Notes from WILU 2012

Last week, I attended my first Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU) conference at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. So, I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite take-aways here.

There were lots of great sessions, ranging from very practical case studies to broader theoretical approaches to information literacy instruction. A number of my favorite sessions took a practical look at the use of technology in the classroom (an important focus for us at OISE) and provided some great ideas that I hope to incorporate in my own practice:

Engaging the Hopelessly Distracted: Using Mobile ARS in the Classroom
Presenters Christina Hwang, Tatiana Usova, and Denis Lacroix (UofA) proposed that instead of telling students to turn their devices off, we should encourage students to use them in the classroom! In particular, they looked at how mobile devices can be used to provide classroom feedback using Audience Response Systems (ARS) like Poll Everywhere as an alternative to proprietary tools like iClickers. Poll Everywhere can be used to collect student feedback via web, text, or Twitter. I’m going to experiment with the free version to see whether/how it impacts student engagement and how it might work for classroom feedback.

Academic Uses of Google Earth and Google Maps in a Library Setting
Presenters Andrew Nicholson (UTM) and Eva Dodsworth (Waterloo) surveyed and discussed some of the really creative ways that academic librarians are using Google Earth and Google Maps for library instruction and research. These ranged from class projects where students mapped archival photos to the use of maps as effective presentations tools in the classroom. I’m inspired to find out more about how OISE faculty and students are using geospatial data and to find ways to incorporate Google Maps and Google Earth as visual presentation tools in my own teaching and research guides. Eva has also recently published a book titled Getting Started With GIS: A LITA Guide that will likely be helpful.

There were also some inspiring sessions that more broadly addressed approaches to IL instruction:

Developing Dispositions for Inquiry: Librarians and Faculty Working Together
In this session, Jo-Anne Naslund (UBC) talked about how, in the context of departmental and curriculum changes, she worked with faculty in the UBC Teacher Education Program to re-shape the information literacy program to enhance the problem-based learning curriculum. Her work is impressive in the way she connects deeply with the curriculum and engages with pedagogical approaches used by her library constituents to develop a better understanding of her own teaching and to advance the learning of students at UBC’s education program. Jo-Ann provided a great bibliography as well.

A few other favorites were Using Our Voice: Bringing a Socially Conscious Approach to Information Literacy Practice and Massive! Open! Online!: Understanding MOOCs and Their Impact on Library Instruction and Services.

I’d certainly recommend attending WILU. It’s a small, focused conference and a great way to engage with colleagues from across Canada and the US. I’m happy to share any of the handouts and bibliographies I collected, or, you can search #wilu2012 for the Twitter discussion and some presentation links.

WILU 2013 is at UNB in Frederickton!


Beyond the sage on the stage: Report

The Ontario government and higher education authorities, along with the highest levels of university administrations, is paying closer attention to the quality of teaching at universities.  In April 2012,  the Council of Ontario Universities released the report Beyond the Sage on the Stage: Innovative and Effective Teaching and Learning at Ontario Universities to highlight examples of teaching excellence across the province.  It’s a glossy testament to creative teaching techniques, including assignment design and assessment of learning,  around the province.  Worth a read.


Assessment 360: Mapping Undergraduates and the Library at the University of Connecticut

A team at the University of Connecticut Libraries, led by Susanna Cowan, has conducted a big, interesting study of their undergrads. You can find Susanna’s report, “Assessment 360: Mapping Undergraduates and the Library at the University of Connecticut,” on the CLIR website.

From the report: “Using a combination of quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus groups, interviews and home-grown instruments), we would investigate how our undergraduates do their work; how “work” and “non-work” are juxtaposed in their use of University spaces (including the Libraries); what resources (technological and other) they make use of for work/non-work; and where, in the context of these, the Library fits in to their academic and non-academic lives.  The objective of the study was, in the simplest of senses, to get to know our undergraduates, to locate our own undergraduates on the ever-changing plane of technology use and information seeking, and to literally locate them in the places they choose to get work done—in dorm rooms, in study halls, and, of course, in the library.”

Thank you Jenaya Webb for sharing the link.



Information literacy and the first year student

An excellent article that scratches beneath surface myths about first year students and their need — or not — for “research” activities.

Information literacy and the first-year student shares the work of Anne-Marie Deitering, a librarian and professor of undergraduate learning initiatives at Oregon State University.  Deitering seeks to dispel the myth that research assignments are the best way to engage first year students in information literacy. By waiting until students are involved in deep research assignments, librarians may miss their best opportunities to help students develop information-handling skills.

Librarians need to drill deeper to learn what a first year student really needs to know.  How can we find out? Develop relationships with faculty who work closely with first year students; connect with student services on campus, who routinely collect data as part of recruitment efforts and ongoing communication with students.  And don’t just look at national stats or trends, but figure out the specifics for students at your institution.

I really valued the ideas in this article, especially the recommendation to focus on your local needs rather than pay excessive attention to national or North American trends.  Just today, I was thinking about how to match library instruction to retention rates for first year students at the U of T.  But then I learned from our registrar that, unlike most North American institutions, where retention is a big and worrisome issue, U of T’s retention rate in Arts and Sciences is 92-94%. As a result, there’s no real reason to measure for retention, because once they are in, our students STAY.



Google helps librarians teach better Googling to students

Google’s new Search Education page has over a dozen lesson plans and online video tutorials that librarians and instructors can use to teach students various aspects of information literacy.  The plans are mainly focused on getting better and more relevent results out of Google, but there are also lesson plans related to evaluation of resources and other important aspects of information literacy.

These lesson plans are definitely worth a look.  Impressive work.


Designing a new learning space or lab? Check out the Learning Space Toolkit

From the Learning Space Toolkit website: Launch is scheduled for November 2012

“North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries and its Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) are partnering with strategic consultants brightspot strategy and DEGW to design, share, and promote an updated model for institutions to plan and support technology-rich informal learning spaces. This Learning Space Toolkit will include a roadmap to guide the process along with tools and techniques for assessing needs, understanding technology, describing spaces, planning and delivering support services, and assembling space, technology, and services to meet needs, even as they change.

“The Toolkit will be freely available as a resource on the web and will be developed using a collaborative process that shares thinking early and often from the broader community. The resources developed will support the full lifecycle of a project, from defining the goals and needs early on to constructing the space to supporting and assessing it. By using the Toolkit, institutions will be better equipped to orchestrate the planning process so that learners are better supported and space, technology, and services are effective.”



OLA Superconference submission deadline May 18 2012

OLA Super Conference 2013

The Ultimate Library Experience! Educate. Entertain. Empower.

Share your knowledge, research, expertise, ideas!
Nudge your colleagues to share theirs!
Be part of the special excitement that we all experience when we are together!
Complete and submit the proposal: