Ideas for Incorporating Transliteracy in the Classroom

from Horia Varlan on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

One of the frequent questions I’ve encountered from academic library instructors goes something like this: “Transliteracy sounds like an interesting concept, but how do I use it in my library instruction sessions?” It’s a very good question; how can transliteracy inform the typical one-shot library instruction class? I’ll be addressing this issue at LOEX in a few weeks, so I can’t give away the answer just yet. But, in the meantime, I’d like to point out a recent article that provides substantive, practical, and engaging classroom techniques founded in transliteracy.

The word ‘transliteracy’ does not appear anywhere within Greg Bobish’s recent contribution to the Journal of Academic Librarianship. His article, “Participation and Pedagogy: Connecting the Social Web to ACRL Learning Outcomes,” is directed at effective methods for incorporating social media into the traditional library instruction session. Importantly, he makes the case that “instruction designed to take advantage of [Web 2.0] tools’ capabilities on their own terms,  however, will prepare students to directly apply information literacy skills as these technologies are increasingly encountered in daily life” (p. 55). Put another way, incorporating social media into the library instruction curriculum can add a familiar, effective, and transferable skill-set for addressing the critical ACRL Information Literacy Standards. As Bobish concludes his article, social media and related technologies

present a golden opportunity, not generally available previously, for students to see the real world relevance of the skills that they learn through information literacy instruction and to learn how information is created and shared by doing it themselves rather than hearing about it. (p. 63)

Yet, though he does not directly address transliteracy, his approach is an excellent example of transliteracy in practice. Transliteracy is all about the ability to move across competing literacies, and one way to address this in instruction is to emphasize cross-platform (or “multimodal”) research skills. That is, we need to teach skills and concepts that are transferable between radically different media. So, rather than treat library instruction as a class on “library skills” we can address information literacy more broadly, divorced from any particular information source. Bobish’s article reinforces this need for transferable information literacy instruction, insofar as he provides great examples for classroom activities that engage the students on their own information turf (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), yet still teach the kinds of skills that are needed in academic research.

Best of all, Bobish suggests an activity for each and every performance indicator in the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards. For example, to meet the performance indicator I.1.e (the student identifies key-concepts and terms that describe the information need), we might have students run blog-posts, articles, or wiki-pages through Wordle to find the best keywords. To meet  performance indicator II.2.c (selects controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source), we might use social bookmarking sites like Delicious or CiteULike as a parallel to subject headings. In total, there are 87 suggested activities for using social media to teach information literacy skills in the library classroom.

Of course, not all of the selected activities are going to work in your library instruction program. Many of them require a level of interaction that is difficult to achieve in the traditional one-shot library session. Several of them require some reworking to address possible FERPA concerns. Others can be met using different social media. But, at the very least, the ideas presented can be helpful if you are trying to figure out new and engaging ways to address information literacy competencies that transfer across multiple literacies. As an earlier review on Ink and Vellum sums it up, Bobish’s article “takes a step beyond simply using Web 2.0 for its entertainment value (or just because we can) and asks students to question the platforms they use daily to communicate information, both personal and professional.” In other words: it’s one way to answer how we can teach transliteracy in the classroom.

Recommended Reading: Bobish, Greg. “Participation and Pedagogy: Connecting the Social Web to ACRL Learning Outcomes.” Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37, no. 1 (2011): 54-63.

Posted in Education, Information Literacy. Tags: . Comments Off on Ideas for Incorporating Transliteracy in the Classroom

Transliteracies: Libraries as the Critical “Classroom”: Computers in Libraries 2011

Yesterday I had the honor of presenting with Gretchen Caserotti at Computers in Libraries over transliteracy and ways to understand, implement, and collaborate in your library.  Below are both of the slidedecks used.



Photos from the presentation courtesy of Courtney Young.

Visual Literacy Standards Update

A few weeks ago, Bobbi posted about the new ACRL/IRIG Visual Literacy Standards. Since then, the group has systematically posted each standard (with more to come) looking for feedback until the end of the month.

You can go to their site to read the standards and comment on the development of these standards:


Posted in Standards, Visual Literacy. Comments Off on Visual Literacy Standards Update

YouMedia Success

As a die-hard Chicagoan, I write extensively on the YouMedia experiment.    YouMedia, for those of you who don’t know, is an experiment between the Chicago Public Library, Depaul University, and the Digital Youth Network.  It is funded, in part, by a MacArthur Foundation grant. This grant is being replicated for an additional 50 labs throughout the country (have you considered applying?)

The YouMedia experiment is a 21st century teen learning space.  It is really a digital media lab.  But it is so much more.  The YouMedia folks recognize that technology alone will not save us.  The success of this experiment lies in the team that YouMedia has built.  Not only do the kids who use the space have access to librarians and library staff, but they also have access to mentors and instructors.  The mentors and instructors have expertise in the tools, in tapping into creativity, or in just listening to the kids.  They all have the goal of helping these patrons find their voices.  It is in these people that the success of YouMedia is built.

So why do I write about YouMedia again.  YouMedia recently witnessed a major milestone.  While the research findings on the success or the failure of the experiment will take years to construct, the kids recently began providing solid anecdotal evidence pointing towards success.  One example of that evidence is the recent results of the Louder than a Bomb Youth Poetry Festival.  The winner of the contest was a young man who represents a YouMedia team of teens, and he even gives them credit.

To understand what the kids are learning at YouMedia, you must check out Malcolm London’s winning poem. This library certainly understands the principles of transliteracy and the role it plays in spurring creativity and content creation among patrons.

Lee Rainie on Libraries and the New Community Information Ecology

Lee Raine from the Pew Internet and American Life Project talks will Bill Densmore from Journalism that Matters about journalism, libraries, librarians and the new media environment.

Love how he says librarians infect our conversations with facts 🙂 He mentions medial literacy, Henry Jenkins and participatory culture which we have on our reading list.

You read Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century for free as a Kindle ebook or as a PDF from the MacAuthor Foundation

Posted in Media Literacy. Tags: , . Comments Off on Lee Rainie on Libraries and the New Community Information Ecology
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