Thursday, April 21, 2011

LILAC report: Pecha Kucha sessions #lilac11

The LILAC (Information Literacy) conference 18-20 April 2011 in London, UK, finished yesterday and I will be catching up with posts over the next few days. The final day of the conference was held at the LSE. We were encouraged to go up to the building's top floor at lunchtime to enjoy the views, and I took several photos, including this one.
I'll report here on Wednesday's Pecha Kucha session, where people have to do very short presentations (with 20 slides, each up for 20 seconds i.e. 6 min 40 seconds). There were six presentations (in two groups of three, with brief question time at the end of each group). The included talks on an evaluation/assessment tool, a refreshing approach with "problem clinics", distance learning, and a skills resource. These are quick summaries of what I thought they were about.

1. Can we do it? Yes we can! Information literacy perceptions among Croatian school librarians. Sonja A Špiranec and Mihaela Banek Zorica. This described an initiative from two academics and school librarians in Croatia. The aim was to define information literacy strategy which was sustainable. To develop this, eight workshops were held, with over 200 school librarians participating. They recognised to achieve their goal, it was important to involve all stakeholders, such as head teachers, and a large workshop was held with these stakeholders. Three aims were identified: educational aspects (practical examples and gaining insights); Building up communities (including all stakeholders on an ongoing basis); and Defining bottom-up strategies from the practitioners’ viewpoint. The Ministry of Education recognised this was a useful approach, and so more workshops and progress are planned.

2. Earth to distance learning librarian was presented by Lucy Collins and Mari Ann Hilliar. They talked about supporting distance learning students at Cardiff University. With the increase in student numbers, a personalised service became less feasible, so a distance learning toolkit was developed. It was noticed that people who had a face to face induction were doing better with this toolkit: so how to substitute for this with distance-only students? They looked at free software options. They decided to use dimdim. For a while this was great, but unfortunately it changed hands, so eventually they moved on to Big Blue button, in the version operated by JISC. They found it doesn’t have audience participation/ interaction features they would like. But does have some positive features, including being able to customise your screen. They are targeting specific cohorts together, fitting in with module contact time, with a maximum of 12 people in any one session. They are aware that they need to adopt a strategy which encourages questioning etc. They want screen sharing options (for more learner-centred work) and ability to record sessions.

3. Nancy Goebel talked at gathering evidence on information literacy assessment and evaluation. She was describing the open source software WASSAIL, which they developed. The WASSAIL home page is here: It facilitates questionnaire data acquisition and processing, including helping to process pre and post tests and individual session evaluations. In WASSAIL you can add questions, create templates, input data and produce reports. You can have multiple choice and scaled answers, and also open ended questions. You create the questions, group them into templates, create a web form (specifying expiry dates etc. or some special features). After the responses come in, you can generate reports. For pre and post test, you can generate a “gains analysis” chart (showing change from pre to post test). This tool won the ACRL Instructional achievement award in 2010.

4. Rowena Macrae-Gibson talked about Upgrading to Upgrade at City University. They saw a need for a resource that brought together information on lifelong learning skills, recognising that students preferred having short snappy materials, using different media, and may start at a basic level. It includes study tips, mindmapping, lectures, employability etc. Upgrade was produced by a team. They overcame problems of lack of money and local website functionality by embedding/ linking materials in materials in the cloud. They use Wordle to describe content visually. The resource complements face to face teaching, and material can also be used in workshops or lectures. They see it opening up doors with the official university website. Upgrade is at

5. Susan Boyle of University College Dublin talked about Problem Clinic: Information Literacy triage. She described a global confusion crisis, symptoms include being google eyed, blurred vision and so forth. The clinics for students are active learning sessions which include practicals, attacking afflictions like googlitis and Wikipedia dependence. So – you take histories, note symptoms, diagnose and then recommend therapy. Firstly you need to be an active listener, note the priority symptoms, then treat with a demo, tutorial or game, depending on the symptoms described. For an example of “games” she has got a matched cards game (matching a strategy and what you use it for). Then there is a stepping stone game, putting steps in process (e.g. getting an article) in the right order. A variety of treatments was recommended, as well as engaging the student brain creatively at the start. At the end she quoted some problem-clinic testimonials from students. This talk was a good example of using the “IL as …” approach consistently, effectively and amusingly.

6. Finally Andrew Walsh (University of Huddersfield) talked about using active learning techniques in information literacy instruction. He emphasised that technology was not required for active learning (which he defined as learning by doing), although it could be a useful tool. In terms of instant response, he mentioned using “Poll anywhere” (free online version), but also using cards, getting people to stand up or sit down, having people run to different spots in the room. He also mentioned non linear presentations (have images for each section, get the audience to pick an image to determine what comes next), and instant podcasting.

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