Conferences & the Environment: High Five to LILAC!

This afternoon I returned from the LILAC 2019 library conference in Nottingham, England. I need some time (and sleep) before I put together major information literacy messages that I took away–and there are many! In the meantime, I wanted to praise LILAC and its organizer, CILIP’s Information Literacy Group, for the subtle yet noticeable efforts they took to make LILAC more environmentally sustainable. Here are a few that stood out to me. Any readers who attended, please feel free to comment and highlight more!

  1. Give only one piece of swag–and make it the best swag EVER. Case in point, this gorgeous notebook with rainbows on the sides! Quality alilac-notebooknd pragmatism. I also noticed that one vendor was giving away Cadbury eggs; those are useful, too.
  2. Speaking of vendors, focusing on sharing product information verbally, with additional material online. I chatted with a vendor for Hublet. He carefully explained that he only had one flier to give me; the bulk of the information was online. You know what? Perfect!
  3. Speaking of fliers and presenting information, many speakers either skipped using paper handouts and offered links to their information online, or provided fairly minimalist handouts. Additionally, the conference organizers asked attendees to sign up for sessions in advance (pros and cons), which allowed those who did create handouts to estimate numbers accurately.
  4. Hot beverages were served by waitstaff instead of through self-serve methods. This was subtle, but I imagine that it saved quite a lot of coffee and tea that otherwise might have been over-consumed.
  5. Holding the conference on an impressively sustainable campus, the University of Nottingham. Besides saving energy, water, and more while we were there, the various buildings on campus shared information on aspects of their sustainability through signage.

As I’m writing this, I do feel a good deal of tension over the fact that I flew to attend the conference–quite a long way, in fact. That’s something that I need to reconcile: my carbon footprint….with the fresh ideas, new contexts, and joy that I get from conference opportunities like this. I am heartened, though, at several working relationships that I formed through the conference that can be developed over Zoom.

Fellow attendees, what else stood out to you? I’d love to hear your observations, as well as ways you’ve worked balancing all the benefits of travel with a minimal carbon footprint.

This Week’s Eureka Moment: Focusing Phenomena

Those of you who know me well have probably heard me say that if I had lived during Puritan times, my name would have been Pragmatism. Useful objects, useful processes, and useful concepts make me inordinately happy. Pragmatism Sobel–that would have been me. 🙂 Of course I would not have fared well during the witch trials, but that…that is another story.

So, this week, I have been working on the presentation I’ll be giving at LILAC 2019 on using the actor-oriented transfer perspective (“AOT”) in information literacy instruction. I’ve been hyper-preparing to discuss major concepts within AOT at LILAC. As part of that, I spent time pulling together multiple examples of all the terminology, applied in information literacy. Would you like to know which AOT term sparked a “eureka moment”? Focusing phenomena.

The words “focusing phenomena” may not have lit up all of the synapses of professional excitement in your mind. But let me explain. When you’re working with AOT, “focusing phenomena” refers to all of the things that the instructor uses to help students know where to focus their attention in a particular situation. The word “things” is purposefully vague. The focusing phenomena used in a single classroom for a single purpose often refer to a collection of lesson plans, powerpoints, worksheets, posters(!), plans for activities, and more. The collection of focusing phenomena also includes completed student work. (For much more information, see Lobato, Ellis, & Munoz, 2003).

Although I’ve been working with this concept for several years now, here’s what excited me this week. One idea that I haven’t tried yet is discussing reinforcement for information literacy concepts in terms of focusing phenomena–particularly with the faculty for whom I teach. So–here are the focusing phenomena that I use to introduce and practice concepts of information literacy during my 75-minute session. What kinds of focusing phenomena can we use to help reinforce, and to help your students continue their connection with this concept throughout the semester? Pragmatic, yes?

My instruction sessions start on February 5th. Updates to come! And if you try this method, please give me a shout!

Reference

Lobato, J., Ellis, A. B., & Munoz, R. (2003). How “Focusing phenomena” in the instructional environment support individual students’ generalizations, mathematical thinking and learning, 5(1): 1-36. DOI: 10.1207/S15327833MTL0501_01