The third session I attended at ODCE was given by give librarians from the University of Cincinnati: Pam Bach, Ted Baldwin, Jan Carlin, Cheryl Ghosh, and Olga Hart. I have attended sessions given by many of them in the past at ODCE and ALAO and each time I come away with a little bit more. Towards the end of the session someone asked why the UC librarians are completely on-board with PBL. It was explained that a few years ago the University decided to focus on PBL to strengthen the academic program in hopes of retaining students. The librarians brought themselves up to speed and are using PBL in their instruction sessions.
The main thing to remember with PBL is for everyone to understand their roles. Instructors are now mentors/guides and students are the ones truly in charge of the learning.
A great problem includes:
- dramatic appeal
- multiple solutions
Using PBL in library instruction:
- Problem is presented
- Students identify what they already know and what they need to know
- They brainstorm on where to start and then start conducting library research
- There is a feedback loop where they see where they are and if necessary start searching in another resource
- They solve the problem/complete the task
- At the end it is good to have a group wrap-up, mini lecture, class discussion, or group presentation to tie it all together.
Librarians as PBL instructors:
- Start with learning outcomes to make sure your problem asks the right question to achieve your objective.
- Use brainstorming, round robin, or prioritization to facilitate active learning and guide the students.
- Get feedback throughout the process to keep things on track and improve for next time
University of Cincinnati's PBL web site
University Libraries PBL web site with example PBL problems used in library instruction
The second session I attended featured Kelly Broughton and Bonnie Fink from Bowling Green State University. Their session focused on the intersection of online instructional design and problem based learning. Kelly described her experiences designing and using an information literacy module developed for an apparel marketing course. Bonnie spoke to her experience developing an online research module for technology students. Bonnie also spoke about designing instruction for adult learners.
The big points I came away with:
- start with an audience analysis to balance the competing nature of perfect instruction with how student's will use it
- context is critical for on-line learning
- the experience must be memorable and influential
- including quality feedback mechanism helps to validate and refine
After their presentation they distributed an annotated suggested reading list. They both recommended Michael Orey's eBook Learning, Teaching, and Technology and Martin Ryder's Instructional Design Models web site as excellent resources for online instructional design. A participant also recommended the PBL Clearinghouse at the University of Delaware as a good problem based learning resource.
There was a lot of discussion at the end about when to use PBL. Many participants felt that PBL works best with juniors and seniors. It was also suggested that if PBL is used with freshmen and sophomores the exercise should be smaller or the problem should be more defined.
Dr. Christina Bonner, Reference & Instructional Services Librarian at Ohio Dominican University Library presented the first session I attended. Christina described how they have developed an online information literacy and library orientation module that is used by their first year instructors as part of their seminars. The module includes a virtual library tour and four sub-modules that cover library research. The sub-modules include auto-graded quizzes.
The primary issues that came up during this project included: major time commitment, expectations of this module…not designed to replace face-to-face instruction, coordinating communication among all invovled, instructors having varying comfort levels with course management system, and gaining full participation by the first year instructors. Christina involved those in attendance by trying to think about the different roles a librarian might play in a similar project.
I sat next to Christina during lunch and had a chance to ask her about how they did first year library orientation and instruction prior to this online module. She indicated that they use to have an opportunity to meet with the students twice, but that number had recently been reduced to a single visit and they were trying to figure out how to fit everything in. I told her we were in the same position here at Muskingum and we're still trying to find a better way to get the first years comfortable with the physical layout of the library as well as get them prepared for finding, evaluating, and using information effectively.
Christina's slides, course syllabus , and selected reading list are mounted on the ODCE site.