Take a Course with Rule Number One! (Redux)

Good news, folks: The Rule Number One team – none other than the esteemed Dani Brecher Cook, and the begrudgingly tolerated Kevin Michael Klipfel – are going to the line for an ‘and one.’

That’s right! – starting August 10th we’ll once again be leading  “Learner-Centered Reference and Instruction: Science, Psychology, and Inclusive Pedagogy,” an online course we created and are offering in collaboration with ALA/RUSA Online Learning.

Here is some basic info about the course:

This course will introduce library practitioners to empirically sound approaches to learner-centered teaching that can be applied to creating effective reference and instruction services that maximally facilitate student learning. The first part of the course will be devoted to understanding the current science of how students learn from the perspective of cognitive and educational psychology, and concrete ways that library practitioners can apply this learning to the library context. The second part of course will deal with motivational aspects of learning: What does the psychological research say about what makes students want to learn, and how can we use this research to motivate information literacy learning? The final part of the course will cover issues of diversity and inclusive pedagogy from within the framework of culturally responsive pedagogy: In a diverse educational landscape, how can we construct our teaching so that it includes, rather than alienates, as many students as possible?

The aim of this course is to give librarians the tools to feel more confident in their instructional strategies and ability to support student-centered learning. Not only will the course introduce participants to scientifically grounded pedagogies, but will lead them through exercises to concretely apply these theories to their own library contexts. This course will be of interest to any librarian who engages in reference or teaching, and is unique in providing a current overview of the current educational literature alongside practical strategies.

We had a really awesome experience teaching this course last month, learned an enormous amount, and were pleased to learn that many people found the course not entirely unpleasant as well. If you, too, are looking for a not entirely unpleasant experience, where you’ll learn about scientifically sound instructional pedagogies; how we might apply them to academic libraries; interact with your peers interested in these issues; and receive state of the art personalized feedback from your very own Rule Number One blogger, you can register for the course here.

And don’t hesitate to get in touch with us (if you have questions about the course) or ALA folks (if you have questions about registration).

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Filed under Bibliographic Instruction is Dead, Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

On Carl Rogers

A colleague recently asked me who my favorite learning theorist is.

“Rogers,” I told him. “Carl Rogers.”

Carl Rogers

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Quotes

Friday Quote

“Are you happier?” I ask him. “Were you ever clinically depressed?”

He nods. “I think I was quite clinically depressed. I feel so much happier now.”

“Is it a natural change? Something that comes with age?”

“With age,” he says, “you can put things in perspective and realize how absurd people are. When you’re younger, you feel that if a person is a lawyer or an accountant or a high court judge, they must actually know something.”

Morrissey, 2004 interview, Beverly Hills, CA

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Filed under On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Quotes, The Library Game

The Librarians are Hiding Something

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Filed under ...Etc., On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

On Citing Blog Posts in Professional Literature and Discussion: How Seriously Should We Take Blogging?

I very rarely check out our stats, referrers, or things like that, but doing so just now reminded me of something minor but that always strikes me as somewhat odd: people citing blog posts as evidence in (our) professional literature. I’ve noticed now, a couple times, people having done that about things I’ve said on the blog, and it raises for me several I guess you would call “meta-issues” related to blogging and scholarship.

I suppose, in part, all of the issues stem from tension between (a) the seriousness and effort I put into what I’d call my “real” work: the things I put an enormous amount of thought into and end up publishing in peer-reviewed, professional journals and (b) stuff I blog about and just sort of write off the top of my head.

Maybe this is just me, but I, for one, don’t take blogging all that seriously, in the sense that it’s more like me thinking out loud: about stuff I’m thinking about, stuff that annoys me, stuff I want to get others’ input about, and so forth. I remember when I was a philosophy graduate student having drinks and dinner with a person who has a very famous academic blog. Someone was saying he should write about so and so serious topic and he replied “It’s just a blog.” This, I thought, gave the appropriate amount of weight and importance to an “academic” blog: yeah, it does have a level of seriousness because the subject matter is, after all,academic, but, on the other hand, it’s just a blog.

Now, maybe this attitude is no longer a viable one in 2015 as it was back when I was a philosophy student: blogs are just taken more seriously as part of the scholarly conversation now. That’s fine, and perhaps I should get with the times. I do think, though, that it takes away a lot of the point of blogging in the first place when we start elevating the level of scholarly importance that we often treat them in the library profession. One thing that’s nice about blogging as opposed to what I’d think of as real scholarship is precisely the fact that I don’t have to hold myself to as high a standard of rigor blogging as I do in a scholarly article. Blogging affords the blogger the chance to put ideas out there, to test them, and so forth, in a quicker, easier, more casual way than you can do with a peer-reviewed article. An average peer-reviewed article takes me at least a year; a blog post takes me anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour. So it always seems strange to me that people would cite stuff from a blog in a serious scholarly conversation, even though it makes sense to me for other bloggers to refer to other stuff bloggers say within the realm of the “blogosphere,” as it were.

So, one question might just be a sort of quasi-empirical one: why are people citing blogs as if though they’re actual, serious scholarship?

Another question: Does one have an obligation to maintain blog posts as part of the permanent record of scholarly conversation? For example, there’s stuff I’ve posted after about five seconds of thought that people have ended up citing, and I’m like … huh, I don’t even like care about this that much, and now it’s getting cited, and my inclination has been to delete it (because, frankly, I think they shouldn’t have cited it as evidence for what they’re taking it as evidence of in the first place). So do we have some kind of obligation to maintain that kind of thing? You, of course, can’t e-mail C&RL and be like, hey, just playin’ with you about that article, I’d like it back now. But I could delete this whole blog in like three seconds, and, let’s face it, the world wouldn’t be much worse off. I guess there’s always “Way Back” stuff where you can get old internet sources, but still.

Of course, the strangeness I experience over the blog-citing thing may have nothing to do with any of these objective issues of scholarship, and more to do with my own subjective experience blogging, where I don’t really ever consider the fact that someone is actually going to read any of this. This blog, for me, is more or less just a personal diary as it relates to our profession, and, as such,  I give very little thought to how it’s going to be recieved at all. But maybe that’s more of a 2001-era LiveJournalish view of blogging and I should get hip.

Or not.


Filed under On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

Friday Quote

I knew the man he was and I didn’t really care about what everybody else thought of him.

-LeBron James on J.R. Smith


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Filed under Education, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

Learning Styles: The Educational Myth that Just Won’t Die (Especially in Academic Libraries)

Well, here we go again.

This time the culprit’s an article in the brand-spankin’ new issue of College & Research Libraries (who, ironically enough, recently published a little credo about raising the stakes for research done in the profession) entitled “Learning Style Dimensions and Professional Characteristics of Academic Librarians“:

The article’s question:

Do librarians with different characteristics, such as type of work responsibilities or age, have different learning styles?
Though the article hand-waves and refers to one 2005 article they cite as evidence of the continued validity of learning styles, they ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence that there’s simply no scientific reason to believe that teaching with one’s “preferred learning style” in mind actually enhances anyone’s learning . Despite this, the author’s systemically measure librarians’ preferred learning styles, and suggest things like:
In the classroom setting, learning styles need not be used to prescriptively modify
learning materials or attempt to match learning plans to specific individuals, but instead
as a framework by which educators can understand the diversity of their students and
by which individuals can reflect on their own tendencies in teaching and learning. Both
self-awareness and awareness of others’ potential differences can enhance teaching and
learning. Specifically, learning style assessments may encourage librarian-teachers to
recognize when an alternative teaching style is desirable and to expand their teaching
style to accommodate a larger variety of learning styles.
Perhaps, too, we might suggest that therapists in 2015 heed Descartes’ 17th century belief that depression may be the result of too much black bile floating around in one’s skull – you know, as a way of thinking about the wide array of compassionate alternative perspectives we might take toward depressed persons. Sure, it’s not true, but how else could we possibly take into account diverse perspectives on such a complicated issue?
Educational psychologists – even ones who recognize the central importance (and deep cognitive complexity) of information literacy – have long recognized that learning styles are an “urban legend” not based in fact. Hopefully someday more librarians will think evidence about student learning is worth taking seriously too.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game