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Unconferencing the Framework: A Follow-Up to “Does the Framework”?

July 2, 2015

I’ve danced around writing about this topic for a while now since it’s still so new to me (and maybe to many of us!), but I’d love to talk about the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. I learned about perspectives on the Framework at the ACRL conference in March and heard some ways in which librarians are using the new frames to work with their faculty and students. Some choose to map the new frames to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, while others prefer to take the Framework as a brand-new, separate entity. Many map the new frames to previously existing curricula, assignments, lessons, and other materials, which were sometimes built on the old standards but can now be interpreted with the new frames as well. In short, we all seem to be working with it in many different ways, and hearing directly from other librarians about how they are interpreting and using the Framework seems to be one of the most useful steps in this process. The ACRL even includes in its Appendix 1 to the Framework the first two suggested steps: (1) Read and reflect on the entire Framework document. and (2) Convene or join a group of librarians to discuss the implications of this approach to information literacy for your institution.

As Adam Balcziunas discussed in his May 22nd post about the Framework, at the Northeast Chapter’s workshop on June 5th, we had an unconference session about the Framework. If you haven’t been to an unconference, they are sessions in which the participants generally determine the topics that will be discussed, and they are driven by discussion and conversation. In this session, our 21 participants formed three groups, each group addressing a specific topic related to the Framework. The two facilitators rotated around to all of the groups to hear and contribute to the conversations, and the large group came back together to report to everyone on their main discussion points. We had a fantastic group of librarians and support staff who were eager to share their thoughts and experiences regarding the Framework with each other and with our group as a whole.

Here are the three topics the groups focused on:

  1. How does the Framework describe the work we are already doing and help us to talk about it in a different way (or redesign it)?
  2. How do we introduce faculty to the new Framework, and how do we discuss it with them?
  3. How do we use the frames to develop instructional sessions or activities?

In a few brief descriptions, here are just a few of the main points that came of the discussions:

  1. Applying the Framework does not necessarily require a complete overhaul of established work. Frequently, the learning objectives of an established lesson, course, or assignment can be connected with the new frames, and sometimes with more than one Framework concept. Similarly, the frames can also be mapped to the syllabus of a class or to the overall curriculum and/or institutional goals.
  2. Introduce the Framework to faculty as a tool that explains what they already want their students to achieve, but the language of the Framework offers a chance to re-emphasize, refocus, and clearly define their goals. Successful work with at least one faculty member regarding the use of the Framework can lead to more faculty involvement; use your faculty success stories in outreach.
  3. As the Framework itself describes a process of creation, exploration, and conversation, more hands-on opportunities in the classroom seem necessary. Projects can include ideas such as having students create and comment on a portfolio of their own scholarship over the course of a semester. The Framework intentionally does not describe a sequence of steps, so the frames can be applied in any way that is best for the intentions of the instructor or lesson.

Are you working with groups of librarians, faculty, and/or other staff to discuss the Framework and how it can be implemented at your institution? What are some of your favorite ways to think about and implement the Framework?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2015 3:58 pm

    Hilary, keep an eye out for the College & Research Division’s Connect and Communicate Series to offer a virtual “unconference” event on the Framework that we’re developing with Leslie Christianson for the Fall! Our hope is that academic librarians from all over the state will participate in the discussion and produce information that we can share to benefit all!

    • Hilary Westgate permalink
      September 15, 2015 5:40 pm

      Hi, Jill! Thank you so much for your comment and for the information! I really look forward to attending this event this Thursday! It’s such a great topic and format, and I am excited to participate. Thanks again!

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