Reflecting

Over the last 9 months I have been working toward a certificate in instructional design, one course at a time. And because the instructors of our courses are trying to model some of the learning theory that we study in class we end up reflecting on our own learning quite a bit. It has been difficult to pick out just a few things I’ve learned in the last course. Not that I didn’t learn anything, I did. But it doesn’t stand out to me as separate from my work life. I realize this sounds bad, like I’m not learning or engaged or that I simply can’t remember anything. I can remember things, but in the case of these courses, it’s learning that I apply to my everyday work or most importantly it’s learning that what I have been doing is actually pretty good.

I think it’s important to know that what often feels like an instinct to me can be correct. For one, it gives me confidence, especially when I’m trying to promote a new program or way of doing things to other people. It also lets me being own personal cheering section, while my colleagues are great people who are happy to support me any way they can, sometimes I end up alone in my office not sure if what I have dreamed up could work. And that sadly is where the doubts come in.

I was reminded of this as I was catching up on Zoe Fisher’s blog. She has been doing an interesting deep dive into information literacy. I’ve been following along and she makes some great observations about IL. I was especially struck by some of the comments she had about critical information literacy; first that she realized that she had been doing critical information literacy all along and that some of us may be intimidated by the big ideas in the conversation.

I feel the same way about instructional design. I have been doing instructional design all along and now I am learning to put these thoughts and processes into structured formats. I am also really good at getting in my own way, I feel overwhelmed by jargon and theory and my impostor syndrome comes out in full force. What can I do? I can do my best and be ok with it. Or as my yogis say I can “relax with what is.” I can trust that by working and learning I will get to where I want to go.

What’s the problem with Fake News?

One of the odd effects of our current political climate is that it’s put a spotlight on something close to my Librarian heart, thinking critically about the information we see, hear, and perceive everyday. I’ve been thinking about this and trying to impart this skill to the college students I work with for my entire career as an academic librarian. Somewhere around the time I was searching for my first full time job as a librarian I started thinking more and more about the information I saw and others saw and accepted at face value. To be brutally honest, F*x News had a big role in this with the way I saw them twisting the truth around.

Back to present day, some people are calling this fake news and some librarians and journalists are pointing out all the problems with using this term. Admittedly, trying to put all information into categories like “real” and “fake” only deals with the problem at a superficial level. When we give people a list of “good” and “bad” it’s like the man who gave someone a fish instead of teaching them how to fish for themselves. But how do we teach people to think critically about what they see without making them skeptical of everything they see and hear? Some people have said it’s something that is learned through experience and time, but the problem is that I often do not have that.  If I get into a classroom I have 75 minutes or less to teach this (often with a lot of other things). And in my current position I’m lucky just to get in a classroom, there are too many classes and just one of me, so I end up trying to create things I can share with instructors and students.

Because of this, I am also studying instructional design with the idea that this will help me create instructional objects, modules, lessons that can meet the same outcomes that I would tackle in a face to face class. In the class I am taking right now I was asked to create an infographic that I could use at work. Not surprisingly after some thought I wanted to create an infographic that would teach critical thinking and evaluation. It’s not perfect and I struggled with how to convey the complexity of this topic in a succinct way. I don’t know if I will ever have the “right” solution for this problem, but it’s a start. I was at a panel of seniors who were relating their experience with research in college and one of the students talked about the process of growth in learning, that they looked back at something they once thought was a great idea and thinking how silly or stupid it was and how that realization was a marker of progress for them. At one point I thought the CRAAP test was revolutionary and now I consider it limited in scope, so surely I must be learning something here. And I know I may look back in two or three years and consider my current approach simplistic. And that’s learning.

 

Hello World

I was asked to write a mission statement a few days ago and it occurred to me that much of my life could be boiled down into a few sentences to describe what I value and what I am working toward.  I value lifelong learning and want to see others take on directing their own learning by becoming curious about the world around them.  This drives my purpose as a librarian and as a yoga student and teacher.  We are never done learning and growing, I am never done and my life is a grand work in progress.

As a librarian, I need this space to share my wacky ideas and open myself up to the broader conversation happening within a community of practice.  I’m hoping it can be an extension of some of the work I am already doing.