18 Dec 2017

CONUL Teaching and Learning Seminar - Report

Naomi Van Caillie has been a Library Assistant with DIT for the past 8 months. She is a 2016 MLIS graduate from UCD with previous work experience in the public library sector in Canada. 
This was a daylong seminar in which a variety of guest speakers presented on a multitude of topics relating to Teaching and Learning in relation to libraries, librarians and the demographics we as Librarians are trying to reach and assist.  My main reason for attending was that I feel even in my position as Library Assistant there are daily opportunities for teaching and learning interactions with the students. I want to better equip myself with knowledge that will assist me in more successful and rewarding interactions with our library visitors. I want to be able to deliver information and resources to meet their unique and individual needs effectively.  I want both the students and I to always have an opportunity to engage and learn from each other.  There was so much wonderful information shared from all of the speakers. I have chosen to comment on the four that impacted me the most. You can find the PowerPoint presentations for all presenters here.

David Streatfield, Global Libraries Initiative Consultant, started the morning off by sharing with us ‘How can you tell if it is working? Evaluating the impact of educational innovations’. From this I gathered that regardless of what innovation you are creating or using to interact with your demographic, it is crucial and beneficial to be able to evaluate the impact of your services, whether the results are positive or negative; intended or accidental. He argued that we need to be looking and analysing the change(s) as a result of what we are doing also known as impact evaluation.   He describes this method as a simple logic model providing both illuminative evaluation and impact evaluation which makes up a contribution model. To put things simply the common factors are that the theory of change creates a framework for focus. We must remember that our innovations, no matter the scale, should be plausible, doable, and testable.  From this I think I am approaching my work and daily interactions with our users from different vantage point so I am better able to reflect and analyse for continued growth and improvement. 

Another stand out for me was Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI and CONUL Teaching & Learning Award Winner of 2016. The more Barry spoke the more intrigued I was by NUI’s, his and Dr Paul Flynn’s, innovation and success. What I took from it was that at the core of their project was the creation of a tangible experience which came to life by building a teaching plan based on schools’ perspectives and experiences. In order to bring the experience back to self and make it personal the focus was directed to hands on learning and interacting with primary resources and the students being able to answer the questions: where did it come from?, how to it get here?, what is it?, and all the while being shown tips and tricks regarding what to look for when searching for the answers to these questions. Barry made a great point about how we perceive this current generation as digital natives because they are growing up linked to digital technology. However, he cautioned us to think that perhaps they are social media natives who can navigate Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. Their use of social media platforms doesn’t necessarily make their skills transferable to the level of being a digital native. By involving the students in activities that get them interacting with primary sources the hope is to teach them invaluable skills that will lead them towards being a better-rounded researcher and digital native. 

Brendan Devlin from DIT provided us with an overview of L2L and where they were at. This solidified the knowledge I had gained from a previous L2L day long workshop I had attended. Hearing Niamh Hammel from Dundalk Institute of Technology share her personal work experience, being involved with L2L, and how she is looking forward to how engagement with this framework will help those of us starting out in the library field continue to further our skills, remain relevant in the ever changing library landscapes, and plan for our professional growth. This really resonated with me as I want to continue to grow and evolve as a Librarian and further my career.

After lunch Dr Emma Coonan, FHEA, Academic Librarian (Information and Digital Literacies), Library, University of East Anglia presented us with a zoo full of identities as she talked about ‘New Tricks? Negotiating the librarian identity’.  How we are perceived by others and how we are perceived by ourselves can be showcased by a wide variety of characteristics. She discussed multiple ‘identities’ painting elaborate pictures of different animals.  Are you a labradoodle? The fetch dog who goes and gets what is asked of them?; or the Cheshire cat, who pops up when needed and is an agent to an individual to help meet their needs whatever they may be? Or maybe you’re the platypus, the off cuts of many other animals/identities, who is flexible and able to support a large group but doesn’t have enough time to specialize because he/she covers more areas than the days of the week?  Dr Coonan was very engaging and definitely got me to thinking about myself and my own perception of myself as a Librarian. I can’t say I know who my spirit animal is just yet because I feel,  like the profession and the field, I am having to continuously evolve. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this day. It was great to see familiar faces as well meet some new library colleagues. The day’s presenters as well as those of us that sat and absorbed reflect very much the theme of the day in as much as we are a community who have to constantly create, deliver, evaluate, restructure and deliver again. We are so lucky to be part of a library ‘family’ that is willing to share and collaborate together so not all of us have to reinvent the wheel.

For more information on CONUL Teaching and Learning check out their website


Post a Comment