April 9, 2014, 4:56 pm
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.
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…
March 10, 2014, 3:16 pm
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):
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…
February 25, 2014, 1:39 pm
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…
June 25, 2013, 2:56 pm
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…
February 19, 2013, 2:40 pm
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…
June 6, 2012, 4:04 pm
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…
March 12, 2012, 3:46 pm
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…
January 11, 2012, 2:51 pm
I’m excited to finally be collaborating with Char Booth. We’ve been seeking a project for several years now and finally found one in the form of an invited paper and co-presentation at CARL 2012.
This is our venture:
Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping
In order to improve library instruction, we need to develop a richer understanding of the holistic learning and teaching experience of our institutions. Threshold concepts are core ideas in a particular area or discipline that, once understood, transform perceptions of that subject. Curriculum mapping is a method of visualizing insight into the courses, requirements, and progressions a learner negotiates as they pass through a particular department or degree. When understood and applied in tandem, these strategies provide a powerful means of developing actionable insight into the learner…
September 26, 2011, 5:24 pm
We’re working on round two of our graduate student ethnography project. I plan to release the findings in January as a collection of whitepapers. The batch will include themes such as mentoring, collaboration, criticism, and work process. But my favorite thread is the progression from student to scholar. It has been fascinating to review the self-analysis and see how a scholar is defined.
Two predominate qualities emerged: independence & creation.
Some sample quotes:
1. “As you go through grad school at least in English, you begin to develop more into sort of an independent writer and scholar…. You start thinking more in terms of I’m making a book length argument that has to be interesting vs. I’ve gotta write this short argument that I think is what my professor wants.”
2. “As an undergrad, you were presented with deadlines that were dictated by others. And they we…