Hey. I posted over at ACRLog!

If you were wondering why I have not written anything substantial for this space in a few days (I mean ponies and coffee?), it is because I have been working on a couple other writing projects.

Today, I am a guest poster over at ACRLog. I talk about the Serious Games movement and how a shift in game content can help libraries. ACRLog has been trying to expand their offerings and I think that they are doing a fine job. I was very pleased to be asked.

I have also been working on the second installment of the Unsucking Online Education series at TechSource which should be coming up soon.

Lastly, I have been working on a couple ALA projects. One, I am extremely excited about and will tell all details… tomorrow. Here is a teaser:

What happens when a group of determined individuals gets told no? We find a way to create something fun, different, and as inclusive as possible. What am I talking about? Well wouldn’t you like to know…

–Jane, stay tuned

I Can Honestly Say, “It was… interesting.”

ACRL President’s Program 2006

I am always amused when an organization uses a program to hand out awards and do business type things. You have an audience that is here for the program, a captive audience before which you can present awards to people, because then you will have someone to clap while you take the “shake hands and smile picture.” I like that LITA presents their awards separate from a program.

This debate has the longest title of any program I have ever attended. The Emperor Has No Clothes: Be It Resolved That Information Literacy Is a Fad and a Waste of Librarian’s Time and Talent, a Debate. Seriously, that is the entire title. I should have known from this beginning, that it was going to be an arduous path.
Affirmative:
Jeffery Rutenbeck
Associate Professor and Director, Digital Media Studies, University of Denver
Stanley Wilder
Associate Dean, Library, University of Rochester

Negative:
Gary Radford
Professor of Communication Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Julie Todaro
Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College

The moderator, Jim Neal, spends a great deal of time explaining why they decided to do a program that directly challenges a sacred cow of ACRL libraries. [I think it is imperative that we look at our values and policies. What good is a sacred cow if you do not know what you can make with it? In another sense, what good is faith that is never tested? What good is faith if we can not explain it? Questioning our values helps us to understand them better.]

[I am in a corner and can not see the screen but whatever.]

Stanley Wilder is the first speaker: Affirmative
Information literacy was born in the 80’s [actually is was first discussed, in regards to teaching librarians to be instructors, in literature in the early 70’s] and has been around too long to be a fad. There is an absence of faculty and student support. There has been no empirical testing to prove that IL is successful. A student’s objective is their coursework. [yes and IL helps students do their research.] He asks if it helps students do better course work. [the literature says it does] Search complexity is not a teaching moment. [He is right about that.]

[There is a librarian in front of me drinking from the kind of bottle you use in chemistry, the opaque plastic ones with the tiny mouth and screw top lid. No kidding. Plus, there is a woman right behind him with these crazy see-through puffed sleeves who falls asleep about halfway through the program.]

[Stanley Wilder is saying that IL does not help students with assignments or help faculty to create better assignments, but that is what we do with IL at my library.]

Julie Todaro gets up and speaks to the negative.
Five types of scholarship
Scholarship of discovery, integration, application, teaching, and artistic endeavor
Julie gets it right that IL has been around almost a century, under different names.
Is this a waste of our time? It is one of our primary responsibilities, seamless integration into the curriculum. Seamless delivery, under the radar.

[There are cheerleaders and the audience participates. I do not participate, but I inwardly groan. This is what my brother and I call cheese wiz for the old people. Predictably, the audience appears to love it. *sigh* This is when I decide it might be time to leave soon. I am not the target audience for this.]

Jeff Rutenbeck: Affirmative
[I am at the point where everything now sounds like blah blah blah]
There are many kinds of literacy. The idea of literacy is “washed out” and washed up. Literacy is something you do at a moment in time; it is not something you have. Literacy is an ideological practice and favors particular ways of thinking and organizing. What does our current info lit structure favor and benefit? [I am sorry, how is this an argument? These things are true. The idea of literacy does keep changing quickly. So what does this have to do with teaching or not teaching? No matter what trendy name we give it, people will still need certain skills to write better papers and do better research. I wonder if he would argue that Math is washed up?]

Gary Radford: Negative
These efforts are crucial to faculty being successful by helping them to get students to experience the wonder of discovery. Good scholarship breeds healthy skepticism. Students have to be taught to effectively use information: information literacy. Info Lit is about teaching a changed attitude. It is a way of being in a world of changing information. We need information to understand information. Librarians should not give up on the students. They need to learn and be pushed to understand information better.

[I decide I am tired of sitting on the floor with legs falling asleep for a program whose "interludes" make me want to find a sharp stick and poke out my eyes. Because that would be actual fun. I am going back to my hotel to write.]

Later: I am not sure that the gimmick of the debate worked. It would have helped if the debaters were using actual statistics, but I did not hear one statistic the entire time I was in the room. I am a little appalled that the dean of a library would actually think that teaching students information literacy, regardless of label, has only existed for 25 years. I was very disappointed in this program, which had an interesting premise but fell short. I think for me, the “Interludes,” meant to lighten the mood, only drove home that there is a huge disconnect in ACRL between the NextGens and the older librarians. Yes, I just made a huge generalization and not everyone will fit into it, but it is there none the less.

At the beginning of the program, the ACRL president gets up and says she wanted a program that people would be talking about for years to come. I think that will happen pretty definitely, though not in the way she intended.

–Jane, shakes head and sighs to self

The Cost of E-Learning

What is the cost of e-learning? By e-learning, I mean small seminars or one hour talks given by notables in the field, usually on some technology topic.

Last week, I “attended” Michael Stephens OPAL talk on the top technology trends in libraries. The software was advanced, yet easy to use and it was a delightful experience. After each presentation, OPAL archives everything so that those that missed the live cast can go back and view the presentation. They offer topics on a wide range of topics and they are all free.

Today, in my email I received a notice that ACRL is hosting a webcast on top technology trends given by the glorious Roy Tennant, whom I love and adore. Wonderful! Then, I remember ALA and ACRL’s ability to take things that should be free or cheap and place them out of reach of normal librarians. I clicked on the register and information link only to have my fears confirmed.

For this one hour talk on technology, which I am sure will be great, ACRL is charging $50! $50 for something that could easily be free. I know they want to make a profit on everything, but we are discussing software that is free (should you choose wisely) and information I can find elsewhere.

If money is such an issue, charge something reasonable, like $5 or $10. Not $50. That is a third of my monthly grocery bill. For two people.

WTF ACRL? WTF.

–Jane, seriously, WTF

Immerse Yourself in Teaching

Shameless Plug:

The University of Houston and The University of Texas are co-hosting a Texas Immersion with the Association of College and Research Libraries from July 14-19, 2006. From the website:

This nationally acclaimed program provides librarians with the opportunity to work intensively for four-and-a-half days on all aspects of information literacy. Whether your institution is just beginning to think about implementing an information literacy component or whether you have a program well under way, the Immersion Program will provide you with the intellectual tools and practical techniques to help your institution build or enhance its instruction program. Applications must be postmarked or emailed by March 22, 2006. All academic librarians are eligible to apply. You need not be a resident of Texas to attend. For the application and more information, please visit the official website.