Three years ago we had two classrooms in our library. They looked like this:
The former “training-based” classrooms at VT Library. Photo: R. Miller
These were suitable for training-based instruction but our program has evolved. Librarians wanted to be able to reach more students (larger class sizes) as well as utilize many different teaching methods. We’re upgrading both rooms this summer.
I wrote earlier about serving on a Student Experience Task Force. This was a yearlong project that brought together students and faculty with people from the budget office, facilities, student affairs, the Provost’s Office, and other units. It was an eclectic mix resulting in many diverse conversations. Personally, it was a perception-shifting experience and I learned to appreciate different challenges across campus.
The most glaring aspect we encouraged was a spectrum of disparity. Students in a living learning community had different encounters than those in older residential halls. Students attending classes in upgraded facilities had completely different experiences than those in older rooms. It was interesting to witness how a sense of place directly impacted emotional connections and output. Our charge was to consider ways to reduce the existing…
A few weeks ago I met up with Tim Baird (Geography, Virginia Tech) to tour the library and talk about pedagogy. We discussed a handful of topics and I tried to capture the spirit of our conversation in this post. Tim has received a lot of attention across campus (here and here) for his Pink Time concept. Let’s start with that.
The short version: he encourages students to skip class three times a semester and to invest that time learning whatever they want. Students then report on what they did and assign themselves a grade based on the experience. The impetus for this approach was inspired by Daniel Pink, hence the name—Pink Time.
Does space matter? Does the selection and arrangement of furniture and technology impact behavior? I think so. The tools around us impact what we can build. So if we follow this line of thought: can we design spaces that enable students to be more creative, more collaborative, or more innovative? Can we offer environments that encourage concentration, curiosity, or confidence?
I’ve been chasing these questions for the past ten years. It started at Georgia Tech where we experimented with atmospheric elements like sound, shape, and lighting. We could quickly recalibrate a room and completely change its mood and functionality. This is where I began thinking about the psychology of place.
Georgia Tech Library, courtesy of Dottie Hunt
My thoughts were recently augmented by Frank Shushok, Senior Associate Vice…
Yesterday I posted this tweet and it received a lot of attention so I’ll expand my thoughts.
About a year ago we opened our Multipurpose Room in the library. We framed it as a gathering place for creative, cultural, academic, and social experiences. The one major rule is that everything has to be public: no private events.
We officially opened the doors in January 2014 and hosted many lecturers, film screenings, receptions, workshops, panel discussions, poetry and prose readings, and town hall meetings. But also some unique events too: fashion shows, comedy shows, musical and art performances, digital exhibits, mini-conferences and symposiums, cooking demonstrations, a hackathon, and live TEDx broadcasts. I believe there were some World Cup matches in there too.
We’ve also seen the rise of digital poster sessions. The room has eight large monitors on the walls and two…
As a follow-up to last week’s post I want to tell the story of one of my colleagues. We talk occasionally about social entrepreneurship and I thought it might be helpful to explore that context through a library instruction effort.
“There will be 50 groups selling lemonade. They’ll be competing to see who can make the most money.”
I was instantly intrigued by this assignment. I imagined clusters of students hawking lemonade all across campus. The lemonade stand represents the classic business model, challenging students to be creative. When everyone is literally selling the same product you have to think differently to gain attention. This is how one of our librarians first presented this course to me and I was curious to see what would happen.
The Context Our business librarian, Ellen Krupar, served an important instructional role within this course. Since she herself…
My talk was 90 minutes so the first half explored the concept of social entrepreneurship, while the second half applied that to libraries. I tried to use the same structure in the paper but it was over 10,000 words. I chopped it down to 4,000, but I probably should have broken it into two separate papers. I regret editing out Bill Drayton, but I’ll do a whole blog posted based on his work.
I wrote 80% of the paper last summer and then sat on it for a year. Over the last month I have been reflecting on my time at UC Santa …
Our Dean’s Advisory Council meetings are always enlightening. On Monday we held small group discussions on teaching and research practices. (Ralph Hall blogged about his experience.) I have enough material for several posts but today I am reflecting on the concept of faculty who could become unenrollable.
Rob Stephens (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and Professor of History at Virginia Tech) shared this concept with me. He feels that websites like Koofers and RateMyProfessors are having an impact on course enrollment. Rob believes that there is a correlation between low headcount and faculty reviews online. (Translation: students avoid difficult professors whenever possible.)
“Frightening, threatening, and inevitable,” were the words Rob used to describe the situation. But he isn’t necessarily against…
I’ve worked with Ralph Hall (Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs & Planning, Virginia Tech) related to Google Glass in the past. He has explored different ways of incorporating the hardware into his teaching practices. See: Teaching Using Google Glass and Apps.
While Glass inspired him to think differently the game-changer seems to be the portfolio of Google Apps. Ralph recently remarked that students stayed connected to his course even after the semester is finished.
This is a powerful idea. I keep thinking of residual value or appreciation. Your primary value is taking the course, but afterwards—after the grading is done – students continue to gain value as evidenced though continued use or contribution. Just as you might watch a TV show or a game and then go back later to enjoy episodes or highlights. The value extends beyond the original occurrence—beyond the prescribed…
This summer my library went through a strategic realignment. We had the convergence of numerous retirements and other departures that presented us with an opportunity to look across the entire organization and consider some adjustments.
The driving factor behind this effort was to better align the library with the University’s strategic directions. New priorities are emerging across campus and we needed to position ourselves to participate and partner more fully. And yes, I’m aware that’s admin-speak.
One theme we focused on was research. Previously we had two areas that shared this same word:
Research and Instruction Services
Research and Informatics
We decided to define our concept of research around activities such as data curation, scholarly communication, publishing services, repositories, and technology development. This is very different from the traditional…
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is Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech. This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.
In his new book, Brian Mathews speaks directly to the academic library practitioner. The guiding principle, that marketing should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcases how the library fits within the daily life of students.