Monthly Archives: January 2011

Youth Librarians and Information Literacy

Information Literacy is an incredibly important topic at the moment as new tools like iPads allow more ways for learning to move into the classroom and libraries. The important part is figuring out what’s happening with that conversation. So for this week’s reading, I went exploring into the lovely databases of the University of Michigan to try and find three articles that address this topic. On my twitter feed, I actually just read an article about transliteracy so part of this search is me trying to see what I can find in journal’s that reflects this conversation. So through a bit of searching I was able to find the post which was on Tame the Web by Jessica Thompson, I’m going to link it here since I think it shows a good explanation of how transliteracy is a new term that can cover so many things.

One article that I found which seems to hit all the points that have been discussed lately is Self-Assessment: Challenging Students to Take Charge of Learning by Violet Harada in School Library Monthly from June 2010. She lays out how to take apart the teaching process so that students are aware of all the choices they’re making as they do their research. She lays out clear lists of ways to get students involved in the process all the way through and make sure that they feel like they have agency. For me this was such a strong and clear way to present things because a teacher can use this article to really help them see ways to adjust their learning style if they don’t have time for a full change.

Another article I found that looks in depth at how best to combine writing and research is from Reference and User Services Quarterly Fall 2009, volume 49, issue 1 and its called Transforming the One-Shot Library Session into Pedagogical Collaboration: Information Literacy and the English Composition Class. I found that this article had a lot of advice that would work for many different groups who need to work together to teach a common goal. It looked at an English Composition teacher working with a librarian to bring Information Literacy into the classroom and what worked and what didn’t.

The last article that I found approaches the question of information literacy from another angle, that of video games. I appreciate how this article puts together community goals and what is a library and how video games can help promote a library’s goals. Its called The Case for Video Games in Libraries and it was published in Library Review in 2009, volume 58, issue 3 by Suellen S. Adams. This article takes on the idea that young people don’t learn anything from video games by showing that video games actually help with different types of learning such as spatial relations. Then the author talks about how by having video games in the library, youth will want to spend more time in the library and it will help boost the community atmosphere as something that’s play is brought into a shared space. I know this is already happening and it reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times about a charter school that based its curriculum on video games, so students used them to learn everything and designed their own. Honestly it seemed to be taking things a bit far to me but also as if it could be effective in moderation, which is what most schools or libraries would be able to afford.

Now I can finally add the link to my screencast which is here for how to use Library World.


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Finding Connections-Class Reflections

My Monday classes seem to be about seeing connections and moving beyond technology is new and scary, but instead how do I use it best. In my Information Culture seminar, we talked about how looking back through history, we try to create stories with divisions, orality to literate culture, books to digital and in truth we live in the muddled places in between.

Talking about how to use online teaching effectively seemed like a natural progression, because there are some fantastic digital tools that can work well for a lot of people. The challenge is in knowing the right tool. I think that’s one of things that I enjoy most about this class is all the layers of experience from students to teachers who can chime in about what works and what doesn’t. Since one of the important lessons of thinking about online learning is that is can help create wways for reluctant learners to feel comfortable.

Currently I’m trying to figure out what tool to do my screencast for and I’m finding it quite challenging because there are so many options yet I need to make sure I use my time and space effectively. In my next entry, I’ll post a link to the screencast and look at what some members of the active library world have to say about online learning.

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A Short Time to Teach

The first reading for this week is from a book called One Shot Workshop, which does a good job of acknowledging how being taught how to teach isn’t something librarians are expected to know. I like the ADDIE system and how the focus is on having a good foundation and constantly working to improve how and what is being taught. The idea of solo design with a sounding board is appealing to me and sounds like what I try to do when working on things since another person who’s not deep in the project will spot things that I don’t. This book also has some useful ideas on how to create effective teams since building a good team is a critical part of getting to good design. I appreciate too the acknowledgment that different workshops end up having various priorities and those are important to consider when setting up the planning stages.

The Yelinek article looks at creating online tutorials, which in this digital world is quite important to know how to do. I like framing things by saying that teaching software is like teaching a procedure since most software is linear in terms of how it functions. I appreciate the focus on figuring out what the students need, in my work with America Reads, I’ve been putting together guides for how to use things. They haven’t always been on what I expect but they’re where help is needed, which is what counts. I think one of the challenges in teaching software is not focusing too much on how to do one thing, some students will want to know the basics and explore on their own. So the evaluation process before and after helps figure out what to focus on and what to change.

In the next article by Johnston, the question is how effective online tutorials are for teaching information literacy, which is a complicated thing to teach well. I like the idea of Graduate Attributes for undergrads because it helps to create a strong start for any student. I found it interesting that only a small number of students completed the survey since so much care was taken in the creation of the module. Hopefully they will consider redoing the survey to gain more information. It seems as if the online module could be useful for James Cook University but more detailed information and analysis will help. This article feels like the first step of many and not the completion.

For the last article, Griffis looks at how to create Pathfinders with screen capture tools, which can be important for demonstrating how to use software. Trailfire seems like a useful tool since it is webbased and focused on how to get to information same with Jing and the focus on screen casts. I know when I was learning programming being able to watch a screencast of a program helped me a huge amount since just reading what I needed to do didn’t always translate. The flexibility of Wink seems as if it could be immensely useful by providing still and moving images. Slideshare is a good resource but I think can be limiting depending on the type of information being taught. I look forward to seeing how these tools can be used with the ideas introduced in the One Shot Workshop book, because a tool needs to be thoughtfully used or else a tutorial won’t be of assistance.

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Learning and Talking about Teaching

The first class of Professional Practice was a real pleasure. I always enjoy thinking about the many possible permutations of librarian, which is one reason I enjoy SI so much. I’m constantly meeting someone who has a fascinating idea of what they’re going to do with their degree that I hadn’t even considered. In this first class, we did two things I found effective and that I will continue to think on.

The first one was talking about various ways of teaching and learning, which is a complex topic. There are so many ways to absorb information and not everyone learns the same way. So a good teacher has to understand that and have at the ready multiple ways to impart the information and make it work for them. The idea of learning through experience and also having a deeper understanding of the information makes a lot of sense but its a difficult thing to do. I always think of my father talking about his time in medical school and how when they learned a new procedure, first they watched it, then they did it and then they taught it. I think this encapsulates how its possible to approach acquiring knowledge from various perspective.

I like the fact that the projects in the class are going to be structured so that we can be constantly thinking about how to share and absorb what we’re learning and thinking about how to translate it to our careers.

This leads into the second part of class when we split off into groups of two and recorded a podcast about what we saw when we looked over the ALA compentencies for our chosen type of library science.

The one I recorded is here and I found it a fascinating exercise since my partner and I found we had a lot in common though we wish to go to different types of libraries.

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Competencies for YALSA and Reading

I’m going to start by addressing the competencies that YALSA provides since I find them very hopeful and that they resonate with what I’d like to do. In four out of the seven areas, Knowledge of Client Group, Administration, Access to Information and Services, my response is agreement along with yes, these are so important. In the other areas, there were some specific competencies that jumped out at me due to their language or their importance that I’m going to go into greater detail about.

The first area is Leadership and Professionalism, and equitable funding and staffing seems quite important to me especially in this difficult economic time, because without good resources things aren’t going to change. This is also one of the trickiest ones to put into practice since finding funding is a constant struggle for libraries. The other two that stuck in my mind for this section are 4 and 5:
4- Encourage young adults to become lifelong library users by helping them to discover what libraries offer, how to use library resources, and how libraries can assist them in actualizing their overall growth and development.
5- Develop and supervise formal youth participation, such as teen advisory groups, recruitment of teen volunteers, and opportunities for employment.
I feel both of these are key since they’re about helping young people become an active part of the library community. I just found the phrasing slightly awkward.

In the third area, Communication, Marketing and Outreach, I found so many things that I agree with but the three most important and urgent were being an advocate for youth, helping the youth space not be very separate from the main library and inclusion. Without these the library won’t be seen as a safe place for young people to want to spend their time.

The last area where a particular competence caught my attention was the fifth area, Knowledge of Materials, the fourth point about creating a broad selection of materials that are accessible to many learning styles and languages. This is so incredibly key and one that I worry about since it requires knowledge of what actually helps and makes a difference versus what seems like it should.

Overall I found reading through these inspiring and important to make a part of my professional life.

All the reading for this class comes from How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School and for this first reflection, I’m going to read the first two chapters.

At the beginning, I’m struck by how the authors are talking about the importance of neuroscience to better understanding how people learn. My father’s a psychiatrist and has lately been recommending some fascinating books on how the brain works. There’s so much we don’t really know and I think its wonderful that is acknowledged because it allows for more patience and thoughtfulness in terms of teaching. I find it hopeful that researchers have figured out ways to incorporate this new knowledge into teaching by paying attention to what students know and getting them involved. Its a difficult thing to get right, because every kind of knowledge can be approached from many ways.

As a student, I can recognize a bad teacher but its hard to know what would make them better. Since I will only know what would help me succeed but that wouldn’t hold true for everyone in a class. The power of being able to have in-depth knowledge and use it is I think one of the best teaching tools, but a hard one to make happen for every lesson.

Metacognition is one of those ideas that makes a huge amount of sense to me. I know whenever I’m stuck on a paper or an assignment, it always helps me to talk about it with someone. Then I can see where I need to go or what’s not making sense since I’m sharing my thought process. As a student, a way I’ve seen this brought into lessons is by sharing drafts of papers since the outside viewpoint can be incredibly helpful and everyone benefits.

I truly appreciate that this book states there is no best way to learn, this is something I’ve seen played out in discussions about how to teach and it worries me. I like the idea of saying, everything works and some things work better for some people than others. Don’t shut the door on any option.

Reading about experts and novices reminds me of the first major class at SI, 500, which tried to cover a little bit of everything that was taught at SI. It didn’t really work since there was just too much stuff that didn’t fit together, but we read a good article on experts and novices, from the start this chapter reminds me of it. My last technology class was SI 502, the core course and I found it useful, because the professor knew the class was full of novices so aimed it that way. As a librarian, I need to be able to use my expert knowledge of books and other resources to help novice readers and researchers. Understanding the differences between my thinking and theirs will help me do the most for them.

Adaptive expertise is a good way of talking about what being a novice and an expert actually means when dealing with a problem. 501 was a course where I ended up thinking about how to use my own knowledge of interpersonal relationships and how offices work in a specific context. I gained the most from it in terms of getting new tools for how to approach new problems and have tools I didn’t have before. Since I was able to acknowledge that I knew nothing about the modeling and interview tools we were using but understood the general idea of what we were trying to accomplish in 501.

What I find so interesting and the greatest challenge in terms of teaching is that being an expert is not the same as being an expert teacher. I appreciate that this book makes clear how wide that divide can be. I look forward to understanding more about how cognitive research can make me an effective librarian and teacher.

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