ALAO Annual Conference 2016

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.


Mandi Goodsett presenting “Improving Learner Experience through Creative Library Instructional Design.”

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:

  1. Real-World Examples.
  2. Brainstorming, such as concept maps.
  3. Storytelling. The novel How Opal Mehta got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life works well to demonstrate plagiarism.
  4. Games.
  5. 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.

For more helpful information on creative library instructional design, be sure to visit Mandi’s research guide and her blog. Mandi Goodsett can be contacted at

Dana Knott, IIG Co-Chair
Columbus State Community College

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Registration Is Now Open!

ALAO Spring Workshop 2016 Banner

Registration is now open for the ALAO Instruction Interest & Assessment Groups’ Spring 2016 workshop!

WHEN: Wednesday, April 20, from 9 AM to 3 PM

WHERE: The State Library of Ohio (Directions)

HOW MUCH: $35 (ALAO Member), $45 (Non-Member), $20 (Student), meals included


Evolve in your thinking about ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education!

Keynote speaker Professor Craig Gibson, Interim Head of the Fine Arts Library at The Ohio State University, will lead the morning session with “The Framework for Information Literacy: Moving Forward with Implementation.” His presentation will be followed by a hands-on workshop of redesign library activities to meet the new framework.

The afternoon sessions will feature Mary J. Snyder Broussard presenting “Facilitating Formative Assessment with Interactive Tutorials” and Melissa Engleman presenting “The Other LO: Limiting Outcomes (and Objectives).” Both are great real-word examples of using assessment in library instruction.

The afternoon will end with a round table discussion Information Literacy Assessment Therapy where colleagues can share experiences and answer questions on information literacy assessment.

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Online IL Instruction: Describing the Evolution of Instructional Librarianship by Paul Clayton Campbell

As an instructional librarian working at a non-residential campus, I find that more and more students opt for taking courses online instead of traditional, face-to-face courses. This trend is neither anything new nor is it limited to my campus. As a whole, higher education is in the midst of major growth in online course offerings. Moore (2011) refers to this growth as “The Great Migration” where courses that were once offered solely face-to-face are now being offered online (p. 21).

Data in higher education only offers further evidence of the growth in online course offerings. In their report, Allen and Seaman (2014) provided insight into the growth of online course offerings over the last decade.  This report shows that the number of college students taking at least one online course has grown from 9.6% in the fall of 2002 to 33.5% in the fall of 2012 (p. 15).  These data show that the movement toward online education in the context of higher education is not only growing by leaps and bounds but is here to stay (Merry & Newby, 2014, p.9).

Academic librarians should see these statistics as a way to further develop the library’s relevance to the larger academic mission of the institution they serve. Online course offerings should be seen by librarians as an opportunity for growth for information literacy (IL) instruction programs.  Providing IL instruction for online courses just as we do for traditional face-to-face courses is the logical next step in the evolution of academic librarianship.  As instructional librarians we need to serve our students where ever they might be and not expect that students will always come to us.  Expecting that robust LibGuides are going to be sufficient to meet information needs of online students is no longer valid.  Although LibGuides are a great tool for outlining library resources, they may not be effective at providing the instruction needed in order to use said resources effectively.

The Allen and Seaman report not only shows that overall online course offerings are increasing but schools with larger student populations will likely offer online courses (p. 14).  From an instruction librarian’s point-of-view, this growth in online education should be seen as a golden opportunity to expand the library’s reach in serving all patrons.

Even with librarians scattered between the disciplines through the use of subject liaison responsibilities, it would be unrealistic for a single librarian to provide face-to-face IL instruction for all courses within their assigned subject areas.  It would, however, be much more feasible for a liaison librarian to provide asynchronous (or even synchronous) information literacy instruction through the campus learning management system (LMS).   I believe that serving online students should be incorporated into the current job descriptions of all librarians with instructional responsibilities.  Serving online students, just as we do our face-to-face students, is simply just part of the changing nature of our profession.  And we should welcome it.

Just as we do with other changes in our profession, there are challenges we have to face and overcome.  For instance, Nichols Hess (2014) compared face-to-face versus online IL instruction in upper-level sociology undergraduates.  She found that there was no measurable differences in student learning between the two delivery methods.  However, she did find that students preferred the human connection in the face-to-face instruction while the online students more fully understood the importance of the library in regards to their research.  Finding a solution to this catch-22 would go a long way in helping the library meet the needs of the increasing online courses.

Malone (2015) may have found a possible solution to this riddle.  Malone recently published an article (2015) outlining his work in providing synchronous IL instruction through the campus LMS.  Providing synchronous IL instruction not only provides the human connection that Nichols Hess wrote about but it also establishes a library presence in online courses.  In Malone’s case, his campus uses Canvas as the LMS.  Canvas offers live-video conferencing, Bigblutbotton, a feature that allows librarians to broadcast synchronous instruction for online courses.  One downside is that scheduling a time for the librarian and the students to meet virtually can be difficult.

My institution, Ohio University, does not use Canvas, so the Bigbluebutton option is not available.  However, Ohio University does use Blackboard where there are similar options available.  I hope to go live in the spring 2016 with a pilot program for offering online asynchronous IL instruction utilizing the tools available through Blackboard.

Librarians at Ohio University have access to Blackboard in order to develop asynchronous learning modules that can easily be exported to any course within the system.  Within the Content area of a shell course, I am able to develop a Learning Module that is catered to the assignment at hand. The Learning Module feature of Blackboard seems to work splendidly for online asynchronous IL instruction.  Through the creation of short tutorials and small quizzes interwoven in the Learning Module, I am then able use the “Adaptive Release” functions of Blackboard in order to measure the progress of the student.  After the Learning Module is created, it can be exported and uploaded to the course in Blackboard for which it was intended.

For example, only after students complete the initial quiz assessing their library research skills will the first tutorial appear.  After watching this tutorial they then need to complete a quiz on the content from the tutorial.  Only after students complete this quiz with an 80% or higher are they able to view the next tutorial.  This can happen again and again.  Students are unable to progress through the Blackboard Learning Module until they meet each of the requirements as set out by the librarian in the Adaptive Release settings.

As discussed above, the benefits of online synchronous IL instruction is the possibility for the important personal connection between the librarian and the student.  However, one of the drawbacks is that it goes back to heavily taxing the time of the librarian in order to schedule several sessions for each course.  There are some benefits of an asynchronous IL instruction.  First, it is self-paced and the student is able to complete it at a time that best fits his or her schedule.  Secondly, because of the many short quizzes throughout the Learning Module, the librarian is able to pull assessment data that would show how much learning is actually taking place as a result of this Learning Module.

There are distinct pros and cons in utilizing either type of instruction online: asynchronous or synchronous.  The type of instruction to be used will depend on what online instructional tools are available to the librarian and what would work best with each specific course.  Regardless of which type of instruction is utilized, the key victories in transitioning IL instruction to an online format are two-fold: 1). The library is able to meet the needs of the growing online student population. 2). A teaching partnership is formed between the librarian and the faculty member.  In order for online IL instruction to be successful, the librarian and the faculty member need develop a partnership in seeking to integrate IL instruction as learning outcome of the individual course.


Allen, I.E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Grade change: Tracking online education in the United States.  Babsom Park, MA: Babson Survey Research.

Malone, D. (2015). Using synchronous video within a learning management system for library and information literacy instruction. Public Services Quarterly, 11(3), 208-216. doi:10.1080/15228959.2015.1060146.

Mery, Y., & Newby, J. (2014). Online by design: The essentials of creating information literacy courses. Lanham, Maryland.

Moore, D. (2011). Using collaborative online discussion effectively for teaching. Journal of Applied Learning Technology, 1(4), 19-23.

Nichols Hess, A. (2014). Online and face-to-face library instruction: Assessing the impact on upper-level sociology undergraduates. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 33(3), 132-147. doi:10.1080/01639269.2014.934122.


Paul Clayton Campbell is the instructional librarian at Ohio University Lancaster.   His academic interests are with the relationship between instructional design and library instruction.

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Into the Gauntlet! Letting Students Teach One Another

As librarians, teachers, and observers, we know students can often learn more effectively from peer instruction. They trust their fellow students and seek their knowledge and approval. Beyond using these support systems in the tutoring or mentor model, peer-to-peer teaching and group work can be extremely useful in the classroom. As part of a university-wide push at Otterbein to offer these peer interactions, I have employed different strategies in using peer instruction and group work in an Honors Thesis Writing class and a First Year Seminar class (FYS).

Much of the literature in this area supports the effectiveness of peer instruction. According to Bodemer (2014), “Even in a formalized classroom setting, the undergraduate session leader is more apt than librarians to use language understood by student participants” (p. 165). He has also specified many advantages to peers learning together, and in fact peer instruction is already being implemented throughout much of higher education.

Because of the exciting nature of the first semester of college, I felt as though the FYS course would be a good time to integrate this model. First-year students welcome every opportunity to network and meet new peers. In a library class session, it is important to leverage that excitement and gear it toward familiarizing new students with the library. For the FYS courses, I run a quasi-library scavenger hunt using Google Docs and LibGuides. The students are split into teams of two or three and have their own Google Doc to record their answers. Each team is directed to the LibGuide, which links out to their designated Google Doc (View example of group sheets in libguide). This takes the assignment off the paper and lets the students interact with one another. I purposely give no instruction prior to the class activity and encourage them to explore the website and see what they can find, offering my support along the way. When it comes to website navigation, millennials are generally tech savvy, and I find they are able to remember more of the information when they discover it on their own.

After the students are given ample time to explore the building and website as a group, we come back together to go over the answers. Instead of me giving the instruction, however, I have each group show their peers what they learned. Again, this takes the instruction out of my hands and lets the students teach one another. I have found this approach to be quite successful in the classroom, and faculty enjoy the interaction as well. Students are physically getting around the library and stretching their instruction skills as they are in the beginning stages of their college career. Additionally, Otterbein heavily pushes peer instruction and mentoring in multiple areas of the university, so I am integrating the university-supported model.

With the Juniors in my Honors classes, I follow a similar structure, but the assignment and instruction are different. These students have already visited me, so they are familiar with the library. They are split into five groups but instead of a scavenger hunt, each group is assigned a multi-disciplinary database. Because the class is made of up of students in every discipline, it is important to keep the research relevant to everyone. The students are given, via Google Docs, a group of questions about their database. As a group, the students explore and discuss various pros and cons about the databases, navigational differences, and general observations. Then they present their findings to the rest of the class. This includes live demonstrations of search strategies and key findings they discovered during their research. Similar to the FYS class, they receive little direction from me, which allows them to more effectively understand the process of using the database.

I’ve used these models and assignments multiples times in various courses, and every time I have received positive written and oral feedback from the students and faculty. I find the students welcome the active learning that takes place in a group setting and the way it varies from other library sessions. This instruction method continues to evolve as I work out different formats, but, overall, these methods have worked effectively and I will continue using the peer instruction/group model in the library instruction classroom.


Bodemer, B. B. (2014). They CAN and they SHOULD: Undergraduates providing peer reference and instruction. College & Research Libraries, 75(2), 162-178.

O’Kelly, M. A., Garrison, J., Merry, B., & Torreano, J. (2015). Building a peer-learning service for students in an academic library. Portal: Libraries & the Academy, 15(1), 163-182. doi:10.1353/pla.2015.0000


Jessica Crossfield-McIntosh is the Reference Services Coordinator at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Email:

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Story-time for faculty: the pedagogical allure of the new Framework for Information Literacy

Like most people, I love stories. The longer and more complicated, the better. In the last year, nothing has grabbed my attention more than the riveting saga of the new Framework for Information Literacy. It has all the ingredients of a wonderful thriller, with the potential to change our professional lives in unsuspected ways.

I am a science librarian at Denison University, where I teach information literacy. Until three years ago, I was using the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education as the theoretical backbone for my classes. But that changed in 2012 when I learned about the pedagogical theory of threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003). My first contact with threshold concepts came through an article by Townsend, Brunetti, and Hofer (2011), which described how the theory could be applied to information literacy instruction. Truly enchanted by this new way of thinking, I moved from standards to concepts and never looked back. Since most professors at my institution care deeply about pedagogy, adding a discussion about educational theory really enriched our meetings.

The release of the first draft of the Framework in 2014 provided the backup I needed to show faculty that this change in vision was not a fad. Immediately I contacted some of the major stakeholders in pedagogy on campus and set up appointments to talk about the draft. I brazenly told them I was convinced the Framework contained the kernel of what would be the future of information literacy and that we had to work together to be ready for the change. The result of those conversations was a 90-minute-long faculty workshop in September of 2014, organized by the library with the support of several other groups on campus.

The workshop was titled “A Roadmap to Better Class Assignments: Helping Students Understand the New Information Ecosystem” (Fig. 1), and it was led by Professors James Craig Gibson and Karen Diaz from the Ohio State University Libraries. Participants included faculty from all divisions of the college and librarians from three nearby institutions. Readings included the second draft of the Framework and an article by Alison J. Head (2013), Director of Project Information Literacy, describing the information-seeking behavior of college students. In addition, participants were asked to bring an assignment dealing with some aspect of information literacy that they would like to improve. After a short introduction to the Framework by Professor Gibson and to Bloom’s Taxonomy – a classification system that describes the different cognitive steps involved in learning – by Professor Diaz, attendees worked in groups to incorporate the new concepts in their exercises. Each group reported on its experience to the entire audience at the end, followed by some time for Q&A with the presenters.

Invitation card to Denison’s information literacy workshop

Figure 1. Invitation card to Denison’s information literacy workshop. Image courtesy of Denison University Libraries.

Since the workshop, several professors have reported discussing the new information literacy concepts with their classes, while others have mentioned the usefulness of learning about threshold concepts and Bloom’s Taxonomy in general. This suggests that a small, but important, shift is happening in some of our professors’ perception: information literacy is not the library’s sole responsibility anymore; it has become a common project. To support faculty interested in learning about information literacy, a new Libguides page with links to different resources related to the Framework was added recently to our Information Literacy Faculty Toolkit.

My main purpose in organizing the workshop was to give faculty the chance to read the Framework and to think about it. I wanted professors to realize that our understanding of information literacy is ever changing, and I wanted them to join the process. At the time, it did not cross my mind to wait for the final, approved iteration of the Framework – released in February of 2015. I was comfortable bestowing upon them the unrefined version of the story in all its rich and intricate detail. I did it because I believe that librarian’s evolving relationship with information literacy is a complicated and interesting saga that deserves to be told and shared widely, most of all with faculty. Some of them genuinely like it.


Head, A. J. (2013). Project Information Literacy: What can be learned about information-seeking behavior of today’s college students? ACRL 2013 Retrieved from

Meyer, J., and Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practicing within the disciplines. Edinburgh: ETL Project Occasional Report 4. Retrieved from

Townsend, L., Brunetti, K., and Hofer, A. R. (2011). Threshold concepts and information literacy. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 11(3), 853-869. Retrieved from


Moriana M. Garcia is Natural Sciences Liaison Librarian at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Email:

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The Dark German Forest of Library Instruction by Paul Clayton Campbell




“Alright, ready.”

Just like the intro to RadioLab, I sometimes find myself having a similar internal dialog right before I step into my library instruction room.  I have done library instruction for what seems like a million times and I have learned that this uneasy feeling seems to be tied to when I try something new in my instruction.  Let’s face it, change is scary.

Jad Abumrad, in his keynote at ACRL 2015, spoke eloquently on how we all go through a proverbial “…dark German forest” in search of our own intellectual and professional voices.  Further, he made the point that we need to learn to “…embrace the gut-churn” feeling that accompanies the time we spend in that German forest.  My own interpretation of Abumrad’s keynote is that the dark German forest is an allegory for the inevitable change in life, while the gut-churn feeling is our initial reaction to that change.  Each time I modify my instruction and try something new is when I experience that gut-churning feeling.

I remember a class I taught several years ago when I was fresh out of library school.  I allowed myself to believe that my newly minted MLIS inoculated me against having to fully prepare myself to try some new learning activities in my instruction.  Because I did not plan out how I was going to integrate these new activities into my session, I jumped around in my lecture with no logical transition while trying to fit—or cram—these activities into my instruction.  The amount of confusion on the students’ faces only increased as the session continued.  I was deep, I mean, DEEP in the forest.

I spent some time picking up the pieces of what was previously my ego.  I tried to figure out how it was possible that the students were not understanding something that was so obvious to me.  I soon realized that just because I was an expert in library research didn’t mean that I was effective at translating my expertise into student understanding of the subject.  Being an expert in a particular field and being able to educate others are two different skills.

We can all trade stories of our experiences in a library instruction session and being deep in the forest.  I am convinced that most negative instructional experiences stem from a common origin: there was no instructional design used for the library instruction session.  Incorporating instructional design (ID) into library instruction serves as an effective roadmap out of the forest.  It provides a method of communicating our expertise in a way that is more accessible for students.  ID also supports librarians’ tendency to search for continual improvement, allowing us to develop our talents while acknowledging our weaknesses.

There are many different instructional design models, but they all are rooted in the same basic principle of continuous evaluation and improvement of instruction.  The ID model that I regularly use, and highly recommend, is called ADDIE.  The name is an acronym for each step of the design model: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.  I appreciate ADDIE because it has stood the test of time and is one of the most versatile (Molenda, 2003).

Using ADDIE encourages the librarian to place deliberate thought into each phase of the model in the preparation of library instruction.  I say deliberate because ADDIE allows the librarian to break up a daunting task into several smaller more manageable tasks.  Focusing on each step of ADDIE increases the likelihood that the newly developed library instruction will directly address the students’ information gaps.  In their book, Academic Librarianship by Design: A Blended Librarian’s Guide to the Tools and Techniques, Bell and Shank provide a simple definition of each element of ADDIE (2007, p. 43):

Analysis: the process of defining what is to be learned.

Design: the process of specifying how it is to be learned.

Development: the process of authoring and producing learning materials.

Implementation:  the process of installing the instruction product in a real-world context.

Evaluation: the process of determining the impact of the instruction.

When a faculty member approaches me seeking out library instruction I use the ADDIE model to cater my instruction to the needs of that course.  The following is an abbreviated version of how I develop a library instruction session using ADDIE.


  • Create learning outcomes for the instruction session.
  • Is this course freshman English or senior capstone?
  • How much basic instruction do I need to provide?


  • Is this course online or traditional?
  • Is the location of the instruction going to be a computer lab or standard classroom?
  • What learning activities and learning objects do I need to design?
  • What assessment tool am I going to use?


  • Develop learning activities and learning objects that align with the session’s learning objectives.
  • For an online course I will need to produce short videos.
  • For a traditional course I will need to create a LibGuide to teach from and/or a PowerPoint.
  • NOTE: this phase of ADDIE is time-consuming.


  • Final touch-ups with what has already been created. Print out any handouts.
  • This is the GO LIVE stage. So, basically, this is where you have the gut-churn feeling and the internal dialog quoted at the beginning of this blog post.


  • Analyze the results from the student assessment tool.
  • Interview the course instructor to evaluate how the session went from their perspective.
  • Immediately after a session I spend some time thinking about how I felt the session went and make notes on what worked and what did not.

Using ADDIE has played a vital role in helping me confront my professional requirement of continually developing and broadening my skills in order to meet the information literacy needs of the current students I serve.  It also helps me confront the reality that what works for library instruction today may no longer be relevant to the information gaps future college students will experience.

Undoubtedly, instructional librarians need to embrace the gut-churn and venture into the dark forest with trying out different pedagogies, experimenting with new instructional technologies, and, especially, figuring out how to integrate the newly released Framework for Information Literacy (ARCL, 2015) into our instruction.  We have no control over what changes the future holds, but we do have control over our reaction to it.  Through the effective use of ID, instructional librarians are able to embrace the gut-churn and see it as source of empowerment that encourages us to grow intellectually and professionally.


Abumrad, J. (2015, March 26). Excerpt from Keynote – Jad Abumrad [Online video]. ACRL 2015. Retrieved from

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). (2015, February 2). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from

Bell, S. J., & Shank, J. D. (2007). Academic Librarianship by Design: A Blended Librarian’s Guide to the Tools and Techniques. Chicago, Il: American Library Association.

Molenda, M. (2003). In search of the elusive ADDIE model. Performance Improvement42(5), 34-36. doi: 10.1002/pfi.4930420508


Paul Clayton Campbell is the instructional librarian at Ohio University Lancaster.   His academic interests are with the relationship between instructional design and library instruction.  He is currently working on a second master’s degree in education.

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