
Amanda: And the PowerPoint was hyperlinked. So it was exciting. It was a lot of work to maintain the PowerPoint but it was fun because I think the students, you know, they were in control.
Amanda: It was very scenario-based. They were in control. Now technology makes it a lot easier to do something like that. But it was like 2009. So it was advanced for its time and it was engaging.
Jessica: No, that's cool. I might steal that idea [laughs]
Amanda: I might even have the template, so have at it! So moving on to a few other examples. Building relationships. So in our previous episode, Romel Espinel had a suggestion to ask the students to share their names before they speak to personalize the exchange. That’s something I've never done in a class before. I mean, like sometimes I’ll ask for a name but I’ve never done it for everyone in the class.
Jessica: I finally started doing that the past couple of weeks since our episode with him. Some students are just you know, they just answer the question as if I didn't ask and sometimes I get a smile and say, “Oh, my name is Jen!” And they seem to like it. I actually do like referring back to them when they answer again. Even today I did it and a girl responded a couple of times and when I referred back to what she said, I said, “okay, remember what Christina said” and it does feel so much more personal. It's really interesting how it changes the environment so I would encourage everybody to do that. It's a small change and it did take me a couple times to remember to ask them first when I pointed to them but it’s cool. I like it.
Amanda: Yeah, I mean I've done it when a student has been very, very participatory in the class. I’ll say, “oh what was your name”
Jessica: Right, right.
Amanda: I’ll say, “Thank you for participating, I really appreciate it. Like that. I like the idea of the name thing . I’ll definitely have to try it next semester.
Jessica: Yea, definitely.
Amanda: And then the last one that we have here is you know, start out the session by saying “At the end of this session, you will come away with this skill and this information” so that they see the relevance of paying attention.
Amanda: I’ve done this before. I get mixed things. You know sometimes you know once I say “This is going to help you with your assignment”, they pay attention. And then other times not so much. You know, they're just like “okay sure”, you know?
Jessica: Yeah, maybe other times I feel like I have to say during the session which we'll get to later just like “okay this is THAT thing I was referring to” and then they'll pop their heads up from their laptops.
Amanda: Yea, we’ll talk about that later. I have a thing I used to do.
Jessica: Ok, cool. Alright, so our second set of tips is about getting them to participate. So hopefully you have them engaged at this point but that doesn't always mean that they're going to answer your questions that you have. So one thing that you can do is a think pair share activity or use an audience participation system like Poll Everywhere. So the Think Pair Shares are always helpful because you're getting them to sit and reflect. That can be really helpful for introverts who need a second to think and then if they share it with someone else they feel a little more confident in sharing with the rest of the class. I know you’ve done these a lot, right?
Amanda: Yes, I did a lot of Think Pair Shares. I think when it's a large group it's a great way to get them engaged in smaller groups.
Jessica: Right, exactly. And I know Poll Everywhere just recently created an extension that integrates with PowerPoint. And I started using it so you actually just, you have your own tab in PowerPoint now. You just click “insert a slide” and it creates its own PowerPoint slide with the activity right in it. It’s super helpful.
Amanda: I have a weird thing about not using Poll Everywhere. I feel weird asking students to text you, know what I mean?
Amanda: I feel weird having them use their text messaging. I mean, I know a lot of people these days have unlimited but you know what? I don’t know. I don't want to make assumptions and I think that was my biggest thing that I didn't want to make an assumption that our students had unlimited text messaging.
Amanda: That they could just text anything. So I think I've done it twice in the classroom and they’ve both been epic fails.
Jessica: Really?? Well now they let students do it on the computer so they can go to a link and just do it instead of text.
Amanda: Yea, that’s different. So that's a different thing but in the classroom, I rarely have the students use their phones.
Jessica: Yea, that’s very true. You can just ask them for a show of hands as opposed to doing a full verbal response because it at least gets them to answer your question and you can make comparisons between who had their hands up for each answer. And it may warm them up to the idea of participating.
Amanda: Do you find that you do that more or less in a nighttime class?
Jessica: I don't think the time of day has mattered. I think it's more the yeah, the classroom dynamics of if they're just a non-participatory group.
Amanda: I found that I’ve done that more in a night class. That I’ll do the hands thing. For example, I used to do an exercise with Boolean operators where I'd make everyone stand up. And I’d say, “oh if you're wearing jeans and you’re female remain standing” and I felt like when I did it in the night classes they didn't necessarily want to participate by standing. So I got more participation when they did raise your hands.
Jessica: Right, that’s interesting. Maybe they'd already been too tired from the day and they're like “please don't make me stand.”
Amanda: I think that’s exactly what it was so I saw that difference.
Jessica: So our next one is just calling on a student by asking them a direct question. It can be scary but sometimes you could hit on a student who really has a good point or you could tell them if they’re not comfortable answering, they don't have to. So that's always an option though. It's just pick on someone that’s there. Ask for their name and ask what they think.
Amanda: Yeah I do this a lot when I see student wants to participate but is just afraid to be like the first person to say something. I’ll say something like, “You look like you want to say something”
Jessica: Right, right
Amanda: And sometimes they’ll be like, yes, ok! And they’ll talk.
Jessica: That’s true because then at least their peers see that they weren’t the one to volunteer but they get to say what they had to say.
So the next one is to set expectations that a question is coming. And that it’s ok to take a second to think. So for example you can say “In a minute I'm going to ask a question so what I want you to do first is to think quietly about your answer and then I'll ask for a few volunteers to share their answer with the group” So it just sets them up to know the questions are coming and that it's okay for them to sit and think for a second. ‘Cause I think they do automatically think that they need to shoot their hand up and just know the answer. But just letting them know it’s ok to take a second.
And the next one is also something we talked about with Romel was getting comfortable with silence. And I have been practicing this one a lot and gotten a lot better about it.
Amanda: I'm not good at it and then I start to try to be funny about it and insert you know Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reference in there and none of them get it. And then I just move on because it’s so awkward.
Jessica: Right (laughs)
Alright so before we move on to the next tip, I have kind of a question/scenario and maybe we can talk about how we would handle it. So I've had this recently because I've been using Poll Everywhere. So let's say you have 18 students in the class. They’re working on an independent question that they have to answer and respond to the board. And you can count, you can see that only 10 of them are responding. Do you wait for more students respond and require everybody to answer or do you just move on? At what point do you move on?
Amanda: I move on. I usually I've done this with iClickers and I usually give people to a minute to answer and then say “okay this is your last chance to participate. At the minute mark we’re moving on” and then we move on.
Jessica: Yeah that's true. I like giving them the time frame. I hadn't been doing the time frame thing. I was just kind of seeing what the answers were turning out to be and if I felt like I got enough to make my argument I would kind of move on. But I kind of think giving them a countdown is good too because then at least say they might feel more encouraged if it feels competitive. I don't know.
Jessica: Alright, cool. Next section.
Amanda: Yea, so I think this is something we can all relate to is engaging that distracted student. And keeping everyone on task and focused. So one thing is to read the room, right?
Amanda: I previously talked about a fail, where I knew that I lost my audience and I was reading that room and there were so many different conversations going on. So I think it’s important to just read the room and then try and recover.
Amanda: So another solution, potential solution, is to walk around the room and have some spatial awareness.
Jessica: Yeah I need to get a clicker thing for my PowerPoint slides because I don't have one yet in my new job. So I think that chains me a little bit to the podium. But when they're working on their own I'm definitely floating around a lot more but I need one of those clicker things.
Amanda: Yea, that definitely gives you a lot of freedom, for sure. Another one that I’ve personally never done is make a sweeping statement to put phones away. Have you done that before?
Jessica: No I haven't. And especially now, when I go in, it's like it's always a workshop based thing so they all had their laptops out and I feel like that does distract them a little bit. Like today I had a session like that and about 10-15 minutes into the session even though the beginning was very interactive with Poll Everywhere, you know, 5 minutes after the Poll Everywhere was over we're doing a Google search together and even though I’m asking them questions to participate, 75% of their eyes were on their screens. And it was just difficult to try to get them back and part of it was just a classroom dynamic and stuff like that but it can be difficult . Because you can’t just ask them to put their laptops away because they’re going to need them in 5 minutes or 2 minutes. So that’s tough.
Amanda: Yea, definitely.
So another thing is to collaborate with the faculty member in advance and ask them to assist with the classroom management. As you know it does impact on the room environment if they chime in and said “hey guys, let's pay attention” or something along the lines of “Oh, this is really important or interesting. I didn't even know this.” Things like that I think that makes the difference.
And then another one, the last one, is to make the note that this is a key point you will need to know. Hopefully to snap people back to attention.
Jessica: And sometimes it just doesn't work. Like I tried that today. Still didn’t work. I was trying to show them how to use the citation function in the database and you know, I was making jokes about citations and how annoying they are and this and that. And that just fell flat. And maybe we’ll talk about humor in the future as a potential thing that could fall flat. But I tried the joke and said “you really are going to want to know this” and still eyes were stuck on their screens. So it doesn't always work.
Amanda: Yeah I used to do an activity where I used to say to them, “okay everybody take out a piece of paper and divide it into four quadrants.” And I would tell them what to label each box and it would be like “Databases”, “Websites”, Search strategies”, “Notes”. And I would have them write notes down for every section. I said “You need to fill these boxes as we’re going through the workshop because there's going to be a test at the end.” And then I would also use “You should write this down in this box” and that worked. I mean it didn’t always work but they all took out a piece of paper because they had no idea why I was asking them to take out a piece of paper. So they just did it. So it did help somewhat with their level of engagement
Jessica: Yea that’s a good one.
Amanda: Okay next section.
Jessica: So the next one is one that, thankfully, I haven't had to deal with too much but sometimes we do have to deal with difficult situations with students. So for example if a student is openly disrespectful. We hope that the faculty would step in and that they're there but there are certain scenarios where maybe the faculty can't be there. We hope that they would be there most of the time. And I think I've only had this once before and I was really just firm and respectful that they can choose to not pay attention if they’d like but that I was there to provide this information to all of the students and that they shouldn't take away from the other students' experiences. Have you had to deal with that before?
Amanda: Yes and no. So I’ve had chatty students before and I've learned that silence is the way to get them back without having to be super confrontational about it. Because I think they remember those types of experiences. Like, “That was that librarian that was rude to me in class. I’m never going to go to her for help again.” So I try not to do some of those “calling people out” things. I mean obviously I've never really had to but like I found that just stop - stop talking - and they get the message because they're doing this extra thing but they also realized something else is going on and once they realize that that other thing isn’t going on any more, they stop talking.
Jessica: Right, and I guess it depends on what level of activity of disrespect are we talking about? Are they talking over you? Are they just on their laptop trying to show someone else something while you're trying to talk? Or did they raise their hand and say “This is useless”.
Amanda: I've never had that before. (sounds shocked)
Jessica: Yea, thank god, I haven't either but I guess that would be one end of a spectrum of disrespect would be openly saying something rude to you as the professor in the moment. So thank gosh we haven't had to deal with that but it is something that some librarians may have to deal with.
Amanda: I think if I was ever in that situation, I would just flip it and say, “Alright, if this is completely useless, let’s do a sample search together.” And just call them out and say “Let’s do this. Show me what you know.”
Jessica: Right, yea. That’s true. Get them engaged in it.
Another one could be sleeping students. I’ve really changed my tune on this. I think in the beginning I saw it as, not a disrespect thing but just as a “this is your class time - why would you want to be asleep during it”.And I think I've become a lot more empathetic about it. I think I've also really done some reflection and kind of checked my own privilege a little bit and realized that you know what I went to school, I was always really self-motivated and loved being there and had a strong support system at home. I never went to school hungry. I didn't have to work through college. Like I wasn't tired but I know that now from getting to know when building relationships with our students that not everyone has that experience. And sometimes people just worked a full-time job and now they're coming to class and I just really need to let them be where they are in that moment. So yea, I’ve really changed my tune on that and I probably wouldn't say anything. And I've had it happen and I don't. I kind of just let student be and I try to engage who can be there in the moment. But make sure that the student has my information because I don't want to just leave them hanging. I do want to make sure that they get the help that they need, right?
Amanda: Yea, absolutely. I kind of feel like I'm in the same boat as you. I've never addressed it. I've always just kind of let it lie. Originally, when I was younger my attitude was “Well if they want to pay attention they will. Clearly this isn’t important to them.” But as I’ve matured I've kind of taken that empathy perspective as well. I was that college student working two full-time jobs and taking 21 credits so I can't even say to you that I wasn't one of those students that had fallen asleep in a class once because I’m sure I had. I think it's like you have to pick your moments and for me a sleeping student is not the time I'm going to take a stand on making it sound like it's a disrespectful thing.
Jessica: Right, exactly.
Amanda: So another problem that a lot of librarians might face in the classroom is technical difficulties interruptions, such as you know, databases aren't working, or your PowerPoint slides are not properly in order or not progressing the way you want them to or flat out - the internet. So here are some potential solutions. Use humor! So don’t be too self-depecating but you could use humor to defuse a situation.
Jessica: Yeah I had that happen a couple of weeks ago. We had a power outage and it came right back - the power came right back on but the wifi went down and that took 15 minutes to come back up. So it was just trying to laugh about it and be like, “Oh my god, can you believe this is happening?” and and all that.
Amanda: Yea, I always say this when technology isn't working - “Technology is great when it works, right?” And that always gets a chuckle. I have a funny story about technology failing. It’s not even funny, it was awful. I had to go do an intro session one time in a computer lab and I never it never happened because the teacher computer was a Mac.
Jessica: Oh, jeez!
Amanda: I could not get it to work. The iClicker software would not work on a Mac. And I was trying and trying and trying and I couldn't. I couldn't even get my PowerPoint loaded because of, I don’t know. I've never used a Mac before - I have no idea. So I just felt so awkward and so embarrassed and it ended up not happening. I left the classroom without having to do the session and I've never worked with that professor again.
Jessica: Oh my gosh!
Amanda: I know. Total fail.
Jessica: But again, out of your control when nobody let you know.
Amanda: So yea another potential solution is getting students to talk during any down time.
Jessica: Yea so I could have done that with my internet disruption problem but I feel like I - in the moment I couldn't think of anything fun to talk about. It was a night class, I was exhausted. So I need to have some like fun ice-breaker questions ready for that.
Amanda: Yea, that would be an interesting idea. I’ve never done that myself unless it was tied to an activity. Yea that's something to think about.
Jessica: And maybe also, you know, being prepared with paper things because if you're let's say your Poll Everywhere doesn't work and then you still want them to answer the questions, a paper handout that has the question on it could be a helpful backup.
Amanda: I'm so anti-paper.
Jessica: I know. I usually am, too.
Amanda: But I think I agree with you. If it was really important for you to collect that data then, yea, paper is the way to go but I’m just so anti-paper.
Jessica: I know. I’ve changed everything into forms. (Both laughing)
Amanda: So those were our five categories. We hope you found some of those solutions helpful. We do have a few other ideas. Some that I haven't tried and I don't think you tried yet, is play music as we wait for the class to start. And making quizzes a competition with candy prizes. Have you ever used the music before?
Jessica: No, I haven't but I think it could be fun just to give them - it kind of gives them an introduction to you as a person, you know, if you pick a fun song and then everybody's kind of like, “wow this is cool. I like how this is going to start.” It’s a good first impression.
Amanda: Yea, I think that's interesting, too. I’ve never done that either. I’ve done the quiz as competition thing before. But I stopped and I don't know why. But I used to do a lot of game show like quizzes. I did a Jeopardy where the quiz was in the form of Jeopardy. I also created my own called “the hot seat challenge” where it was two groups divided and they each picked one person from their group to be in “the hot seat” and they would have to answer questions about the lesson. Then whoever could answer the question fast enough in the hot seat would win that point. I also used to do - I don't know if you remember that TV game show - 1 vs. 100?
Jessica: No (sounds interested)
Amanda: So it’s this game show where like they used to be up against a hundred people and their goal was to eliminate those people by answering pop culture questions. And so I did that with a quiz and what I would do is I would have one student volunteer and then the rest of the class would respond using the audio response system. And they would respond first and then the one person would respond. And then the people who got the answer wrong were eliminated and I kept track and we would reduce it and then like there's fun things where they could poll the audience. So like I said I kind of just stopped doing it after a while. I just kind of fell out of love with it but it was, it was fun.
Jessica: Yea, that’s cool!
Amanda: And then another one was using pop culture examples.
Jessica: I can never pick the right one. I always feel like the ones I pick are like outdated or it doesn't really work properly. I don't know why. I don't know why that has never worked for me (laughs). But I see other people do it really well.
Amanda: Yea, I use a lot of current news to talk about topics, not necessarily pop culture. I guess the one that I’ve used the most is when we talk about copyright infringement. I used to use Vanilla Ice but it’s so outdated. So now I use, oh what’s his name?
Jessica: The Blurred Lines one?
Amanda: Yea, I use the Blurred Lines song.
Jessica: The only one I use for pop culture words was, I had kind of a hook question. We were talking about whether or not - how historians or music theorists in the future will look back on music of today. And so I used like Drake and Cardi B but it’s not like any of them were really super engaged just by the question but I'm guessing it might have caused some of them to pay a little more attention? But I only did that lesson like twice so...But I mean maybe I’m not as bad at it as I think.
Jessica: So, we had asked on Twitter if anybody had successful classroom management techniques what did we have as our responses?
Amanda: We actually got a tweet from the host of The Overthrowing Education podcast. She said, “One issue I had was calming my students down at the beginning of the class so I read from a subject related novel or told a continuing story for 5 minutes at the beginning of each class.” She said, “they were calmer and more engaged the whole period”. So to me it sounds like it's probably middle school or high school as the students that she’s talking about but I think that goes back to what we were originally talking about which was that storytelling. And the importance of how a story can really engage someone rather than a demo.
Jessica: Yea, exactly.
Amanda: Alright! So we're going to move on to our Work Triumph/Work Fail segment. I’m going to start with a fail. I am the Honors librarian for one of our sections in White Plains and I feel like I failed them. They just submitted their annotated bibliographies and I feel like I don't know I feel like I failed them because none of them came to me for support. No one came to me and shared their rough drafts even though I emailed them every week and told them, “I'm going to be on your campus this day for the next 3 weeks. Please come see me.” And not a single one of them did. And I feel like I'm just failing as a personal librarian right now.
Amanda: Yea, obviously email is not their speed so I’ve got to try something. But it’s hard because it’s a night class so it’s not that easy for me to just pop into that class and show my face.
Jessica: Do you have a work triumph to go with that one at least?
Amanda: No, not particularly with the Honors but I would say a triumph from this week was that I had a professor follow up with me that I didn't think she was going to follow up with me. So a few weeks ago, I attended a school of professional studies department meeting and the one professor said, “oh I'm going to reach out to you. I really want to work at the library.” And I was excited but I didn’t write down her name so I couldn't follow up with her myself. But I was surprised that she followed up with me and said, “I’d still like to collaborate with you”. And on top of that I threw it out there at the last minute and said “Do you want an in-person module or online or blended?” And she agreed to blended! So we're going to be creating a blended information literacy opportunity that’s going to be standardized across multiple sections of a course.
Jessica: Oh that's cool!
Amanda: Yea so that’s kind of fun. What about you?
Jessica: So yea, mine was actually multiple fails in a row that I finally resolved. But it was technology. So like I said, I’ve been using this Poll Everywhere extension for PowerPoint but because I teach in different classrooms and the extension needs to be installed on the computer for you to use it properly, I couldn't use my flash drives and when I was logging in remotely to my office computer it was zooming into the Poll Everywhere slides so I can only see the top left quadrant of the slide and the activate button is all the way on the right side so I couldn’t get it to work. It took me about three classes of trying it and having that problem until I started playing with it and figured out there was a button on the bottom of PowerPoint to optimize your experience. And that’s all it was. So that was a pain in the butt but now that it works it works fantastically so I'm glad I figured that out.
But for my work triumph, we met with the writing center today. They have a new director and so we have two citing workshops that we're going to do with them in the next month and then we have a disinformation workshop planned for the spring which is still kind of up in the air about exactly what we're going to do but she's on board with all these different partnership ideas so I'm really jazzed about that.
Amanda: That’s great!
So that wraps up our fifth episode.
Here’s where you can find us. You can find Jessica @LibraryGeek611. You can find me @HistoryBuff820 and you can also find this podcast @Librarian_Guide. We are also now available on iTunes so be sure to find us there and subscribe to our podcast.
We’re also now available on a lot of other platforms like Spotify and Overcast. Google has their own so we’re also available on their Google platform as well.
Jessica: Yea, and don’t forget to send us an email at InfoLitTeachingPodcast@Gmail.com or tweet us to share your questions, ideas for potential discussions, or even your triumphs and fails in the classroom and we can read them on an upcoming episode. We want your feedback, your questions and we encourage you to share your thoughts with us to be read on an upcoming episode!
Amanda: Alright, thanks so much! We’ll talk to you soon.
About the podcast:
The LGT podcast is hosted by two instruction librarians interested in sharing their experiences teaching information literacy, discussing current trends, and having meaningful conversations about librarianship.