Creating a Flipped Video for Your IL Class? Make it Like a Vsauce Video

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:

Here’s one of my favorite Vsauce vids:


Use a Backchannel in Your Next Presentation/Lecture

By Andreas Skog

By Andreas Skog

I went to the Texas Library Association’s annual conference for the first this year. I attended a bevy of sessions and felt like my head was spinning from all the fantastic information that was entering my limbic system! One valuable gem that I gleaned was from instruction technology specialist Jim Holland. He introduced me to the backchannel TodaysMeet. Once I was exposed to the glory of a backchannel I was shocked that not everyone is using one! Not one other presenter at any conference I have attended has used one. Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain what a backchannel is.

Backchannels enable the presenter to use networked computers/smart phones/tablets to ask questions and access session links in real time during a presentation. TodaysMeet is specifically awesome because it is free and does not require the users to login or downlad anything. Sessions are archived anywhere from 2 hours to 1 year after the session. This type of tool is ingrained in the webinar format where users can chat, ask questions, share links, etc but backchannels make it possible to be easily integrated into the physical platform as well.

I used TodaysMeet in one of my information literacy sessions this summer and it went swimmingly. I was able to effortlessly create the channel, share links and respond to questions. What was great about it was that I didn’t have to worry about taking up valuable presentation time to share a link (even if you use a URL shortener it takes time for one to key/type in), students can just click and go (if I had a dime for every time someone asked me to go back to a previous slide so they could write down the link to a certain site I was sharing I’d be a rich gal!) . Also students that didn’t want to ask questions audibly could discreetly type their query. Here’s and example:


It is helpful to have a moderator who can blast out the links as you discuss them and ask questions as they are sent, but it’s not imperative. I managed it without a moderator and did fine.

As an attendee I loved how I never missed an important link or had to tediously type a URL. As a presenter I love it because it makes communication a lot more streamlined, allowing me to focus more time on content. I will be using the backchannel in every class and presentation I conduct and I suggest you give it a try! Also if there is a backchannel you recommend please comment below.


Use TED-Ed to Flip Your IL Sessions


Last week I attended the Texas Library Association’s 2013 annual library conference. My head was spinning with all the innovative fresh ideas that were shared! One awesome session I attended was Flipped Classroom: Supporting New Educational Models. The session consisted of a panel of 6 educators who shared their experience flipping their classroom. While it was primarily aimed at teachers and school librarians many ideas were shared that could crossover into the IL session. Ok, so I’ll start by explaining what a flipped classroom is:


A flipped classroom involves providing materiel before class (usually in the form of a video or a podcast) that the students need to read/watch/listen to and then taking class time for hands on activities. With flipped teaching teachers can spend less time lecturing and more time on interacting with students. Flipped learning allows you to spend your valuable class time on discussion and critical thinking.


One great thing about flipped teaching is that the instructor doesn’t have to make the videos themselves (although they definitely can!), they can choose from a myriad of educational videos that are already out there in cyberspace. One resource that was shared was TedEd. If your familiar with TED already you know what a valuable resource it is. TED-Ed teams up educators and animators to create TED-Ed Videos- exceptional educational videos for your classroom. Here’s a video explaining what it is and how it works:

TED-Ed carefully curates their video library so you don’t have to sift through a bunch of junk to get what you want.

  • On the homepage if you click on Find&Flip 
  • Search for “information literacy” or whatever you want your lesson plan to be and choose the video you would like to use
  • Click Flip This Video and add your own questions, notes, and resources to customize it for your students
  • You can also search Best Flips to find user nominated lessons as well as search by subject or series

And there you have it! Fantastic lessons and great animation that can be customized for your IL sessions. Couldn’t be any easier than that!


Here are just a few tips that I learned during the session

Top 10 Libraries for Academic Libraries to Follow on Pinterest


libraries on pinterest

With the popularity of libraries joining Pinterest I thought I would share the list of top 10 libraries that I think are worth following. I like to follow libraries that have boards that focus on research, technology, and interesting promotional ideas.


  • Post quality content for repinning- This includes content that promotes research, innovation, best practices, etc
  • Generate inventive boards
  • Employ creative titles
  • Do not overpost or have too many boards

New York Public Library: Boards include themed boards such as Downton Abbey as well as The Librarian’s List which includes librarian picks from libraries across the country (as long as your a librarian you can contribute to this board!) *Update: The Librarian’s list is actually managed by the O’Fallon Public Library. Contact Heidi if you’d like to be added to the list. 

Boards to follow: #ireadeverywhere, Book Pickings from Brain Pickings (a collaboration w/ Maria Popova)

Clearwater Public Library System:  Boards to follow: Infographics, Technology Tidbits

UW-Parkside Library: Board to follow: Research/Writing Tips

CTR Library at UT Austin: Board to follow: Research Tools and Data

Biblioteca UPM: Boards to follow: #readytoresearch, #academiclibrary, and #socialacademics (to name a few!)

Somerset Learning Commons: Boards to follow: Fun Tech Stuff, and Instruction and Scholarship

Birmingham Public Library: Boards to follow: Reference and Social Media/Technology

Oakland Library TeenZone: Board to follow- In the Margins: Books for Teens

Rice Library: Boards to follow: Research Tips and Tricks, Infographics, Marketing and Outreach Ideas and Libguides

Library Journal: Board to follow: Shush! and Library Design of the Future

**Update: Check out Top Libraries for Academic Libraries to Follow on Pinterest: Part Deux!