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…


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