ACRL IS Current Issue Discussion Digest – ALA Midwinter 2015

Applying Design Thinking to Information Literacy Instruction 

Discussion Convener: Cinthya Ippoliti, Associate Dean for Research and Learning Services, Oklahoma State University

January 27, 2015 | 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Virtual Discussion Forum via Adobe Connect

Current best practices seek to broaden and redefine the research experience for our students by supporting them along the entire duration of their journey from identifying their initial need to the creation of a final product. This poses new challenges for us in helping students develop the skills to engage in digital inquiry by selecting and analyzing reliable digital tools and seeking out mentors and experts.

Design thinking is a creative process based around the generation and layering of ideas stemming from a concept that is often abstract and messy. Within these steps, problems can be reframed, questions can be asked, more ideas can be created, and the best actions can be chosen. The steps aren’t linear; they can occur simultaneously and be repeated. There is also a strong element of experimentation involved and “failure” is seen as an opportunity to learn rather than something to be avoided. This process allows for a more organic flow of discovery and offers a shift away from the traditional tool-based approach to information literacy. Like information literacy, design thinking is about creating the right conditions for learning and answers the same questions about why a certain approach works in a specific context versus another. Design thinking also emphasizes the need for interventions based on the identification of the problem and a subsequent evaluation of the success of these measures.

The University of Maryland Libraries used the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy and design thinking to re-structure the entire First Year instruction curriculum. This design thinking-based approach to information literacy included online videos to be watched by students before their in-class session and homework assignments designed to reinforce the concepts covered in class. These various elements were designed to allow for continuous feedback and communication between students and librarians as they approached working on their papers as creating a prototype design of their research question.

After this short presentation, participants will engage in a series of activities to contrast the “typical” approach to IL instruction to a design thinking approach, one that can be adopted at their own institutions.

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