NBL Instruction and Information Literacy Team would like to invite you to attend the following workshop:
Capturing your class with Kaltura video tool for Sakai: hands-on training
Instructor: Daniel Bello (Digital Classroom Service)
Date: August 2, 2016 (Tuesday)
Time: 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Location: Rm. 413 Alexander Library
Space is limited. For more details and reserve your seat, please go to
I am always hungry for elements of both the theory and practice of instruction, since I don’t feel that I have yet honed my personal teaching philosophy and style. For instance, although I try to teach to the need and keep the WIIFM (“What’s in it for me”) principle foremost in my mind, I occasionally feel myself devolving into lecture-y moments that are particularly maladapted for undergraduate learners. One of the things I liked the most about Leslin’s TeachMeet was the organized, incremental and interactive way she introduced material to a group of us with quite varied experience levels and backgrounds. I was particularly interested to hear about some of the exercises she uses to introduce peer-based learning into library instruction.
Instruction is very much on my mind as I once again prepare to teach some classes in the Italian Department and elsewhere. With that said, I’ll riff on Lily’s post in which she talks about the in person communities represented by the TeachMeets and write about online communities of practice, of which this blog will hopefully form an important part.
To start the ball rolling, I’ll describe my personal learning environment as it relates specifically to instruction. I’ve borrowed the idea of a personal learning environment from Char Booth, one of my library instruction lodestars.
Maintaining current awareness of emerging instructional topics and technologies is supported by creating a robust personal learning environment (PLE)–the combination of applications and resources that “explicitly support one’s social, professional, learning, and other activities.” You already have a PLE, even if you’ve never thought about it quite so formally–whatever resources, interfaces, or services you use to keep up with what you do or what interests you.1
- In addition to being a member of many professional listservs, I also use an RSS reader (Feedly) to follow a bunch of online journals and professional blogs (not to mention cooking and tech sites).
- When I see something that looks relevant to a class or academic department, I either bookmark it in Feedly, or I save the whole article to Evernote and tag it with labels like ‘@work’ ‘instruction’ or ‘italian’.
- I’ve observed that a lot of my Rutgers colleagues use LibGuides to set up guides for specific courses, which I think is great. I’ve been thinking about how I might adapt this for my own purposes. This semester, I’m going to experiment with using my personal blog as a space in which to lay out my course plan. I think that the discursive nature of the blog, in which one topic follows another, might provide a more visually and logically coherent structure for the students to revisit after the instruction takes place. I’ve tried sharing Google Slides in the past, and I am not quite convinced they get reused in the way I had hoped. Maybe having a simple URL to a blog post will make that easier. And then I can keep an index of my various instruction blog posts on my subject LibGuides. I’ll let you know how this works out.
- I’ve been known to use the occasional concept map, for myself as well as to help students develop a research topic: Mindomo or Popplet.
- I am a big fan of the writers of the ProfHacker.
- The Unquiet Librarian is another good one that I follow on Feedly.
- Since I am a DH librarian, I am going to give a nod to Hybrid Pedagogy, where I have picked up some great tips on teaching technology.
Sites & Orgs
- Here’s where I am going to show my longhorn roots. I rather like the Information Literacy Toolkit designed by my former colleagues at UT Austin. Lots of sample exercises, course assignments, tutorials and guides!
- Most of my reading tends to focus on digital pedagogy. Here is one of my favorites:Little, Geoffrey. “Teaching with Technology: Library Instruction in a Digital Context.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 38, no. 4 (July 1, 2012): 242-243.
Care to share your PLE?
1 Char Booth, Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning; Instructional Literacy for Library Educators (Chicago: American Library Association, 2011), 13. back ↑
I attended Leslin’s TeachMeet session last year and I remember thinking not only that it was super helpful (it gave me great ideas for easy in-class group activities), but also just how nice it is to have a dedicated venue to talk about library instruction with my colleagues in a structured way. While there are other opportunities for this at RUL, the way the TeachMeet’s are structured is the perfect combination of theory and practice and really enables you to have a conversation with both seasoned and new library instructors just about this one thing, which seems to occupy so much of our time, instruction. It’s great!
This lead me to consider the importance for any academic library in developing a sense of community around instruction. Simply sharing ideas and talking about the day-to-day reality of it opens up new directions, ideas, and adds value to what we do in those one-shot sessions. There is a really nice paper by a couple of librarians from Notre Dame that talks about the importance of using communities of practice to create a shared understanding of our evolving identities as librarians and form common goals.
“Communities of practice build professional empathy, and this empathetic understanding is the essence of alignment. Once our services are aligned with the needs and expectations of our users, we will become more relevant and valuable to our institutions.”
It seems to me that this kind of community is really essential to creating a strong foundation for our instructional program. This is, I think, what the TeachMeets are trying to do, in part.
The other thing that the TeachMeet post made me think about is the importance of repeatedly going back to the basics: student learning outcomes. Yes, those things. It might sound tedious to continually focus on these, but I find that, if I don’t, it’s just too easy to go on “autopilot” and risk sabotaging the session. The art (or science) of writing a good learning outcome goes a long way. It is an important way to determine, and hence be able to measure, that you did at least one to three things absolutely right that day. That’s a good feeling!
Last summer, we began our series of TeachMeets where we discussed instruction and assessment strategies. This provided a venue for conversation and for sharing. It also served as a springboard for more, varied activities. Some faculty have tried strategies presented and were subsequently able to share their assessment strategies at our general meeting for all librarians, not just those in Research and Instructional Services.
Download (PDF, 5.89MB)
The Rutgers University Libraries have started a blog to explore issues in library instruction, instructional design, teaching technologies, and public services. Members of the libraries’ informal instruction group will be participating. Stay tuned for our conversations!