Shifting focus, or what I learned at LILAC

At the LILAC Teachmeet I learned about Gueldenzoph’s 3-2-1 processor1. This idea was introduced by Heather Lincoln from Imperial College London who has been using it to engage students in the evaluation of her teaching. At the end of each session students are asked to write three recollections, two insights and one question that they have from the session. Inspired by this here is my 3-2-1 write-up of LILAC 2012.

Three recollections

  1. From Alan Carbery’s paper on problem-based learning
    The idea of information literacy as a process, not a product. It sounds so simple but I think it’s something often forgotten. Too often the focus of teaching in libraries is about the tool. This can be changed using inquiry or problem-based learning. It requires us to trust our students, to change our role as teachers, to give the students the power to be in control of their own learning.
  2. From Megan Oakleaf‘s keynote on impact
    At the end of this presentation I came away with a sense that I needed to be more rigourous in planning the sessions I teach. At the moment my plans are largely in my head – I know what I want to teach and how I’m going to do that, but does anyone else? Could anyone else pick up my teaching load at a moment’s notice? Is it clear to those participating in my sessions what the value of attending is? Maybe not now, but going forward it will be.
  3. From Eric Jenning’s paper on lesson study
    A different approach to planning and reviewing sessions:

    Lesson Study

    Lesson Study

    The part in the cycle that particularly stood out for me was the observation stage – this is observation not of the teacher, but of what the students are doing during the activities. This can then be used within the session itself to initiate discussion and also at the review stage to improve future sessions.

Two insights

“We are too tied to our existing structures and precepts and this does not equip us for providing and preparing young people for the future.”
— Lord David Puttnam

There were so many issues raised in Lord Puttnam’s keynote that made me want to express my agreement with a loud cry of “Yes!”. The quote above articulates something that has been on my mind for a while, and that is the rigidity of libraries, librarians and the environment we work in. I feel that we far too often keep doing the things we’ve always done because to change our practice is just too great a risk.

I’m not saying that there is no change happening in libraries. There is, and conferences like LILAC help to showcase it and inspire others to change. What I’m concerned about is that the change that is happening is small-scale and in isolated pockets. With the information environment changing at such a rapid pace and in its turn changing the way our users interact with information I am starting to think that libraries are at their tipping point. We need to go big, or go home.

“If we demand more our student’s learning will improve.”
— Tara Brabazon

Leaving Tara Brabazon’s keynote until the final session was a master stroke. By this time most people are usually shutting down, they’ve taken in about as much information as they can and they’re thinking about getting home. Ending the conference with such an enthusiastic and energetic presenter reignited the flow of ideas.

Throughout the conference I had chosen to attend presentations on the theme of active learning. The quote above ties back to everything I had picked up from these sessions earlier in the conference – we need to challenge our students through the activities we design and the methods we employ. To link back to my first insight about innovation; reinventing my approach to the teaching sessions I deliver is going to be my move towards making change happen.

One question

  1. How can we gather useful feedback on our service?
    This is something that has been perplexing our team for some time. We collect statistics for the number of enquiries we answer, teaching sessions we run etc. As a colleague recently pointed out however, all this serves to do is show how busy we are.

    So, how do we show the value of the service we deliver? A suggestion from the Q&A after Megan Oakleaf’s keynote was not to rely on surveys or anecdotes but to measure what students can actually do following an information literacy session. Returning to the very beginning of this post, I have also started using the 3-2-1 processor to evaluate my teaching sessions. It’s not only a useful tool for me as the teacher to see how my sessions might develop, but also for the students as a prompt for reflecting on what they have learned.

 

1 Gueldenzoph, L.E. (2007) Using Teaching Teams to Encourage Active Learning. Business Communication Quarterly, 70 (4), 457-462.

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