This week’s readings focused on different ways of designing online learning modules (screencasts and online tutorials), as well as a more broadly applicable method for designing one-shot instructional sessions (the ADDIE model, pictured below).
One issue I kept coming back to while reading these materials were the “evaluation” and “analysis” steps. It seems that the analysis and evaluation steps are two of the most important steps in the model for designing effective instruction, but they are also two that are the most often overlooked, and the most difficult to accomplish, especially in library instruction situations. In their discussion of money, the author of Creating the One-shot Library Workshop notes that one important thing to consider allocating funds for is to “[e]ncourage a client to help design and administer an evaluation of the learners’ paper, presentation, or other such product” (p. 16, Veldof, 2006). It does seem very important to have the client involved in the design of the evaluation process. As librarians, we can evaluate how well our actual teaching went, but to be effective, the skills we hope to impart through our instruction need to be long lasting and profound. We don’t always have the access to our learners to be able to see whether or not this is the case, though, so we need to keep in contact with those who will have access to our learners in order to judge the ultimate success of our instruction. However, in a lot of the library instruction situations I’ve read about or experienced, this kind of connection can be quite lacking.
As an example, in her 2010 article “Is an Online Learning Module an Effective Way to Develop Information Literacy Skills,” Nicole Johnston that “[a]necdotal evidence from the lecturer suggested that this transfer of skills had indeed taken place, but further research on assessing the quality and extent of this transfer needs to be undertaken”(p. 216). This is the problem I’m pointing out – often what passes for “evaluation” of library instruction sessions tends to be either (a) questionnaires that seem particularly prone to bias (as shown elsewhere in Johnston’s article) or (b) anecdotal evidence from instructors. I don’t mean to seem like I’m saying this is the librarians’ fault, however. It most certainly is not – the blame for this lack of collaboration between instructors and instructional librarians seems to rest, at least in large part, on the instructors themselves, or at least on the culture and structure of many higher-education institutions.
As librarians, we often seem like we want to remain neutral on some topics. The ALA Code of Ethics, after all, calls for remaining “unbiased” and “courteous.” However, it seems that this is a situation in which, in order to best help our patrons, we need to get a little more pushy. It can’t be acceptable for instructors to think that all students need to do to unlock their “Information Literacy Badge” is to attend a few (or sometimes only one!) workshop or class with a librarian. This kind of instruction and training is going to require a much closer collaboration between librarians and other instructors. All the steps of the ADDIE process can involve this collaboration, but it seems that, at the very least, librarian/instructor collaboration MUST occur during the evaluation phase. How can we know if students have truly learned anything if we only see them during a couple one-hour workshops during their 4-year college career?