I hope that everyone had an enlightening time at ALAO’s Annual Conference in Wilmington, Ohio!
It was the Instruction Interest Group’s privilege to sponsor the session “Improving Learner Experience through Creative Library Instructional Design,” presented by Mandi Goodsett from Cleveland State University. As instruction librarians I’m sure that we’ve all had moments when we need to reignite that creative spark to add new life to our library instruction classes. Mandi shared many fascinating bits of information about how creativity is wired in the brain. The good news is that humans are hardwired to create, but a lack of control over classroom content and time constraints present barriers that may hinder creativity, especially in one-shot instruction sessions.
In addition to connecting with interests and establishing achievable goals, instruction librarians can seek help from their colleagues by developing collaborative and critical friendships. Mandi suggests having two peers, neither of them supervisors, meet and observe a class to offer a critique. Teaching squares offer a less critical and more reflective approach: A group of librarians can observe each other’s classes and instead of a critique focus on self-reflection. Librarians should always answer the question, What specific steps will you take to cultivate creative habits of the mind?
To help answer that question, here are Mandi’s Top Five Creative Approaches:
- Real-World Examples.
- Brainstorming, such as concept maps.
- Storytelling. The novel How Opal Mehta got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life works well to demonstrate plagiarism.
- CATS (Classroom Assessment Techniques), such as the minute paper.
Technology can also help with brainstorming sessions and sharing ideas. Mandi uses Padlet, an online tool that allows students to share ideas on a virtual wall. Even a simple tool can add another layer to library instruction.
Dana Knott, IIG Co-Chair
Columbus State Community College