Using Democratized Learning within the One-Shot Library Instruction Session

Your Name and Title: Megan Bennett

Library, School, or Organization Name: n/a

Co-Presenter Name(s): n/a

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: North Carolina, USA

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s):

  1. Experienced instruction librarians who are looking for new classroom approaches; and
  2. New instruction librarians who want to learn more about critical pedagogy and improving their active learning strategies

Short Session Description (one line): Interactive lesson about how to use democratized learning within the one-shot library instruction session

Full Session Description (as long as you would like): 

Due to her experience teaching English abroad, the presenter argues that active learning is but one part of “problem-posing education,” and posits that democratized learning is the way to improve upon active learning, which             has become increasingly commonly used in academic library instruction sessions. Active learning differs from the traditional method of instruction in which a learned and wise instructor stands at the front of the classroom and lectures, as active learning encourages students to move about the room and ask questions, as well as encourages the incorporation of gamification into lessons. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paulo Freire was highly critical of this traditional instruction method, referring to it as the “banking” concept – the instructor deposits knowledge within the minds of their students. Freire then proposed what he calls “problem-posing education” as a way to create a dialog between the instructor and the students. Active learning is usually considered one of the best ways to teach using “problem-posing education.”

“Democratized learning” describes how an instruction librarian uses the principles of democracy during their teaching. This means allowing the students to vote on sections within the class, such as what order they learn something in or how they learn something. Democratized learning is sometimes referred to as “negotiated learning;” the two terms are interchangeable.

The current literature for democratized learning is about what would be better described as self-directed learning, such as when a graduate student is able to choose which classes they take as long as they take certain required courses or when students are responsible for creating the syllabus during semester/year-long classes. The presenter posits that the literature can be updated to include current practices.

How does the one-shot library instruction session, as currently taught by a librarian at a large public four-year research institution, incorporate democratized learning? Simple – the librarian allows the students to choose how they will learn the material, but not what they will learn.

During an instruction session, the presenter had the students vote on how they wanted to learn about peer-review: did they want to watch the short video or did they want their librarian to explain it to them? Democratized learning also allows the instructor to change from their lesson plan mid-lesson to teach what the students need the most. This presenter uses informal polling to determine knowledge gaps within the class, and then spends more time on the materials the students know less about and conversely, less time on the materials with which the students are already acquainted, which makes the sessions more accessible.

The importance of using democratized learning within one-shot library instruction sessions can be summed up as that it allows for a better ability on the part of the instructor to meet the needs of the students during library instruction. If the students are all familiar with using a subject-specific database, then the librarian needs to spend no instruction time on that database, which frees up the librarian to spend time on what the students need to learn.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session: n/a

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