13 April 2010

Reflections on LILAC 2010. Simply put: awesome, educational, inspiring.

Sorry for the delay in wrapping up and putting together my collective thoughts on LILAC. As soon as I got home, I was pummeled by the flu but finally, I am clear headed.

My first thought on LILAC is much the same as last year: this is a fantastic conference. In every way. Unlike any conference I've been to in the US, they feed you. A lot. But much more importantly is that my mind is fed. LILAC is like a smorgasbord for anyone interested in information literacy. For me, it helps to break it down into digestible bites.

My theoretical cravings were satisfied by Andrew Whitworth. His talk on the relational frame for IL cemented a lot of my frustrations with the thinking about information literacy, particularly in the States. His push for us to broaden our expectations of student use of information beyond the library and into the way they use information entirely by paying attention to behaviors pinpointed the theme of the conference for me. It seems like the UK infolit contingent is much more focused on a palpable change: students changing their behaviors. The focus seems to be less on whether a student CAN use a database or find a particular kind of source and more on whether a student, of their own volition, will choose to do so. That, to me, is the goal that what should be seeking: giving students a framework with which to relate to the information available to them and their information needs. That is something I have to think a lot about in the coming weeks as I try to develop a role for IL in Champlain's College Capstone. And Whitworth, among others, gave me that intellectual framework to build off of. I love that.

My professional development cravings were satisfied by Michelle Schneider and Dan Pullinger from the University of Leeds. Their session was wonderfully interactive but it also really gave me pause for thought about what I need to learn more about in order to be the kind of teacher I want to be. I certainly walked away from this conference feeling like I could really use a solid grounding in educational development, theory, teaching and learning. That feeling was reinforced by Ralph Catts talk to librarians about trends in higher ed. While his talk was a bit alarming, the part that really stuck with me was in terms of what we could learn in terms of education, assessment, metrics, and original research. And the workshop I went to on "How to Interpret Research on Information Literacy and Library Instruction" really showed me how much I have to learn about hard research. It is one thing to help people identify their research needs and help them find material but another to turn the tables onto your own work. It was truly eye opening.

I also appreciated the way in which this conference encourages people to talk about what works but more so, what doesn't. The best example of this was a talk about student use of scholarly research. This, to my mind, is where information literacy instruction falls short. We focus a great deal on teaching students what to look for and where to look for it but we don't talk about how to use it once they've found it. We assume that someone else will teach that. Stephanie Rosenblatt from CalState Fullerton really emphasized this in her talk.

The other thing that I have simmering on the stove from LILAC is what more I can do with surveys, both formal and informal. We've shied away from surveys at Champlain, largely because I've had my hands full with designing the curriculum, implementing it using inquiry, and getting data out of ePort. But from presentations like Sara Miller's, and even more so this presentation on Digital Native's use of information, I really have started thinking what role surveys might play in improving our teaching and in diversifying our assessment strategy.

What else should I say? I was excited to see more Americans at LILAC this year. I was also terribly impressed by the quality of the presentations. There was not a single presentation where I asked myself what I was doing there. Everyone I met was kind, interesting, and proud of the work they are doing. Truly, LILAC has become my favorite conference. And I look forward to more of them in the future!

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