The Technology of a Library Badges Program

posted in: Badges, Blog | 0

The idea of digital badges is that you offload lower level library instruction (what’s a database?) onto a website, then motivate and reward students for doing some online learning by awarding them colorful badges that they can show off on LinkedIn and other places. How awesome is that!? We save in-person instructional time, and students can learn at their own pace. The technology to make it happen, however, is kind of a pain.

I’m prematurely celebrating finishing out my first year as an Instructional Design Librarian (started here August 1st, 2014, but summer doesn’t really count, right?), and I’m at a point where I’m Getting Things Done instructional project-wise. I blogged previously about our UL expressing interest in gameifying our instruction – badges are one of those projects.

I have spent a lot of time exploring how to Make Badges Happen. A lot. I tried to spy on other academic libraries doing badging – what platforms were they using? Who were they targeting? How is their badges curriculum structured? Turns out that many badge programs are closed systems. I ended up writing a primer (PDF) with what I did discover on Badges in Academic Libraries and sending it out to all the instruction librarians (forgive the weird formatting, I need to make some custom Word styles).

I recruited a few people to work with me on this project, but, I felt like we first needed a platform. Our campus uses Moodle as its LMS, and I can create courses in it. BUT you have to manually add students, or make students find the badges course themselves and enroll in it. What a pain. Plus, the UL stated that he wanted something more public, where students could see how other students were doing.

So – what about Purdue Passport? I know that University of Arizona used Passport for a badges pilot. I requested and received an account. But Passport has been in Beta for years, it’s a closed system, it’s built for Purdue resources, and I didn’t think it would be the best choice for our library.

I read up on Mozilla Open Badges, Credly, and BadgeOS. With the BadgeOS plugin, you can turn a WordPress site into a site that awards badges. WHAT. I happen to LOVE WordPress. In fact, you’re on a WordPress site right now. WordPress is great! Once the basic WordPress software is installed, you don’t have to mess with programming or backend server stuff. You can pick and choose from thousands of free themes to change your site’s look and functionality, and there’s tons of plugins besides to make your site do nifty things.

Meanwhile, at my library, I struggled to find a good solution to store digital learning objects that I developed, and to make them accessible. I developed a couple of videos and got access to post them to the official library YouTube, and I received a lovely copy of Articulate Storyline 2 for my very own. Storyline produces HTML5 or Flash videos that need to be hosted somewhere to work properly. I learned that several librarians have their own Screencast or Vimeo accounts for publishing educational videos, and there’s even a duplicate unofficial library YouTube that another librarian posts work to. I wanted a place to put all of these things – one centralized place were we could share our resources and point our students.

When I arrived at Cal State Fullerton, there was talk by of creating an eLearning server, just for the library, but serious and time-sensitive library projects needed to be attended to first, pushing an eLearning server to summer at best. (And I still don’t have a clue what the eLearning server is supposed to be!)

Eventually I was granted storage space on a decrepit old server from 2006 which, I was warned repeatedly, would crash any minute. However, objects on the server could be accessed via a URL, so that was nice. BUT I would have had to manually code a web page so that the server could have a public interface. Could I install WordPress on it? Permission-wise, yes, but technologically, no.

We are super lucky to have a wonderful (and overworked) programmer that worked with me to get a WordPress site going. She requested from IT and then formatted virtual server space for “interim” library elearning stuff. She installed WordPress for me.

I took it from there! I installed a theme, and plugins, and am putting a few things that I’ve developed onto it so that librarians can see what we have so far (not very much!). I’m going to put on a submission form so that librarians can request that I put their objects on there, unless they would like a login so that they could do it themselves, which would be fine.

Furthermore, I installed BadgeOS and explored options for issuing badges. Not only could this be our (super simple hacked) eLearning server/learning object repository, it could function as an online classroom, with badges instead of grades.

I’m still figuring out the best way to issue badges, though! The BadgeOS plugin by itself has really limited functionality, and can only award badges based on actions students can take on a blog: logging in, commenting, etc. There are several pay plugins that you can use to turn your WordPress site into an LMS – but are they worth it? There is a LOT of research to do!

Next up: deciding on categories and necessary content for our site, and continuing to research badge-awarding options. For now, creating a centralized location for library learning objects is my priority.


Photo Credit: The Bakken Museum, Girl-Scouts-3-25-2006-17, Flickr

Gamifying Info Lit With Badges!

posted in: Badges, Blog | 0

Our interim UL came into my office last week and said that while the individual colleges on campus would only ever impact the lives of their respective students, the university library has the opportunity to impact each and every of our 38,000 students. So – we should explore gamifying library research skills, he said, to get students excited about competing for points by completing tutorials, thus taking advantage of our potential.

I’ve been thinking about badges at our library ever since I interviewed and a then-future colleague asked what I thought about gamifying curriculum and badges. Now that I’m here, and I’m creeping toward the end of my first year, I’ve started creating videos and tutorials and have been contemplating not only organization, but hosting and presenting these learning assets to the campus community.

I think that framing the tutorials I create as “badges” to be earned might be a great way to help with clarity. And to serve as motivation for students. AND to make it easy for faculty and librarians alike to assign tutorials – just tell students to complete the Evaluator badge, or the Organizer badge.

I’m still gathering my thoughts on what would work best here. There are a lot of options for implementing a badging system, and I want to consider what would have the most visibility (and accessibility) but also offer the least in development work, as far as coding and hosting goes.


Photo Credit: See-ming Lee, Flickr

The Zenith of Spring

posted in: Blog, Daily Grind | 0

At this moment, I am preparing to teach three one-shot sessions back-to-back (all for one instructor, how does she handle this workload twice a week??). I’m also meaning to finish up a proposal for ACRL’s Assessment in Action, I need to record a short something for a virtual poster presentation for ACRL with a colleague, I need to start prepping for an instructional design workshop for librarians, I should probably start on another blog post for ACRLog, but I also need to prep for two back-to-back classes first thing Monday morning that a colleague will sit in and evaluate. I also have a colleague sitting in on one of today’s classes. I have to have two instruction evaluations for my first portfolio this fall.

OH – also, I need to help finish a group poster proposal on OA and OERs for a campus symposium. And working on some stuff for an Earth Week book display. Somehow last week I also became VP for our librarians’ council, and I said I’d pick up an officer position in my newly joined Toastmasters club.

What I’m really looking forward to is plotting out the sessions I want to attend at ACRL, but I know once I start that, it will be time-consuming because there will be so much to choose from! Speaking of travel, I also need to fill out two travel claims, put in a travel request, and put in a request for more travel funds from those unused by the 28th if I’d like some extra money.

I think this is probably the busiest part of spring semester for me. Once I get over the hump of next week, I’ll be able to focus on more fun stuff!


Photo Credit: Littlefield Garden Trees
by NightThree~commonswiki

Explaining What I Do to Librarians and Non-Librarians

Having to explain what I do is difficult and helpful, in equal measures. Difficult because I’m still figuring it out but I also feel compelled to justify my existence to random colleagues, in the library and out. Helpful because it forces me to clarify my priorities and market my services to people that might like to collaborate.

There isn’t a job handbook for Instructional Design Librarians. (Maybe I could write one – note to self!). I feel like the “blended librarian” term is outdated, but nothing else has yet solidified or become commonplace for ID-focused positions. I LOVE being an Instructional Design Librarian because the open-endedness of my job title allows me a lot of creativitity, while it’s also challenging because it reflects that my home library wasn’t quite sure what they wanted me to focus on.

I have a nice blurb on my LinkedIn profile that summarizes what I do. These are what I consider my two core duties:

  1. Design and develop reusable learning objects (RLOs) that can be embedded into online learning environments.
  2. Inculcate effective instructional use of educational technology among librarians and campus faculty.

Okay, these sound nice, but I can’t go around reciting these to non-instructional designers or those familiar with ID terms and expect them to understand me.

So, I tell people that there are a limited number of librarians, and a whole lot of students, and I want to enable the library to serve as many students as possible. I can do that by providing reusable learning objects that cut down the time required for in-person instruction. Our current model is one-shot sessions to teach research skills. This is a model that hasn’t changed in a long time, while the courses we target have changed. Thousands of students are enrolled in hybrid or online courses that never see a librarian. They need to be taught IL skills, too!

I see a few ways to do this:

  • embed a librarian into their class to assess students’ needs and provide tutorials/feedback through discussion boards (ideal!);
  • educate faculty on library resources and give them IL learning objects that they can implement into their courses themselves (not the best way to do things, but offering pre-made tools is better than nothing);
  • work closely with curriculum committees across campus to integrate scaffolded IL (time-consuming, political, but oh-so-very-necessary).

I’m only one woman, and my ID time is limited because of librarian duties including ref hours, one-shot sessions, meetings, subject liaison-ing, and tenure-track obligations.

So what do I focus on during my design-time?

In my first year so far, I’ve focused on building our RLO library, which was basically nonexistent. So far I’ve only completed a handful of videos, some informational and some instructive, and I’ve also created/completely revamped a few LibGuides. Free advice here: take screenshots of the LibGuides before  you revamp them so everyone knows what a great job you did. I’ve failed at this so far.

I’ve also been hard at work collaborating with another librarian on designing and developing a flipped model for teaching IL to students in a FYE community. We’re developing a 20-minute online module for them to complete before attending an in-person library instruction session. Our theory is that, since every class has a different research assignment, it’d be nice to standardize the IL basics and then utilize in-person time to get down with database searches customized to their assignments.

This project is fun, but even better, I can reuse the RLOs I create for this projects for other classes. I can even customize, since once they’re created, it won’t take that much time at all.

Meanwhile, I’m also intending to develop edutech workshops for librarians, and library resources workshops for the rest of campus faculty, so I suppose that’s next on my list!


Photo Credit: English: Title: Instructor explaining the operation of a parachute to student pilots, Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Tex.

Creator(s): Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985, photographer Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan. Medium: 1 slide : color. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34251 (digital file from original slide) LC-USF351-288 (color film copy slide) Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. Call Number: LC-USF35-288 <P&P> [P&P] Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Spring is in Full Swing

My projects are piling up as my schedule is booking up with one-shot sessions for the semester, so I was thrilled to take my first release day last week to finally have some quiet time at home to catch up on reading and work on my article and tenure portfolio. (My university gives “release time” to new faculty in their first semester to allow time for research and portfolio stuff. The library’s practice is to let us use the release time in our second and third semester).

However, it ended up mostly just being another work day! I finished up a subject liaison project I was working on and then dealt with a lot of email, the result being I worked on my article very little and my portfolio not at all. It was really great to be able to work from home, though.

Being new tenure-track faculty is really difficult, especially as I continue to figure out my role in the library. Liaison duties, reference hours, and research/scholarship takes up a lot of my days, leaving not a whole lot for design time.

I haven’t had a whole lot of guidance since I started this position, but I was told I was hired to help librarians improve their instruction and to help improve our LibGuides. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I’m planning to give a workshop for librarians on educational technologies. I’ve been meaning to write up a short survey to discover what they want to learn about.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I can help improve our LibGuides. In a literature review, I found that there is not much research on how LibGuides are used by students. I did find one really great thesis by a library school student, though.

I have really limited time, and a lot of instructional design projects, and improving our LibGuides one at a time certainly isn’t the best use of my time. I should also add that user experience/usability isn’t really one of my strengths. However, I had the opportunity to attend two days of training last week on Quality Matters (QM) and QOLT, which is similar to QM. Both QM an QOLT are rubrics that you can use to evaluate online/hybrid course design. Criteria include usability and navigation.

I’m not involved (yet) in evaluating online courses, but I was inspired to think about how I can construct a similar rubric for LibGuides, using what I learned in those workshops and what I can glean from existing research. I also thought that it would make a fantastic research project to work with students one on one and in focus groups to discover how they perceive and use LibGuides at our institution.

Anyways, that project is one of the many on my pile. I’m now in the development stage for creating IL learning objects for a particular program, as well as information videos on our streaming library resources, and a few other things.

I’ve just got to keep all of these projects straight! Getting and staying organized takes time, so I’ve limited my efforts in that area so far. It’s becoming time that organization will be essential to my success.


Photo Credit:

English: Skyhawk at Cedar Point in full swing.

Post-Winter Break Update

I enjoyed the heck out of my winter break! I had 12 whole days off from work. I spent it beach camping, hiking, running, swimming, strength-training, reading, and binge-watching TV. I brought home work-related educational books to read, but didn’t even crack them. I really need to stop deluding myself that I’m going to work over breaks.

Once I was back in the office, I became almost instantly overwhelmed. The day before winter break I moved to a new office to be consolidated with the campus’ other instructional designers. I’m the only faculty among them, so that’s kind of weird since my job isn’t ALL instructional design, but the possibilities for collaboration are awesome.

My first week back from winter break just ended up being logistics problems. Took me a couple of days to even get a key for my office, several days for my computer to be connected to the network, more than a week for my phone to follow me. I had two days of training off-site. Meanwhile, the deadlines for grants and conference proposals are suddenly looming. And I needed to meet with staff and librarians to work on various projects.

Today is the end of the second week back – and things are looking up. It’s a three day weekend ahead, two days of which I’ll spend in Arizona for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Monday, I swear, I’m going to get some work done! I have a blog post due for the ACRLog on the 20th. I spent a lot of time working on a post on class in libraries, but dropped it recently after I realized that the post didn’t have enough of a focus, and I didn’t want to be political (just yet). My new post is about becoming an Instructional Design Librarian – not about my background, but how I’m really getting started in this brand new position for my library.

Spoiler – I’m still figuring it out! But my projects are exciting, and the possibilities are endless.


Photo Credit:

Tejon Pass, Southern California

2014 Presentations

posted in: Presentations | 0

One lightning presentation in 2014:

“SALAD: My experience collecting and providing access to Arizona government documents” (blitz presentation). Arizona Library Association Annual Conference, Fort McDowell, Arizona, November 2014

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

New Job, New Blog

Now that I’ve been an Instructional Design Librarian for almost five months, it’s time I started blogging more about what I’m up to. I’m a brand new academic librarian in a brand new position at my library, so I’ve spent a lot of my time so far figuring out what it is I’m supposed to do here!

So far:

  • I’ve gotten up to speed on tenure-track related responsibilities,
  • I started blogging for ACRLog as a First Year Academic Librarian,
  • I’ve created a few tutorial videos that revived our YouTube page,
  • I’ve started design work on a new instructional module based on two of the new ACRL IL standards,
  • I’ve finished a (terrible) first draft of a scholarly article.

Whew! I’m ready for winter break now! But first, I’m packing up my office in preparation to move to a new one close to the Faculty Development Center and technology resource centers so that I can grow relationships between myself, faculty, development staff, and the library!


Photo Credit: Pollak Library Flickr

It’s interactive – but is it instruction?

posted in: Blog, Instructing | 0

The Articulate e-Learning blog had a great post about the difference between teaching and informing, and the value of an instructional design degree in the real world.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - do you need an instructional design degree

The blog post opens with a brief discussion of what educators are using instructional media software for. Are we using it to entertain and inform, or are we actually designing effective instructional activities?

Instructional design implies instruction. But much of what’s created with the eLearning applications is less about learning and more about sharing information. It’s really more interactive multimedia content than it is interactive instructional design.

The rest of the e-Learning blog post is worth reading should you have an interest in effective teaching practices.

I thought this was right in line with the theme for my week: a total perspective shift on how I teach!

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