MLibrary Instructor College

An online forum for University of Michigan Library instructors

Archive for February 2012

Instructional Exchange brought to you by the MLibrary Instructor College Steering Committee

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In case you missed it, the Instructor College Steering Committee sponsored an event in December providing an opportunity for library staff to meet with their colleagues and share ideas about instruction. The format of the event was simply designed, providing a casual environment where staff participated in ‘speed sharing,’ listened to three lightening talks, and had the opportunity to share their thoughts in one of three discussion sections. We had twenty-eight participants from all over the library, including DSS, Special Collections, MPublishing, UGL, Grad Reference, Area Programs, Technical Services, the Health Sciences Library, and the Clark Library.

To start the event off participants engaged in three rounds of speed sharing, a spin off of speed dating. All attendees were separated into two separate groups, Maize or Blue, and then asked to sit across from someone not in their group, and preferably someone they did not know. We asked each participant to share with their partners in four minute rotations ‘what was their most effective instruction session from the past semester, and why was it so effective?’ At the end of each round, participants from the Maize group moved one space to the left. The result of such a rapid ice breaker? The majority of our participants agreed they met someone they did not previously know and about half of them indicated that they wanted to follow up with someone they spoke with. We were also fortunate to see some of the tools instructors have created:


Finding evidence based answers


Interactive tutorial to navigate the news

Active Learning

Components of an Active Learning Session

Following a quick wrap up of the speed sharing, we got right into the lightning talks. First up, Whitney Townsend, a Liaison Librarian with the Health Sciences Library. Whitney provided an overview of her application of active learning techniques in instruction sessions. She described active learning as a session where students learn how to use library resources in their own subject area, rather than participating in standalone sessions. In this way students learn to use library resources to tackle one of their own existing problem sets. She also mentioned that active learning is a great way to involve faculty; librarians at the Health Sciences Library team teach with faculty in a single two hour session.

Scott Dennis, the Humanities Librarian and Coordinator, Core Electronic Resources, at the Graduate Library, followed Whitney, demonstrating how he teaches with databases. His key piece of advice for instructors was to create sessions based on the restraints including time, location, and support. Secondly, he expressed that instructors have to think about and do what the students will attempt to do first, then show what resources the Library has and how they function to serve better results than a simple Google search. He also suggested that instructors should provide direct links to databases tailored to each session, in order to ease the find-ability and to encourage use. Finally, he mentioned the need to use real examples, offering to help someone in the class with their research will yield greater participation.

Phil Hallman, the field librarian for the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures, closed out the lightening talks with his approach to designing sessions. Phil indicated that instructors should create their sessions based on the needs of the faculty. As an example, Phil shared that he designed a session for one faculty member who wanted to teach his students how to use microfilm. Phil created a two-part session, where students attended a screening of a classic film, then in a separate session learned to use the older medium, microfilm, to create a commentary of the film. Initially there was student resistance to using the older medium, but slowly students began to broaden their search techniques and developed better research questions.

We concluded the event with three separate discussion sections, focused on the three topics of the lightening talks. Participants were encouraged to join one of three tables and share their thoughts and own experiences with active learning, teaching with technology and designing sessions.  Here are some images we captured from our discussions:

Active Learning Active Learning
Designing Sessions1 Designing Sessions2 Designing Sessions
Teaching Technology Teaching Technology 2 Teaching with Technology

If you were unable to attend our event, walk through the interactive tutorial to navigate the news here, find a video for the lightning talks and see how one instructor created a table to enable her students to find evidence based answers here(authentication required).

Written by Instructor College

February 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm