Information Literacy

Make it Beautiful, Make it Usable: DIY Design for Libraries

About the Beautiful & Usable Workshop

This workshop focuses on adapting existing ideas, learning materials, lesson plans, presentations, signage, marketing materials, and learning activities into more beautiful, usable content. Basic instructional design practices are introduced, then basic graphic design concepts and methods. Participants bring something they wanted to reinvent - a worksheet, a PowerPoint presentation, an interactive tutorial, a video, a LibGuide, etc. Guided by a Design Checklist and relying on a curated collection of recommended tools, participants work individually, in groups, and with the presenters to update their learning objects.

Access the Google Drive Folder: Tools & Materials

2016 Brick & Click Presentation

Do you plan on attending this interactive presentation at the 2016 Brick & Click Conference? We can't wait to meet you! Please fill out this super quick survey so that we can tailor our presentation to you! Feel free to look through the Tools & Materials Google Drive Folder, and don't forget to bring an object (and your laptop or tablet) to work on!

2016 Library Collective Presentation

Curious about the level of expertise of participants? Or do you wonder what kinds of materials they reinvented? Then check out the results of our survey from the 2016 Library Collective Conference!

How to Make Your Library Instruction Suck Less

If you teach information literacy or do any kind of library instruction, chances are that you've never had formal training in actually being a teacher.  We get it! While it can sometimes seem that teaching comes naturally to certain individuals and not to others, teachers and teaching librarians all have room to improve. When librarians gain confidence in their teaching abilities and connect with students in productive ways, student learning has the opportunity to improve as well. We just gave a presentation outlining 6 strategies to improve library instruction at the Brick & Click academic library conference:

In our presentation, we talked a lot about WHY each of these strategies are important (if you need a refresher, see our slide deck above, or read the full paper in the conference proceedings. But if you’re like us, your favorite part of presentations is exploring all the tangible tools and practical tips--so we decided to extract the HOW for you right here!

  1. Speak the Language of Your Students

    1. Beloit College Mindset List

    2. Generation Calculator

    3. Social media: Instagram and SnapChat are currently most popular with students, but also helpful are Twitter & TweetDeck, Facebook Groups for Schools, and Yik Yak.

    4. YouTube

    5. Know Your Meme

    6. Reddit

    7. And how to find out what's trending on the web

  2. Design Meaningful Activities

    1. Lesson Plan Generator

    2. Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures

    3. Learning Outcome Generator

  3. Connect Skills to the Real World

    1. The Muse (we highly suggest subscribing to their weekly newsletter!)


    3. Automating job searches with IFTTT (if this then that) and advanced Google search

    4. Professional nameplate sites and of course, LinkedIn for Higher Education

  4. Tell stories and be funny (...or at least try to be)

    1. Listening to stories is a great way to become a better storyteller. Check out this classic list of storytelling podcasts + this list of new and addictive storytelling podcasts.

    2. Humor Strategies to Use

  5. Engage Students Outside the Classroom

    1. Google Apps and Communication Tools

    2. EdTech App Finder

    3. Zotero

  6. Make Your Content Beautiful

    1. Canva + Tutorials from Canva Design School

    2. Google Fonts + Google Font Pairing

    3. Piktochart (Infographic Maker)

    4. Slides Carnival + Google Slides

    5. Good Stock Photos: Death to Stock, Pexels, Albumarium, Unsplash

Okay, that's all for now! What did we leave off? What tools or links would you recommend?

6 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong With Your Research Assignments (and how to fix them)

This fall marks the 2nd anniversary of our involvement with our university's general education curriculum. That equals 4 semesters of flipping the classroom, spending one week with each 200 and 300 section, and adapting our classroom content for Internet classes as well. It also means that we've seen A LOT of research assignments--about 40 per semester. Below is a presentation we gave at a faculty teaching conference to help instructors build better research assignments. Oh! And Slides Carnival + Death to Stock Photo is now our favorite combination for presentation slides.

Information Literacy, General Education, Clouds, and Hearts

Yesterday we presented a summary and end-of-semester report about our library's information literacy program and how it fits into the General Education curriculum.  We also went on an Infographic binge. Speaking of Infographics, you guys know about Piktochart's Presentation Mode, right? #killtheslidedeck

So here we have it--an explanation of the GE model, how our Info Lit program works, and lots of pretty charts about this last semester!

So, we don't do one-shots, and we don't have a for credit class--does this make it a hybrid? Anyone else using this model? We'd love to hear from you!

Crowd sourced information service and "Googling" our hive

Jess and I share an office - what, are you surprised? - with the two amazing graduate assistants that work in our department. It's a highly collaborative atmosphere, which we all find stimulating and supportive. The four of us work on many of the same projects and simply talking across the room to a teammate cuts down enormously on email. Our library provides virtual reference using a chat service, and when someone is doing online reference our answers to patron questions are often crowd-sourced from whoever is in the room at the time. "Hey, what's the name of that one e-resource we have for test prep?" (I can never remember the name of that thing.) We rely on each other to remember the details and locations of things. "When is that meeting? Where did you get those shoes? (Our library ladies love cute flats.) In which of 9 gazillion folders on the shared drive is that one document about that one thing?" We Google our hive's collective memories constantly. It turns out there may be a generalizable explanation for our reliance on constant collaboration. We're not weird. Everybody is weird! Slate published this excerpt from Clive Thompson's book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. In it, Thompson describes how we use computers, the Internet, apps, and our phones as extensions of our memory. (I first saw this article mentioned by @librarianmouse, here. She and her colleagues like to use crowd sourced information to answer reference questions, too!) It's a new version of a concept called transactive memory, in which our society has long relied on the shared memories of the people close to us so that we don't have to remember everything ourselves.

Our team uses a variety of tools to keep track of our projects, ideas, and documents. Between Jess and me, any particular thing I want to recall may be stored in the network drive, work email, our personal email correspondence, Google Docs, Trello, Workflowy, Evernote, Zotero, Pinterest, Padlet, or an actual, physical notebook. Even though we don't often remember the exact details of the thing we're trying to retrieve, we almost always know where it is. Research cited in Thompson's article confirms this proclivity:

We are, however, confident of where in the machine we can refind it. When Sparrow asked the students simply to recall whether a fact had been saved or erased, they were better at recalling the instances where a fact had been stored in a folder...Another experiment found that subjects were really good at remembering the specific folder names containing the right factoid, even though the folders had extremely unremarkable names.

This phenomenon pops up in our office-wide transactive memory system all the time. "Remember when we found that article that talked about self-paced student learning? Is it in that Google Doc of sources?"

"No, it's attached to a Trello card on the team board."

"Sweet, thanks."

So we work in a noisy office. So what?

Here's the really important part. The reason we need to be aware of the amazing ways our society is using devices to expand our transactive memory sources. Jess and I are primarily information literacy librarians. We teach research and instruction classes, help students at the reference desk, and are developing a new curriculum for our library to provide more broadly applicable information literacy instruction to undergraduates. The students we teach and interact with every day have a different relationship with information than previous generations. They are "digital natives," and they are used to accessing all the information in the world using online sources and search interfaces, and saving everything they need in an electronic location. We need to understand what they know about finding and using information so that we can use our instruction to fill in the gaps in the skill set they already possess for interacting with information sources. This is how Thompson describes one of those gaps:

Transactive memory works best when you have a sense of how your partners' minds work—where they're strong, where they're weak, where their biases lie. I can judge that for people close to me. But it's harder with digital tools, particularly search engines. They’re for-profit firms that guard their algorithms like crown jewels. And this makes them different from previous forms of transactive machine memory. A public library—or your notebook or sheaf of papers—keeps no intentional secrets about its mechanisms. A search engine keeps many. We need to develop literacy in these tools the way we teach kids how to spell and write; we need to be skeptical about search firms’ claims of being “impartial” referees of information.

This is the big idea behind the way we characterize information literacy. Students definitely need help with searching for and finding information. But for the most part, they will figure out on their own how to get their hands on the information they need. What they often won't figure out on their own, however, is how to evaluate it. Information skepticism isn't automatically built in to their reliance on the Internet for transactive memory. If we can introduce them to the limitations and biases of search engines and some online sources, and more importantly, provide them with the skills to overcome that, we will have given students a valuable tool to make their relationship with their machines much more useful.