Notes from the UCF Information Fluency Conference

Several weeks ago I attended the Information Fluency Conference at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. The conference title, “The Age of New Media: Literacy in the 21st Century,” seemed very relevant to me as a librarian. I’ve been interested in attending this conference for a few years as the overall topic of Information Fluency was selected as the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) topic for UCF.

Though I initially thought that this conference was going to be primarily about information literacy with a few presentations about some of the other “literacies,” I was pleasantly surprised to find that the conference is much wider than this. Presentations were relevant for librarians, faculty members, administrators, and students.

The keynote speaker for the program was Dr. James Paul Gee. He gave a lively talk that addressed a variety of topics surrounding his research and interest areas of video games, language and learning. If you’ve never seen Dr. Gee talk, I highly recommend watching some of his talks that are available online.

I attended a wide variety of sessions. Some showcased instructional strategies, while others provided reports of research, and others provided overviews of various projects at institutions around the country.

Madelyn Flammia, a technical writing professor, discussed the issues faced by three major groups of people that is a result of the migration of information online. Older users, persons with disabilities, and non-native English speakers have both unique and similar issues when attempting to access and use online information. Her presentation showcased the issues that might arise for each group and methods that could be used to prevent the issues.

The director and librarians of the UCF Health Sciences Library showcased the development and resources of their new library. The library is a physical space with a collection that is almost completely online. Librarians described how they developed the collection, established relationships with faculty members, and encourage the use of their materials and space. Many of their suggestions for encouraging use can be used by all librarians – not just those in a particular kind of library. Two of the suggestions that I would like to implement at my college are ‘Popcorn Day’ and library promotional slides on screens around campus. Each week the library pops popcorn at a specific time and distributes it to visitors to the library. This has gotten so popular that instructors in some courses have started scheduling a break at that particular time.

Using social media to promote your research, expand your professional network, and collaborate on projects was the focus of the presentation by Kimberly Voss and Lance Speere. Dr. Voss is an avid user of social media and showed how she uses social media to showcase herself online. Her presentation was really useful in providing us with tips and ideas for how to blend both our professional and personal lives online.

Overall I found this to be a very useful conference. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with colleagues that were from different disciplines that are all interested in improving students’ access to  and use of information.

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