Last week, Kaeley and I attended the Metrolina conference in Charlotte. It was different from prior Metrolina conferences in that it was held on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College rather than at Johnson & Wales Univ. in downtown Charlotte. The conference center served as our venue and did so very well. The conference began with a keynote speech followed by 4 concurrent sessions that wrapped around a lunch and poster session. Kaeley and I have agreed to split our write-ups rather than submitting duplicate entries on the sessions we attended together.

During session 2, we attended New Frontiers: Rethinking Library Instruction in Online Learning Spaces. The speaker began by outlining the short-comings of one-shot library instruction sessions: there’s insufficient time to help students refine their topics, to encourage them to read and analyze sources, or connect different information sources in a meaningful way. He asserts that digital learning objects can overcome these short-comings.

A Digital Learning Object is an electronic resource with clear learning objectives that often has assessment tied to it. It can take many formats: lecture, tutorial, online game, interactive online exercise, or a video tutorial embedded in a research guide. It’s short and focused and the most effective ones contain interactive elements. Our toolkit videos were an early version of Digital Learning Objects.

The presenter’s advice for creating effective DLOs includes these design suggestions: start with clear objectives; use a combination of AV and text; break it into discrete sections so none is too long; include interactive elements. His process for producing an 8-module DLO on information literacy consisted of the following steps: define the objectives; assess the intended audience; write the script; design the visuals; record the audio; import captions; review, edit, finalize; distribute.

He used Adobe Captivate to create the modules, but there are many options for making DLOs. They can be embedded in research guides or in course management programs. Finally, he stressed that interactivity is the key to successful online learning.

For session 3, I attended Change Your Approach to Faculty Collaboration, the description for which read “This presentation will provide guidance on how to change approaches to faculty collaboration by playing a more integral role in academic writing and publishing teams” and she did exactly that. Ms. Sorrell provided suggestions for how librarians can move from supporting faculty research and writing to becoming co-authors with the faculty. This is especially possible when a faculty member is working on literature review.

Melanie Sorrell of UNC-Charlotte suggested librarians can play a more integral role in researching and writing lit reviews beyond searching for articles. First, she suggests, publicize your desire or intention to your faculty – let them know what you’d like to do. Publicize your own articles to your faculty so they understand you’re a published author. Approach younger, tenure-seeking faculty; they may be more open to working with you since their need to publish is great. Once you start working with a faculty member(s) negotiate with the primary author and make it clear you can do more than search for articles, such as identifying target journals or writing a section of the review. Establish author order. Once these items have been agreed upon, send an e-mail to the primary author documenting the conversation that includes you as co-author.

Once you’re established as a member of the research team, she recommends doing the following: establish a draft timeline and be sure to hit your deadlines; manage the citation management software; do some background reading on the topic; ask the lead author for a draft of the abstract; and establish a list of keywords, and share them with the author(s) to verify.

Ms. Sorrell recommends documenting your search strategy and including it in the methodology section of the article. Include keywords or subject headings, date range limitations, and any filters you applied. As the search evolves, document how you altered it, document synonyms, truncation or other changes you made. I had never thought of this before and it was a real ‘light bulb’ moment for me.

In the later stages, edit the 2nd draft, using the knowledge gained from the background reading to insure that the lit review reflects the articles’ content. Finally, help your co-authors understand the difference between subscription and open access journals as you decide where to submit it for publication.

Ms. Sorrell’s co-presenter spent the second portion describing open access and copyright issues for authors, but since Molly has covered these topics with us so thoroughly, I don’t feel it’s necessary to repeat that content here.

For session 4, I attended Crossing the Threshold: Threshold Concepts & IL by Kathy Shields and Jenny Dale in which they shared ACRL’s evolution from IL standards towards a set of threshold concepts. Threshold concepts are basic or foundational concepts without an understanding of which, a student cannot move forward or cross the threshold. Once one grasps a TC, one cannot unlearn it. Often TCs are so basic that they go unrecognized by those who understand them.

To qualify as a TC, an idea must be: transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded and troublesome. They are often concepts that define a discipline and the way of thinking for professionals in that discipline.

Why switch from standards to threshold concepts? TCs are easier to explain to faculty in other disciplines, they offer a greater potential for collaboration, they help explain the ‘why’ behind particular practices and they’re more comprehensive – more than a matter of checking of boxes.

The threshold concepts being proposed by ACRL include: scholarship is a conversation; research is inquiry; format as process; authority is constructed and contextual; and searching is strategic. During the session, we broke into small groups and mapped the new TCs to the current standards. This made it easier to see the shift as an evolution rather than a sharp break with past practices.

Sessions 3 and 4 were the most interesting to me as the concepts are so relevant to my practice of librarianship. I’m already thinking about how I might integrate threshold concepts into my LIB230 and LIB235/ESE305 classes.