Reflections from LILAC 2019

Jenny Wong is the recipient of the LAS Overseas Professional Development Sponsorship in 2019. The Sponsorship is offered to encourage professional growth and to increase the knowledge of our library community. These professional development events include conferences and other learning opportunities held overseas.

Self Introduction

Jenny Wong is a Learning Services Librarian at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). She strongly believes that libraries shape the student experience. She is passionate about integrating information literacy into the curriculum and building lifelong learners.

Jenny (L), with librarians from the UK and Australia

About the Conference

Jenny attended The Information Literacy Conference (LILAC) 2019 in University of Nottingham. The 3-day conference is focused on information literacy (IL), and is organised by CILIP’s Information Literacy Group. This conference is targeted at librarians and information professionals who teach IL skills, are those interested in digital literacies and who want to improve users’ information seeking and evaluation skills.

Experience and Reflection

Attending LILAC 2019 has indeed been a great learning experience for me, where I got the opportunity to meet and interact with many excellent librarians from other countries. Of the plethora of presentations, workshops, symposiums and masterclasses, the biggest challenge I had was choosing which sessions to attend. There were no specific themes to the conference, hence to get most out of the conference, I picked sessions that sounded interesting and those that allowed me to bring ideas back to the IL Committee and my organization. These sessions were mostly centred around IL practice in academic libraries, online IL instruction and community of practice.

Opening of LILAC 2019

Over the 3 days, I attended 14 parallel sessions, 3 keynotes and a panel discussion. I was really impressed by the enthusiasm and passion of the speakers and delegates who were generous in sharing the knowledge, skills and experience. Here, I will share 3 sessions most memorable to me.

Session Title: Learning to teach, teaching to learn: a librarian community of practice cultivates a microteaching program

This was the first session I attended, and it was a great kickstart to the conference. The session touched on a microteaching programme at Ohio University Libraries to improve teaching practices of their librarians. They shared their experiences in running the workshops for teaching librarians, the process of formalising the programme and the tools created. They identified the 6 essential components of a good microteaching programme; including the ability to give and receive constructive feedback; support from the management team; commitment of time; good teaching practices and pedagogy; collaboration (community of practice); and continually assessing and improving the programme.

I left this session inspired to try microteaching during the IL Committee meetings, where librarians can take turn to deliver a microteaching lesson and give each other feedback. This will provide a practical, supportive and safe space for librarians to reflect on their teaching practices and try new techniques and approaches.

The full presentation can be viewed here.

Session Title: Here’s one you made earlier? Reframing digital literacies in the language of students and employers

This session took a form of workshop led by the librarians from The Open University. The session started with an introduction to the University’s journey to integrate their Digital and Information Literacy (DIL) Framework with the Employability Framework. They created an eye-catching Skittles infographic to show the mapping of the DIL Framework to the Employability Framework and JISC Digital Capabilities Learner Profile. It was followed by an activity where we reflected on the language and concepts used in the Frameworks, matched with the language use in the job description, and looked at students’ understanding of the DIL skills they have acquired and ability to articulate these skills to employers. The workshop inspired me to reflect whether as librarians,  we are delivering the right skills for employment, ensuring students are empowered with the skills they possess, and  if we speaking the same language as employers. In short, there is a need to understand our role in the context of employability across the Higher Education (HE) sector.

Materials used in the activity

The full presentation can be viewed here.

Session Title: Getting wicked in the classroom: incorporating complex, real-world skills into library instruction

Another session I enjoyed was by 2 librarians from the University of Colorado Denver that discussed wicked teaching in library instruction. They recommended a book by Paul Hanstedt, entitled Creating Wicked Students: Designing Courses for a Complex World, as a good introduction to using wicked problems in teaching. They defined wicked problems as “big, messy real-world issues”. Our goal is to prepare our students to feel confident and prepared to take on wicked problems in the real world when they graduate.

Principles for creating wicked learning objectives were discussed –desired learning objective can be turned into a realistic learning objective that is manageable in the classroom, based on real life scenarios (real information seeking) and built on something students already know (making connections). The learning objectives should involve relevant and obvious benefits, communication and collaboration, challenge and creativity. They also shared some ideas of nesting higher-order and lower-order thinking skills in teaching, such as through establishing peer support in the classroom, using images rather than text, using flipped learning to build lower order skills before class, scaffolding assignments that increase in difficulty, and giving instructions in multiple formats.

The full presentation can be viewed here.

Concluding Remarks

Overall, I found LILAC to be very beneficial and inspiring, and it allowed me to reflect on my own practice and consider aspects to develop further. I am grateful to LAS for awarding me the LAS Overseas Professional Development Sponsorship to attend this conference, which was an extremely valuable experience that deepened my professional knowledge and competency in information digital literacy.