As Mary mentioned in her post, I’ll be covering the sessions I attended on my own, as well as two sessions that we attended together: the plenary session and the first session.

The plenary session was by Paul Jones, Director of ibiblio and a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. His presentation was an overview of the many library and information projects that are run or supported by ibiblio and programs at Chapel Hill. Besides the significant fact that he stopped using email in June 2011, here are a few of the projects that stood out to me:

  • WiderNet Project: Affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill, this project serves schools, clinics, libraries and homes with little to no access to digital forms of communication. This includes the eGranary Digital Library, which delivers resources which can be accessed via intranetwithin an organizationrather than needing to connect to external internet resources. Based on their interactive map, this product is being utilized most significantly in sub-Saharan Africa and south-east Asia.
  • Interactive Information Systems Laboratory (sorry, I couldn’t find a link to this!): The task of this project is to understand how people search and the psychological aspects of searching (i.e., how does getting bad search results impact future searching?). He also mentioned that most users don’t use more than two search terms in a given search.
  • Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative: There are tons of projects linked here, not all from UNC-Chapel Hill, and I encourage you to take a look! I’ve bookmarked a bunch to add to LibGuides! The one project Jones mentioned during his talk was the interactive 1911 Charlotte map. By using city directories and maps, Tom Hanchett was able to map the racial changes to the core of Charlotte during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Really fascinating work!

Personal Librarian: From Resources to Relationships

During this first session, librarians from Johnson and Wales University (and one faculty member) described their implementation of the personal librarian approach, which has been used by many libraries over the last 20 years. In their implementation, the Johnson and Wales librarians divided the introductory English comp courses evenly between them and they were added to each of the Blackboard courses. Students were emailed before they met with the librarians for library instruction sessions, and each faculty member could determine how involved they wanted the librarian to be in their individual courses. Since they first tried the personal librarian approach in Fall 2012, they have had a good response, from both students and faculty. Student grades increased quite dramatically and faculty are open to having the librarians work with them in their classes.

A few tips:

  • Personalization: students like a personal approach, they like to see a face or hear a voice in instructional videos, or see a picture in a LibGuide, which they can connect to their librarian
  • Branding: give your program a name, promote it, and don’t be afraid to update the program as you go from semester to semester
  • From the faculty perspective: need faculty buy-in, highlight that you share the same goal of student success, make sure that faculty have choice in how the librarians are involved in their courses, communicate consistently

Mindful Research Paper: Getting Students to Sloooow Down and Actively Focus

In this session, Joe Eshleman and Fernanda Tate Owens, a librarian and writing instructor, respectively, from Johnson and Wales, described how they have used the concept of mindfulness when teaching students. They explained that being mindful means that you are in the moment, present to what is happening and not thinking about future actions. You are also attentive, aware, and, importantly for the learning process, non-judgemental. These concepts can impact the research and writing projects when they can help students focus and pace themselves, making sure that they don’t jump around or skip steps, but have a deliberate approach and realize that there is a process to what they are working on.

In practice, Joe and Fernanda have created smaller assignments that help students really focus on two of the major roadblocks in research: procrastinating and picking a topic. When it comes time to create a research proposal from their topic, they use the SLOW approach: search, learn, outline, write. The students select a problem, find three sources and annotate them (which must be approved by Joe, the librarian), and then write an outline incorporating their research question, claims, and support. This helps the students to break down each step in the process and see how they fit together, and that they should follow one another. Another added benefit is that because a librarian is grading a portion of their assignment and is working closely with their professor in their course, they view Joe as an authority and are not as reluctant to approach him for assistance in other areas.

“Me” Learning: A Constructivist Approach to Web Evaluation

Four librarians from Radford University (Jennifer Resor Whicker, Craig Arthur, Lisa Vassady, and Alyssa Archer) presented their method for teaching students how to evaluate websites using the Constructivist model. The Constructivist model of learning teaches that students learn by doing and by adding new information to what they’ve learned before. This type of learning tends to be active, but also is learner centered and places the responsibility for learning on the student. Historically, web evaluation exercises consisted of looking at disreputable websites and using a checklist (based on print resources) to decide if they were appropriate for research. This lead to students thinking a website was either right or wrong, not that it could be appropriate or not depending on the circumstances.

The librarians reworked their web evaluation worksheet to incorporate three exercises (ideally this would be in a 60 minute class). In the first exercise, students look at the website Secondhand Smoke: The Big Lie and in groups of two-three, list five reasons why it is not a credible website. Students then share their reasons to the class and the librarians can help address any misconceptions or dualistic thinking (.org is always ok, .com is always bad, etc…). In the next exercise, the students are given a question they need to answer, such as, “is it safe to drink out of water bottles that have been left in the car?” If they had to find the perfect website to answer that question, what criteria would it have to meet, based on “who, what, when, where, why?” For example, who would an appropriate author need to be? A doctor, researcher, concerned parent? How recently would the website need to be? Is 2003 recent enough, or should it be 2014? Once they have decided on their criteria, in exercise three they have to find a website that meets them and present it to the class. They call the presentation “The Smackdown” and other groups are allowed to bring up negative points or point out problems, and then the class votes on which groups’ website was the best.

More information here, in the article they published last year: Teaching Web Evaluation: A Cognitive Development Approach

As always, I enjoyed the Metrolina Conference and learned a lot! It was also great to get to touch base with Mary and hear how things are going in the Schools of Business, as well as see friends from UNCG and High Point! I have handouts and bibliographies from several presentations, so let me know if you have any questions!