Category Archives: Web&Tech

March 24, 2014, 3:31 pm

DATA ACROSS THE CURRICULUM: is personal data the key?

Jer_Tea

Jer Thorp talking with the Honors Residential Community @ Virginia Tech

Last week we hosted data artist Jer Thorp for several days. As part of our Distinguished Innovator in Residence Program (a partnership between University Libraries and TLOS with others contributing as well) we bring in creative thinkers to meet with students, brainstorm with faculty, give a public lecture, and essentially spark new conversations across campus. I highly recommend his Ted Talk.

I was fortunate to hear Jer speak four different times to diverse audiences. A theme that surfaced and resonated with us was the notion of Data Across the Curriculum, which is analogous to Writing Across the Curriculum. Our CIO added, “what if we had a common data set?” similar to the Common Book concept. Imagine the interdisciplinary possibilities …

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January 14, 2014, 7:45 pm

MIXED BAG: MOOCs, eBooks, Circa, and Bulldozers

Our spring semester begins next week. It’s always a shock to the system when the students return to campus. This is especially exaggerated in a small town like Blacksburg where they account for over half of the population.

I have several blog posts in the pipeline, but today I wanted to tie a few loose ends together.

MOOCs & NASA
There is a commentary in the Chronicle today about MOOCs. This sums it up:

 “Instead of 2014 being the year when talk of disruption in higher education ends, why not make it the year when pioneering ideas converge?”

The MOOC narrative has changed so rapidly. The Hype Cycle piece combined with Fast Company’s bubble bursting piece has taken us from 2013 being The Year of the MOOC to the death of the MOOC in twelve short months.

I’m very curious to see what happens next. This topic came up at a recent ASERL meeting and there were two…

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November 21, 2013, 3:29 pm

A MONITOR ON EVERY TABLE? Rising student expectations

The aspiration was once a power outlet for every table– but the stakes are rising. Are we entering an era where students need (and expect) a monitor on every table?

monitors

Virginia Tech students bring their own monitor to the library for collaboration.

Earlier this week I heard about a group of students who brought their own monitor into the library. They were coding together and required a shared display to collaborative effectively. We do provide group monitors, but they are always in high demand… so they used their own.

While I appreciate the ingenuity of this group to improvise on a solution, I also feel like I let them down. As soon as some funding opens up in January I’m going to purchase a handful of monitors and have them installed at group tables. This has been in our renovation documents for a while…

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November 15, 2013, 7:31 pm

Further Thoughts on GLASS

I just gave a campus interview about our GLASS project. Here is the gist of my answers in long form.

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Giving a campus interview. I’ll link out once the video is online.

I’m really excited to be involved with GLASS. It’s an interesting technology and wearable computing seems to be one of the next big things.

I love what Virginia Tech is doing by building a cohort of faculty who are using GLASS in different ways and representing different disciplines. Arts, sciences, building construction, public policy, it’s a wide mix.

And it is exciting for me to represent the library in that effort because I get to work hand in hand with faculty on rethinking their teaching and research practices. We want to build new apps together, new software together, new pedagogies, new capabilities. So it is valuable for me …

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October 10, 2013, 2:50 pm

Libraries and GLASS: 7 things to think about as wearable computing emerges

glass_officeI joined the Google Glass community last week. A Glass Explorer at Virginia Tech invited me in and it has been an interesting experience so far. We are forming a cohort of Glass Explorers on our campus. This is an effort to apply the technology to both teaching and research situations.

Together the four of us will be exploring new practices and we also want to develop applications that could benefit higher ed. I’m glad that the library was invited in the mix; it’s interesting to observe the way faculty think and to contribute to the venture.

I’ll post more about our progress in the coming months but today I wanted to share a few quick observations about Glass and libraries:

1. QR codes mean something now
I’ve never liked QR codes. They’ve always felt desperate to me. It is very awkward to hold up a phone or tablet and to click an app or button. Glass changes that and …

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September 23, 2013, 1:11 pm

Hoping data isn’t just the next big thing collecting dust (insight from Dropbox)

I recently criticized Wired but I have to commend them for a great October issue.  One of the articles outlines the ambition of Dropbox, which is to become the “pervasive data layer.” I love that phrase.

The key quote:

 Going forward, the company wants to power a new breed of syncable apps that would let you share any kind of data with anyone across any device. In theory it’s an epic shift that would put Dropbox at the center of everyone’s digital life, turning it into a powerhouse on the level of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.

Any file with anyone on any device! That’s a powerful vision. It’s the heart of the new web infrastructure that is being built and it is the red-hot topic in research libraries. Good whitepaper: research data services. Libraries are offering new services and creating new positions, and I hope someone is working on a compatibility feature…

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September 5, 2013, 6:28 pm

Curating Learning Experiences: A Future Role For Librarians?

A few weeks ago I purchased a premium WordPress theme for my campus. This isn’t something I typically do, but it fit nicely with an initiative I am building around supporting new types of learning interactions.

 

A professor I’m working with uses blogs in her courses but wanted to push the experience further. I’m hearing this more often as faculty express interest in a more flexible and personalized learning environment as opposed to the LMS model. Sakai, Blackboard, and similar tools are seen as utilities rather than virtual communities.

 

I think we’re seeing a shift occur. In the past it was “how to use a blog in your course” and now it’s “how to build an online social learning environment for your specific needs.” These conversations are the result of faculty becoming more comfortable and sophisticated using the social web. I’m finding many who are…

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August 21, 2013, 3:43 pm

Database vs. Database vs. Web-Scale Discovery Service: further thoughts on search failure (or: more clicks than necessary?) (or: info-pushers vs. pedagogical partners)

Yesterday’s post resonated with people. There seems to be a lot of focus on the importance of the “proper” way to do research—and the proper tools.  That’s how much of our current value is delivered so I completely understand the concern and passion.

Obviously the case I described is just one example and things may be different for you, but in this instance the interfaces we offer were not effective for simple keyword searching.

Here is an example. Forget about limiters, options, date ranges, licensing, access, etc. I know those are important and distinguishing features, but let’s leave those out of the conversation.  Right now I’m interested purely in keyword-based results. Let’s test some algorithms!

Let’s say you’re researching Woodstock and that you need to find articles from the New York Times that were published while the concert what happening. You…

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August 13, 2013, 8:52 pm

ENTERING THE ERA OF MICRO-EXPERIENCES? Using a lot of different things to do a lot of different things

Lauren and I were recently talking about the evolution of the social web. There had been some press about the kids today don’t use Facebook anymore. The articles use to be about how such-and-such was no longer cool. Now we’re starting to see a generation completely bypassing Facebook. They are not leaving it because they were never on it. Facebook is for grandparents!

 

So what’s the alternative? What’s next big thing? What’s the Facebook Killer? I’ve been out of the social media scene for a while now, but the shift seems to be away from the single solution and more toward multiple products for different needs. This is why Vine, Instagram, and Tumblr are popular. Each tool focuses on different things (strengthens?) as opposed to trying to do everything like Facebook.

 

We seem to be entering (or have entered) an era of specialization. The one-stop-shop is emptying…

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July 1, 2013, 8:50 pm

Glass: my first encounter (and applying it to higher ed)

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Gardner is in shock by Glass awesomeness. I’m looking mad that I have to wait twelve months for my own device.

Wow. I just experienced something special. This afternoon Gardner and I sat down with a Glass Explorer. It was a 60-minute meeting that turned into 160 minutes of mind bendiness.

Flashback I was in high school when the transition from cassette tapes to CDs happened. I was in college when my roommates and I dialed into the Internet to figure out “what’s the web for?” I was in Atlanta when I first held an iPhone and then bought one the very next day. Flash Forward Those were all critical technology experiences for me. Today, in Blacksburg, I had another one… it was Glass.

I should just end this post right now because I’m still trying to process what I saw. You may think I’m feeling…

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