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I don’t often get to attend this annual conference, hosted by the Librarians Assembly of UNC-Chapel Hill, but always enjoy it when I do.
This year, we had an exceptionally engaging keynote speaker, Jeffrey A. Greene of the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at Chapel Hill. He began by busting some common myths about learning:
- Digital natives: Greene questions claims of physiological changes in young people’s brains; technology is just one of the life experiences of all sorts (whether you grew up on a farm or in suburbia, etc.) that informs thinking patterns. What is real, Greene says, is the digital divide — we can’t assume every student had a computer a home, is familiar with internet navigation, etc.
- Multi-tasking: Greene contrasts the task of driving a car, which uses the automatic brain functions, with juggling “cognitively conscious” tasks — we just can’t do the latter effectively.
- Learning styles: the style one uses at any given time depends on the content (try conveying the locations of the US states without resorting to any visual means).
Greene’s formula for self-regulated learning:
- Understand the task.
- Make a plan (a step many students skip).
- Enact good strategies (many bright students who coasted through high school arrive in college with a very small toolbox of learning strategies).
- Monitor progress (for anyone making their first attempt to master new material, it’s hard to add on this additional layer — students need our encouragement and guidance).
- Evaluate and adapt (resisting the brain’s natural tendency to re-use automatic responses — to it, that’s more efficient than thinking, and re-thinking, about what you’re doing).
Greene’s presentation is posted on the LAUNC-CH website: http://launcch.web.unc.edu/events/conference/
Another highlight was the presentation given by Ellen Daugman, Kaeley McMahan, and myself on LIB250 (our Humanities course). This was essentially an update on an article we published in 2012. We reviewed our initial development of the course, and described lessons we learned during the five years we’ve taught it, and how we adapted and improved it. We had a large and engaged audience, who offered thoughtful questions and an enthusiastic overall response. Discussions continued over lunch. A very gratifying outcome!