Friday, October 8, 2010

Presidential Message- October 2010

Greetings from Michigan! Hope you are all off to a productive Fall semester. As I write this message, my eyes are continually drawn out the window, to my favorite tree. There is nothing unusual about this tree, but I love it because it is the one that heralds the new season. Today, the leaves on the top branches are already turning a lovely shade of orange and I know it will not be long before Fall is in full swing. In fact, I am happy to report that temperatures in Michigan are already cooler.

While I watch the leaves rustle on that tree, I am thinking back to our meeting in July. I can say without hesitation that it was one of my favorite SALALM conferences; my thanks to Patricia and Fernando for the excellent program and local arrangements planning. Their efforts not only made for a truly enjoyable experience, but also netted a profit of approximately $11,000! For this I must also extend my thanks to the generous support of Brown University Library and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown and the Princeton University Library.

For those of you not able to join us in Providence or who simply missed the Town Hall, Business or Executive Board meetings, I would like to provide a few highlights. Foremost in my mind are the two proposals passed at the second Executive Board meeting: 1) a recommendation from the Editorial Board to cease the printed SALALM Newsletter and integrate its contents with the SALALM website and 2) the formation of a SALALM Communication Committee. Both of these proposals spurred lively discussion during the conference at a special session, then again in the Town Hall before passing in the final Executive Board meeting. Currently, I am forming and charging the Communications Committee, whose primary task over the next several months will be to plan the transformation of the Newsletter to its online form. In the interim, the SALALM Newsletter will appear in its same format as a .pdf document. This move will have the immediate effect of saving SALALM approximately $13,000 per year in printing and postage costs. Long term, SALALM’s activities will be more visible to SALALM members and to potential members internationally. It will also allow for a more timely and dynamic news forum.

Both of these proposals developed as a result of Pamela Graham’s e-SALALM initiative, which called for a review of “routine SALALM functions (i.e. Initial memberships and membership renewals, Conference Registration, SALALM election balloting); publications (i.e. Newsletter, Membership Directory,Proceedings and other publications); Publicity and Outreach (i.e. use of blogs, Facebook,podcasts, and other social networking tools to disseminate information and engage existing and potential members); and Intra-SALALM communication (i.e. Group work spaces for committees/subcommittees;tools for sharing documents, minutes, and any project documentation etc.)”. While the Newsletter and Communications Committee proposals take us half way to completing the goals outlined by the e-SALALM proposal, there is still much to be done. To continue this work, I have re-formed the e-SALALM Ad-hoc Committee, which now includes: Alison Hicks, chair; Suzanne Schadl, Nashieli Marcano. The group will focus primarily on a review of routine SALALM functions and Intra-SALALM communication and present their recommendations at our next SALALM meeting in Philadelphia. While I look forward to the committee’s recommendations, I also want to take this opportunity to thank Pamela Graham for her excellent work in developing the e-SALALM proposal and leading this initiative over the last two years.

No less important are two further proposals made by the Editorial Board and accepted at the final Executive Board Meeting. The first changes the “José Toribio Medina Award Criteria for Nomination” at, to a prize for a noteworthy publication, instead of the more limiting book-length publication and adds journal articles to the list of acceptable formats. The second proposal gives SALALM members the option “to repost papers originally published in SALALM conference proceedings three years after they have been published with the organization” with permission of the SALALM Secretariat. Permission will be granted for non-profit, open-access purposes only.

In other news, PRI, the Policy, Research and Investigation Committee, has initiated a review of the Operations Handbook with an eye toward enhancing its content. And, the Constitutions & Bylaws committee is rewriting the SALALM Constitution & Bylaws as well as drafting an official SALALM mission statement.

As you can see, this will be a buy year for SALALM. I will do my best to keep you updated as the year progresses. I hope you will feel free to send me any comments or suggestions you might have about the initiatives mentioned or anything else SALALM related.

On a final note, I urge you to renew your SALALM membership as soon as possible. The SALALM Secretariat depends on these renewals to carry out the work of the organization. I also encourage you to contribute to the SALALM Challenge Match, which will be matched up to $1,000 thanks to anonymous donor. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to support SALALM!

Nerea A. Llamas

University of Michigan

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Instruction 2.0

Is nothing sacred? How far can the twopointopia wave go? If she thinks that I’m teaching a class via facebook while administering my twitter account all from the iphone 4, she’s got another think coming... In my previous columns I’ve written about how Web 2.0 can be used to help with various aspects of our profession. But Instruction 2.0 seems more populist than a Kirchner with an upcoming election. Should we really be using Web 2.0 tools in instruction sessions just because our students are? In short, no. My attitude to Web 2.0 is driven by the fact that it is more than a set of technologies. Web 2.0 is a state of mind that has deep social and philosophical implications and it is for that reason that instruction gets the twopoint-opian treatment. And really, instruction 2.0 is nothing new; instead, it’s about exploring the relationships between technology and pedagogy to truly take advantage of the potential of Web 2.0. It’s about a new paradigm of learning and collaboration; and if you end up throwing in a tagging schema or a flickr account then that’s a bonus. In this column I plan to explore the background of Instruction 2.0 before moving on to describe some of the theoretical constructs that drive its implementation.

What has caused this leap from Instruction 1.0 to 2.0? For a start, it’s important to recognise that the internet has reformed the concept of information. We produce over 2000 gigabytes of information a second and a wide body of human knowledge can be accessed within seconds from a variety of devices. Increased accessibility to growing amounts of information means that the concept of knowledge has to necessarily change too- knowledge became made or constructed and not found. It has become collaborative and less controlled; a far more creative approach. As a result, these evolving information and knowledge realities are student realities, and it is important that our teaching acknowledges these changes.

Recent shifts in technology have paralleled developments in learning theory. The 1970’s saw the rise of constructivist learning theory, which focused on the process of learning. Constructivism posits that learning is a complex internal process where student prior knowledge is key, and learning is a shared, active process. This has obvious comparisons with Web 2.0. The emphasis on participating and experiencing through Web 2.0 is a constructivist approach. Knowledge that is constructed collaboratively or understood through a combination of facts and human experiences is a Web 2.0 and a constructivist approach. Constructivism’s active, socially situated learning provides an ideal way to absorb the shifts in information and knowledge that form student realities today.

Notwithstanding, higher education has traditionally embraced behaviorist teaching theories that affirm that the environment or a teacher will cause students to learn. E.g. students absorb knowledge from a lecture. The teacher holds the power and responsibility and causes learning to occur. Consequently, there is an obvious disconnect between modern students who are accustomed to active control over their learning and these traditional behaviorist learning theories.

Instruction 2.0, therefore, needs to embrace the changes in the way we communicate and interact. While libraries have adapted to changing information realities, it is important that we also adapt to new learning realities in order to meet students where they are. This is different from using Web 2.0 tools because students are; it is adapting to the social and philosophical changes engendered in the information revolution in order to design for learning today. The structure and nature of the web means there is an increasing need for an emphasis on information evaluation and analysis and that library instruction is more valuable than ever. However Instruction 2.0 needs to participate alongside students in the creation of collaborative learning communities in order to meet student needs fully and to prepare them effectively for the information based future.

[I hesitated to write this column because there are a lot of far more experienced Instruction librarians in SALALM but this is something that I’ve been working on this summer and I wanted to share my preliminary thoughts. In the next column I’ll try and share specific examples of Instruction 2.0.]

Alison Hicks
Alison. Hicks @