Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Digital Cameras and Information Literacy: Innovations from the Field

Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Digital Cameras and Information Literacy: Innovations from the Field

Article excerpt

Abstract

The authors describe a learning exercise for an English composition information literacy instruction session that merges technology with active learning and is fun and engaging. Librarians introduced digital cameras into library instruction. Students filmed one another as they searched the online catalog to locate call numbers, investigate subject headings, and find books on the shelves. This exercise infused technology and fun with the important skill of using the library's catalog to locate sources of information. Students gained comfort with using the library, they enjoyed the experience, and they interpreted the exercise in creative ways.

In this article, we describe a learning exercise that merges technology with active learning and is fun and engaging. Digital cameras are used to facilitate an interactive, learning-by-doing approach. Our instructional strategy was to put a digital camera into the hands of freshmen during their first visit to the library. They filmed one another as they completed an exercise designed to introduce them to the library catalog. We began piloting the digital camera exercise in a two-hour summer English composition course. After a successful summer pilot, we expanded the digital cameras exercise into many of the fall semester English composition sessions.

The library at the University of Montevallo supports the needs of 3,200 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. The typical first-year composition class size is 20-25 students. All of the first year composition students experience information literacy instruction with a librarian. We have a strong tradition of experimenting with active learning methods, including collaborative group work, cooperative and critical thinking exercises, and hands-on learning.

Literature Review

Moulaison's (2008) examination of library catalog searches found that nearly "30 percent of searches resulted in failure (zero hits)...Despite different types of queries, use of limits, and browses that could potentially get users the information they require" (p. 236). Librarians are asking the question, "How necessary is it to provide training for today's library catalog users?" (Kules & Capra, 2012, p. 114). We believe that the skill of using the library's catalog to locate sources of information should be introduced to students early in their academic career. Some libraries have issued cameras to students for various reasons, such as assessment of space usage or to identify areas of confusion (e.g., Foster & Gibbons, 2007; Doshi & Hunt, 2010; Grayson, 2010). However, there are few examples in the literature that describe librarians incorporating cameras into instruction.

Hargis and Marotta (2011) describe a project, supported by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of the Pacific, in which Flip cameras were purchased and distributed to ten new faculty interested "in exploring new methods of engaging students through the use of innovative technology tools" (p. 37). Overall, the ten members reported that the digital cameras helped students to learn, student presentations were more professional, and students appreciated the immediate feedback from the filming. A participant from the education department expressed that an "unanticipated outcome was the extent of student engagement and excitement when the Flip was used" (Hargis & Marotta, pp. 39-40).

Bill Wolff (2009) describes another project involving Flip cameras and student learning. As part of a grant in the Writing Arts program at Rowan University, Wolff (2009) gave students in his writing, research, and technology course 20 Flip cameras to complete an oral history project. Wolff states "I have never seen a group of students become so enamored with a piece of technology so quickly as when I handed out the Flip Video Cameras" (Wolff, 2009, para. 6).

Lights, Camera, Action

Our strategy was students would use the Flip camera to film one another searching the library catalog and locating a book. …

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