Immersion: In which I sing the praises of the #imm12 faculty

In my request for travel support to attend the Association of College & Research Libraries Immersion ’12 Teacher Track Program, I pledged to blog about my participation in Immersion. To read more about my Immersion experience, check out my posts tagged immersion or my Immersion tweets.

On the agenda for Thursday, the last full day of Immersion: Assessment-as-Learning: Assessment and Criteria, Teaching with Technology, Assessment Session or Unconference, Writing Time.

Char Booth led the session on Teaching with Technology.  Before Immersion, I read the “Teaching Technologies” chapter from Char’s Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy For Library Educators and was impressed with the way Char talked about her decision to retain the chapter’s Google Wave case study after Google announced the discontinuation of the service. Immersion emphasizes the idea of becoming a more authentic teacher, and Char modeled that by sharing her thinking process. Char continued to model this behavior throughout Immersion; in one instance, she shared a potentially incriminating Facebook picture and talked about how she uses the picture when teaching about Facebook privacy. It was so effective that I did something similar during a conference presentation a week later, showing a Facebook status I had posted the night before in which I bemoaned the fact I had to make a late-night Walmart run for conference attire due to accidentally leaving my dress at home (oops).

I read Char’s 2010 Library Journal article on ebooks and accessibility, and knew she was an ally, so I approached her on Tuesday or Wednesday with my concern that the Immersion curriculum didn’t appear to contain any discussion of universal design for learning, accessibility, assistive technology, etc.. Char echoed my concern and mentioned she’d be including accessibility in her discussion of teaching with technology, so I expected to hear a little on the topic Thursday morning. What I didn’t expect was this: Char reworked her session to include a significant accessibility component. You can see her session map on Mindomo; when posting the map to our Moodle course shell, Char also included a direct link to a more accessible, text-based version.

Char suggested we ask ourselves this question when considering an instructional technology: “Who does this exclude? Who does it enable?” I love this, and think it can be applied to beyond the context of instruction: programs, services, policies, spaces, culture. I also think it has applicability beyond accessibility. Do our services exclude those learning at a distance or enable them? Do our policies exclude community users or enable them?

Another Immersion faculty member, Beth Woodard, serves as library-wide Coordinator for Staff Development and Training at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since I’m (slowly) transitioning into a professional development role myself, I asked Beth if I could have a few minutes of her time during Immersion to talk about getting started in my new job. Beth and I had dinner together Thursday, and I really appreciated her suggestions and feedback. I will not hesitate to pick her brain in the coming weeks and months.

Thursday night was writing night, and I worked for several hours to revise my instructional scenario and complete evaluations.