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Instruction 2.0 Continued

Instruction 2.0 theory is all well and good but I’m teaching 3 undergraduate seminars next week and need some practical examples! What follows is an introduction to in person or classroom based instruction 2.0 examples. But I’m not an instruction librarian, I hear you cry! Never fear- even if you do not teach in a classroom, instruction 2.0 principles apply to the creation of web pages, databases, the library catalog and other online interaction. In the final Instruction 2.0 column, I will give an overview of Instruction 2.0 in an online world.

To recap, instruction 2.0 embraces the changes in the way that we communicate and interact. How has student learning changed and how can libraries adapt to this? Randy Bass is a key researcher of 2.0 pedagogy who set up the Visible Knowledge Project to study learning in higher education. Through these studies, he discovered that student learning today was adaptive, embodied and socially situated. Taking this as a basis, what does this mean in a library instruction context?

Realistic or adaptive instruction enables students to learn new skills that can be transferred outside of the original context. This means that instead of teaching the intricacies of a particular database, students ideally learn lifelong skills that form the backbone of information literacy. An example would be learning evaluation skills. As realistic instruction, adaptive teaching also connects students with the information realities and the academic conversation around them, emphasising that learning, information literacy and academic research do not occur in a vacuum. An example of this is Anne Barnhart’s class, which asked students to use their information literacy training to buy material for the library in their subject area, an activity that is useful, practical and transferable.

Embodied learning means recognizing that many different elements affect student learning. This is more than looking at learning styles though- it also shows how the affective (emotions), prior knowledge and motivation all affect learning. It sounds kind of hippy-chic, but Bass’ research showed that it is not just cognition or the mental process that affects how we learn. Personal experience or the creativity involved in using non traditional media helps connect students to new concepts. An example of this would be using a variety of ways to enable learning, for example student creation of a video tutorial using screencasting software in order to supplement and deepen student understanding of a concept.

Finally, instruction 2.0 recognizes that learning is often socially situated and that students learn from their peers in communities of practice or learning communities. This means that we need to incorporate different structures into the design of our classes that facilitate student-peer conversations, as well as student-teacher conversations. An example of this would be asking small groups of students to create an evaluation schema collaboratively, which would then be shared with the rest of the class. Within the small groups, students can share prior experiences and knowledge to cement their understanding of the research process. Socially situated learning needn’t always be about the students either. Working with faculty to create a common vision of learning outcomes is also a form of socially situated learning, where the learning community is formed by librarians and teaching faculty. An example of this is Suzanne Schadl’s “guerilla” instruction, where she has incorporated multiple short instruction sessions into a semester long class. Even SALALM is a learning community- one of the original aims of La Cuna was to expand our own socially situated learning and foster online peer learning opportunities.

Bass’ three observations of learning fall neatly into the 5 Cs that characterize Web 2.0; creativity, conversation, community and collaboration. The final C is control. For instruction 2.0 to really work, librarians need to give up control so that the class is driven by student needs and dialog, rather than what the librarian assumes the students know or need to know. Personally, I think this is the hardest and scariest part, but it is vital in order for library instruction to maintain and to increase its relevancy in the 2.0 world.

Alison Hicks
University of Colorado, Boulder
alison.hicks @ colorado.edu

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