Category Archives: Instruction

July 24, 2014, 10:42 am

LIBRARIAN AS FUTURIST: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future

I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.

Librarian_as_Futurist_preview_imageThe portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I  like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.

Here is a snippet:

Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…

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July 17, 2014, 2:36 pm

A Liaison for a Classroom Building? Curating a Learning ecosystem.

It is very common for librarians to serve as liaisons to academic departments. They teach classes, purchase materials, answer reference questions, assist with research endeavors, and generally get involved with the odds-and-ends of those units. Some librarians also liaise with defined user communities such as first-year students, international students, or students associated with particular residence halls.

This classic approach enables librarians to connect their expertise with different user segments that likely share similar needs, interests, or perspectives. In short, these librarians serve as the human interface of the library.

But things are changing. I think we are in the initial phase of the next evolutionary step of the librarian as liaison. I touched upon this in my last post about the shift from “knowledge service provider to collaborative partner.” ARL is also…

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April 9, 2014, 4:56 pm

NO CLASSROOMS, JUST EXPERIENCES: “free thinking” the future of higher ed

I’m serving on a “Student Experience Task Force”— which among other things is exploring the relationship between residence halls, classrooms, laboratories, dining facilities, student centers, libraries, gyms, and outdoor spaces across my campus—with an eye toward long-term strategies. This is a yearlong process.

Our first assignment was to “free think” one possibility twenty to thirty years from now. These ideas were not expected to be grounded in reality— but to intentionally be provocative, disruptive, or transformative.

a_desk_for_every_student

Virginia Tech: Burchard Hall. A desk for every student

Mine was to do away with classrooms. Instead of lecture halls I would give every student their own desk or workbench—similar to what you find in architecture departments. There is an amazing community that forms around…

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March 10, 2014, 3:16 pm

ACRL: if we are putting everything on the table — how about “change literacy” too?

ACRL is working to redefine Information Literacy: draft. I’m very happy to see that Threshold Concepts are making it into the conversation. I would like to offer one suggestion: change literacy. I have a forthcoming essay in portal that will hopefully be out this summer, but here is an unedited snippet that touches in the concept. In short, I view the ability to anticipate, create, adapt, and deal with change (in the broadest since) as a vital fluency for people today. If we treat change as a literary then we can better prepare students for the challenges they will face tomorrow.

Forthcoming in portal (July 2014):

CHANGE LITERACY

Librarians have long been invested in literacy. Historically this involved advocating for reading, and several decades ago information literacy emerged as a focal point for academic libraries. Today new literacies such as data, visual, digital, health…

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February 25, 2014, 1:39 pm

[DON’T] SAVE THE TIME OF THE READER: a disconnect between librarians and teaching faculty?

From time to time I receive faculty feedback that surprises me. There is a contrasting view that occasionally emerges around the notion that learning should be hard: specifically that the process of identifying and locating information sources should be difficult. I’ve encountered this everywhere I’ve worked. We’ve even been called out for making things “too easy for students.”

Our reference and instruction program exists for the purpose of helping people navigate resources and making it easier for them to do research. Our web tools, such as link-resolvers, subject guides, tutorials, and discovery-layers are intended to get people to the content they want as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. I mean, come on, “save the time of the reader” is baked into our DNA. Libraries exist to help make people’s lives easier/better.

Most of the librarians I know believe in…

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October 2, 2013, 5:26 pm

“I’ve been researching wrong this whole time” – instructional insight via Twitter

I enjoy seeing social media used in classrooms. We’re definitely in the next wave now with many faculty members expressing excitement about these tools. Several years ago the conversations I had were: “that’s interesting but it just doesn’t work for my needs” and today it is: “I want to foster more interaction and I think this app might work, what do you think?”

 

I recently stumbled upon a Twitter instance here at Virginia Tech via the College of Natural Resources and Environment. They integrated Twitter into their First-Year Experience program. Here is some documentation.

 

Obviously using hashtags in class isn’t a new practice. But beyond a course-wide tag they also use separate tags for individual topics or speakers. This enables the instructors to engage with the course during and after presentations. It also provides a direct channel for the presenters…

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June 25, 2013, 2:56 pm

Haystacks vs. Algorithms: Is Scanning the Stacks for [Pretty] Books Really the Best Research Strategy?

One of my favorite courses during undergrad was Shakespeare. My professor had a performance-oriented approach but I recall writing a few essays and being amazed by the range of material in my library. Shelf after shelf held books about Shakespeare and other Elizabethan playwrights.

It was fun to flip through the pages and see what was contained. This was the mid-1990’s — the web was still emerging.

When I see faculty write about serendipity and the value of wandering the stacks I think back with nostalgia to that period in my life. It’s a very romantic idea—being surrounded by immense physical collections of knowledge.

Little did I know the university up the road had an even larger Shakespeare collection. Or that Folger even existed. My library contained just a thimble of information on this topic. If all I used were the materials in my library I could get a good grade…

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February 19, 2013, 2:40 pm

SCALING UP THE LIBRARY

We’re opening our SCALE-UP classroom today. This is a joint venture between the Library and the College of Science. It was one of the first projects that my Dean gave me upon arrival. We already have two classrooms that are computer lab-based models, but like a lot of libraries, our instructional demands are increasing and we not only needed more space—but a different type of space. The College of Science was also looking for more instructional space so it was mutually beneficial. They already have a successful SCALE-UP classroom – so this is an extension of that effort.

 

I had my first meeting with them in January 2012—and now thirteen months later we have a great classroom. Not quite startup speed, but it was a complex project. Many people were involved with this—from financing (thanks Provost & COS) to collection reviews and shifting. Our facilities team also kept…

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June 6, 2012, 4:04 pm

Hack the Learner Experience, or Get Yourself Some Pedagogical Perspective

Let’s keep this rolling for all the ubiquitous librarians out there. I want to post more but the tradeoff is that I need to write less. You know, only so much time in the day/night…

I mentioned back in January that Char Booth and I were working on a project together. That’s finally wrapped up and we packaged it all together:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping

 

There is a paper along with links to a video of our presentation and some slides. I’ll let the content speak for itself, but I wanted to highlight a few things:

 

  • It was great working with Char. I tend to push things a bit far sometimes and she pushes ideas even further. Not only is she a good designer but is also skilled at the art of rhetoric too. Char and I are interested in working together again in late 2013 or 2014, so if someone has an interesting…

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March 12, 2012, 3:46 pm

Google Docs Will Free Librarians (to Engage Students More Directly in the Natural Writing Environment)

I had a vivid dream last night. I typically forget all my dreams, but this one stood out. In this world no one spoke directly to each other. Everyone was a ventriloquist and used dummies or puppets to communicate. I walked through restaurants, grocery stores, malls and a few other common locations– and everyone had their avatar on their hand. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for iPhones and digital devices and social media and how they are disconnecting traditional social interactions  – but that seems too obvious. I think the larger message is centered on the need to evolve with mainstream communication preferences and practices.

 

In the dream I didn’t have a dummy/puppet/avatar and hence everyone I tried to interact with just ignored me. This is likely a confluence of several things. I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of libraries, the future of information, the future of…

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