Tag Archives for education
“To be of any value an education should prepare for life’s work.”
“Don’t trust your memory. Make notes. Write down your observations.”
The last year has been a formative one as I approach the end of library school, and though I am by no means a fan of introspective self-indulgent blogging (see the death throes of LiveJournal), I think it is necessary to reflect on just two things that happened to my year that will inform the shape of this blog over the next few months.
The first is the completion of my directed research project, in which I crafted a large paper on social media use in the academic library. Prior to the completion of that paper that was the realm in which I was most focused. Academic libraries, I thought, were the realm of my interest, and that I could continue my investigation past finishing that report. But what I found instead was that my interests focused further, and I felt freed from trying to wrangle such a broad and complex environment. I now find myself moving past the broader academic culture (or even, perhaps, “libraries” in their most general conception) and its adoption of social media, into a realm of web culture that I view as more pressing, less well-defined, and that requires more reflective practice than it currently receives.
This brings me to my involvement with health librarianship. If you have paid close attention to the things I have been putting on Twitter lately, more and more of them have been health related. A budding interest of mine since my first days of library school and the CIHC (and some not so subtle prodding by librarian mentors) have drawn me toward the field at an alarming rate. I had the pleasure of presenting at the Canadian Health Libraries Association conference last June; I started a second job at the UBC Library in Vancouver General hospital in September; I published a paper for health librarians with Dean Giustini and Allan Cho; and by sheer luck I was able to hear one of my favorite tweeps, Dr. Kent Bottles, speak in Minneapolis (my home town) at a health care and social media event during my practicum. I help to maintain some of the fantastic resources at Dean Giustini’s HLWIKI Canada. One day soon, an interview with me on interprofessional health practice and my work at CIHC Library should be put up on our blog.
Rule one of blogging is to define an audience and speak to them. I feel a little like I am shifting or disrupting that audience as I write this, having defined mine as a larger community of librarians interested in web technology generally. But I am one of the only students at my library school who maintains (if irregularly) a professionally-oriented blog (correct me if I’m wrong here, SLAISers), and certainly one of few who have taken an active interest in health libraries. More Osler: “It is always better to do a thing wrong the first time.” If you’re bored you can just quit me, but my hope is that you won’t. I don’t feel I’ve done wrong here, but feel I have to change slightly in order to engage critically with my more focused interests. My hope is that it leads to greater frequency of posting and, ultimately, adds value to the field in some way.
I just completed my term-long directed study project on establishing social media in academic libraries, and am quite pleased with the final result. For the study I compiled as many references I could find to social media, higher education, academic libraries, strategic planning and policy and mashed them all up into a narrative review. The result is a grounded argument for moving from program experimentation to accepted and strategic social media initiatives. If you’re game enough to read it, I decided to toss it up on my Slideshare for download.
Not to spoil the ending, but it’s the best part:
The challenge of adopting social media in the academic library is not new, but only now are librarians and scholars beginning to tackle the advanced management of social medial programming head on. Further research on new learners and information literacy will bolster the evidence needed for librarians to begin shifting institutional culture. Additionally, the sharing of professional practice is always recommended, no matter the channel. However, the onus is now on the librarians, managers and institutions to prepare the way forward for social media in the academic library. Our users are changing along with their information practices, and the time has come to bridge the information gap between library experimentation and established service. We can either meet our users out there to collaborate, or wait endlessly for their return.
Continuing my line of thought from earlier this week, I got caught up in thinking about social media as an online “learning space.” As such, I looked into the creation of learning spaces and how they affect us as learners. To me, an online classroom is as much of a “space” as a physical one, and that includes WebCT, a wiki, or even a conversation held via replies over Twitter. All of these things create an environment for potential learning, that has its own mores and accepted behavioral structure, and also potential effects for how and what we will be able to learn there.
A few months ago, the Educause Review (man, I love Educause) was on the creation of learning spaces, and Malcolm Brown wrote a wonderful piece that codified the ideas from each article into one review he titled “Inversions.” In it, he describes the “new curriculum” that states that new learning spaces, both virtual and physical, are inverting the traditional classroom and education structure, and allowing students to become their own knowledge creators and “active planners of their own learning.”
This is how I view my own activity on social media like Twitter, Delicious and even Facebook occasionally. By allowing me a learning space that enables not only an active and social learning experience, but also one that blends our own learning with the learning of others as inextricable from the system in which we are involved. That is, because social media mores and accepted behaviors as they pertain to learning are almost always under development (given the shifting nature of the specific tools and young age of social media as a “learning space”), we are also engaging in something that could be considered enactivist, or (hope you’re at a university somewhere) co-emergent.
Social media tools as learning spaces allow not only the inversion of the classroom structure by almost requiring their participants to take responsibility for their learning, but in doing so, they include themselves in a variety of theoretical frameworks of contemporary learning theory. In my opinion, in order to continue to properly justify the utility of social media as education tools and “learning spaces,” especially as they grow in popularity as well as infamy, the framework for understanding our learning within them needs to begin to be developed.
There’s a lot here, I know. Too much. But I’ll leave you with this quote from Brown’s Inversions. He uses the architect’s concept of a “desire path” to illuminate the challenges of effectively creating and sustaining a new learning space. He says, “People create desire paths not just through the built environment; they also create desire paths in their “practices” environment. Faculty and students will do the same in learning spaces: make a beeline back to the old, familiar practices unless they are assisted in undertaking and sustaining the transition from the old practices to the new ones.” It is on us to support the transition.
Do educational videos stand a chance vs. entertainment videos? Why/Why not?
It is difficult to say what exactly the separation between those two categories is, and therefore it is further complicated to answer this question. Take for instance, TED, a global lecture series that produces high-quality videos of most of their talks available for free online. Perhaps I am a huge nerd, but these videos are both entertaining, and in most cases, astoundingly educational. There is a special skill held by great educators that combines those two facets into all of their learning experiences.
YouTube is an incredibly popular search engine, not only for the funny things you can find, but also apparently for much more educational information. Though the two are often separate, there is no inherent reason that entertaining videos must win out over educational ones. If the educational videos are boring, well, then that seems to me to be a separate issue.
One example of a funny and educational video is the You Suck at Photoshop series. This is a very popular series of tutorials on how to use basic to advanced Photoshop features, but that are presented in such a way as to make them engaging and even have a narrative flow across the different “lessons.”
Given the ease with which anyone can record and upload their own entertainment or educational video, the potential for the two to merge becomes stronger and more realistic every day.
Falling into coming to school in Vancouver for me was primarily motivated first by place, then by price, then by sheer luck I think. I came from the University of Wisconsin, where, as you may know, there is a library school and one that is looked fairly well upon (or so I hear). I had a job, I had friends there, so in many ways it would have been ideal, but I guess I was just ready to leave. Madison is a wonderful community and I secretly hope to make it back one day, but at the time of the decision, I’m sure now that it was the right thing to leave.
You can see the pictures that I uploaded to describe my “ed experience” here. The whole class project group is here. I first entertained the notion of coming to Vancouver for graduate school because I had heard such good things about living in the Pacific Northwest. Then I saw the tuition rates. A calendar year at SLAIS runs me $7,200 CAD. All UBC graduate students are required to maintain a year-round relationship with the school, so that price is for 2 normal semesters, and both summer terms regardless of whether I enroll in classes.
To compare, fall and spring semesters at UW-Madison are $5,600 USD, plus $4,100 for summer (if I chose to enroll). That is a total of $15,300 for the year. More than double! I couldn’t believe it, and started working immediately on my application.
I always have to temper my enthusiasm with the fact that the cost of living in Vancouver is much higher than in the States (though perhaps not New York City, as those of you living there may attest) so that evens things out a bit. But either way, that turned my Pacific living dream into a reality.
So what else can I say about my education experience here? It is a time of political struggle at SLAIS, but that makes it a good time to be around in many ways. We are currently conducting a series of interviews for the school director positions (the candidates are currently confidential) as well as for two open faculty positions. It has been very interesting to be in on the process of selecting a new figurehead for the school… for example, I am personally very interested in technology so it was hard for me to like (though I did end up liking) one candidate whose research interests were of a more humanist bent. I have a background in the Humanities, but I’m not sure that’s where the field of LIS needs to be heading.
Along those lines, I have been talking with several of my peers about desiring more technology oriented classes in the SLAIS curriculum. There are some, though none along the lines of web development and design, which I am personally interested in as it applies to our field. They are offering a social media course next fall which I am happy about, but I’ll have already been in this one. I know there are options outside of SLAIS for courses such as these, but that is difficult and there has been little outreach between departments so far in my experience.
This is not to say I am unhappy here. Overall, my experience in the classes I have taken have all been very positive, and though there is some want for a larger, stable faculty, the base faculty here now is solid and they have all been very warm and welcoming of new students, and, now that I am one, of continuing students as well.
Well. I think I’ve said enough. There is more of course, but I will spare you. If you’re interested in talking more just let me know. I could go on, I am sure.