Information Literacy & Learning How to Teach

I am taking an e-course from Library Juice Academy, called New Directions in Information Literacy: Growing our Teaching Practices, taught by Andrea Baer.  I am in week 4, of this 6 week online course, and I am renewed in my excitement for teaching.

An unfortunate turn is that I just don’t teach a traditional class much anymore.  In my 6 years as an information literacy instructor, I have decreased about 80% of my classroom-style sessions.  I now do many one-on-one sessions, as requested by students through an online sign-up portal, and I do have a few class-style sessions but it has really changed so much.

In an effort to “brush up” and just see what others are doing, I signed up for this class…I don’t want to get rusty.  After all, the ACRL now has the new framework, to guide us librarians through the maze of teaching information in an academic setting.  It sets forth a deeper level of involvement in the curriculum of colleges and the role of the librarian within this frame.  The outcomes (erg- I am growing to distain that word!) of the course are as taken from the syllabus:

Course learning outcomes:

  • Become familiar with varying conceptions of information literacy.
  • Recognize various instructional roles librarians play in varying information environments and contexts.
  • Develop a general understanding of instructional design principles (e.g. learning outcomes, backward design, instructional scaffolding, and assessment).
  • Develop a working knowledge of teaching methods and learning theories which can inform your own instruction of information literacy.
  • Apply basic knowledge of instructional design to creating learning activities that target specific learning outcomes and apply scaffold the learning process.
  • Reflect on your emerging or current teaching style and philosophy and its influence on your teaching practice.

I feel like I know much of this already- but that said, I also feel like having to design an activity not by rote, but “by design” in a way that spells out the outcomes, the scaffolds, the assessment is really good practice.  What I normally just gloss over in a written lesson plan, I have had to explain in terms of showing a novice how to do something…sort of like the faculty when they assign a lesson.  Scaffold the scaffolded lesson. Meta.

The assignment design aspect has been really what I needed.  The ideas from others in the course have been great as well as the suggested readings.  I feel like it is keeping me up to date as well as motivated to work through my lessons that I have been using and fine-tune them a bit.  It also is making me want to rework an Information Literacy guide for faculty that I have reworked so many times, that I was ready to give it up.

Professional development is so important.  I cannot stress this enough.  When I am feeling like I am circling without directions, sometimes the push to learn something new in a constructive way is just what I need to get me moving forward.  I am fortunate to get the support- heck, the push- to look for professional development constantly.


Copyright MOOC

Wow! A 2-For!

I am enrolled in a MOOC.  Kind of uneventful so far, and much more like just another online course, but it remains to be seen, really.  This MOOC just happens to be about copyright and fair use in an academic library.  Good stuff.

The comments have been very interesting, especially in terms of how it relates to blogs and blog names, blog images, blog text, and in the case of a food blog, ingredients.  Whether registering for copyright is a necessity, as it would protect your work if it came down to a legal situation.  As it stands, everything is automatically copyrighted as soon as it is in a tangible form- not necessarily published. Aka, this blog post.  If I wanted to register it, it would cost me some money and I could do it online, but it may afford me some protection should someone use my post for their own profit.

Someone made an interesting corrolary to the Julie & Julia blog based on Julia Child’s original recipes, which were not copyrighted, but for this blogger which the blog was turned into a movie, she made quite a profit from this.

There is a disconnect between readers/users of information, who think that if something doesn’t have a © symbol, then it is fair game to use without any attribution, and often people claim the item to be their own.  It is up to us, as bloggers to educate the reader, I think, about what is the protocol in using or sharing images or content from theor own sites.  Sharing and usage instruction is a great was to positively show or tell your reader that you would love them to share your blog and information, if they give you some credit!  Including a way to embed the creative commons button or an attribution button, or telling them to include a link to your site, is a start.

Changes in Technology

This is hysterical! This is also very eye-opening and strange to me, in that some of the comments from the kids are just so TRUE and honest about how they feel.  The most strange comment is from a girl at moment 2.50:

Kid: “How do I do my homework?”

Interviewer: ” You have to go to the Library.”

Kid: “Who wants to do that?!”

Really? That stinks! Yes, technology is awesome. Noted in the video is that the same power of technology that is in one smart phone equates to 850 1970’s Apple computers.  Crazy advances in a short amount of time.  But a library card has a value too. The library too. The same aged kid without resources to have their own computer at home is still going to the library to get on a computer.  That’s who wants to do that. The kids and people who don’t have the money to get all these resources to have for just themselves.  I wonder what would happen if there was a video for kids about how other kids use technology. How kids that frequent the libraries, use the libraries and what they do there.  That would be a good one.

Connecticut’s Information Literacy Conference, 2014



First off, let’s just say, I am from originally from NY, live in MA, and CT has the best swag around! Not only did I get a free travel coffee cup upon my arrival, but I also won the end-of-conference door prize, which was a signed book from the keynote speakers, Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners. Nice.

Keynote was “Crossing the Threshold: Envisioning Information Literacy through the Lens of Metaliteracy.” Ummm…mouthful, right? Just try getting your head around some of this stuff. It was very much like my first philosophy course, where the teacher is trying to make easy some very complex concepts, and then the students regurgitate back in the exact same teacher-speak, what sense they think they are making about the material. It rings a bit inauthentic, but the over-reaching premise is very noble and I think if applied without the B.S. elements, a very good way of re-inventing the ACRL standards, so that we as library instructors can actually use them; which I would hope is sort of the goal of all of this.

Presented by Trudi Jacobson, and Thomas Mackey, metaliteracy is defined as “literacy about literacy.” It was described as a model of flow, in which the key elements of IL, are always in relation to the environment in which they are learned, and only completed when they are incorporated by the user by producing, collaborating, participating, sharing, and in general being a part of the process of learning themselves. Being engaged, and not just a passive learner is the “thinking about your own thinking” part. The environment is now withing, twitter, an OER, Facebook, etc. The skills (IL skills, called quests) that we used to teach are still present, but the goal is now knowledge acquisition in collaboration with others.

The new ACRL “framework” is very informed by metaliteracy. How the librarians are supposed to implement this, is through gen-ed competencies, upper-level IL requirements (HARHAR), and the idea of badging for threshold concepts. ***Threshold concepts is also a major fabric of the new standards, but I am avoiding discussing it here, as I cannot even stand to say the phrase, let alone try to fit my head around teaching these in my one-shot reality.

My first breakout session was fantastic, and along the same lines of the meta-framework about collaborating with Faculty in teaching in a metaliteracy program approach. Excellent work they are doing at University of Scranton.

My second breakout was also good, as it reaffirmed that my teaching was in the right direction. The presentation was on teaching to what the students already know and the ways they already search in order to keep their attention and retention of the new material. Aka, teaching Google! It wasn’t actually about teaching Google, but involving the students in the discussion on how and why they would search for something. My new takeaway techniques if I have a longer than 50 minute class, are to really explore explaining what Wikipedia is and parlay to Credo search so they can actually cite the source. Also, moving this into google books, versus books in our catalog. Circling back on the scholary conversation of old versus new information, reflecting back on what they are learning, and transferring the newly learned material into concrete terms so they can retain it. Excellent ideas; she also reflected that teaching this using a new discovery tool would be great as it searches very similarly to google anyway, so the evaluation piece will be crucial.

I thoroughly enjoyed this conference, on a topic that actually made me mad before. **Note to self: if it makes you mad, it probably is just misunderstood. Still working on the threshold concept thing…

LibGuides. Love or Hate? Late? Have?

LibGuides replaced our home-made pathfinder about 2 going on 3 years ago.  I am the admin, but most everyone can make all the changes in our institution.  I don’t like being the sole gate-keeper, but I have to admit, I feel that because I designed the WordPress site that we eventually got rid of, this LibGuides Beast is my baby to handle.

  • There are lots of things that I love about it:
  • Easy to teach
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to make a guide for just about everything
  • Easy to copy or re-use content
  • Getting to share with a HUGE user community
  • Teaching BI classes from the templates that embed or link into student’s lives seamlessly
  • The upcoming changes that will improve the look of Libguides

Some of these are things that I hate too.

I am currently on a fixing project where I have to update all of our links in the system that direct back to our old website.  It isn’t as easy as doing a search and replace type of function, because we now have Drupal.  This means that it won’t redirect to our new sites easily or understand if I try to. Basically I have about 155 broken links that I am manually checking and then replacing.

You might think that I like LibGuides less because of this. Not so. It makes me appreciate them more. Usually if I need to fix a link from a database or eBook, I can just use their automatic search & replace. Easy Peasy.  This is just a weird off instance where that won’t work. Also, their customer service is awesome.  I email a question and they get back to me so quickly.

This is not a post on how great LibGuides is. It is more of how I love/hate or “la-te” them…or “ha-ve” them.  I do both.

Why I love DuckDuckGo

From their website:

 DuckDuckGo is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the “filter bubble” of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by deliberately showing all users the same search results for a given search term. DuckDuckGo also emphasizes getting information from the best sources rather than the most sources, generating its search results from key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing and WolframAlpha [emphasis mine].

Privacy. Avoiding the filter bubble. Need I say more?

Google is mad about it. So is everyone else.  With NSA issues of privacy so close in the news, I love DuckDuckGo on premise.  They are a private company.

Read More:

Schwartz, Barry. “DuckDuck Go Announces Redesign and New Features.” Search Engine Roundtable Blog, Retrieved 5/23/2014.

DuckDuckGo Community Platform: For hows and FAQs on the search engine.

Internet Archive & Awesomeness

I was asked to do a 20 minute presentation of the Wayback Machine and the Internet Archive.

If you are not familiar, the Internet Archive is awesome.  But I should explain.  20 minutes is a bit longer than just saying “It’s awesome!”

It has kept record of what internet pages were when they were first created, in a section called the Wayback Machine. I use the Wayback for looking up what my institution library website had on it, looked like, the hours that we had over holidays, and whether or not we listed certain databases and where.  It goes all the way back to when we started a webpage at all. If I select certain dates from a given calendar, it can show a snapshot, BUT, if you are in the archived site and hit the back button, it can show the linked pages too.  It is extremely helpful to me, but just as an archive, I think it has value.

From its homepage, you can see it offers video, texts, live music and audio files that like the Wayback, includes archives from past dates.  But don’t stop there, because if you click on any one of these, it opens up many “child” pages that live within.  Take video for example.  Videos that live here are from news broadcasts, old commercials, old black and white silent films, shorts, old cartoons (so fun!), sports films (mohammed ali vs. [whoever!], tons and tons of archives here.

It was so fun teaching this 20 minute class! People were so excited to show their kids old cartoons, or in the audio section, show them the live concerts of Maroon 5 or the Grateful Dead.  There is so much to explore and I didn’t even get to the Open Library- to borrow ebooks! Do you understand why I am so taken to saying, “Awesome!”? Because it is. In every way.

Featured Articles to Read More:

Lynch, Jim. The Internet Archive: The Digital Library of Alexandria? Techsoup for Libraries Blog, January 31, 2014.  Retrieved March 10, 2014.

Michelle. “Wayback Machine Hits 400, 000, 000, 000! The Internet Archive Blog. Retrieved May 23, 2014.