My report back to my college from Char Booth’s workshop at Macalester College in October:
A brief description of new ideas and information obtained:
Libraries/librarians as indicator species. “An indicator species is an organism whose presence, absence, or abundance reflects a specific environmental condition.” Indicative of values of the time. That is, as a group of individuals possessing qualities representative of a thriving intellectual democracy (intellectual and social freedom, information access, intrinsic motivation) that are among the first to be threatened in times of strife and scarcity.
Emphasis on higher level critical thinking. Not “this is a trust worthy source,” but instead, “there are paths to information and you need to understand those paths from a social p.o.v. Who put it there? Who wrote it? Why?”
An effort to develop a local community of practice.
USER model for instructional design.
- Understand (identify problem, analyze scenario)
- Structure (create targets, involve & extend)
- Engage (develop materials, deliver instruction)
- Reflect (assess impact, revise & reuse)
Included an important reminder that most of us (librarians) have experiences and memories that predispose us towards libraries, but we may be the first library/librarian that our students encounter. (e.g. CA has cut media specialists – aka school librarians – entirely.)
Ideas Normandale Community College may want to consider implementing:
- Homework prior to library instruction sessions geared towards giving students a chance to explore library resources on their own so that first contact is outside of the classroom and classroom time can work towards more complex goals. Move beyond tasks & tools to concepts. Also, asking students to try to find a book first made them more willing to listen because they’d’ had failures.
- Use consistent reflective practice techniques, e.g. 3 question reflection
- What was positive about the interaction
- What was negative about the interaction
- Describe one thing you’d like to improve or follow up on
- Identify key threshold concepts in library instruction as areas of focus (e.g. purpose of citations, types of information, not everything is online, disciplinary vocabulary). “A threshold concept is a tipping point in the learning process related to a specific content area, difficult to grasp, but fundamental to understanding.”
- Look for opportunities to collaborate with specific programs to integrate library instruction across a series of courses. Aka curriculum mapping – what ideas/scaffolding are being built across the curriculum? Where are specific concepts being duplicated or missed? (Nursing might be a good program to work with)
- Hang library bill of rights near entrance.
- Remember to explain the point of each exercise, why did we do it, what did we want you to learn
A description of the activity’s value to the college, your department and to yourself:
The presentation and workshop included both a large chunk of practical takeaways (including all the ideas listed in the above section as well as smaller and more specific activities, tools and useful metaphors to use in instruction sessions) and a healthy dose of educator cheerleading, reminding us why we became librarians and why education matters. We are here to make a better society for everyone. It was fantastically inspiring to be in a room full of educators actively focused on improving our instruction and learning from each other. The college, my department and I (and our students) will all benefit both from the influx of new ideas and my own renewed energy and dedication.