5 Immersive Things

Hello. It’s been a while. If you recall, in the spring, I found out that I was accepted into ACRL’s Immersion program, which was held at the end of July at Champlain College in beautiful Burlington, Vermont.

The bad: traveling.

I hadn’t ever been to New England before, so I wasn’t quite prepared for traveling here. I had an absolutely crazy experience traveling both to and from VT. It involved switching airports (Dulles to Reagan) and airlines on the way there after a flight cancellation. I ended up sharing a hotel room with a librarian from Oregon State University who happened to be on the same cancelled flight. If I remember correctly, the new flight was also delayed. On the way home, the flight was delayed, which meant I wasn’t going to make my connection. I ended up staying overnight but had some treats with a new librarian friend from American University to help cure my travel woes. I was down to wearing exercise pants and a t-shirt. (I also broke a pair of sandals during my week, too!) With all my extra time, I ended up reading three books. I was so happy when my husband picked me up at the airport in Sacramento.

The good: friends and learning.

I met some new librarian friends, learned new theories and teaching ideas, and then I learned that I know more than I thought, too. I have more to learn from the resources mentioned throughout the program. I haven’t cracked open that binder in a while.

Below are five things Immersion helped cement in my mind, though they aren’t necessarily earth-shattering.

  • We have assumptions about teaching and learning that are counter-productive.
    • Ex: Curricular integration of IL is the gold standard—> we tend to view one-shot workshops as sub-par learning experiences.
      • I never thought about this before. I personally view one-shots as sub-par, but learning can and does happen in single lessons. I’m not sure if this helps, though. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I think of the teaching I do as the one and only opportunity I have to show the value of librarians to students.
      • Pick one place to be “transformational” in.
        • This has to do with the GeST windows model. During Immersion, we were taught not to think of any window as better than another, but my colleagues didn’t necessarily read it that way. I need to do some re-reading.
    • Ex: Teaching is a calling—> we become overly critical.
      • Teaching is hard. Teaching is even harder when you’re a guest teacher. As a librarian, I don’t have the same rapport with students the way the classroom instructor does, and I don’t have the benefit of knowing what has really been done in or out of class to prepare for research instruction.
  • Discussion is not always discussion.
    • Is it really “serial questioning”?
      • Social constructivism: discovery-based, student-focused, authentic, collaborative, cooperation in small groups, etc.
      • This explains why I didn’t enjoy “class discussions” in college. They were never really discussions.
  • Assessment helps you design your class.
    • What do you want students to be able to do? How will they show you?
      • Plan activities accordingly.
  • Activity does not equal active learning.
    • Active learning requires that students apply/reflect.
  • Negotiate for 2-3 measurable learning outcomes.
    • Sometimes faculty can make decisions if you provide a list of suggestions/possibilities.
      • I like this strategy because it shows faculty how much variety exists and that not everything can be accomplished in one session.
      • It really makes me think that instruction menus are more useful as negotiation tools for librarians than as a guide for instructors. I like having a menu as a reference for myself.

I wasn’t quite willing to put this in my list above because I have a lot to mull over about it, but a question I wrote down in my notes is, “What are we asking students to give up?” This hit home to me even more when one of the Immersion instructors asked me why the pre-assignment I was working on for a potential class needed to be in Credo Reference. “If you really want them to do it, why not Wikipedia?” I mean, really, why not? It was pretty liberating. I also brought up this question to my colleagues post-Immersion, and it reminded them of the C&RL News article “Library Instruction for First-Year Students: Following the Students’ Path,” in which the author shares that she started using Google Scholar in instruction sessions. The author uses the term “desire lines”; library folks will quickly see the UX practice here. I really think this is something to think about a little more, and I’d love to do something related to this question of what we’re asking students to give up when we teach research skills and concepts. (If you’re reading this, and you’d like to partner on something, shoot me a message!)

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