The Big6 Goes to the Georgia Conference on Information Literacy

Author: Ru Story-Huffman


This fall, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Georgia Conference on Information Literacy, an annual conference held in Savannah, Georgia. The conference is jointly hosted by the Georgia Southern University Zach S. Henderson Library, The Department of Writing and Linguistics, The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, The College of Education, and the Continuing Education Center. As one might imagine from this diverse list of hosts, the goals of the conference are broad; it is designed for all disciplines and academic levels, with the main goal of promoting information literacy in an educational setting. The more than 200 attendees at the 2008 conference included K12 educators, academic librarians, professors, public librarians, and school media center specialists.

Presentation Preparation

I live in Georgia, so I was excited to be a part of this conference. My one-hour presentation “The Big6 Goes to College” was selected for the 2008 conference program.  As I began to consider what I wished to accomplish in my one-hour session I turned to Big6 for guidance, beginning with Task Definition (Big6 #1). I have presented workshops on the Big6 in the past, so I knew what I needed to include. However, this presentation was slightly different, since it is significantly shorter than my usual Big6 presentation. One hour is not a lot of time to present something as important as Big6! So one major component of my preparation was to identify the key Big6 concepts to present within one hour.

Since I’d never attended this conference before, I was unsure of the Big6 knowledge level of the participants.   I did assume that all had some knowledge of information literacy, an interest in the subject, or had done intensive research on information literacy and learning outcomes associated with the concept. Also, it is understandable that with a diverse crowd of attendees, those who chose to attend my presentation would be a mixture of academics, public librarians, educators, and school library media specialists. Since I was interested in higher education, I decided to focus my presentation for the higher education track, but made note in the program description that the content was useful for all attendees. Since the use of Big6 is not as widespread in higher education, my topic was unique.

Since I was presenting what might be a new topic for some, I decided to help attendees understand Big6 by relating it to something with which they might be more familiar. First, my presentation provided The Big6 and the little 12 steps involved in the complete process. Next, I tied the Big6 steps to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Many academic libraries use the ACRL standards to drive student learning outcomes, assessment, and program development, so I knew that this mapping exercise would give attendees a comparative basis within which to understand and apply Big6.

Lively Discussion

I was pleased to find my presentation room filled with participants representing higher education, public and private schools and libraries, and public libraries. With the variety of educators, librarians, and professors, we had spirited discussion and shared ideas for using The Big6 in an educational setting. One suggestion was to combine Big6 #1, Task Definition, with concept mapping to develop a research topic or to identify keywords.

Plagiarism was also mentioned as an important aspect of Information Literacy and a key issue in higher education. I pointed the audience toward my article “Using the Big6 to Prevent Plagiarism,” which discusses how to use Big6-thinking to address plagiarism and its prevention.

My favorite thing about attending a conference or workshop is the sharing that takes place between participants. This conference, and my presentation in particular, was a great example of this collaboration. My attendees had great questions and offered some sharp observations. I highly recommend this conference.