Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Musings on ACRL 2015

I had the opportunity to travel to Portland, Oregon for this year’s 2015 ACRL Conference.

For me, one of the greatest highlights of the entire conference was the opportunity to hear Jad Abumrad, co-host and co-creator of Radiolab, speak about the transformative and often terrifying process of being innovative. Abumrad’s ability to weave storytelling, metaphor, imagery and technology was not only thrilling to watch, but an excellent example for any instructor interested in mastering the ability to engage an audience.  You can see an excerpt of Jad Abumrad’s ACRL 2015 keynote here.

During the conference, I made it point to attend as many sessions as I could on the new Information Literacy (IL) Framework to gain a better understanding of how to implement the framework into my own instruction.  The conference also provided the opportunity to hear from members of the ACRL task-force about the iterative process in which they developed the framework.  There has been much passionate discussion (both in virtually as well as at the conference) about how the framework should be implemented, whether the framework should replace the old ACRL Information Literacy Competency standards, if they can/will co-exist or even whether they are compatible enough to be merged cohesively by mapping the old standards to the new framework.  

Given this debate surrounding the upcoming adoption of the framework, it was helpful to hear from task-force members about the practical applications they and others have begun to use in implementing the framework at their home institutions.  For instance, at some institutions, librarians have teamed up with Teaching and Learning Centers and/or faculty to provide workshops on teaching with threshold concepts as a way of introducing the IL framework and paving the way for future IL instruction and collaboration. Other institutions are using the framework as an overlay for curriculum mapping in order to identify gaps and more effectively implement IL instruction within the disciplines at their institutions.  Another institution has shrewdly used the framework as a means to solidify the value of the library within the  institution by tying the framework to the undergraduate learning goals that underpin their general education requirements. Now that phase I for the rollout of the framework itself has been completed, next steps will include the further development of a bibliography on best
photo credit: 2015 ACRL Portland by Tracy Paradis
practices in understanding and implementing the framework, piloting programs as models of embedded IL using the framework, and promoting the framework within outside organizations, discipline associations and accrediting agencies.  Overall, I am enthusiastic about the framework and intend to closely follow phase II of the framework’s adoption, even as I begin to assess my own library instruction to fit within the the IL framework, especially where they intersect with concept thresholds within my subject disciplines.

In addition to sessions about the framework, I also made it a point to attend Char Booth’s contributed paper presentation on the curriculum mapping they’ve been developing to identify information literacy intersections across their curriculum at Claremont Colleges.  If you’re interested in course mapping, check out her conference slides entitled Strategic Cartography on slideshare and the mapping template made available under a creative commons license.

Having been to many conferences throughout my career, I can honesty say that ACRL 2015 ranks at the top of the list.  My only regret is that flight delays made it impossible to attend Battledecks (if the youtube footage of the 2013 Batteldecks is any indication, I missed something pretty spectacular). Portland was a lovely host city and I even had the opportunity to explore some of the pacific coast before taking the red-eye home to Rochester.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What Downton can teach us about estate and investment planning

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Downton Abbey could serve as a case study in retirement, investment or estate planning. In fact, I was delighted to see that both Forbes and the Wall Street Journal have already weighed in on the money lessons to be gleaned from the show.  

Using scenarios from the first few seasons of the show, Forbes points out the lessons to be learned regarding poor investments, mismanaging an estate and the lure of Ponzi Schemes.  The Wall Street Journal highlights best practices for inheritance decisions (think up-to-date wills, medical directives and balancing the sentimental value with the cost of inheriting a money pit), the use (and misuse) of trusts to protect family fortunes, and the importance of a diverse investment portfolio.