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Librarian Yvonne Mery recognized for innovation and teaching

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Congratulations to Associate Librarian Yvonne Mery! She was recently recognized by the Association of College & Research Libraries Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee for her innovation and outstanding contributions to student learning. The committee supports librarians who teach in academic libraries by tracking emerging teaching methods, research, and theory.

Yvonne, who was nominated by library colleague Nicole Pagowsky, was selected by the committee for demonstrating a “passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.” Here's their interview with Yvonne.

Name: Yvonne Mery

Institution: University of Arizona

Job Title: Instructional Design Librarian

Number of Years Teaching: More than 20

What's your favorite "thinking" beverage? 
A good sauvignon blanc.

Where do you do your best thinking?
When I am walking the dogs in the park and around the neighborhood.

Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class). 
My favorite activity that I do with students involves them becoming fact checkers and learning how to read laterally.

After reading a Stanford research paper on what fact checkers do when evaluating online resources, I realized that checklist methods like the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose) test for evaluating resources don’t work anymore. I created a lesson from this study where students quickly look at two different web articles. On the surface, one article looks credible; it cites a lot of sources, the author has good credentials, and it's from a .org site, etc. In the class, I have students dig a little deeper, do some detective work, and find that this seemingly credible article is published by a hate group. It’s a really fast-paced lesson that teaches students a new technique for evaluating web resources and how to think more critically about what they encounter.

I did this same activity over Zoom a few weeks ago, and it worked really well. The students were engaged throughout the activity and had some really great comments.

Tell us about your favorite teaching tools (e.g. cool apps, clickers, etc.).
I have a small e-learning team at my library, and we use a lot of different tools to create our tutorials.

After more than 13 years as an instructional design librarian, I have found that there really is no one tool that does it all. Your learning outcomes should dictate which tools you use. We recently created all new tutorials for our undergraduate students and mainly used three tools: Vyond, Articulate Rise, and Sidecar Learning.

We use Vyond to create short videos that introduce concepts. It’s really easy to create animated tutorials with different characters, settings, and a voiceover. We use Articulate Rise as our main content tool and as our shell. Articulate Rise allows us to build interactive courses that look really sleek. We add quizzes, scenarios, and games to make it fun and engaging. We also use Sidecar Learning to teach students database skills. Teaching information literacy involves a lot more than knowing how to use a database, but students still need that discrete skill-building. With Sidecar Learning, we can walk students through any database, and it's almost like we are right there in the room with them. Full disclosure, I co-own Sidecar Learning.

What class do you teach the most and how do you keep it fresh?
As our instructional design librarian, I really don’t teach all that much in person, and even less today during the pandemic, but I do have to keep our tutorials fresh.

One way I do this is by designing tutorials where the student experience is at the forefront, and the content takes a back seat. When I begin designing a tutorial, I start by thinking about how I am going to engage the student throughout the tutorial. As I look at the content, I write learning outcomes and then decide how best to achieve that learning outcome. It may be a video, a short snippet of text, a game, or maybe a short quiz. I then start putting in the content.

I have found that designing tutorials this way leads to the most engaging and effective tutorials. I also keep content fresh by getting student opinions on our tutorials. We have a lot of student workers, and I regularly ask them to take a tutorial and give me feedback. Of course, I ask them if they learned something, but I am more interested in their experience with it: if they were engaged; if they thought it was too long; if they would change anything, etc. They always have great ideas and insights, and I often make changes based on their feedback.
 

About the Association of College & Research Libraries
The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. Representing more than 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship.

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