Rapid Prototyping in the Wild

This April, while I was celebrating my birthday in Sonoma, my instruction colleagues and supervisor attended the CARL Conference. My supervisor also attended the pre-conference, “Let’s Build Something! A Rapid Prototyping Instructional Design Workshop,” which was presented by UC colleagues Dani Brecher Cook (UC Riverside) and Doug Worsham (UCLA). Adapted from Stanford’s d.school’s Design Thinking Bootcamp Bootleg and Brown and Macanufo’s (2010) Gamestorming, the series of worksheets they have created  have been extremely helpful planning tools for designing learning objects. The worksheets include:

  • Empathy Map
  • Learning Journey Map
  • 4 Paths Prototype
  • I like, I Wish, What If?

Find the entire toolkit at: https://ucla.app.box.com/v/build-something-toolkit

I hope others find these worksheets as helpful as I’ve found them to be. We’ve been using the materials to help us plan and design learning objects for our newest general education course at UC Merced, the Spark Seminar, which begins this fall. What’s truly exciting about SPRK 001 is its focus on research as inquiry, which affords us the opportunity to engage with the Research as Inquiry frame of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education head-on. It’s not that we don’t teach this, but this course spells it out for us a bit more readily. The idea is that instructors will be able to launch the learning objects we’re working on independently via Canvas, giving us the time to teach about how to approach the research process and how to begin developing research questions in person. The learning objects we’re making aren’t full-fledged modules, but they will assignments with embedded activities.

I’m very excited about this project. Some of the instructors teaching SPRK 001 are also those that we haven’t necessarily worked with before, so it gives us another opportunity to show what we can do to a new set of folks. I also think this could have a greater impact on the university since other faculty will also be able to use these activities.

The objects I’m working on focus on databases–what they are, why students should use them, and how to select a relevant one (we have 700+). I’ll be building these in Canvas next week.

From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Re-conceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Discipline Webinar

My interest in design thinking began when I took the Hyperlinked Library MOOC in Fall 2013, although I only completed half the modules. The following summer, I took User Experience as an independent course through San José State’s iSchool Open Classes. If you’ve happened to poke around in my blog (it’s really to a means to keep track of what I read, conferences, projects, etc.), you’ll find that I’ve written about my interest in learning and instructional design.  I’m still contemplating a second Masters or certificate. My current job is focused on instruction, which includes the design of learning objects to aid the research and instruction process. I’d like some more formal learning and training.

I finally had the opportunity to watch the May 12, 2016, recording of the Blended Librarians Online Community webinar “From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Re-conceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Discipline.” Rachel Ivy Clarke recently earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington Information School; her research centers on this topic, and you can follow her @archivy, contact her at raclarke@uw.edu, or visit her website at archivy.net. The webinar stems from a letter Steven Bell wrote in response to an August 2015 report called “Re-envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations.” Clarke reached out to Bell after reading his letter, which sparked her interest in the subject of approaching librarianship from a design perspective. Steven Bell has also previously written on this topic in his November 2014 Library Journal post “MLD: Masters in Library Design, Not Science.”

Here is the webinar description:

Although librarianship is often traditionally framed as a science, librarians have always been designers: creators of tools and services ( everything from indexes to curricula to  ) that connect people with information. Librarians have never really explicitly conceptualized their work as design work or viewed themselves as designers. Recent years have seen an upsurge of interest in applying “design thinking” to library work, but librarianship also aligns with “design knowing”—foundations of knowledge in design that differentiate it from science.  (2016)

This was a really great webinar to explore both how design is a form of knowledge different from the sciences and humanities and the ways in which librarianship is a design discipline. It’s a compelling argument, and I am impressed with Clarke’s work.

Here are my notes with the examples Clarke used in the webinar.

“Designerly Ways of Knowing”

Design is concerned with the artificial world–making things in order to solve problems. Nigel Cross, a design scholar, developed “designerly ways of knowing” that span across different design fields. Clarke argues that these also span librarianship. She has pinpointed three “designerly ways of knowing,” which include creation of problem solutions, generation of knowledge through making, and design evaluation methods.

1. Creation of Wicked Problem Solutions

Designerly ways of knowing include the of creation artifacts, or things, to solve “wicked” problems; the way we frame these kinds of problems makes a significant impact on how the problems are solved. In librarianship, we create artifacts to solve information problems, including tangible items, such as indexes and pathfinders, or digital items, such as an online catalog or LibGuides; conceptual systems, such as the Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification systems; and events, such as story times, or services, such as instructional curriculum.

Wicked problems are unique problems in that whatever context they are in, they can’t be solved the same way in a different context. They are interconnected, challenging problems without a single answer and aren’t solved through a traditional scientific approach; solutions, instead, are ranked as either better or worse and will vary depending on what aspect of the problem is being addressed. For example, solutions like a library catalog will vary depending on what is seen as the main problem–is it more to help people access materials, for inventory control, or to introduce people to diverse materials? Wicked problems also have many stakeholders with different perspectives, like librarians, administrators, and patrons. Are classification systems designed to help librarians, patrons, or both librarians and patrons?

2. Generation of Knowledge through Making: Iteration, Reflection, and Repertoire

We generate knowledge through the making processes, which include iteration, reflection, and  drawing on a repertoire of knowledge. The process of creating artifacts is as important as the results; the design cycle supports the idea of iteration. Clarke indicates that the design process is gaining traction in librarianship, and I find that she is correct. Check out Design Thinking for Educators and Design Thinking for Libraries. Clarke remarks, however, that reflection does not seem to be as strongly represented in design thinking as it relates to librarianship. She suggest that we are reflecting all the time without actually talking about it and that we might not recognize this as a legitimate form of knowledge in our profession. We typically might think of reflection as occurring in the test part of the design process, but reflection is intrinsic in the process–it is ongoing, or “in action,” as explains Clarke. (I really think she is onto something; I also see this in the research process. Reflection is not strongly emphasized in information literacy, either, but it is essential throughout the process. I know that professors sometimes have students write a reflection at the end of a research assignment, but some have students write in journals about the research process while students are working on a research assignment. Interestingly, at the end of the webinar when Clarke was taking questions, she commented that many people were mentioning that information literacy is a wicked problem.) Design also relies on repertoire; Clarke argues that librarians are often drawing upon past knowledge, experiences, and ideas they see to make decisions for their libraries.

3. Design Evaluation

Evaluation methods in design are also different than in science. Scientific evaluation methods like replication don’t work well for design work. Design is meant to come up with different solutions, not repetition. One method for evaluation in design is rationale–the justification and reason for design choices, which is based on how the problem has been framed. For example, if the purpose in keeping the Dewey Decimal Classification system is for a school library to be able to work more closely with the public library, that’s a better classification design for the school library to use than an author and genre classification system. Another method involves constructive critique–what works and doesn’t work in this particular design? The feedback furthers the artifact and furthers knowledge.

Implications: Research, Education, Practice

Librarians do all of these things. Clarke is arguing that we make design more explicit in research, education, and practice.

She and I also agree on a lot of things regarding current LIS research. I was tickled that she touched on the complaints that library research is not research-y enough; it’s more “this is what we did and how we did it.” I know I have been critical of that in the past myself, but that’s because I wasn’t thinking about our discipline as being a design discipline. Librarianship isn’t a hard science, and it isn’t a humanities discipline. I always tried to explain it as an applied field, but what does that really mean. Is it education? Clarke argues that these traditional measurements aren’t appropriate; she explains that research through design is emerging in user experience and interaction design fields, which may use some traditional evaluation methods but is not necessary for the research to be valid. How a library reports that they did something, which includes the rationale behind it, is valid research. We do need increased avenues for critique, and Clarke mentions that there does seem to be a growing interest with the rise of the critical librarianship movement. For example, critical librarianship critiques that the Dewey Decimal System, which comes from the Victorian era, emphasizes knowledge categories in white, Christian terms. However, the movement is still not grounded specifically in design. Perhaps our profession could arrange spaces where people could bring in their designs for critique as another mode of research; the Museums and the Web conference does this.

Clarke argues that Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs in North America offer no design courses. Students are introduced to design through MOOCs and workshops, or they become introduced to design while on the job. Taking the Hyperlinked Library MOOC and User Experience a few years after I graduated with my degree is what really got me thinking more about design. Clarke notes that the University of Washington is launching a new (online) course for its MLIS program in Fall 2016, Design Approaches to Librarianship. Clarke also says that MLIS programs lack the “studio environment” with ongoing feedback, a safe pace to practice and fail, how to reflect, and how to give and receive critique. Given that one of librarianship’s core values in lifelong learning, she argues that MLIS programs should encourage students to be proactive in increasing their skill sets. Not everything is going to be taught or learned in library school. I could not agree more!

Clarke believes that if we re-frame librarianship as a design discipline, we will create better designs. These better tools and services will help libraries be better at advocating about the library’s values, which may lead to more funding. Clarke claims, “Embracing design offers potential for empowerment.” Clarke shares a study she read about user experience librarians that showed that even these librarians do not see themselves as designers. It could be because the actual design work is being carried out by other departments, such as the IT Department. Since these librarians aren’t designing the tool, they feel like they have no power over how it will look or work. Many librarians also buy tool and products from vendors. Some of these perspectives could be changed with increased education, but workplaces could also build design tasks into job descriptions or offer support for design projects. As many libraries are beginning to have makerspaces and other kinds of innovation labs in their spaces, Clarke believes it is imperative that we consider thinking about librarianship from a design perspective. She asks, “How can we empower others to be makers if we don’t fully understand making ourselves?”

Thinking about librarianship as design also offers some broader considerations. Clarke sees that the values of librarianship–privacy, democracy, intellectual freedom, diversity–is what separates us from other information professions. She says, “Values are always embedded in design artifacts.” She explains that if we aren’t designing our systems, software, furniture, buildings, etc., our values are not carried out into the design.

I deeply enjoyed this webinar, and I watched it pretty closely, stopping the recording often to take notes and jot down the examples Clarke gave in showing the audience how the work of librarianship is entrenched in the discipline of design. I’m very interested in reading more of her work and more about design.

 

Graduate School Part 2?

So I am thinking even more seriously about applying to graduate school for a second Master’s degree. I got my MLIS in December 2011, and for the last couple of years, I have been looking at various instructional design and learning design technology Master’s programs. The impetus was when I took SJSU’s MOOC, the Hyperlinked Library in Fall 2013, though I was only able to do half of the modules, and User Experience through SJSU’s iSchool Open Classes in Summer 2014. I also took Introduction to Teaching Online through @One in Fall 2015.

The MLIS and M.S. in ID go really well together (see Bell’s “MLD: Masters in Library Design, Not Science” and Bertot, Sarin, and Percell’s “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations“). If anything, I am really interested in a certificate option, but then my brain says, well, you could have a whole second graduate degree with just five or so more classes. I have researched and talked to various people about this, and I’m a little bummed I waited so long, but I think I am ready to dive and apply! I have a little more motivation with some upcoming changes in my work life.

To jump start my desire to get into ID, I am taking a MOOC, Instructional Design Service Course: Gain Experience for Good, which starts in February.  This one appeals to me because it’s free, the time commitment is only 2-3 hours a week (way less than the class I did this past fall), and it also deals with OER and adult learners. Many points here!

RUSA, the Reference and User Services Association, is offering Introduction to Instructional Design for Librarians from Mon., Feb. 8th to Sun., March 20th. It costs $175 for ALA members, which I am. If you’re a RUSA member, it’s $130. If you’re a student, it’s $100. It’s a great deal, but there are live chats every Monday at 5 pm.

Sadly, I missed Digital Pedagogy’s the MOOC MOOC: Instructional Design announcement. It started on Mon., Jan. 25th and it ends on Fri., Feb. 12th. However, it looks like you could probably jump in. All the readings are listed!

Library Juice also offers ID, UX, and information literacy related courses. My only reasoning for not wanting to fork over $175-$250 for each of these is that I would rather spend money and time on credit-bearing courses from a university because I am interested in a second Master’s degree. I have no qualms related to MOOCs or paid independent classes or workshops for professional development; it’s just that my needs and interests are different.  The following are some classes scheduled to begin in February, March, and April.

Concepts of User-Centered Design This class started on Mon., Feb 1st, but you can register through the first week.

Online Instructional Design and Delivery

Introduction to Accessibility and Universal Design in Libraries

I also got a list of suggested readings from a listserv.

Michael Allen has several excellent titles regarding instructional design.

Articulate’s Rapid eLearning Blog

Booth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Brown, A., & Green, T. D.  (2016). The essentials of instructional design: Connecting fundamental principles with process and practice (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.Note from someone: Clark & Mayer book E-Learning and the Science of Instruction, though having a few fundamental flaws, is still pretty good. I’d say about 60-75% of the information is quite good. So worth reading. There is now a 4th ed.

Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2015). The systematic design of instruction (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Dirksen, J. (2012). Design for how people learn. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

Heinich, R. (Ed.). (1996). Instructional media and technologies for learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill.

Larson, M. B., & Lockee, B. B. (2014). Streamlined ID: A practical guide to instructional design. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor, and Francis.

Mayer, R. E. (2012). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Note from someone: a little problematic regarding best practices.

Morrison, G.R., Ross, S.M., Kalman, H.K., & Kemp, J.E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Piskurich, G. M. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons.

Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

This is obviously not a thorough list. Please share resources.

If you’ve taken the plunge into instructional design in your job or are working on/already have a second Master’s degree in ID post-MLIS, do let me know.  I’d love to hear about your work and experiences.