Discussion: On Fostering an Instruction-Based Community

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

  1. Tools
    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).
    2. 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’.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
  2. Blogs
    1. I am a big fan of the writers of the ProfHacker.
    2. The Unquiet Librarian is another good one that I follow on Feedly.
    3. 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.
  3. Sites & Orgs
    1. 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!
  4. Texts
    1. 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 ↑

3 thoughts on “Discussion: On Fostering an Instruction-Based Community”

  1. Pingback: PLE | RyanData
  2. Thanks, Ryan! I am intrigued/alarmed by your “serious only” filter idea for YouTube. Although I suppose the cat videos will still be there when I’m ready for a break… 🙂

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