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Exploring Information landscapes & bubbles: facilitating students' discovery of their information-selves

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Alan Carbery

on 3 June 2013

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Transcript of Exploring Information landscapes & bubbles: facilitating students' discovery of their information-selves

Context Facilitating Discovery: an approach Assumptions Reconciliation Assumptions
Challenging Viewpoints
Rebuild Identity

Throughout all three stages, librarians present students with prompts, questions or stimuli in an effort to facilitate a collaborative and moderated discovery journey. Champlain College is a small third level college situated in Burlington, Vermont in the USA.

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a private college that offers a number of baccalaureate degrees and professionally focused programmes majoring in Marketing, Business, Education, Digitial Forensics, and others.

Enrollment in Champlain College totals 2000 traditional undergraduate students. Champlain College has additional campuses in Montreal, Canada and Dublin, Ireland. The college also offers a number of online and on-campus graduate programmes.

Champlain College is ranked among the Princeton Review's 377 best colleges in its 2013 edition. Champlain College Exploring Information landscapes & bubbles: Theoretical Framework Conclusion What is Core?

Core is Champlain College's Liberal Arts education programme for all traditional undergraduate students.

The common Core curriculum provides Champlain College students with an interdisciplinary, general education programme in liberal arts, aesthetics, history of science, faith and reason. The common Core curriculum places significance and emphasis on inquiry, interdisciplinarity, reflection and integration.

During their first year, students focus on the self (COR 110 – Concepts of the Self, Autumn semester) and community (COR 120 – Concepts of the Community, Spring semester). The second year of the Core is dedicated to Western traditions. In their third year, students explore global issues and technology. The final year of the Core is dedicated to a Capstone project which integrates ethics with their major. Core Watch students discuss with Core Professor Chuck Bashaw and Technology and Public Services Librarian Lindsey Rae the connections CORE helps them make between critical thinking, and learning in an inquiry-led environment Librarians were going into a class called "Concepts of the Self." Therefore we framed the class as a closer examination of our information selves. The information that we consume and create has a significant effect on our understanding of the world as well as our identity, therefore it is important to examine how we currently obtain, share, and make sense of information. facilitating students' discovery of their information-selves

For more on Mobile Phone Polling in Champlain College Library check out "Turn Your Cell Phones ON!" in Communications in Information Literacy:
http://www.comminfolit.org/index.php?journal=cil&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=v6i2p191&path%5B%5D=155 Students talked a great deal about their use of Google and the web, but we asked them several follow-up questions to dig deeper such as why they liked using them. They talked about the relevancy and layout of search results. They also discussed the speed and ubiquity of the web as opposed to other forms of information. In addition, students talked about the social nature of information - that sometimes talking to people was more useful because it was personalised and presented in a tailored way. They discussed how they preferred sharing information by talking about it with others and that sharing information involved personal connections.

This polling and discussion made students' assumptions explicit, both to themselves and to us as teachers. Students understood not only where they were at personally, but also how their assumptions about their peers stood up. Just as importantly, librarians had an understanding of students' current knowledge and where they were starting from when it came to seeking, using and sharing information. Following the presentation of this challenging viewpoint, we asked students to take several minutes to personally reflect on it and how it connected to their current experience on the web. We asked them several questions that guided their reflection. We then discussed students' reflections and reactions to the video. Using the inquiry method we asked students questions to get them to dig deeper about their personal experience on the web and the way they use information. We had them clarify their positions and asked them if this changed the way that they viewed Google, Facebook, or other services on the web. Students could often see the connections not only to concepts discussed in their Core classes or in their personal lives but also across disciplines and in their majors. Students majoring in Information Technology discussed the architecture of the web and Marketing students raised practical and ethical questions and shared this TED talk with students in a different class. For some students, this challenging viewpoint did not necessarily change the way the viewed the web. They defended the value of filtering and getting information that is tailored and relevant to them. Other students saw this filtering as a problem. They raised questions about the polarisation of our discourse in this country, the lack of privacy, and the danger in being passive in our information consumption. Some students decided that they have to take personal responsibility for their information consumption, and that there is no algorithm for critically conscious information citizens. After guiding students in making their assumptions explicit, we began to challenge some of these assumptions and presented them with a viewpoint that was thought-provoking and pushed some students out of their comfort zone. In this instance the delivery method we used to challenge students' current assumptions was a short TED Talk about online filter bubbles. In it Eli Pariser presents the view that due to the algorithmic filtering and personalization built into the web, we do not see information that may broaden our horizons and often don't even know what we're missing. Once per semester, teaching librarians deliver an information literacy session to each student. These information literacy sessions are delivered as part of a cohort, and fully integrated and embedded into the Core curriculum. Champlain College has adopted 5 core competencies of information literacy, based on ACRL's Information Literacy Standards. Instruction towards these competencies is delivered on an incremental basis.

Champlain College Library takes an inquiry learning approach to delivering information literacy. Believing that deeper learning occurs for students when they are encouraged to discover their own information literacy landscape, teaching librarians in Champlain College rarely pose instruction as fact-finding or providing answers. Instead, students are guided towards posing and reflecting upon their own questions on information.

Champlain College Library delivers an information literacy programme that is information-centric, rather than library-centric. Teaching librarians rarely teach library databases or "how to do research" sessions, instead engaging students in deeper discussions about their everyday use of information, the implications of their information choices, and their place within an information world. Champlain College Library aims to provide information literacy instruction that is authentic to students as information consumers and producers, rather than solely as college researchers. Challenging
Viewpoint This talk connected to students' current experience with the web since Google and Facebook were the primary examples used. Students use these services regularly and were able to see this in action and talk knowledgeably about it. Web content filtering was not something completely new to every student, but many were surprised with the viewpoint and the amount of filtering that was occurring online. We began the session by asking students to examine their choices, habits, and preferences around information. We used mobile phone polling as a tool to involve every student in this examination of their own assumptions. We asked them questions in which everyone was required to consider how they searched, how they preferred to get information, and how they liked to share information. How do I use information in my daily and academic life?
Are there any gaps in the information that I use?
Do I have a balanced info diet?
What am I getting through my filter bubble and what am I not seeing? Classroom Questions Throughout the self-discovery learning approach, Champlain College library draws from important theoretical frameworks. Champlain College Library’s approach to facilitating discovery learning falls in-line with the ideas of transformative learning, by Jack Mezirow. According to Mezirow, transformative learning effects change in the learner’s frame of reference, or in their associations, values, feelings and conditioned responses (Mezirow, 1997). By facilitating lesson plans that expose students to their own frames of reference, or assumptions, offer new insight or information to this frame, and encourage students to reflect critically on this to reconcile or advance knowledge, discovery learning can be transformative and affecting.

Mezirow describes four processes of transformative learning, which alter our perceptions on a subject (taken from Mezirow, 1997):

1. Students elaborate an existing point of view
2. Students establish new points of view
3. Students transform our point of view
4. Students become aware, and critically reflective of our generalized bias Transformative Learning The key idea is to help the learners actively engage [new] concepts presented in the context of their own lives and collectively critically assess the justification of new knowledge (Mezirow, 1997, p.11). Education that fosters critically reflective thought, imaginative problem posing, and discourse is learner-centered, participatory, and interactive, and it involves group deliberation and group problem solving (Mezirow, p.10). Mezirow believes that facilitating transformative learning requires a shift in teaching practices. According to Mezirow, ‘the educator functions as a facilitator and provocateur rather than as an authority on subject matter’ (Mezirow, 1997, p. 11). Enabling discovery of frames of reference, and facilitating debate or discussion become important elements of transformative learning. In using this approach, the goal is not simply to give students the "correct" answer or have them learn "how-to" skills. The ultimate goal is to have students practice certain habits of mind. These habits of mind relate specifically to students consistently trying to seek out challenging viewpoints and critically examining them. Reflection Questions What are other techniques you could use to uncover student assumptions?
What are other ways in which you could use mobile phone polling in your instruction? For more information about Champlain College, visit www.champlain.edu An incremental, inquiry-based approach In Champlain College, information literacy teaching is embedded within the Core Curriculum during the first three years of students' four-year studies. Teaching Librarians deliver the first information literacy session to first year students in their COR 110 - Concepts of the Self class. This session is the first time librarians make contact with students in a classroom environment, and the impressions set in this class shape all future information literacy sessions throughout students' study. Assessment Champlain College has formally adopted information literacy as one of the College's core competencies for its graduates. In addition to this, in an effort to address the central question of whether or not students are learning, Champlain College assesses students' information literacy through their common Core What makes the Champlain Library Great? Champlain Library users explain why Champlain College Library deserves the ACRL 2012 Excellence award, including words from Core Professor Steve Wehmeyer, talking about Champlain College Librarians' work in the Core Information Literacy Programme. In 2010, the Association of General and Liberal Studies presented its Exemplary Program Award to Champlain College for our curriculum-embedded information literacy assessment program. ACRL presented Champlain College Library with the 2012 Excellence in Academic Libraries award and cited Champlain College's information programme as one of the factors of excellence. assignments. Students upload their assignment work to an e-portfolio system, which is in turn assessed by Core faculty based on a pre-determined set of rubrics for each assignment. Champlain College library maps our adopted information literacy competencies to faculty rubrics, thereby providing the library with valuable assessment data based on students' actual, authentic academic work. Much like our instruction program, assessment is also embedded into the Core programme. Champlain College Library:
an award winning library COR 110 - Concepts of the Self: Information Literacy This chapter focuses on the specific teaching and IL lessons for COR 110 - Concepts of the Self. The intended learning outcomes for the information literacy session of COR 110 - Concepts of the Self are listed below. One overarching goal of this session is to break down students' expectations and assumptions of librarians and library instruction sessions. Teaching Librarians also endeavour to learn more about students and their information habits. In essence, during this session, librarians aim to expose students to the concepts of their information-selves.
How are contemporary developments in art, literature, psychology, and science challenging our traditional notion of what it means to be human? Students will have the chance to explore how these fields approach questions about humanity and individuality as they begin to build an interdisciplinary perspective on their own lives. They will study texts and artifacts from multiple disciplines as they learn about different ways in which the self is understood, lived, and expressed. COR-110 CONCEPTS OF THE SELF Students themselves may also hold inaccurate assumptions about their classmates. By asking students to declare how they find, use and share information, both students and the librarian gains an invaluable insight into the students’ current information landscape. Making assumptions explicit allows the window of opportunity to introduce alternative or challenging viewpoints. Exposing students to a viewpoint that challenges their current approach to finding and using information affords students the opportunity to consider an alternative, valid point of view. This challenging viewpoint may also serve to enlighten or significantly reshape students’ perceptions of their information choices. This can often have a transformative and lasting effect, as students are encouraged to assimilate and reconcile the challenging ideas with their current practice, in order to advance their self-awareness. During the reconciliation stage, librarians ask students to reflect on the challenging viewpoints, and to build connections to their preexisting information behaviours. Students are also encouraged to connect and relate the concepts to wider issues, such as their personal information use, or their major or career choice. By asking students to make these connections, the librarian is encouraging critical thinking throughout the discovery journey, in an effort to empower students to be more informed information citizens.

By using this approach, the information discovery journey that students encounter is framed specifically through the librarians’ guided use of learning objects and inquiry-based teaching methods.

This guided discovery approach is discussed further with specific examples of materials and objects used for the COR-110 – Concepts of the Self class. Throughout the COR 110 - Concepts of the Self Information Literacy session, librarians use inquiry-based methods to encourage students to explore the concept of themselves within an information landscape. This is done using a cyclical, incrementally staged approach. This approach falls under three main headings of: Assumptions: Librarians commonly make assumptions about the first year college students’ library and information use; their information behaviours, and their information and digital literacy skills. To help students explore the world around them, as affected by their information choices, librarians must examine the assumptions they hold about students. Challenging Viewpoints: Reconciliation: For educators, setting the climate for students to really probe their belief system is fraught with challenges (Qualters, 2010, p. 97). Kolb's Cycle of Experiential Learning Champlain College Library's approach to facilitating discovery learning loosely follows David Kolb's cycle of experiential learning (Kolb, 1984). New knowledge, skills, or attitudes are achieved through confrontation among four modes of experiential learning (Kolb, 1984, p. 30). In Kolb's model of experiential learning, learners move through four distinct aspects of a learning cycle, namely: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. According to Kolb's definition of learning, emphasis is placed on the process of adaptation and learning, rather than on actual outcomes (Kolb, 1984). Kolb also states that knowledge is part of a bigger transformative process, that is continually created and altered. Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). The facilitation of discovery learning outlined in this case study places emphasis on transforming learners' experiences and providing opportunities for reflective observation and active experimentation. Mezirow’s processes of learning reflect the observations that Champlain College librarians make with students following the COR 110 information literacy lesson. For some students, the concept of filter bubbles, and a pre-determined web landscape raises concerns among students regarding their information choices. For other students, learning about web content filtering makes them more aware of their information choices, but elicits no concern or desire to alter their information behaviours. In this case, students appear to demonstrate that they have become more critically reflective of their generalized bias. The approach demonstrated in this lesson begins with assumptions, moves to posing a challenge, and continues with reconciliation of that challenge. This is model that can be useful in designing information literacy instruction for a variety of topics, including bibliographic instruction type lessons. In this instance we used mobile phone polling, video, reflection, and discussion to guide student learning, but this more general approach lends itself to any number of pedagogical techniques and activities. Seeing students actively make these connections, particularly in their academic majors, is encouraging for Champlain College Librarians. These habits of mind will serve them outside of their Core classes and outside of their academic careers. They translate into all careers and lay the groundwork for students to become lifelong learners. Students are encouraged to make connections to their real world, either for academic purposes, or to assist them in being more informed information consumers. A desired part of this process is to have students connect and integrate these habits of mind to the information landscapes they navigate in other areas of this lives. A first year Champlain College student poses a question to her fellow Marketing major students, encouraging them to consider how their web experience has been filtered. This tweet was sent following her COR 110 Information Literacy class. Bibliography Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Mezirow, J. (1997) 'Transformative learning: theory to practive', New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, pp. 5-12.

Qualter, D.M. (2010) 'Making the most of learning outside the classroom', New Directions for Tearching and Learning, 124, pp.95-103. Andy Burkhardt, Assistant Director - Digital Strategy, Champlain College Library. aburkhardt@champlain.edu @vonburkhardt
Alan Carbery, Assistant Director - Teaching, Learning & Assessment, Champlain College Library. acarbery@champlained.edu @acarbery After this session, students will be able to: Learning Outcomes: COR 110 - Concepts of The Self Elaborate on their information seeking behaviours, including but not limited to searching, using and sharing information and sources
Demonstrate an informed and responsible use of technology and information, recognizing bias and deceptions while selecting sources.
Understand the ethical and cultural implications of changing technologies and its impact on information. Reflection Questions What are some ways in which you get students out of their comfort zones?
How do you make concepts relevant and accessible to students? Reflection Questions How do you elicit student discussion?
What are techniques you use to facilitate and keep discussion going?
How can we help students find ways to connect new concepts into their daily information choices?
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