MLA/DLA 2019 Conference Highlights: What if… you can overhaul information literacy competencies, outcomes, and rubrics all in a single summer?

Each week between now and the 2019 MLA/DLA Conference, we’re highlighting one of the conference sessions sponsored by ACRL MD. The conference will be held May 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, MD.  For more information about the conference and to register, visit the MLA conference website


What if…you can overhaul information literacy competencies, outcomes, and rubrics all in a single summer?

Thursday, May 2nd

10:30 – 11:30 am

Jill E. Burke, Elizabeth Godwin, Anne Sleeman, & Jamie Witman

Four community college librarians worked during the summer of 2018 to update their library’s student information literacy competencies and Student Learning Outcomes. Our discussions resulted not in a simple update, but a substantial, critical reimagination of what students need to know to navigate the modern information landscape and how we can support faculty in identifying these competencies in freshman and sophomore work. Strategic college committee appointments enabled us to implement the products of our efforts via the institutional course and program review/development process. We will be reporting on our progress in infusing these into our activities and in the broader general education program.

MLA/DLA 2019 Conference Highlights: What if… students didn’t need to purchase expensive textbooks?

Each week between now and the 2019 MLA/DLA Conference, we’re highlighting one of the conference sessions sponsored by ACRL MD. The conference will be held May 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, MD.  For more information about the conference and to register, visit the MLA conference website


What if…students didn’t need to purchase expensive textbooks? Building an Open Educational Resources (OER) Community on Campus

Thursday, May 2nd

9:00 – 10:00 am

Erin Durham

Academic librarians can serve as powerful advocates in facilitating more inclusive and equitable access to course materials. While the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) is gaining national attention, many faculty members fail to become involved due to lack of administrative support, misconceptions of OER, and misperceptions of the challenges students face in navigating the financial costs of higher education. In this participatory session, attendees will be introduced to strategies for building support for OER communities of practice. Examples of best practices for library outreach will be shared and discussed, as well as strategies for overcoming misconceptions of OER in higher education. By building communities of OER practice on campus, librarians can play a decisive role in securing more equitable and inclusive teaching environments for current and future college students.

MLA/DLA 2019 Conference Highlights: What if… you could write a winning grant application?

Each week between now and the 2019 MLA/DLA Conference, we’re highlighting one of the conference sessions sponsored by ACRL MD. The conference will be held May 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, MD.  For more information about the conference and to register, visit the MLA conference website


What if… You Could Write a Winning Grant Application?

Wednesday, May 1st (Preconference)

1:00 – 4:00 pm

Marilyn Hatza & Erin Samarasinghe

Show me the money! In this pre-conference, come learn how to write a winning grant proposal. Presenters from the Maryland Humanities and Delaware Humanities will discuss each organization’s grant programs, systems, and evaluation processes. Through questions and answers interspersed throughout the session participants will engage in active discussion to learn more about the grant application process. After an initial introduction to the grant writing process, attendees will discuss general grant writing tips and take a deep dive into successful applications that highlight key components of DE and MD’s grant applications, including budget break down and injecting humanities content.

ID Picture: Interview with an Instructional Designer

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Instructional design (ID) is not a new field, yet it didn’t start to catch much attention in the library field until around the 2000s. In a Google Scholar search for “instructional design” and “libraries,” the very first academic library journal article that mentions the subject was published in 2000 (Dewald). By now, the term might be familiar to most, but the details could still be fuzzy. Fortunately, I am friends with Pamela Gutman, an instructional designer with the human resources department of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. She has a M.A. in computing and education and a M.Ed. in instructional technology and media, as well as more than ten years experience working in the ID field. I took the opportunity to email her some questions about ID, which she graciously responded to in detail. I’ve copied the text of our exchange below.

SG: What is instructional design? How long has the concept been around?

PG: Instructional design, sometimes called instructional systems design, is the practice of designing, developing, and delivering effective learning experiences that impart some type of knowledge, skill, or awareness. The field really took off during World War II, but it’s rooted in cognitive and behavioral psychology. You can see an infographic with a brief history of the field here: Many people have heard of the ADDIE model for instructional design – ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. There are many other models out there, but they generally cover these basic concepts of designing effective learning experiences.

SG: Can you tell me what a typical work day looks like for you? What are you working on right now?

PG: It really depends on which projects I’m actively working on that day! I have quite a few projects and programs that I’m involved with at any one time, so I do tend to have a lot of meetings and group work, and I get a lot of email each day. But most days you’ll also see me designing or developing some type of learning experience. One of my top priorities right now is working with a small team on designing training for a new buddy program, where new hires to my organization will be matched with an experienced colleague. We’re designing learning experiences for the new hire, the buddy, and also the supervisor to help them select the best buddy for that new employee. We’re still in the early stages of the design, but the final product will most likely include some combination of videos, job aids (like infographics, flowcharts, and checklists), online modules, and an in-person kickoff event.

SG: What are some major trends in instructional design that you think are interesting? What are some trends that bother you?

PG: Microlearning is a big trend right now, where content is delivered in small chunks that learners can access just-in-time. Think about the last time you needed to repair something small in your house – did you take a whole class on the subject? Probably not, you most likely watched some videos on YouTube and figured it out through trial and error. This is the same concept; making small learning experiences, like videos, on specific topics that learners can access in the moment they most need them.

I’m also extremely interested in augmented and virtual reality for learning, and I recently attended the Realities360 conference in California on this topic. Learning technologies are really evolving, and I think we’ll see even more in this space soon. I’m looking into using augmented reality for our revamped onboarding program, and I’m also investigating using virtual reality to augment some of our leadership training.

One trend that I’m not really enamored with is gamification, where learning experiences can be turned into games, complete with points, levels, and leaderboards, in order to motivate people to learn. I think gamification can be effective and motivating, but a lot of the time it comes off as gimmicky and can actually detract from learning if it’s done poorly. For example, a flashy memorization game will probably get learners to memorize the content so they can get a high score, but then they’ll quickly forget what they’ve learned. Role playing-type games that are rooted in the learner’s reality, where they are faced with realistic situations and challenges, can be very meaningful and can lead to deeper knowledge. The key is in making the experience close enough to their reality so that they are practicing the skills they are learning, and reinforcing their knowledge.

SG: What mistakes do people most frequently make when giving a course or educational session?

PG: Not spending enough time on the up-front analysis! It’s important to take your time to understand who the audience is, what they already know, and what they should be getting out of the learning experience. This includes both what you want them to come away with and why they should care. We call that the WIIFM, what’s in it for me. If learners, especially adult learners, don’t know upfront how the content is relevant for them, you may lose them completely. You want to tap into their prior knowledge and connect it to their development. There can be a lot of pressure to just create a training quickly but, without analysis and careful design first, it may not lead to the culture change or increased knowledge that you were hoping for. Similarly, people should also keep in mind that a training is not always the right answer. When conducting your needs analysis, you may discover that people already know how to do something correctly, but there’s a process currently in place that’s preventing them from doing what they need to do. In that case, you may need to work with the policy makers on changing the process itself, rather than teaching people how to work within a broken process!

SG: How have you collaborated with librarians in your role? How can academic librarians collaborate successfully with instructional designers?

PG: I haven’t worked with academic librarians in my current role, but I did frequently when I worked at a university in Baltimore. We worked together to help faculty members use technology more effectively with their students, as well as making our learning management system interface better with the library’s resources. I have also seen librarians and instructional designers working together to design courses and learning materials that facilitate mastery of information literacy skills, which is quite an effective pairing! This recording, from the University of Missouri, has some additional ideas –

SG: Do you have any recommendations for more rapid design models that librarians could use for course-integrated one-shots?

PG: It’s definitely challenging if you’re just teaching a one-off topic and don’t have much information about your students! In this case, you may want to use the SAM model instead of the ADDIE one. SAM, or the Successive Approximation Model, is an iterative development model. Instead of completing all of your analysis then all of your design and then your development, you “build a little, test a little.” Basically, you take what you do know, and make a smaller version of the final product, and get feedback from your learners. Then, you make changes based on what you learned from the previous version and repeat the process. If you’re familiar with software development, it’s the difference between using the waterfall process versus the agile process. This way, you can grow the experience as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

SG: Do you have any basic advice you would give to a librarian (or other teachers) when teaching a group of college students? What about a manager who will need to train new hires?

PG: Start with the WIIFM – what’s in it for them. How will this course/subject impact them, and why should they spend the time to go through this? Make the experience as relevant and meaningful to them as you can. And allow plenty of time for practice, and for getting things wrong! People remember more from what they got wrong than what they got right, and it’s important for them to practice the skills they are learning in a way that has realistic consequences. Even if you’re designing a simple multiple choice question to gauge their knowledge, you can turn it into a scenario asking them what they would do in a particular situation. If they get it wrong, show them what might happen in real life if they make that decision, don’t just tell them the right answer.

SG: What resources would you recommend to new instructors?

PG: Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger III, and Mark McDaniel is a pretty accessible and comprehensive guide to how people learn and what experiences are most effective. Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter) by Julie Dirksen is another fast read that explores how to make effective educational experiences. There are also many blogs, podcasts, and professional organizations out there. Personally, I’m a big fan of Cathy Moore’s blog; she frequently shares tips for workplace training and I use her action mapping approach for analysis. I’m also a member of the eLearning Guild and the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and they provide a great community and some fantastic webinars and whitepapers.

For developing presentations, online training, and other visual communications, I’d recommend the Non-Designers Design Book by Robin Williams, Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug, and Slide:ology and Resonate by Nancy Duarte. I am also a big fan of Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid eLearning Blog and the Articulate e-Learning Heroes online community! The eLearning Guild’s annual conference, DevLearn, is a great experience and can expose you to some amazing examples of eLearning from around the world.

SG: What are your favorite educational tools?

PG: For developing online learning content, I generally use Articulate products. My development tool of choice is Storyline 360, but I’ve also used Rise for fast, responsive mobile experiences. I also have Adobe Captivate, and I generally use that for experiences that require more advanced programming or more complex 508 compliance requirements. I use Audacity to record and edit audio, but I use the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite to make videos and any printed material like job aids and infographics (thank goodness for Adobe Illustrator and Acrobat Pro)! Inkscape is a good vector drawing program if you’re looking for a free option. I’ve had good experiences using Piktochart to make infographics, but I generally prefer to do my own so I have more control over the look and feel. I also use Microsoft PowerPoint a lot to create my own flat images, and I get some free photos from Icon Finder and MorgueFile.

SG: These are great, and so detailed! I had heard of the WIIFM concept through Char Booth’s book Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning, which is geared toward teaching librarians. One follow-up q: Can you tell me one idea you had for using AR for an on-boarding program? Right now I just see Pokémon jumping around.

PG: For the onboarding program, one way we’re looking at using AR is for a scavenger hunt to help people find their way around our confusing campus and to show interesting information like videos about our most important inventions or overviews of what a particular group does. Though we do have a thriving community of Pokemon Go players, that’s not our intent 🙂

Sources Mentioned

Blended Librarianship

Booth, C. (2011). Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. Chicago: American Library Association Editions.

Kammer, J., & Bossaller, J. (2019, May 18). The Instructional Designer: Opportunities for Collaboration with Librarians and Faculty. Retrieved from Blended Librarian Online Community:

Instructional Design

Brown, P., Roediger, H., & McDaniel, M. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge: Belknap Press.

Dirksen, J. (2015). Design for How People Learn. San Francisco: New Riders.

Moore, C. (2019). Cathy Moore: Let’s Save the World From Boring Training!:

Williams, R. (2008). Non-Designer’s Design Book. San Francisco: Peachpit Press.

Web Usability

Krug, S. (2005). Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd ed.). San Francisco: New Riders.

Making Presentations

Duarte, N. (2008). Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media.

Duarte, N. (2010). Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.


A Brief History of Instructional Design. (2019). E-Learning Infographics. Retrieved from

Association for Talent Development. (2019). Retrieved from

E-Learning Heroes. (2019). Retrieved from

The eLearning Guild. (2019). Retrieved from

The Rapid E-Learning Blog. (2019). Retrieved from

Sources Consulted

Dewald, N., Scholz-Crane, A., Booth, A., & Levine, C. (2000). Information Literacy at a Distance: Instructional Design Issues. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 26(1), 33-44. doi:

Shank, J. (2006). The Blended Librarian: A Job Announcement Analysis of the Newly Emerging Position of Instructional Design Librarian. College & Research Libraries, 67(6), 514-524. doi:

What if… you have a blast with ACRL MD at MLA/DLA 2019?!

ACRL MD annual conference program social mediaACRL MD is thrilled to sponsor seven programs at the MLA/DLA 2019 annual conference, May 1st – 3rd in Cambridge, MD. Each week leading up to the conference we’ll feature one of our programs. Can’t wait? Here’s a complete list of ACRL MD-sponsored programs.

What if…

Ready to join us?!

See the full program schedule, and register to attend, on the MLA/DLA 2019 conference site.

Respect Authority: Discussing Evaluation Methods and Tools

by Kelsey Diemand

In the world of librarianship and information literacy, there is always much to be said about evaluating sources. Librarians, especially in academia, are often consulted to determine if a source is credible or not. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education addresses this conversation of evaluating authority in its first frame, “Authority is Constructed and Contextual.” The frame reads, “Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used” (ACRL, 2016, p.4). This frame stresses the importance of the critical evaluation of resources, with information literate learners taking into account the context of the information. The Framework goes on to say that “Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required” (ACRL, 2016, p. 4).

newspapers lying on patio floo with houseplantsPhoto by Branden Harvey on Unsplash

So, how do we define authority? In a 2017 article, two librarians in New York began a study at their home institution of Long Island University to explore notions of authority within library instruction sessions (Angell & Tewell). In the context of their study, authority is what makes someone (in this case, an author) able to speak to a certain subject or topic, i.e. subject expertise, a special experience, or societal position. The study aimed to explore and better understand “student conceptions of source evaluation and associated ideas of trustworthiness, credibility, and authority” through different activities and methods used in undergraduate library instruction sessions (Angell & Tewell, 2017, p.96).

Angell and Tewell’s methodology spanned across a two-class session for each group of students and had students fill out a worksheet in each session. The first worksheet had students state:

  1. where they found the source
  2. the author and title of the source
  3. who wrote/contributed to the source and how could they tell
  4. how this source may be useful to the student
  5. if they would include the source in their works cited page

The second worksheet, designed for the follow-up session, included the following questions for an article chosen by the students:

  1. Do you think this is a trustworthy source? Why or why not?
  2. Who can publish on this specific topic? Whose voice might be included or excluded?

Both of these worksheet activities encouraged students to consider what made a source credible or not, how the source could be used in a students’ project, and how does authority affect what information is there. In response to the questionnaire results, the authors pointed out that there are some implications for teaching information literacy. When teaching, instructors should consider demonstrating the complexity of information’s creation and evaluation, involving students in “reflection upon the sources they use and investigating their different purposes and intents,” questioning the privileging of peer reviewed articles, and focusing or structuring one’s teaching activities upon students’ experiences and voices (Angell & Tewell, 2017, p.114).

Angell & Tewell’s practice is simply one way of addressing the evaluation of sources and conservation of authority in information literacy sessions. Some librarians utilize the CRAAP Test in their classrooms. CRAAP has traditionally stood for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose and is a popular tool to teach resource evaluation to students. In a 2018 article, the CRAAP Test was introduced to students in an undergraduate science writing course. This article poses the question, “Are students really learning to think critically about resources when the resources don’t have any identifiable flaws?” (Lewis, 2018). The author utilized the CRAAP Test to dive deeper into the given source to determine its credibility and appropriateness from the easily identifiable aspects (i.e. date, author, publisher) and by also exploring the more complex concepts of evaluation (such as bias, data without corresponding sources, etc.). The author found that while this tool can be useful when evaluating both scholarly and popular resources, this method was especially useful when applied to web-based information. The author concluded that the CRAAP Test can offer a foundational framework for students to evaluate sources and students “still need to be able to think critically about the quality of information they find” (Lewis, 2018).
hands typing on a laptop

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

I’ll end this post by highlighting a cool tool that came through the listservs recently on the topic of evaluating sources. Thanks to Jennie Callas from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside who posted this to the Information Literacy Instruction Discussion List (and who “lightly adapted” it from UW-Greenbay) — introducing: Rate My Source. Rate My Source is an interactive, web-based tool that teachers can introduce in their information literacy classes and encourage students to utilize at home. Here’s how it works: first, you enter in the title or URL of the source you plan to evaluate. Next, it asks the user a series of questions meant to probe the user into thinking about the different aspects of the source (i.e., date published, author, etc). It’s hands-on and easy to use, asks appropriate questions that get the user thinking, and provides the user with an explanation for each selection they choose (for example: when asked the date of the source, if you choose “more than 10 years old” it replies with, “Many fields of study value more current research, but there are some exceptions. Think about the importance of currency to your topic. For historical topics, it’s a good idea to check for more recent sources, but for rapidly-changing topics it is essential”). However, the tool does tend to categorize most answers into “right” and “wrong,” although there are some exceptions. This may be somewhere that some librarians may want to allow more fluidity. In that regard, this tool could be certainly customized or copycatted for a similar use at your institution or used as-is, so be sure to check it out. This tool certainly cannot replace information literacy sessions and interaction with a librarian, but it could be a useful takeaway for students to use at home with the disclaimer that when in doubt, ask your librarian!

While I am not here to tell you which method is best for addressing evaluation and authority in your classroom, I wanted to provide context of the ACRL Framework and some practiced examples. We also have to remember that criteria for source evaluation “must stay current as popular information sources change” (Angell & Tewell, 2017, p.100). Hopefully this blog post will inspire you to think about how you approach these topics at your institution.

Sources Consulted:

Angell, K., & Tewell, E. (2017). Teaching and Un-Teaching Source Evaluation: Questioning Authority in Information Literacy Instruction. Communications in Information Literacy, 11(1), 95–121. Retrieved from

Association of College and Research Libraries (2016). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Lewis, Abbey B. (2018). What Does Bad Information Look Like? Using the CRAAP Test for Evaluating Substandard Resources. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, no. 88. Retrieved from

University of Wisconsin, Parkside (2019). ENGL 100-101: Rate My Source. Retrieved from