ACRL 2009

Not only is everybody using them, but it turns out – just about everybody likes them a lot too!

I went to two different sessions at the ACRL Conference regarding studies appraising the value of SpringShare LibGuides, one of Cornell University and Princeton University students and faculty and the other of student at Grand Valley State University, Boston College, and Georgetown University. In both cases, the rooms were packed – standing room only. Apparently, a lot of academic libraries are either already using LibGuides or are very interested in doing so. It felt good to know that we already have them at ECC and are making good use of them. For our students who transition on to a four year institution, this could make their transition that much smoother.

The session “Do the Outcomes Justify the Buzz?” reported on a survey of faculty, LibGuide authors, and students from Cornell and Princeton. They also collected data directly from SpringShare to inform their report. They found 100% of those surveyed believed that the guide was valuable for class and 85% perceived an improvement in student assignments as a result of LibGuide use. Of the students asked, 94% said the guide was valuable and 90% wanted to use one for another class. Course guides were the the most popular type of guide at Cornell, while customized guides with specific assignments were more popular at Princeton.

The other session, “Reinventing Research Guides: LibGuides at Two Academic Libraries” reported similar positive reaction to the guides. Among there recommendations were:

  • Users often expected subject guides, but prefered more specific customized assignment or area guides
  • Discriptions of resources were helpful
  • Expected the guides to have help features, how-tos, and explicit guidance if they needed it
  • Expected high quality information
  • Majority had NOT contacted a librarian through the guides
  • 90% liked the tabs at the top for navigation
  • Around 85% to 90% found it easy to find the individual guides from the main page
  • 90% wanted links directly to the guide placed in their course management system
  • Survey turned out to be a great promotional tool – more than 4,000 responses

In addition to their survey findings, the presenters also went into the history of subjects guides. The have posted their presentations slides for viewing.

View more presentations from rikhei.

Aside from pride in the fact that we are already using LibGuides really well at ECC, I also walked away with a new perspective on how to pronounce LibGuides. I have been pronouncing it “Lib” as in rhymes with “bribe”, but it seemed the majority of presenters favored “Lib” as in “Liberty”. One presenter joked that that should be the subject of the next set of LibGuide surveys.

Photo by carbonnyc, flickr cc

Photo by carbonnyc, flickr cc

The first two Conference Papers I attended at ACRL 2009 concerned gaming’s influence on teaching information literacy.

Gaming Research to Inform Library Instruction

The first, We’re Not Playing Around: Gaming Literate Librarians = Information Literate Students featured panelists from Washington State University and the University of Washington-Tacoma and focused on the way in which gaming has influenced the way in which students learn and how an understanding of this learning can be leveraged to provide effective information literacy instruction.

Theories about evaluating games for information and media literacy value:

  • We can evaluate games using tools we already have in place
  • Sometimes it’s worth setting the content aside and examining the structure of the game
  • Just like reading a text over again to look for multiple meanings, it’s worth playing a game several times to look for multiple meanings
  • Games have outcomes, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and criteria

Observations about leveraging gaming skill to understand student learning:

  • Gaming environments often revolve around collaboration and apprenticeship – this generation of students increasingly expect not to work alone and are acustomed to working with and learning from their peers – they have the cultural expectation that they can ask and gain help from others
  • Gamers often understand and appreciate the benefits of teamwork
  • In the gamining environment, there is no central authority (this ties into Gail Bush’s Keynote at the Info Lit Summit)
  • The average length of time to answer a question in a virtual game is 32 seconds (not necessarily accurate – but if wrong, usually quickly corrected by other responders) (again this ties into Bush’s theory of accuracy being traded for efficiency)
  • Peers enjoy displaying their knowledge and assisting others (may lend itself to student-built resources moderated by librarians)
  • Games have conventions, just like websites and databases
  • Games teach through scaffolding – offering only a few options, just enough to get to the next level
  • Games teach an understanding (and sometimes even a documentation) of the process

General stats:

97% of 12-18 year olds play games; 63% of college students are regular gamers; difference between genders not significant, but their experience of games differ

Leveraging Game Playing Skills to Teach Information Literacy

A librarians and game design students from Champlain University presented Percolating the Power of Play in which they discussed collaborative efforts between their librarians and students in their Emergent Media Center to design and create two computer games specifically intended to teach information literacy.

Info literacy is an important part of Champlain’s core curriculum and the librarians see every student every semester all four years of their college career. Their goal in creating these games was to set up a series of goals but give students the liberty to achieve goals in their own way and to support lifelong learning that extends beyond the classroom walls

To connect games to information literacy, they employed a narrative model of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and a model of the information search process. The two student developers discussed the games they had created:

1. Searchlight – has narrative story of a girl at a lighthouse at night searching for information, metaphorical resources are represented by islands, and the game is created to challenge both novice and advanced students

2. Dustin King in Locked and Literate – player is given assignments in the form of a question; must evaluate electronic databases, websites, and printed material; player must asses information in order to keep going

They also discussed how simple games can be created to promote information literacy. In one class, a librarian asks students to describe a Coke can she brings into class. This teaches brainstorming keywords, gets students to think critically about a common everyday object, and fuses fun with information literacy and provides a positive first time connection to the librarian.

Photo by Faeryan, Flickr CC

Photo by Faeryan, Flickr CC

At ACRL 2009, I attended a session by University of Wyoming librarians called “Widening the Net: A research-based collaboration to foster success among at-risk learners”. They were reporting on a survey they conducting concerning the reading skills of their students.

Here are some ideas I took away from the session:

– Studies have shown a decline in the reading abilities of college students

– At risk-readers have had less practice, have fewer meta-cognitive strategies, and are less able contextualize the information they read

– Many students lack any kind of reading strategies

– At UofW, Information Literacy is a required part of the core curriculum and the first-year composition course; librarians meet with students between 3 and 5 times during their first year.

– U of W conducting a study of students evaluating their own reading skills

– Some of the findings: most of them rated themselves as average or below average readers; students do not read in library or social spaces – mostly read at home; 74% say they read news online and 63% read wikipedia or online reference articles; 71% read less than 10 emails a day and 65% read less than 10 social networking post a day

– Students are not even reading online as much as originally suspect, most spent less than 3 hours reading a day online

– Students strongly prefered reading print vs. online

– Librarians need to provide explicit instruction on reading strategies; promote social reading goals and habits; ensure printability of online material

Som suggestions/ideas from audience:

  • Glendale Community College has gotten a tool to scan text and read it aloud to students both with disabilities and those with different learning styles – could help at-risk readers
  • Deego (sp?) is a site that creates post-it notes for websites