The Library Research Round Table (LRRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) recently awarded Eamon Tewell and Katelyn Angell the Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research for the article, “Far from a Trivial Pursuit: Assessing the effectiveness of games in information literacy instruction.” The study finds that students who played online games improved significantly more from pre-test to post-test than students who received a lecture in library instruction.
As Resident Librarian for Online Learning, I am interested in finding new ways to integrate technology into the library classroom. One technique, popularized in 2011, is the concept of the flipped classroom. A flipped classroom is a strategy to deliver instructional content outside of the classroom. Classroom time is devoted to discussion, activity, and collaborative learning. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures or carry out research at home and engage in concepts through activities and discussion in the classroom.
Why should you flip?
A flipped classroom’s most highlighted benefits are student-directed learning and an active classroom. Because the course materials are online, students control how they learn: they can pause or rewind videos, retake tutorials, and re-listen to lectures on their own time. Then, in the classroom, students have the opportunity to apply the concept in real-time assignments. The instructor serves as a “guide on the side,” ready to step in and help the students when they encounter problems.
So how does this look in library instruction?
A librarian interested in teaching a flipped one-shot will need to work closely with the instructor. The flip requires that students come to class prepared, so the librarian and the instructor will need to discuss how the instructional materials will be provided to the students.
Next, the librarian should consider what objectives they want covered and how that information will be conveyed. Although sometimes these items need to be created from scratch, we are actively trying to develop online tutorials and libguides that can be used for flipped classrooms.
Finally, think about how time in the classroom will be used. One of the most popular uses of the flipped model has students conducting research on their topics as the librarian acts as consultant or problem-solver. However, flipping the classroom can be any kind of collaborative, student-led work. For example, in one of her library instruction sessions, Sarah Wenzel implemented an exercise where students worked together to create an annotated bibliography.
Flipping means work (but you have friends)
As with any curriculum design, there are inherent challenges. Instructor buy-in is paramount to a flipped workshop’s success. If the instructor doesn’t ask that students engage with the prepared material before class, the students will be unprepared.
Additionally, creating the instructional videos or materials for a flipped class can be tedious. While we have a collection of material, sometimes a class will have a unique twist or unusual element that needs to be addressed.
If you wish to learn more about how to flip your classroom, or have new materials developed for a flipped experience, however, you have a couple of great resources (Julie and I!) who would be happy to help.
Flipping the Classroom: How Online Resources Enable Pedagogical Innovation (University of Chicago Divinity School)
Creating Digital Media LibGuide (University of Chicago Libraries)