Librarians as Teachers Conference – Part 2

This is part two of my write up each of the sessions from the Librarians as Teachers conference, held in Birmingham on the 10th June. If you’ve not already seen it, you can find part one here.


Teaching through games: the playful teacher librarian

Andrew Walsh, Academic Librarian and National Teaching Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, gave a brief introduction to his work on using games as part of information literacy teaching. We had rather a whistle-stop tour of several types of games he has developed, as well as some pointers for creating your own games.

Andrew first explained the idea behind using games for learning within libraries. His contact with students is very limited, and he may only see them as a group once in a year, as such Andrew wanted to make sure these lessons were as memorable as possible. Andrew believes that the use of play and games can help make these lessons ‘stick’. He uses games in combination with more traditional teaching methods and discussion.

The first thing that Andrew spoke about was Lego ‘Serious Play’ – ‘Serious Play’ a method of team building developed by Lego, which has been adapted to library teaching. One of Andrew’s colleagues had used Lego when talking to classes about literature reviews. Previously they had simply asked classes how they were getting on with the literature review, and if they were having any issues with it. This didn’t elicit much response from the students – there were perhaps a few questions, but most students would say they were getting on fine. They then started using Lego in these sessions – students were asked to build a structure from the lego that represented their literature review. The students would then have to talk to the others at their table about what they had built. The principle behind this is that it is ‘safe’ for the students to talk about any problems they may be having in metaphorical terms, where it might not be ‘safe’ for them to talk about these issues directly. After some discussion, the students would be asked to strengthen the structure they had made – essentially to build a solution to any problems – then talk about how they had strengthened the structure.

After talking about several of the games that he has developed (you can find details of these on his website), Andrew gave us list for things you need to do when creating a game. The most important thing on this list was the first item: setting learning objectives. Andrew was very clear that, while games can be a fun and engaging way for students to learn, there must always be clear objectives underpinning the game. Essentially, you must consider learning objectives first, not decide to make a game, and then decide what it can be used to teach later. You can see the list of things you need to do when creating a game on the slides from Andrew’s presentation, and I think they are really helpful, I will certainly be referring back to this list next time I’m thinking out creating a game.

You can view the slides from this presentation here.


Librarians, learning and information literacy in the digital age

Jane Secker, from the London School of Economics, covered a lot of ground her presentation, and I can’t possibly go over everything, but I will recount the part of her presentation the resonated most with me. Jane spoke about perceptions of what library staff can do outside of ‘the library bubble’.  Part of the confusion is to do with the differing terminologies used, ‘information literacy’, ‘digital literacy’ and ‘academic literacy’ are all fairly commonly used terms, with differing definitions, but Jane argued that using the terminology that the party you are talking to uses (in her case academics) is far more important than becoming hung up on slight differences in definitions. Jane also commented that when she told academic staff she was going to be talking about information literacy, all they heard was that she was going to be talking about the library. By using the terminology that the academic staff were familiar with they were far more likely to understand that she wasn’t just talking about resources or the physical library space.

You can view the slides from this presentation here.


Teaching on a shoestring: Information literacy in FE

Jess Haigh, from Leeds City College, spoke about the online information literacy game she and her team had created. The game had a murder mystery theme, and the production of it had utilized the wide range of seemingly random skills that her team had. The game incorporated video elements, in the form of news reports and suspect interviews, in order to provide the narrative backbone of the story. To progress through the game students were required to find out the answers to questions, by using the library catalogue, and a range of e-resources. The idea was that this game would be hosted on their VLE, and used at anytime with students in the classroom by their teachers. After some testing they realised that in order to work effectively a member of library staff was required in the room to answer questions and clear up any confusion.

I was really looking forward to hearing Jess’s presentation, I’ve written previously about ‘Murder in the Library’ – the murder mystery themed induction game that I developed at Reading College, and how I would like to create an online version or element to this. Between Jess’s presentation on their online game, and Michelle’s presentation on the creation of a MOOC for librarians (see part 1) I am very excited by the possibilities of developing online content. Sadly, I’m not certain that this is an idea I will be able to fully explore this summer, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind for the future.

You can view the slides from this presentation here.

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