Infofest Kent 2020: conference postponed

Postponement of Infofest Kent 2020 – COVID-19

The health, welfare and safety of our students, staff and visitors is our key priority at the University of Kent. Having examined closely the advice of Public Health England, the NHS and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office we and CILIP in Kent feel it is in the best interests of delegates to postpone this event due to take place at the University of Kent.

A full refund will be given to those who have purchased tickets. We fully intend to reschedule this event and will publish more details when we have a date organised.

If you have any queries please contact ISengagement@kent.ac.uk

InfoFest Kent 2020: Book Your Place Conference on Diversity in our libraries, Monday 20 April

Tickets to the second InfoFest Kent conference are now on sale. This is a joint event between the University of Kent and CILIP in Kent and this year the conference will focus on diversity and inclusivity in the library spaces.

Who should attend?

Librarians and information professionals from all sectors who are interested in promoting diversity within their workplace. We aim to offer a range of resources so all attendees have something practical they can take with them to use in their work. Our speakers come from a range of libraries including school, university and public.

Venue

Templeman Library, University of Kent, Library Road, Canterbury CT2 7NU.

The Canterbury Campus of University of Kent have excellent transport links via motorway or pubic transport. Details on how to get to us are available here.

Book your place

Attendance costs £60 and includes lunch and refreshments for the day. Visit our store to book your place.

There is accommodation available on campus for anyone who would like to book an overnight stay.

If you would like a promotional stand at this event please contact ISengagement@kent.ac.uk for details.

Programme

We have an exciting range of speakers from a variety of sectors speaking on the following topics:

What does diversity and inclusion mean for school libraries?

Barbara Bond – School Library Consultant

Free to empower: challenging inequalities through information literacy

Rhian Wyn-Williams – Academic Skill Tutor, Liverpool John Moores University

Representing LGBTQIA users and workers in libraries

Ash Green Digital Project Librarian & Binni Brynolf Digital Resource Librarian, Chatham House

How we came to ‘Having our say’…

Simone Clunie – Cataloging & System Librarian, Lincoln University Pennyslvania, USA & Pearl Adzei-Stonnes, Acquisition & Interlibrary Loan Librarian, Richmond VA, USA

Decolonising Library Collections towards inclusive collections policies

Kevin Wilson – Academic Liaison and Collection Development Manager, LSE Library

Everyone’s welcome: diversity and inclusion in Kent’s public libraries

Sarah Bedingfield – Service Manager Innovation & Aisha Affejee – Business Development Officer,  both at Libraries, Registration & Archives, Kent County Council

Read at Leicester: a campaign to encourage students to take time out from their studies to read for leisure

Heena Karavadra – Academic Librarian, University of Leicester

Our keynote speaker is Dr Kit Heyam. Kit is a transgender awareness trainer, academic researcher and activist.

Any queries about the event please contact ISengagement@kent.ac.uk

 

Kingston University reading symposium on the value of reading

I was recently invited to attend an event called ‘a reading symposium on the value of reading’ held at Kingston University on the 6th February.

The event was organised by Karen Lipsedge, Associate Professor in English Literature and Pamela Osborne, Postdoctoral researcher from Kingston University.

Karen provided a brief introduction and outlined the structure of the event.

Alison Baverstock, Professor of Publishing and Director of the Kingston University Big Read gave the key note address on why reading matters.  Alison’s background in the publishing industry and current career as an academic has enabled her to set up projects which have had far reaching impact on people’s lives. Alison talked briefly about two of these projects, Kingston University’s the Big Read and http://www.readingforce.org.uk, a shared reading initiative used to bring the families of armed forces personnel closer together.

Although the idea behind the KU Big Read originated in the US, Kingston University has built and developed the idea into a successful outreach program of their own. The Big Read aims to make those coming to the university feel welcome before they arrive, and create links between them and the staff and students already there. On meeting their offer, each new student (undergraduate and postgraduate) receives a free copy of that year’s special edition Kingston University Big Read title.

The scheme has shown that creating a community through shared reading before students arrive, helps them feel welcome, settle in quickly and adjust to their new life as a student.

The event continued with a short introduction by panel members about their work with shared reading and following this, an open discussion with the audience about the value of shared reading.

Panel members included Dr Maurice Lipsedge, a retired consultant psychiatrist who spoke about his work leading a storytelling group at Southwark Day Care Centre for Asylum Seekers, London. Maurice spoke eloquently about the life of a refugee living in a state of limbo, and how shared reading tries to provide a sense of belonging and identity to a person living in a chaotic situation.

Fiona Barnes from the Royal Borough of Kingston library services spoke about the reading schemes operating in the public library services. I spoke briefly about my past role as reading facilitator volunteering with the Reader Organisation in Chelsea Library. Wendy Morris, spoke about her experience running Joel the Homeless reading group, in Kingston.

Finally Karen Lipsedge spoke about her own Kingston University Reading Group which she uses to enhance all forms of equality and which helped Kingston University win the racial equality charter mark.

The event finished with readings by Meg Jenson, Professor in English Language and Creative Writing at Kingston and India Hosten-Hughes, author and poet. India is a writer and poet who explored what it means to be Black British Caribbean and dual heritage in her debut poetry collection, A Cup of Tea and a Tickle of Rum.

Matthew White

UX in Libraries Teachmeet!

On July 15th, CILIPinKent partnered with Canterbury Christ Church University and The University of Kent to host a teachmeet on UX at Augustine House Library. There were 8 speakers in all, 6 case studies, and 2 workshops for the five and a half hour event, with breaks for lunch and refreshments. Each presenter provided information on work that they had done in UX at their own institutions and invited the audience to learn from their experiences.

What follows is a short break down of what occurred on the day:

Anthony Irwin from Canterbury Christ Church shared his UX Toolkit, which was devised to help with projects and to analyse data. He also shared some advice from his experiences, namely:

1 Doing the UX project is the easy bit, examining the data is the hard part.

2 Getting external people to participate in your project can be difficult.

3 Don’t assume you know what users think.

4 Trial changes first before making them permanent.Students generally want to participate and help out.

Robin Peters of Imperial College talked about the school’s refurbishment in 2013 and the UX project that was undertaken at St. Mary’s Fleming Library. He introduced the idea of using feedback posters and touchstone tours to learn how people use the library space and their ideas for its improvement.

Ken Chad, a consultant, introduced the “Jobs to be done” method and its scoring system for different problems. He underlined the importance of using this system rather than merely asking users what they want—by measuring outputs you get to the core of what users actually need.

The first workshop was provided by Thomas Gebhart and Sarah-Mary Geissler of the University of Brighton. They began by introducing a UX project that was conducted in their university. Students gave tours of the library to library staff, which were filmed on ipads. Then the transcripts of the tour were analysed using a traffic light system whereby every point was broken down into either good points, challenging points, or incorrect understanding of the service. The audience was given some different coloured paper and a transcript to try to put the points into different categories. It was a very good exercise for being able to visualise project outcomes.

Claire Kettle of the University of Sussex discussed a project that was part of a partnership between the university and Sage publishing. A group of six undergraduate students were recruited by Sage scholarship students to participate in a focus group. Importantly, students were asked questions by other students concerning library services so there was less chance that anyone would be afraid to give their honest answers.

Agnes Kozlowska provided a case study from medicines and healthcare libraries on how discovery systems provide a better user experience than having a visible OPAC. Interestingly she discovered that most users prefer a more complex homepage, rather than a simple search bar—which is what has generally been assumed.

Debbie Philips of Royal Holloway University of London introduced a UX project case that did not go very well. She discussed the pitfalls that can occur when trying to implement changes from UX project findings. For this second workshop, the audience looked at what might have gone wrong in this case and could also go wrong in their own institutions. Then they considered possible solutions so that they could be prepared and write these into their own UX project plan.

Finally, Ben Watson, an accessible information advisor and Angela Groth-Seary, a UX officer from the University of Kent spoke about their cross-departmental partnership on a UX project for their university. Ben gave several good reasons why thinking of UX project outcomes as also being issues of accessibility for people with disabilities ends up being good design for everyone.

The day ended with an optional tour of the Augustine House Library and the South East Member Network AGM.

Slides are available here.

Author Talk with Lucy Strange/AKA Things That Don’t Go Quite to Plan

First of all, let me say that Lucy Strange is a fabulous speaker and I hardily recommend her to anyone who wants to provide an engaging, informative, and motivational author talk. Lucy is such an amazing writer and story teller–and thanks to her, our event went over very well with the audience. In case you don’t know her, Lucy Strange is the author of young adult novels such as The Secret of Nightingale Wood and Our Castle by the Sea.

So what happened and why was I surprised by the outcome of this event? There are a few reasons–and I’m happy to share them here as I think it’s important to discuss and learn from not only our successes but also the things that end up being unexpected and not quite what we had in mind.

The talk took place at Maidstone’s Kent History and Library Centre. We had a lovely room with all the right sorts of technology for a presentation. Lucy was prepared to give a talk to librarians about the content of her books, her writing method, and doing research for her novels. It all looked good. Then I woke up that morning with tonsillitis. Given that I was meant to introduce Lucy to the audience, this was not a great start.

Due to the very sore throat, I arrived at the library a bit late. Thankfully another committee member was there to set things up. The audience had not arrived yet so we sat around and waited a bit. We expected to see around 13 librarians and members of CILIP. We waited a bit longer. Finally they began to trickle in.

It was an audience of small children!

I had no idea what to do. I did my best to croak out an introduction, but all I could think about was how was Lucy going to handle this…and how did this even happen?

Thankfully Lucy didn’t miss a beat. She just adjusted her talk and the children were fascinated. I think that they learned things about the process of writing that will probably stick with them for life. Who knows, maybe we made some future novelists that day.

So no, this event did not go as planned. The talk that was meant for informational professionals was not something that interested my intended audience–and now I know better. I was able to speak with Lucy about potential topics for future talks that might actually bring in the people we want to reach. Connections were made and this was not a total loss. And spending an hour with children who were excited about literature and writing is always an hour well spent in my book.

I think that part of what makes volunteering for CILIP so great is that you can have these types of learning experiences. If this was my paying job, I might have gotten in hot water. But instead I was just a bit embarrassed.

Upcoming event: UX Libraries – Teachmeet, 15th July 2019

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Inside Augustine House / Photo by IJClark on Flickr

Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

CILIP in KENT in collaboration with colleagues at Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent will be organising a free TeachMeet event on Monday, July 15. The event will run from 10 AM – 3 PM with an optional tour of the Canterbury Christ Church University SCONUL Library Design Award-winning Augustine House library afterwards. The focus will be on the use of UX methodologies to review, develop, and create services in our libraries.

What is ‘UX’?

UX is a suite of techniques based around understanding and improving the experiences people have when using our services. Until recently, the term has largely referred to design and usability of a website or software; it is now enjoying a broader definition that encompasses user experience of spaces and services too. UX utilises ethnography, the long established way of studying cultures through observation and participation with a view to better understanding the subject’s point of view and experience of the world.

Programme

There will be a wide range of speakers with topics including:

1) “Jobs_to_Be_Done” method to improve the user experience
2) Cultural Probe into the lives of PGT students
3) Touchstone Tours
4) UX to find out how students interact with study spaces
5) Focus groups to capture students’ resource use and preferences
6) Discovery Tools layers over OPAC
7) Break up/let down letters on Valentine’s Day

The event will be free. Refreshments will be provided.

Schedule of the day:

09:30-10:00 Registration
10.00-10.10 Meet + greet/intro
10.10 – 10.30 Case study 1
10.30 – 10.50 Case study 2
10.50 – 11.10 Case study 3
11.10 – 11.30 Refreshments
11.30 – 12.05 Workshop 1
12.05 – 12.25 Case study 4
12.25 – 12.45 Case study 5
12.45 – 1.15 Refreshments
1.15 – 1.50 Workshop 2
1.50 – 2.20 Case study 6
2.20 – 2.40 Case study 7
2:40-2:45 Wrap up and thank you

 

How to get there

Augustine House is easily accessible by bus or train. Although there is no parking at Augustine House there are several public car parks nearby. Visit the Canterbury maps and travel page and www.canterbury.ac.uk/campusmaps for more information on finding Augustine House.

*Please do not hesitate to let us know any accessibility needs by completing the comment box in the Registration Form*

We will be using the hashtag: #UXTeachmeet

To book your place, visit the CILIP Events page.

We Need You!

Learn to edit web pages, administrate like a boss, manage volunteers, or handle budgets–for free! The SE Regional Network needs you! Apply Now!

Or if you live in Kent and want to help out with our committee, there are plenty of roles that you can take on. Let us know what skills you have or would like to gain and we’ll help you help us! Seriously, being a member of a CILIP committee can help you to gain professional credentials and give you the skills you need to work in your ideal library position. To find out more about the committee, you can email me, Nora Camann, at noraanncamann@gmail.com

This was written by one of our past members who helped with communications and advertising:

“Over the past 5 years I have been continually impressed by the committee’s advocation of libraries and their enthusiasm for supporting professional development. Easy to work with and open to ideas, being part of the committee has provided many opportunities to suggest activities and learn transferable skills that not only benefit the CV / Chartership portfolio, but also the day-to-day too. 

Working collaboratively, we’ve held well-attended conferences, workshops and visits to a diverse range of libraries and archives across the South East. Library workers have been consistently warm and welcoming hosts / attendees. Personal highlights include exploring Stanley Kubrick’s “boxes” at UAL, encountering Archie the giant squid at the Natural History Museum and handling (with due care) Emily Davison’s annotated race card at the Women’s Library. 

The activities of the committee can really make a difference. This was made apparent when we received thanks from a public library worker following our visit to the Burnell Library at the National Autistic Society; the visit had inspired and subsequently supported the introduction of inclusive practices at their library. Fantastic! 

The role of Communication Officer is flexible, with our communication channels (GMail, Eventbrite, Facebook, Twitter and WordPress) all accessible on a desktop or mobile device. Our social media channels also offering scheduling options. We’ve connected our Facebook and Twittter account so that you only need to post once to the latter. This role has been an excellent way to keep up-to-date with developments from across the sector in academic, health, museum and special interest libraries, simply clicking to share news and updates with a receptive audience. 

If you are interested in this volunteer role, I encourage you to apply! Requires just 1-2 hours most weeks.”

Escaping the Library in a box–no, not that kind of box! Gamification in the Library

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Blog post written by Philippa Rose, Head Librarian at King’s School Canterbury (Oct. 19, 2018)

Last summer I attended an event organised by Nora Camann (Chair of CILIP in Kent) that inspired me to up my game at work (pun intended). The event was about making educational escape rooms and was taught by Andrew Walsh (http://innovativelibraries.org.uk/). For an outline of the event, visit http://bit.ly/2PscZJu.

As Librarians, we all know that most people think that libraries have been superseded by Google #yawn. We also know that this is not true. We know that Google are no longer interested in improving search and that previous Google archival products are being rescinded. We have seen excellent resources languish on our shelves because they don’t look or feel like the kind of resources our users are used to seeing online. We have heard the laments of academics that students just don’t ‘get’ research and drag their heels when they’re expected to look beyond the bounds of their known information landscape, prizing convenience over quality at every stage.

CILIP in Kent’s event with Andrew Walsh injected some much needed fun, challenge, and (most importantly) courage to my tired Librarian brain and inspired me to make an escape-room-in-a-box for my school library at The King’s School (Canterbury) to try to tackle the crisis in research many of us are currently facing in our libraries and in academia more generally.

Gamification is not especially new: it means taking the mechanics and the thinking around games and applying it to the real world to solve problems, and engage and motivate users. Many libraries now use it in their teaching.

We took our pupils to Time Run (an escape room in London Fields) recently and they loved the fun, the speed, the competitive teamwork element, and especially the theatre of the event. I wanted to capture their adventurous spirit and find a way to translate the puzzle-solving process to the process of academic research. Afterall, why can’t they be one and the same? Andrew Walsh inspired me to give it a go.

I only had about two weeks at the start of an already busy start of term to create my activity so I will be the first to say there’s room for improvement here, but what I came up with was this…

Following a lesson (as part of the Extended Project Qualification) about resources to support independent research, pupils were set a homework challenge.

  1. They were told to come to the Library to help the Librarian discreetly solve a crime–we are still a quiet study space kind of library.
  2. When they arrived, they needed to find and investigate a locked suitcase (intentionally ostentatious to avoid confusion with potentially dangerous left luggage!). A luggage tag contained a clue to a book that could be found on the shelf or on the OPAC, providing them with a series of numbers (a classmark) that would unlock the suitcase. I felt it was important to provide multiple routes to an answer, catering for pupils who prefer to browse as well as those who like to undertake direct searches so the clue had a numerical element but also an alternative visual element.
  3. Inside the suitcase was an ipad, an article from ‘The Meteoritical Society’ about an expedition to Greenland, and another locked case. The article would be meaningless to them at this point, so they needed to look at the ipad first. I wanted them to choose what information was relevant to the particular stage of the activity they found themselves at as, in academic life, often you serendipidously find research that is only of use much later in the project. The ipad was set up to open on our vle sign-in screen, immediately giving us a record of who was attempting the activity.
  4. Once logged in to the ipad they were confronted with a long piece of text (ten minutes reading time for an average teen reader). It was not necessary to read all of this text. The instructions for the next stage of the task were clearly marked and pupils familiar with scanning and skim reading would have progressed faster than those that read the entire background to the narrative, which was drawn from the novel ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow’ by Peter Hoeg (a story I wouldn’t expect them to be familiar with, despite their love of crime novels). Usually anything tangential to the story should be avoided when creating these kinds of activities but I wanted to test their ability to filter information while providing them with something they could come back to later and follow-up on.
  5. In a departure from the novel, Smilla has to back-off from the crime and so she now hands responsibility (and the suitcase of evidence) over to the participant(s).
  6. Smilla has left instructions on the ipad that direct her new partner(s) in crime-detection to the Greenland article, explaining that to crack the code for the second locked case you need to follow the clues (in-text citation) to a combination of volume numbers from articles (in the bibliography) by other scientists involved in the expedition. Finding further resources by exploiting bibliographies of useful articles is something I felt was important for pupils to be able to do, providing them with an understanding of how an individual piece of research can sit within a much wider body of research by other significant academics.
  7. Inside this second case was a photograph of a research centre in Canada, an obituary of a scientist who had worked at the research centre, a journal article written by the sender of the photograph, an annotated brochure for the database QuestiaSchool.com, and a crossword.
  8. The photograph had been sent to one of the scientists listed in the bibliography, with a note on the back reminiscing about their time together at the centre. It identifies the research centre, another scientist listed in the bibliography, and the initials of a further scientist noted in the long text on the ipad.
  9. The obituary corroborated the identity of the scientist mentioned in the note on the back of the photograph, and listed his career highlights–including expeditions to Antarctica to hunt for meteorites and work analysing moon rocks from Apollo missions.
  10. The journal article written by the sender of the article related to new parasitic bacteria discovered in an ice field during an expedition for meteorites. Notes scribbled in the margin point the participant to an online journal archive (Cosmos) and an article they must find about how an opal found in Antarctica led to a meteorite being identified as having carried frozen water from Mars to earth (this relates to the hydrogen isotope Deuterium). This journal archive could not be googled for easily and required pupils to find it on our library’s vle page listing of online resources–an area many pupils would not have known about before their EP lesson, but something we wanted them to start using regularly when researching.
  11. The QuestiaSchool.com brochure provided instructions to participants on how to log in to their personal account on QuestiaSchool.com and a note (left by Smilla) directs them to another short article about meteorites from Mars. This merely ties together the previous information and provides them with an opportunity to incrementally increase their experience with online databases. Its place in the activity is mainly to ensure that they all learn how to access our most useful (broadly speaking) database QuestiaSchool.com and to search for a resource.
  12. The crossword is incomplete. At the end of the ipad text, Smilla has asked the participant to send all the relevant information to Police Captain Ravn, but to beware of corruption within the Police. The crossword functions as a discreet way of informing Ravn without raising the attention of others in the Police Force. It included instructions on how to send the completed puzzle to Ravn. The questions for the crossword puzzle all related to the information they have been given so far. It required the participant(s) to work out which scientist was the only remaining suspect and to piece together the unusual parts of the work they undertook. Once completed the crossword should clarify (for those who haven’t yet worked it out) that two of the scientists are dead, both with symptoms that suggest they contracted a virus during expeditions led by the other scientist that were seemingly about searching for meteorites but were really about uncovering the ‘space water’ that contains these micro-organisms from space. It seems the remaining scientist was trying to keep his findings quiet until he had enough evidence to make a name for himself with thie breakthrough discovery, but things have gone seriously awry!
  13. The final part of the activity was to upload the crossword to ‘coordinates’ for Captain Ravn to receive–meaning I could mark the crossword puzzle and provide feedback for those that needed it.
  14. There were three ‘coordinates’ to choose from. They all happened to be book ISBNs that refered to novels about ice or murder, but only one of them was ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow’. This final piece of the puzzle should give those who enjoyed the story the opportunity to find and borrow the book and read Peter Hoeg’s story as it should be read!

I hope you could follow that—it’s obviously easier to experience than describe!

The activity was designed to run on its own, with minimal staff intervention. Staff would only need to guide pupils if they were struggling, and then re-package everything once completed to allow the next group to start afresh. Some pupils needed help to get started as they weren’t used to being given a task without having strict instructions about how to complete it. We identified a few pupils who cheated by hiding their own clues in the suitcase or gave out the answers to the crossword, but these were easy to spot and put right before the next group of participants. Online statistics allowed us to confirm that the majority of pupils accessed the correct journal articles and searched the library catalogue correctly. Together with the vle input, this meant we were able to gauge ability quite easily. What we found more difficult to gauge was level of enjoyment or frustration. Pupils often chose to undertake the Activity during the evening when we only have one staff member on duty and so being able to watch from afar and identify moments when support was needed was quite tricky. I suspect a few pupils felt frustrated when they weren’t identified quickly enough to be given hints. In addition, I think it would have been beneficial to have included some juicy feedback at the end of the Activity to add to that feel-good factor.

The main challenge I faced when creating the Activity was crafting the clues in such as way as to lead the pupils to search in a way that gave them the right answer even if their search terms were all slightly different; without doing too much of the thinking for them, particularly since many of the pupils would be unfamiliar with the terminology, subject-related thinking processes and contextual literacies of such a theme. Having said that, one pupil didn’t know how to complete a crossword, so you never know what knowledge gaps your users may experience!

Testing was key! I would say that half the time spent preparing this Activity was spent in testing! I really had to clarify and re-focus the clues and the language used to get the right balance of challenging but achievable tasks within a 45-minute time limit, with the right kind of pacing (starting off quick and easy, getting quite challenging in the middle, and then resolution in the form of a number of quite easy tasks at the end to give a feeling of mastery of the task–that feel-good factor again). Providing enough instruction to teach the participants how to search beyond Google, without distracting from the puzzle and narrative element was the most time-consuming part of creating the activity and something we really worked on during the testing phase.

I would have liked to include some form of personalisation or customisation to the activity. I think it’s really important that each pupil can have their own experience with it (and may have helped avoid some of the cheating!) but given the restricted time to get it up and running, I just couldn’t find a quick or easy way to do this–answers on an electronic postcard please!

As an introduction to research, this activity only provided the basic level of skills to undertake research. It didn’t test their ability to do good quality research, and a follow-up homework has been set to build on these skills so I can assess their ability to make the right choices about what they search for and choose to use without any input or clues from the Library. As a one-off activity, there is little room to practice the new skills gained but hopefully we can address this with future activities and ideally in conjunction with teaching departments.

Overall I’d say it was a great success and worth the eforrt to create. It’s definitely something I’ll adapt and continue to use as a teaching aid when engaging the pupils with information literacy and online research tasks. It was great to break away from the olf fashioned, out-dated perception of library skills that strangely persists to this day! Feel free to email me at pkr@kings-school.co.uk if you’d like further information about the activity, or contact cilipinkent@gmail.com if you’d like to tell us about something you’re doing in the library at the moment, particularly if it’s another escape-room-in-a-box!

I’ll leave you with a quote that sums up what I want to achieve with this new initiative our activity has instigated.

“Fun from games arises out of mastery. It arises out of comprehension. It is the act of solving puzzles that makes games fun. In other words, with games, learning is the drug.”

Raph Koster A Theory of Fun for Game Design, p. 40.

 

For keen beans, here’s a list of gamification further reading:

James Paul Gee What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Raph Koster A Theory of Fun for Game Design, O’Reilly, 2013.

Andrew Walsh Making Escape Rooms for Educational Purposes: A Workbook, Innovative Libraries, 2017.

Ed. by Steffan Walz and Sebastian Deterding The Gameful World: Approaches, Issues, Applications, MIT, 2014.

 

 

 

Educational Escape Rooms Workshop

On July 31st, Mr. Andrew Walsh, author, librarian and director of the company Innovative Libraries, came to Canterbury to give a workshop on designing escape rooms for teaching purposes to a packed room of (mostly) librarians. The afternoon began, appropriately with puzzle games to give everyone an idea of what an escape room is like. For those who are unaware, escape rooms usually involve at least one room that has a theme or a story around it and puzzles that people need to solve so that they can “escape” the room.

After playing for a bit, it was easy to see why these types of games are so engaging, as it was difficult to stop when the time was up. Andrew invited the participants to think about some of the possible benefits of play in education. Some of the highlights being:

  • It’s fun so you don’t know you are learning.
  • It’s a social game therefore inherently team building.
  • There are no stakes, you are allowed to make mistakes.
  • It promotes creative thinking.
  • And in a library, escape rooms provide a zone where there is permission to play, something that is usually quite different from a normal library space.

Our next task was to think about what we would want people to learn from the escape room. For this, Andrew provided everyone with an informational booklet that describes different types of puzzles and how they might link to one or more learning objectives. All of the puzzles he lists can be created by anyone, no technical skill is involved.

Finally, the room was divided into groups so that we could work on designing an escape room for a theoretical lesson such as learning to use the library catalogue. We needed to consider the constraints such as space and materials as well as the number of puzzles involved. There wasn’t enough time to devise a theme, but it is easy to see how that might be the best part. Your library could have a murder mystery escape room or one based on a literary theme. Our school library is looking forward to making an escape room for teaching researching and referencing for pupil extended projects. However, escape rooms can be equally good for teaching in public and academic libraries.

For further information about Educational Escape Rooms or to book Andrew Walsh for a workshop, visit his website at: http://innovativelibraries.org.uk/