Libraries and Flipped Classrooms
ACRL’s “Keeping Up With Flipped Classrooms” makes a very poignant statement. The author writes: “The biggest question an instructor (whether a librarian or professor) should consider is (when considering a flip): How do you want to spend your time with your students? The flipped model works best for those who want to strengthen their students’ skills rather than transmit content.” As such, the Flipped approach is very conducive for teaching information literacy, where, typically, librarians want to teach students concepts as well as hands on skills.
In 2012, ACRL published a document entitled ACRL Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices a Guideline. This document attempts to articulate elements of exemplary information literacy programs for undergraduate students at both two and four year institutions, and is divided into ten categories or components of best practices. In her article, “The Flipped Classroom as a Model, and its use for Information Literacy,” Arnold-Garza notes that these characteristics frequently match the characteristics present in flipped classrooms. This is most specifically seen in Category 7, Pedagogy, which suggests the following best practices, in terms of information literacy:
As described above, the flipped classroom really has the potential to meet all of these characteristics. Arnold-Garza thus argues that it may be ideal for use in the library, information literacy context.
Framing the Flipped Classroom as it relates to Information Literacy
It is frequently the case that libraries create videos that teach various information literacy skills. Having students watch such videos prior to library session is useful, because having students prepared for work in classroom is useful in terms of preparing them for real life work.
Arnold Garza points out that library instruction is usually focused on making sure students are prepared to replicate the search and evaluation processes that are typically demonstrated as part of one-of sessions. When librarians flip these one-of sessions, it provides an opportunity for simulation that allows for feedback and adjustment, and Arnold Garza argues, thus greater support, to the student. The author also argues that anything that librarians can do beyond the one shot IL session is worth the try, as librarians’ time is usually so limited. Ideally, when flipping the one-of IL session, the librarian integrates lots of active learning opportunities, with students practicing information seeking while the librarian is there to resolve problems and offer additional instruction. Also, this helps to meet students at their level, and also allows the librarian to get the whole class to a certain level of IL skill. Arnold Garza also points out that librarians are early instructional technology adapters. Joyce Valenza asks the question, who better than librarians to intro new teaching models, as she sees the librarian as a trusted technology scout, an expert searcher and evaluator, media trainer, collaborator, and thus qualified to serve as a connector to the flip.
In their article about the flipped IL session approach at Mary Baldwin College, Datig and Ruswick offer the four following exercises that can be used by librarians. There are numerous institutions where librarians are flipping instruction. It should be noted that these exercises, because most of the basic instruction takes place outside of the classroom, do require additional preparation time. These are:
Four Quick Activities to Incorporate into IL Sessions
1. Searching databases:
Materials given to students prior to class: a libguide with relevant search tools listed for assignments, with search tips and demos
2. Keyword searches:
Materials given to students prior to class: Prior to class, the students are given a reading on advanced searching techniques.
3. Website evaluation:
Materials given to students prior to class: students can be given video on advanced google searching.
4. Source types: examining the differences between scholarly and popular journal articles
Materials given to students prior to class: Students are given a text based research guide, short video to watch.
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