Final blog post, take 2


I didn’t answer all the questions for the final blog post, so here they are:

1. The learning environment is online, with a mix of materials (downloadable PDF, video tutorial, embedded quizzes). The target audience is undergraduate distance learning students at a state university in GA. The focus of project is a database demonstration (with Web of Science as the database).

2. The learning outcomes for this project are

a) Students should know the database exists.
b) Students should be able to navigate to the and access the database successfully.
c) Students should be able to choose this database when it’s appropriate to their assignment, question, or project.
d) Students should be familiar at a basic level with the basic features (search, filter, citation information) of the database.

3. The assessments would be embedded “recall” quizzes (1-3 questions) and possibly a librarian-scored problem scenario in which students need to use the database to most effectively answer the scenario. The quizzes would relate to the outcomes a & d while the scenario would relate to outcome c. The access outcome would not be assessed, but would be supported with a downloadable “reminder”-type document with access directions.

4. Learning theories with a constructivist bent support the use of problem-based assessment while behaviorist theories support the use of quizzing to assess recall of basic information.
I am particularly interested in having students use their current knowledge in relation to choosing/using databases, so I feel that a problem-based assessment/activity that helps them discover the database’s efficacy is the best option for the database demo scenario.

5. I would use video tutorials and documents to present some of the information. If possible, I might do a live discussion group for the scenario activity, so that students can interact with me and each other.
I think a mix of materials will help students focus on the most important concepts relating to selecting and understanding WoS.

6. I found the codification of previous knowledge the most helpful in this class. I’m not sure I’m comfortable yet adapting instructional design to one-shot instruction, but I feel like having a community of librarians also working on this will be particularly helpful.

I have been so busy that I would like more time to reflect on what I’ve learned. I did learn that risks based on evidence are a good thing. I deviated from the assigned interview task and it seemed to resonate well with my audience, so that seems to be a good fit with the critical pedagogy idea of empowering learners to do new things with the information they learn.

7. My biggest regret with this class was that I did not have the time to engage with others’ posts in a way that I consider appropriate or typical for me. I do intend to go back to some blogs to ‘catch up’ on what I know I’ve missed. I did skim a lot and found other posts about critical pedagogy particularly interesting.

8. I tried to incorporate critical pedagogy into everything I did in this course, from the readings to my decision to go off the track for my presentation. A big challenge I’ve faced is from people not necessarily knowing what critical pedagogy is, so having to keep that in mind and leaving time to explore and/or explain as needed.

Final project, with a twist


I have been working on a final product, but it’s not what it’s supposed to be.

I was tasked with creating an online tool that I would use to demonstrate a database to online learners.

I think this is a problematic task for a number of reasons:

1) I have no real knowledge about the learners
2) I have reservations about “database demos” as a topic for instruction
3) I haven’t had time to do the kind of planning I would normally do for this type of project
4) It seems like this task assumes some homogeneity in distance learners that I suspect isn’t there and should be addressed
5) Thinking about critical pedagogy, sometimes the best way to complete the assignment is to resist the assignment (I hope)

With all of that in mind, I decided not to create the actual item asked for (which is a risk, since this is for a job interview I have on Tuesday). Instead, I put together a fairly basic presentation outlining how I would approach creating such material.

I’m attaching the slides here.
Kennesaw Distance Learning presentation Oct 14 2014

Week 4–Ed Tech tools for an online database demo


The most obvious tools to use for a database demonstration for distance students are online guides (Guide on the Side, LibGuide, etc.) or video tutorial tools like Camtasia.

For the database demonstration that I’ve been thinking through, I think I would use a combination of these tools, along with a downloadable PDF with helpful information (such as logging in from off campus).

There wasn’t anything in the Horizon report that jumped out at me as particularly applicable to my object. It’s interesting that part of WoS is data visualization, which the report mentions. I think it could be interesting to see how tools become nested and integrated so that we won’t be able to reasonably talk about distinct tools but instead will have to think in terms of what the learner is trying to do.

Answers to the 5 step integration model:

1. Consider

I’m not sure that these online tools will enhance or change learning overmuch. I’m just not sure. It’s possible that some students will be more motivated by a self-paced set of materials. I do think that it’s possible to be more engaging with video/interactive content, but I think it’s just as easy to push non-engaging lectures into videos so that nothing is new except for the choppy streaming allowed by varying internet speeds.

I think using live online interactions that are also available later as recordings could be better than the purely self-paced materials, but I would want to study the differences before I actually made a choice.

2. Review

The learning objectives for this demonstration are

a) Know the database exists
b) Choose the database appropriately
c) Navigate to/access the database successfully
d) Become familiar with the key features of the database

I feel like b) and d) are the harder pieces to teach here. A) and c) are more process-based and as such, might not be held in memory by students who don’t use the database regularly. In that case, I feel like a document for reference is more important than trying to make sure students can always do those tasks without help.

I think that a video tutorial may actually only work for a modified “lecture” of some of the material. I’m thinking that problem-based activities would be better for the choosing and becoming familiar learning objectives. These could also be assessed more meaningfully than simply asking students if they now know the words “Web of Science.”

I’ve had problems with this presentation topic from the beginning and I’ve found this class to be very helpful in guiding my thinking.

Still thinking, still (trying to) learning


I hate that I’m so behind in the course, but here’s my week #3 blog post.

In your blog, discuss which theory/ies might be most applicable to your instruction and outline a specific activity/assignment/exercise that would facilitate learning according to that theory. Outline, design, or wireframe that activity in a way that makes sense to you so you will be able to design it more in depth when you have time. Post all of this in your blog.

I’ve been stressed, tired, and overworked (physically and cognitively) for weeks, so I’ve come to a decision: I’m not going to do exactly what this interview wants for the presentation. So, since I was using that as my focus for this class, things are a little complicated.

I am supposed to create an online tool that demostrates a database to distance learners. During the presentation, I’m supposed to demo this online tool. I don’t agree that that’s the best kind of thing to create for distance learners and I’m not convinced that this presentation is really a good way to assess someone’s teaching ability.

So. I’ve decided instead to turn it inside out and present on the processes, most of them covered in this course, I would go through to design a database demo (if needed) for distance learners.

I think that the general impulse is to see database demonstration as related to behaviorism; the students learn the process(es) that get results in a database and can use that database (until it changes interface, etc.). I am trying to think about how to create something that would instead relate to constructist theories so that the use of the particular database is relevant to learners. I would want them to understand the origial learning goals covering the features of WoS, but I would want them to understand whether (and thus when) WoS might be relevant (or not) to them/their work.

I think a better approach would be to create instructional materials or “interventions” as the Eberly Center calls them that relate to both an assignment or activity and WoS (or whatever database was appropriate to the discipline. I really like problem-based learning and think it could be used here to help students choose from a few different databases if given a choice (say between JSTOR, WoS, and Academic Search Premier). For WoS, if the problem involved pieces about impact of research or the use of an article, that would hopefully lead students to WoS over the other examples I mentioned.

After reading Cooperstein and Kocevar-Weidinger I think this isn’t easy or quick, but I think outlining the process this way in an interview would be a more meaningful demonstration of teaching/design. It would also hopefully suggest to the interviewers that there may be different types of instruction they could consider for distance learners.

Week 2 Critical pedagogy



I don’t know that I have a response to the questions for this week, but I did read both the “Ice, Ice Baby” article and the Keesing-Styles article.

I found both very interesting. I have many thoughts on both, but I’m not sure that I’m comfortable putting those thoughts online and sharing them.

One thing that did strike me in the Kessing-Styles piece was the example of abandoning learning objectives. I have a lot of feelings about this, none of which I’ve had time to sit with yet. I do think it’s important to think about this, especially in the context of a class so thoroughly steeped in the need for and value of learning objectives.

I also feel like I’ll want to spend some real time in the coming months thinking through the ways in which postmodernism and/or deconstruction do (or don’t) ‘fit’ with critical pedagogy.

My biggest question about critical pedagogy has always been how to take into account, in both theory and praxis, the learner with limited ability. Even Keesing-Styles shies away from dealing with this, moving from concerns about “consistent ability” within a group to a rewording about individual student “confidence.” It seems to me a given, and obvious, that groups of students will always have a lack of “consistent ability.” This assumption leads me to all kinds of thoughts and none of which I’ve seen addressed in a way that speaks to my experiences as a learner.

Week 2 brainstorming


I’m not using the worksheets for this part, as I don’t think I’m that structured yet.

I did find the CMU material useful. More than that, I’ve found their workshops amazingly inspiring. I’m lucky enough to be at CMU and attending the Eberly Center workshops and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

For library instruction, whether one-shot or not, I favor low-stakes assessments that happen all the time.

I really like the think-pair-share activities (which I also see as assessments). I think these are very likely to help me get students to the learning goals I have set for them. A big part of what I hope students get from library instruction is critical thinking skills and talking this out with someone is a great part of that. If they have to explain their choices or processes, they have to think about them.

I am also in favor of maps, charts, and journal entries that students create as they work on research projects or activities. I use a chart in one activity that helps students move from idea to search terms to results to citations.

I don’t know that I see much of a place for summative assessment in library instruction. How would that work? Unless it’s a research project, I don’t see that it wouldn’t be wholly artificial. In an ideal world, I would see library instruction integrated with a course that does have that kind of assignment so that the library instruction is always already applied, rather than giving students another research project just to see if they can do one.

I feel like I need to give more thought to this part of the course.

Step 3 worksheet–Procedures for Educative Assessment


1. Foward-Looking Assessment

Formulate one or two ideas for forward-looking assessment. Identify a situation in which students are likely to use what they have learned, and try to replicate that situation with a question, problem, or issue.

My students will be learning about a database, Web of Science. They would feasibly use this in any number of future assignments or research projects for which they need articles relating to a topic or an understanding of the use of an article.

One situation that would be particularly well-served by WoS is an assignment or question about the influence of an article over time, so my question would be:

There has recently been a lot of debate online and through mainstream news about eReader use versus reading physical books. For context, a search for “eBook” AND “reading” in WoS yields only 15 results. Based on this search and the 15 articles available, what do you think is the most-important issue for researchers? What leads you to this conclusion? What information available in WoS supports your conclusion? What, if any, concerns do you have about your conclusion based on this exercise?

Write a 4-8 sentence response to this question. Partner with another student. Swap responses with your partner and discuss similarities and differences between your conclusions and the information on with you focused.

2. Criteria & Standards

Select one of your main learning goals, and identify at least two criteria that would distinguish exceptional achievement from poor performance. Then write two or three levels of standards for each of these criteria.

Criteria 1: The student formulated a nuanced opinion about the most important issue to researchers that considered alternative possibilities than their own.


Exceptional responses will take into consideration the topics of the articles, their citation information, their date of publication, and the focus (specific, broad, moderate) when forming their opinion. Exceptional responses will consider other opinions and/or consider the validity of an opinion formed with an example like the one used here (15 articles in a single database).

Acceptable responses will take into consideration at least the topics of the articles and their citation information when forming their opinion. Acceptable responses may not have fully-formed ideas about their opinion’s validity or may be working toward considering the implications of the example used here.

Unacceptable responses will not have a formulated opinion or will have not considered other opinions or the implications of the example used here.

Criteria 2: The student was able to present and defend their opinion collegially to their partner using information gleaned from WoS.


Exceptional responses will engage collegially with partners to examine both their own opinion and their partner’s opinion. Collegiality means that students are civil, respectful, and focused on the written work, not the individual or the “eBook vs. print” debate itself. Exceptional responses will defend their opinion using data and information available in WoS.

Acceptable responses will engage with partners to examine at least their own opinion or their partner’s opinion. Acceptable responses may get distracted by the “eBook vs. print” debate itself. Acceptable responses may lack convincing data and information available in WoS.

Unacceptable responses will not engage with partners to examine either opinion or will become completely off topic or personally attacking.

3. Self-Assessment

What opportunities can you create for students to engage in self-assessment of their performance?

I think that writing out their responses will be part of self-assessment. I think it would be feasible and useful to have students write a 1-minute response at the end of the assessment activity to self-assess their partner interactions as well as their interactions with WoS.

4. “FIDeLity” Feedback

What procedures can you develop that will allow you to give students feedback that is

  • Frequent
  • Immediate
  • Discriminating, i.e., based on clear criteria and standards
  • Lovingly delivered

I think that having the students do a think-pair-share assessment activity would allow me to move around the room and provide immediate feedback as they are working. I think this feedback would also be frequent, as I can ‘touch base’ with each pair numerous times as the activity goes on. I think that assessing the written pieces would allow me to give discriminating feedback since I can create a rubric sheet that I could give back to students with their ‘graded’ written pieces.

I have strong concerns about giving feedback “lovingly.” That actually creeps me out and is strongly gendered and inappropriate to me. I believe that feedback delivered with respect, openness, and with support (both textual, reference standards, and theoretical, meaning in support of students as in process on their own path) is appropriate, especially for college-level students of any age. I do not understand what the authors mean when they ask for instructors to “be empathetic in the way you deliver … feedback.” I am also skeptical of this idea in light of the article by this course’s instructors published on the In the Library with the Lead Pipe blog in which they discuss “emotional labor” as it relates to both librarianship and teaching.

Mapping: process over destination


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I’m writing this as I’m waiting for my iPad to finish charging, because I prefer to have it open to the worksheet while I write my blog post on my desktop. [Privilege proximity alert.]

I spent a lot of time yesterday following a tangent. I had so many tabs open in Safari on my iPad and I needed to reduce the number. In addition to the required reading for IDE this week, I read through dozens of tabs and mapped my process.

I posted the first iteration of the first page of the map to Twitter.

I was thinking, prompted by Week 1 and Week 2, about how each person certainly has idiosyncrasies to their engagement with information/learning. I wanted to know what I was doing, so I mapped it out.

I learned a few things, or at least took time to pause over a few things I knew (“knew” in the sense of knowing I did them):

1) I read tabs R to L, I think because this is how they end up ordered, time-wise

2) Some tabs I read and just close; others I read, open new tabs, save the original tab, then close

3) Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to get back to the newly opened tabs from the ‘original’ tab

4) I’m really frustrated that I don’t know if/how Safari on the iPad and Pocket integrate

5) Most of what I read comes through my Twitter feed

The next thing I may track is how many non-male and/or non-white people I a) follow on Twitter and b) read more about (meaning that I read things they post, retweet, etc.).

I think that if we are serious about critical pedagogy and diversity and improving our world, we must consciously seek out marginalized voices and voices that are not part of our dominant narratives or our everyday lives. Especially in librarianship and thus teaching librarianship, which skews demographically female but is still male-dominated, we need to be aware of multiple realities: poc are underrepresented in the profession, in higher management, and in collections, policies, etc.; men hold more positions of power even though they are a minority of people in the profession overall; most of us are white women and as a group we have historically colluded in oppressions again a variety of groups.

This means that I’m often reading things I wouldn’t otherwise have read and I am not infrequently uncomfortable with what I’m reading.

So, another way for me to self-assess (because I have a particular goal: increase my exposure to non-white, non-male, non-hetero voices) is to look at the tabs I open and read and just get some raw numbers. I would have to track over time to show increase or decrease, but this is a next step.

All of this was a way to think through the questions of this class.

If we want our students to do these things, how do we help? Still no answers, but I’m enjoying my processes. I call my documenting ‘mapping,’ but it’s all about what I’m doing, not getting anywhere or being “there yet.”

Learning under pressure


Note: this post is more about my experiences lately and how they relate to #ideala, so please feel free to skip it.

I’ve had a lot on my plate and my mind for the last couple of months. I’ve been looking forward to IDE for a while, but I got overwhelmed when I realized it didn’t start in mid-October, it ended in mid-October. Now it’s another thing on a very full slate.

With that said, I’m committed to getting the most out of this class. That’s part of how I understand myself as a learner: motivated, focused, overachieving. Thinking about identity and learning and feeling overwhelmed made me want to revisit part of Week 1. When we’re considering situation factors—well, no, let’s be honest: do we consider situation factors, other than #3 (Nature of the Subject)? Let’s say we do consider these factors and let’s say we do reflect on ourselves as teachers and explore our students as learners. Do we remember ourselves as learners, in all the times and ways we have been learners?

What brought this to mind wasn’t one thought or situational factor, it was a convergence of at least 3 things:

1. I dreamed I was literally under a gun in a library last night (a pure 1:1 correlation with my conscious mind at the moment).

2. Realizing that I had to set aside this day as a work from home day devoted to IDE.

3. Going through the many open tabs on my iPad, most related to libraries, books, learning, or social justice topics/events.

What these things all mean is up for interpretation, but here’s what they mean to me:

I’m still invested in being a learner. I want to know things. I want to understand the world. I want to understand other people’s perspectives on things. I want to be better and do better.

They also have other meanings:

I have the luxury (even when the costs of that luxury seem high) of working from home and taking a class on someone else’s dime.

I have an iPad and internet that I can use to facilitate my formal and informal learning.

I’m human, too, and I can love learning and want to do it and still have anxiety, fear, and confusion about myself as a learner and my particular learning context (i.e. this class). I can still feel like taking care of my non-learning self is “bad” because there’s a class I could/should be doing, even though I truly believe that if you aren’t caring for yourself, you aren’t your best learning self.

All of this listing is my desire to get at something that may be obvious to us all: our students are students and people and sometimes (often?) teenagers and lots of other ‘ands.’ The other part that occurred to me this morning is that we aren’t one learner in our lifetime. We change as our knowledge grows, as our situations changes, as we change in other areas of our lives.

I am not the same learner I was in high school. This course is different than the online course I did in the summer. My goals for myself as a learner were nonexistent at 16 and 18: I was a good student, one of the “smart” kids and I never would have thought I needed or could step up my game. Then I met my undergrad mentor who squashed that complacency and challenged me to do better and be better. She was wholly steeped in critical pedagogy and she insisted that we are all in our place in our processes, an idea at which I scoffed and then just let sit there because it confused me.

Now I’ve spent my life since then (I graduated in 2004) trying to meet the challenge she set. She challenged me but it’s my challenge. It’s not a zero-sum game: if I become better, no one loses. If I don’t, that’s ok, because it’s a process without a teleological end and I have time as long as I am here.

I’m trying to stay somewhat around a point, I promise.

I wonder, even with this course, with a worksheet, are we considering ourselves as students and as teachers and as people? Are we investigating our students and their contexts? I’m sure many of us pass around and read the Mindset List but is that it? Don’t many of us use it for a laugh? And is it really addressing mindset? (I just reread it…skeptical about Beloit’s claim that “there are always some serious issues about the future of the class and their role in the future of the nation.”)

My daughter is 14. She just started high school and the school encouraged students and parents to ‘map out’ the high school years before starting 9th grade. My daughter said to me: “why do I have to do this now–I’m only 14!.” She’s right. It’s ok to want to have direction and focus, but it’s part of our culture to assume that without a plan, you’re lost. I’m not going to get into that here, but that’s more a mindset than any list of “born before” facts. What are we assuming the students are assuming? What is that kind of construction doing for us?

I’m interested in how I can use my experiences as a learner (up to and including the present moment) to inform and enhance my teaching. I’m interested in how all teachers can and, in my opinion, should encourage students to become teachers, however small that role is writ.

My mentor once told one of her classes, that I was taking, that she was sure critical pedagogy was working (I’m paraphrasing here) because of the following story that happened:

One semester, probably Spring 2003 or 2004, my mentor was late for class. All the students were there and waiting. She was rarely ever late. We waited. We goofed around for a few minutes until it became clear she wasn’t coming. Instead of leaving, we decided to have class anyway. This was an upper division literature class so we had topics for discussion to frame our session. We had class, which I think was as normal: discussion and analysis of the novel under consideration. At the end of class, we left. A small group of us was walking and met my mentor coming in the opposite direction. She was headed to our class! The weekend had been the start of DST and she was wearing her jogging watch, which hadn’t been set to the new time, so she missed class (I think this was Spring and DST starting, might have been the Fall and DST ending…I’m horrible about thinking through the implications of the two). We told her we had class anyway.

I think she was moved because here was a class of students and young people who chose to stay and discuss the reading in the absence of the ‘teacher.’ We became the teachers. We decided collectively to pursue learning together. We probably could have done more with her, but we did something without her, and that stayed with her and it has stayed with me.

So, are we that type of teacher? Are we ok, really ok, with giving up power and control? Are we really ok with self-directing and are we able (or feel able) to prepare others to self-direct?

I don’t have any answers, but I needed to get all this out before I dive into the formal stuff for this week.