WJ Online Conference

Instructional Literacy and the Library Educator

By Jennifer | August 11th, 2011 | Comment?

We kicked off day 2 of WebJunction/Learning Round Table’s hosted online conference, Trends in Library Training and Learning, with a keynote presentation by Char Booth, Char Booth “Instructional Literacy and the Library Educator.”

Char invited all the participants (>600) to go hogwild in the Chat, to keep it as interactive as possible–and everyone took to that idea like ducks to water. Twitter was also very busy (#learntrends).

Char started with a suggestion that we take a positive and persevering attitude toward training, even though we may be challenged by difficult economic and budgetary conditions.

She then introduced the idea of “the Library Educator”–specifically, that no matter your job description, you are involved in learning. But this concept is not widely recognized: we tend to get trained on what to teach but not how to teach. Char shared a poll she did that showed that a majority library staff feel their MLIS education did not adequately prepare them to design and delivery instruction. Chat responses seemed to indicate that this was a sentiment shared by session attendees as well–some mentioned that they did draw upon prior experience as a teacher once they entered the library profession.

She acknowledged that huge amount of anxiety can grip new or undertrained instructors. We may often find ourselves expected to teach without all the formal education and training, certification and credentials that most teachers get.

A big problem is that there is assumption that librarians are not teachers. This affects how we are perceived when we are in a learning interaction on the job. How do you change those perceptions?

And what about your perceptions of learners? Do you believe that they can be inspired by a teaching interaction?

We were invited to close our eyes and conjure up our best teacher ever. Then we burned up the Chat window with descriptions of the qualities of that teacher.

Then, we were asked to think of our worst teacher and chat about that. Wow, the adjectives posted were very vivid. It was obvious that these terrible learning experiences still resonated with us.

The point was, we already know what makes a good and a bad teacher, from our own learning experiences. Avoid the bad, emulate the good qualities, and absorb them into your teaching identity.

She posited a nice metaphor of “librarians as an indicator species” in the sense of being emblematic of the environment, and asked us to post to chat what librarians were indicators of. Responses ranged from “tote bags” to “democracy.”

The meat of the session was devoted to delving into the pillars of Instructional Literacy: a combination of (1) reflective practice, (2) educational theory–learning, teaching, and curriculum theory; (3) teaching technologies; and (4) instructional design (systematic planning makes for a better learning experience). Added together, the outcome is teaching effectiveness.

Reflective Practice is a commitment to be aware of improving your teaching and training strategies, Continuous incremental improvement. Practical aspects of this practice are:

1. Metacognition: thinking about thinking, self-awareness, incremental improvement

– do simple small exercises after doing an instruction. Three question reflection. What went well, what bombed, what should I follow up on?
–concept/curriculum map: break down a core idea into parts to understand it better (mindomo.com)
–buid a teaching portfolio of assignments, handouts, materials in an organized storage.

2. Gleaning:

– capture things that happen for posterity: recordings, whiteboard capture, screenshots, photos of students, colleagues, environs

3. Collaboration
– communities of Practice: build in fun activities, make it visible, get engaged with it

Be sure to view the archived recording when it is posted so that you can see all the great Chat and get the many details that I have not included in this summary!

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