This is the seventh in a series of post about my experience of IFLA WLIC 2016. Other posts can be found here.
It's now day three of the conference for me and the fatigue is starting to set in. It might just be jet lag or it might be that I've never been to a conference that is this full on (or long) before. By this time in the process things are usually winding down and I'm getting ready to leave but the conference still has two days to go plus n all day visit on Friday. I'll be glad to get to my vacation afterwards!
Today was a bit of a mixed bag session wise and I ended up jumping around quite a bit. This is common practice in US conferences but something it has taken a bit of getting used to. At first I was quite British and polite and didn't move sessions. Then I realised that if I'm not learning anything I really needed to go somewhere where I was. IFLA sessions are structured as lots of little sessions within a larger one, so even if you join one halfway through you will be able to catch up.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates
Wes Moore is in his own words "a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, social entrepreneur". He speaks candidly about his past and is passionate about education for young people. He talked about the importance of libraries, not just to him personally but to everyone. Everyone is welcome in libraries, they are places which don't (or at least shouldn't) discriminate against who uses them. Moore talked about how important this is to those who have no other access to safe spaces to learn and showed how easily young people can get lost in a system. He talked of living up to expectations and how these are often imposed by other people. If people think you won't amount to anything you begin to believe it yourself. Libraries are working to help change this by offering educational opportunities. It was a powerful message and a great start to the day.
All About E-Learning: Toward Connection, Collaboration, Community
My current role involves a lot of teaching so I was keen to attend this session. The talk that stuck with me the most was given by Sheila Corrall of Pittsburgh University. As someone who teaches LIS students, both in person and online, she had a lot of insight into the transition to e-learning. There has been a huge increase in the uptake of online courses in recent years but people are still cautious due to perceived stigmas about digital courses. They are sometimes seen as lesser by employers and participants as they think that they are not as rigorous as in person courses. However Corrall showed that online learning produces students who are more engaged and better able to take part in communities of practice in the future. Learning online suits some people who feel better able to reflect and communicate in that environment.
Corrall also talked about the online course which Pittsburgh offers to its instructors to prepare them for teaching online. This three week course not only looks at creating content and assessing learning but gives participants a chance to do some online learning. This is an advantage as it gives them a chance to experience what their students will be going through. Online learning is an adjustment from face to face learning and I think sometimes those who create online content forget this which is why this course is a great idea.
One of the ways in which LIS students learning is assessed is through their online interactions and message boards. They take to this with enthusiasm but this results in a lot of work to be marked. To solve this problem the course practices a self-assessment model where students pick their three best posts, assess them against a rubric and then submit for instructor marking. This way they get the chance to interact, reflect and get feedback from a teacher. A similar model is applied to creating a research plan - students work on it section by section, submit it for both instructor and peer review and then rework it. At the end of the process they have a fully formed and assessed plan.
I'll be taking a lot away from this session to use in my own work. The cogs in my brain are already turning.
How to Get Published in Journals
I'll admit that I attended this session with an ulterior motive. We are just about to start offering something similar to our research community and I wanted to do a little spying! Aside from the obligatory advertising this session by Sage and the IFLA Journal was interesting and contained a lot of good tips. It's not good practice to submit the same article to more than one journal simultaneously but it's quite common. This is a question we get from researchers all the time but I was surprised to find out how widespread the problem is.
Data Across Borders: Discovering and Describing Rare Materials
This session felt like a return to familiar territory. I worked as a cataloguer for a number of years so the discussion was familiar. I came in late so missed much of the discussion but caught the part about the guidelines proposed for metadata for rare materials. There was a lot of discussion about people who are not information professionals preparing metadata for their collections and whether this should be standardised. At what point do we become a hindrance rather than a help when it comes to forcing our systems on others? Maybe we should be thinking about how to make people more aware of our existing systems so they don't reinvent the wheel rather than trying to force them to use something without explaining why.
Tonight is the 'cultural evening' (read: party) where we will be exposed to food an entertainment from around the US. It's also going to be a chance for me to meet with people I've talked to on Twitter so hopefully it will prove a lot o fun. Photos to follow tomorrow...