In May I attended the Workshop for Instruction in Library use (WILU), in London, Ontario, where I gave a presentation and presented a poster. This conference is very similar to LOEX, except it takes place in Canada. Unlike LOEX, it does not have any staff, and the conference is run completely by the hosting institution. This does make it difficult to preserve organizational history, and this year, Western University proposed to become the hosting institution of all conference materials. You can find all of this year’s conference materials on Scholarship at Western, and they are working on tracking down conference materials from years past so they can start accumulating everything in one place. I wanted to share a few highlights so you can get a glimpse of the conference.
I arrived early to attend a pre-conference workshop on assessment, where I got some really good ideas to help me start up my assessment projects for online learning tools and ELP classes. Much of the session focused on RAILS, which contains tons of material freely available to help anyone get ideas for assessment. A later conference session I attended provided some additional ideas for assessment. We typically think about assessing student learning, but this session presented the idea of assessing the strength and applicability of the learning outcomes, and the strength and applicability of the lesson plan. This could be a very useful and effective way to help improve our teaching in the future.
Two members of the team writing the new information literacy thresholds gave the keynote address. They shed were able to explain their goals a little bit, but did not give much further explanation on the process or the threshold concepts themselves other than what is already out there for the public. They did stress that the most their major goal for the framework is to create a flexible system of learning information literacy concepts rather than a focus on skills. Students themselves are creators of information, not just consumers, and we need to embrace that in the library classroom. For those of you still a little fuzzy on the idea of a threshold concept, their definition of a threshold concept is a portal or gateway that students must pass through in order to achieve and understanding of their field. They want to address the idea that students get stuck at certain points in their learning, and they need to get past that point of being stuck. In order to get past it, some sort of intervention needs to occur: librarians are that intervention.
A session on “Reimaging the LibGuide” encouraged librarians to move away from the idea of a LibGuide as a resource guide, and more towards a learning tool. What good is a list of databases if students don’t know what a database is or how to use it? Theoretically, students should learn these skills in the University College, but there are those who don’t care enough as freshman, forget, or just can’t seem to get these skills to stick. A simple resource guide isn’t good enough for them. When designing a guide, think about:
- what do they know (or what should they know)
- what do they need to know
- what do they need to do
- how do they need to do it
- what if they can’t do it?
This would help us develop more dynamic guides that really engage users and help them learn, rather than clicking away at different links and trying to find what they need.
This was a pretty good conference and I’m glad I got the opportunity to attend and present. It is a little smaller than LOEX, and most sessions I attended were well worth it. They have a pretty good Flickr site, where you can see how they turned Western’s circulation desk into a bar for the opening reception.