Annual Seminar 2024 Attendee Reviews

Review from Marie Dunne, MLIS student at UCD

As an MLIS student I was excited to attend my first CONUL Teaching & Learning Seminar on March 1st. While the unexpectedly snowy weather posed some transport challenges, the journey was well worth it for a fascinating day exploring the 3 AIs – academic integrity, artificial intelligence, and access and inclusion, and how these issues intersect and impact teaching and learning.

A recurring theme that resonated with me was how technology can be used, in a humancentred, responsible way, to enhance teaching and learning. Examples shared included improving access to information by performing an accessibility audit as shared by Áine Carey and Stuart Lawler; demonstrating to academic staff how they can harness generative AI to “turbo-charge” the delivery of their teaching, as Helen Farrell discussed; or encouraging critical thinking when teaching [citing and referencing practices] as outlined by Ben Williamson.

As an emerging professional I was particularly interested in discussions around CPD and routes to developing our skills and knowledge in a rapidly changing information landscape. I also found the first-hand examples of professional roles and real-life case studies shared by the speakers particularly valuable as they gave me a greater understanding of the range of teaching & learning librarianship. My fellow students and I received a very warm welcome from the organisers and other attendees and I came away from the seminar inspired, curious and keen to attend similar events again in the future.

Review from Catherine Farrelly, MLIS student at UCD

The Teaching & Learning Annual Seminar 2024 allowed several MLIS students, the opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of the current issues faced by librarians within the field of education, particularly concerning EDI and the impacts of ongoing AI developments. The seminar included several talks covering topics such as accessibility issues for visually impaired users, and education techniques regarding teaching academic integrity, as well as networking exercises. However, the most notable aspect for me was the panel chaired by Arlene Healy, which included speakers from multiple institutions. The panel allowed me to experience first-hand the ongoing conversations and various perspectives of members of the field regarding issues currently at the forefront of academic librarianship. These conversations allowed me to witness new perspectives on topics I had previously only been aware of from my own perspective as a university student.

As a whole, the Seminar was particularly helpful in developing my understanding of
problem-solving methods and best practices within the field, which will likely be helpful throughout my future career. However, the panel provided an intriguing opportunity to hear multiple voices, often engaging in off-the-cuff conversations on previously unmentioned topics and aspects of ongoing issues within the field. This format provided the opportunity to witness discussions as they unfolded, gauging areas of disagreement and varying perspectives and techniques for dealing with relevant issues. Topics covered included the evolving nature of academic integrity and assessment due to AI developments. Issues included the lack of a concrete policy imposed by universities and wider organisations regarding AI use and the resulting grey areas regarding breaches in academic integrity. This conversation allowed meto better understand some of the larger structures and outside factors shaping the work of librarians within education.

Other notable conversations concerned the potential of AI in facilitating further
student inclusion and access and the importance of working alongside staff and students to implement relevant changes. These conversations allowed me a greater understanding of the role of an academic librarian in mitigating new challenges and common strategies required to facilitate access on a day-to-day basis. These discussions also clarified my understanding of the librarian’s role and potential voice in negotiating with universities and wider parent organisations. These discussions highlighted the role of associations such as CONUL in facilitating and creating a space for these discussions. Ultimately, attending the Seminar allowed me a greater understanding of the nuance of librarianship at work within multiple institutions and frameworks, as well as the issues that stem from wider misconceptions concerning the field. As a current MLIS student, the opportunity to engage in these discussions has greatly enhanced my understanding of ongoing issues within librarianship that will likely shape my future career and has strengthened my understanding of the role of a librarian within the wider network of education and information services.

Review from Amani Greene, MLIS student at UCD

My main take away from the CONUL [T&L Annual Seminar] was that, while I am heading in the correct direction, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to AI integration and academic integrity in university libraries. Along with the themes of AI, Access, & Inclusion, I noticed some common problems and solutions. The AI platforms discussed by the various presenters tended to be mostly Chat GPT and other generative AI.

The opening speaker, Dr. Ana Schalk, laid out the problem of addressing just one type of AI because there are so many different types out there that it could be almost impossible to stay on top of all of them. This issue also came up in the panel discussion. I found the proposal that librarians integrate themselves into programming courses a good way to ensure that the AI developers are thinking about ethical program development. At the same time, it does come back to the problem mentioned by several presenters: how do librarians gain this access? It ultimately comes down to working with university administration to ensure that librarians’ expertise is valued within the university. I think it mostly comes down to developing good relationships within faculty and administration, so that librarians have the opportunity to share their expertise.

I found the last two presentations helpful examples of how librarians could integrate their knowledge into a program. I have been talking about the debate in LIS over whether librarians should market their skills in my MLIS courses. I think it is important to do so, especially based on the information presented at the CONUL conference. Librarians have the ability to assist students to develop academic integrity, they just need to have the opportunity to do so. It is up to university libraries to start that discussion with students, so that they continue to think about it after graduation and into their careers.

Review from Jana Alessa Kimmerle, MLIS student at UCD

As a MLIS student, I had the opportunity to attend this year’s CONUL [Teaching and Learning Annual] Seminar, which focused on “Defining ‘AI’ in Teaching & Learning: the role of libraries in Access and Inclusion; Academic Integrity; and Artificial Intelligence.” The seminar featured discussions and presentations on various projects related to these themes, providing valuable insights into the future of libraries and the evolving roles of librarians.

The introduction keynote from Dr. Schalk strikingly illustrated that AI maturity in the education sector is very much in its infancy and that we now have the chance to ‘build up’ from this. Dr. Schalk emphasized the need to think critically about AI and to assess what students should learn about AI while ensuring that its use aligns with core values such as honesty, trust, and fairness. This message resonated strongly with all attendees, yet also unveiled an impressive task for current and future teaching librarians.

Short presentations by Jessica Handy and Corey Newbigging, as well as a longer presentation by Aine Carey and Stuart Lawler, shed light on the crucial topic of access and inclusion in libraries. These sessions emphasized the need for librarians to continually educate themselves on accessibility issues to create a more inclusive library environment. It became clear that enhancing accessibility and inclusion would result in a better library experience for everyone.

A personal highlight of the seminar was the lively panel discussion, where attendees engaged in meaningful exchanges about all three main topics. The discussion provided valuable insights into the current landscape of AI education and sparked anticipation for future workshops and integrations into Digital Literacy Programs. It offered a glimpse into the ongoing efforts within institutions to address these pressing issues.

Overall, the seminar left me eager to witness the future developments in the library field. Being part of such an engaging community of librarians was truly inspiring. The seminar provided valuable insights into current and future trends in libraries across Ireland, contributing to my excitement for my future career in the field.

Review from Lara Musto, MSc graduate from Dublin Business School (DBS)

On a snowy Friday, the first day of March, the [CONUL Teaching and Learning Annual Seminar] took place. The event was titled “Defining ‘AI’ in Teaching & Learning: The Role of Libraries in Access and Inclusion, Academic Integrity, and Artificial Intelligence”, which was held at the Long Room Hub in Trinity College Dublin. During the heavy snowfall that welcomed seminar attendees, Trinity College appeared like a mid-19th century film set of one of Dickens’ books, surrounded by a Christmassy air. Conversely, the seminar topic was far from antediluvian, and each presenter engaged the audience with fascinating talks, as seen by the numerous questions asked at the end of each presentation.

The day’s program included a series of presentations covering various topics, such as maintaining academic integrity in the era of GenAI, engaging with the local community, creating an active learning program for teaching referencing to students and more. The presentations aimed to showcase how academic libraries are inclusive and informative. I was particularly interested in learning about a case study as part of the Inclusive Learning Project carried out by Maynooth University Library with the Head of Digital Content from Sight & Sound Technology and in finding out how to overcome accessibility challenges for the visually impaired when utilising library management systems. Assistive Technology has been a topic I would like to learn more about, and this presentation has increased my thirst for knowledge.

The lunch break was an excellent opportunity to network with academic librarians from various institutions in Ireland and abroad, proving the importance of face-to-face interaction in our sector. Hence, the Covid Zoom era seemed to be prehistoric!

Undoubtedly, AI and GenAI are revolutionising the business landscape by generating new ideas and solutions. However, during the seminar, it was emphasised that librarians and academics should embrace GenAI and AI and focus on designing and developing a curriculum that meets the student’s needs. They should also analyse how students use GenAI and AI. The participants of the two panels, with the interaction of the numerous questions posed by the audience, underlined that library professionals have the curiosity to embrace and experiment with new technologies while keeping academic integrity and adjusting to the student’s needs.