This semester I proposed to several professors in the English department an embedded librarian program. I was super stoked when they accepted my proposal. It basically just consists of two required information literacy (IL) sessions focused on specific search strategies and topic creation.
To prepare for these sessions I combed listservs, websites, journal articles, and good ol’ paper books to find ideas on teaching IL in a way that’s engaging to students. One method I thought that sounded awesome was flipping the classroom. Flipping the classroom is the hot topic right now in library and education fields and can be done in several ways. One popular way is to have students watch a video outside of class so you can work on the active or “homework” portion inside the class. In regards to IL some of these video topics could include topic selection, keyword and subject searching, evaluating websites, figuring out the difference between scholarly and popular, etc.
So with my instructional method in mind I tasked my intern with curating a list of interesting IL videos that I could use in my classes. She commented that many videos had useful information but were pretty boring. I thought “surely this can’t be so!” But when I reviewed the videos on her list and did my own searching she was right! I couldn’t believe how incredibly boring these videos were. I thought “yeah there is awesome info here but not even I want to listen to this hackneyed explanation of why database searching is more effective than Google searching.”
I started to consider what I think makes an engaging video and my first thought was Vsauce. I am a huge fan of Michael Stevens’, better known as Vsauce, YouTube channel. He creates videos based on science about simple topics and makes them incredibly fascinating. He explains everything from why we kiss to why we get bored. Here is a list of why I think his videos are so engaging and fun to watch:
Interesting topics (ex: Where Do Deleted Files Go, Are We Ready for Aliens)
Enthusiastic, quick narration- so many of the IL videos I reviewed had a narrator that I couldn’t see and who spoke suuuper slowly…
Simple but relevant animation- I don’t want to sit on the computer and have an avatar speak to me, nor do I want to watch a series of static images.
Real life examples
IL might not be a sexy topic like physics or engineering but there’s a reason why Vsauce has close to 5,000,000 viewers. I suggest we take a page from his book and create videos like his. My goal for 2014 is to create my own IL videos for instruction. If you’re interested in creating your own here’s a list of some other great channels you can take notes from. If video creation isn’t you’re style you could also incorporate these into your flipped classes to teach topic selection, critical thinking, etc:
- PBS Idea Channel- He does a great one called Is Google Knowledge?
- C.G.P Grey- I love is What is reddit video
- Minute Physics- you could create “minute research” videos!
- Veritasium- How Does a Transistor Work? is great
- Ted Talk: Beware of Online “Filter Bubbles”- This isn’t necessarily a “channel” but this talk is gold!
- Education Portal
- Khan Academy
Here’s one of my favorite Vsauce vids: