Category Archives: University Tech

Highlights case studies and forward thinking campus-based technology.

Library of the Future – Keith Webster’s New Blog

Folks – Don’t miss this new blog by Carnegie Mellon University Dean of Libraries Keith Webster:

Keith is one of the academic library leaders I look to for insights and ideas related to higher ed and library service. Look for his articles and presentations – you won’t be disappointed. For example:

From his introductory post:

If the librarian’s profession is increasingly to be conducted outside the library, then what of the building itself?  We know that our libraries are busier than ever, but studies point to much of the use of our facilities being independent of our traditional roles.  Interactions with librarians are increasingly rare, and the use of print collections has declined in many universities.  Demand is high for quiet study spaces, and for flexible study environments.  The construction of makerspaces and other technology-rich facilities has offered a draw card, certainly at my own university.  But what is the long-term future?  I recall the Follett Reportforeshadowing cheekily a future where library buildings, constructed to bear the immense weight of densely packed bookstacks, could be redeveloped as multistorey car parks (parking garages*)!  That hasn’t come to pass, yet, and the demise of the book is not nigh, but we do need to reflect upon the long term disposition of some of the most valuable real estate on our campuses.

Keith’s going to be exploring the evolving nature of the academic library with an eye toward trends, technology and service and a future view grounded in experience and research.  I am impressed with his accomplishments:

Keith Webster was appointed Dean of University Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University in July 2013. He also has a courtesy academic appointment at the University’s H. John Heinz III College. Previously, Keith was Vice President and Director of Academic Relations and Strategy for the global publishing company John Wiley and Sons. He was formerly Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at the University of Queenslandin Australia, leading one of the largest university and hospital library services in the southern hemisphere. Earlier positions include University Librarian at Victoria University in New Zealand, Head of Information Policy at HM Treasury, London, and Director of Information Services at the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London.

Follow him on Twitter too:

Mal Booth Named New University Librarian at University of Technology Sydney!

UTS Library is pleased to introduce the newly appointed University Librarian, Mal Booth.

Mal joined UTS in 2009 and has led significant changes in the way the Library organises and delivers the information and services it oversees. Amongst many initiatives he has been instrumental in introducing Radio Frequency Identity (RFID) tagging to the entire print collection, ensuring the Library is in a strong position to make best use of the new Library Retrieval System (that is currently underway) and for which he has led the design process.

Before joining UTS, Mal was the Head of the Research Centre at the Australian War Memorial where he supervised a major project to make their collection (including military history and war records) accessible. Prior to this he held numerous roles in the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

Congratulations Mal! 

Tweeting Professors

So the assistant professor in communications at Elizabethtown College designed anexperiment for 120 students at the college and has just reported the results. It turns out that professors with personal Twitter streams appear to be more credible than those who stick to business. The study, co-authored with Jamie Bartolino, one of her students, appears in the most recent issue of Learning, Media and Technology.

The researchers created three accounts on Twitter for three fictional “professors” named Caitlin Milton, Caitlyn Milton, and Katelyn Milton. One account was filled personal tweets (“Feeling good after an early morning swim at the rec center”), the second with scholarly ones (“Working on a study about how social-networking sites can be used in educational settings.”), and the third with a combination.

To Ms. Johnson’s surprise, when the students were surveyed, they rated the personal professor the highest on measures of competence, trustworthiness, and caring—which adds up to credibility.

This is from last year, but it’s nice to see supporting evidence for one of my beliefs about teaching: bringing even a little bit of yourself can be beneficial to students and the learning environment.

“The Hyperlinked Campus” at Dominican University of California

I’m very excited to be leading a faculty development workshop at Dominican University of California  :-) on February 24th. Here’s the draft abstract, based in part on a talk I gave at EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives in 2010:

Creative Collaboration and Immersive Engagement: The Hyperlinked Campus

Emerging technologies for communication and creation of content afford the possibility of the connected, “always on” educational environment. The Hyperlinked Campus is a model of open communication, transparency, social engagement, guided exploration, and creativity. This session will explore how some tools can extend the classroom beyond physical buildings to engage learners with their peers and with the world. The session will focus on open learning systems for courses, Twitter in the classroom and virtual learning space, and the creation of  personal learning networks. Moving beyond the walled garden and into participatory networks of learning and engagement can benefit both faculty and students.


Library on Wheels – Blogging Gold from Char Booth

Please do not miss:

Just a snippet demonstrates Char Booth’s evidence-based, grounded approach to library outreach and technology:

the mobile shift: not exactly news

Now, down to project business. Mobile platforms and services have become one of the most handily bandied-about concepts in libraryland over the last few years, and for very good reason. Recent research from ECARPIL (pdf), and Pew (among others) documents a mobile shift in personal and academic connectivity, communication, and access among learners. My own research for the Council of Chief Librarians of California Community Colleges in 2011 examined in part the receptivity of participants to mobile library functionality, which resoundingly confirmed mobile trends. Figure 27  shows mobile library interest among smartphone/web-enabled mobile device owners, which represented 56% (N=1,453) of our five-campus survey population (CCL LTES Final Report, p. 36).

Chart showing mobile device receptivity, CCL LTES 2011 Project report

In all categories, a majority of respondents indicated they were very or fairly likely to use mobile library content, research, and support options from their device, significantly higher than other technology applications such as location-based services and social media (with the exception of a Facebook and YouTube). See Figure 26 (ibid., p 34).

Chart showing receptivity to social, etc. library technology services, CCL LTES 2011 Report

Freed-Hardeman University to Introduce Apple ipads, Inkling Digital Textbooks and Faculty Training as Part of Innovative iKnow 2.0

“For the first time since kindergarten, I will have to learn how to go to class again.” That is what Freed-Hardeman University prospective student Katie Scott said when she was told about iKnow 2.0, the initiative created by the university to shift the paradigm of traditional instruction at FHU. Beginning in the fall of 2012, iKnow 2.0 will provide an iPad to every student who enrolls as a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University as well as every faculty member at the institution.

“We want our faculty, our staff, our university, to be at the forefront of technology,” said Mark Scott, vice president of technology and innovation “This program will continue to allow for that, while creating an atmosphere of shared knowledge and a higher education experience unlike any other.”

iKnow 2.0 will provide an iPad to all freshmen beginning with the Fall 2012 cohort. In addition, FHU will establish minimum MacBook requirements for incoming freshmen. It is anticipated that continuing and transfer students will be provided an opportunity to opt in to the iKnow 2.0 program and receive an iPad for a one-time fee that is basically equivalent to the cost of the iPad.

The most exciting part of the program will be the ability to access textbooks via the iPad. Historically, students go to the university bookstore and spend hundreds of dollars per semester on books. Now, because of the iPad, students will have access to interactive digital textbooks that are not only more participatory, but significantly more affordable.

“We are not the most popular people with the bookstore staff right now,” said Mark Scott jokingly. “But they understand, as we do, that this is the future and we have to continue to progress, if we want to continue to provide the best Christian education possible.”

FHU has partnered with Inkling, a company working with publishers to provide enriched, interactive, and engaging content, on the iPad. Their goal, along with FHU, is not to reinvent the textbook or reinvent publishing, but to reinvent the way people learn on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University.

“When I visited the campus and met the team at FHU, it was clear to me that we had a forward-thinking technology partner to work with,” said Matt MacInnis, founder and CEO of Inkling. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the university’s technology revolution.”

“Once we saw a demo of Inkling, it was obvious how limited traditional textbooks had become and how limitless the digital textbooks seemed on the iPad. That is very exciting for us,” said Mark Scott.

“Our books will no longer look like they used to,” said Katie Scott. “They will all be in one tablet, where we can write in them, make notes, see real videos, 3D models, and we get to keep them forever; it is going to be awesome.”

Additionally, the iPad will be provided to the faculty of Freed-Hardeman. They also recognize the importance of moving forward.

“Make no mistake, this is an academic initiative,” said Dr. C. J. Vires, vice president of academics at Freed-Hardeman. “Academically, we are positioned well to move in this direction thanks to the myriad of faculty who have participated in several pilot projects and are already effectively using the iPad as an instructional tool within the classroom. In addition, our Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) has been working diligently to identify and disseminate information and training related to the iPad. To further facilitate this transition academically, we are working on a strategy to provide iPads during the Spring 2012 semester to those full-time teaching faculty who do not already have one. Through the help of our advancement team, the university is raising funds to make this happen. Also, CIT will host a number of events to highlight various instructional tools and strategies associated with the iPad. Finally, we will continue to work with companies like Inkling to identify digital textbooks that provide the richest content and dynamic experiences for our students. Through all of these efforts, students at FHU in the fall of 2012 will become more actively involved in the dynamic co-presentation and co-creation of classroom content and experiences. As a result, student learning will increase and our graduates will be better prepared for the adaptive and evolving work environment they will enter upon graduation.”

Faculty at FHU believe that will be the case, if they can get the iPad to the classroom.

“My five-year-old daughter found some of the apps I downloaded for our science faculty,” said Dr. LeAnn Self-Davis, dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics. “She already knows how to dissect a frog.”

Self-Davis said that when FHU conducted the iPad pilot study that the tablet seemed to be less intrusive than a laptop and definitely more interactive.

“The students make more eye contact and seem to focus more than they did with a laptop in front of them. Because the iPad is limited to one application at a time, social media, the Internet and other things that can work their way into the classroom through technology did not distract students. The iPad eliminated that,” said Davis

The iPad does have its challenges, however. Changing the way professors have taught for years, some of them for more than 30 years, is definitely a challenge according to campus information technology specialist Patrick Bolton.

“Although we have made great strides over the past several years, we have a few instructors who have yet to embrace new technology,“ said Bolton. “We have to find a way to integrate what they have done for years, what they are comfortable with, into this new technology.” According to Boltin, one way this can be accomplished is by using the iPad in conjunction with a MacBook as a mobile digital white board.  Using the software Doceri, allows one to wirelessly control their computer and annotate on Powerpoints and PDF documents.

Many of the professors are surprised when they see the ease and capability of the iPad. Lisa Beene, chairperson of the behavioral sciences department, said she was nervous about receiving the iPad, but then impressed.

“Technology scared me at first,” said Beene. “But after meeting with our CIT staff and learning the capabilities of the iPad, I am going to do everything I can to make this part of my everyday teaching activities.”

“This is an enormous undertaking for the university and we know there will be challenges and possibly criticism,” said Mark Scott. “But, we have a responsibility to the students to prepare them for employment and to our faculty to help them with that preparation in the best way available. We believe this program to be one of the most progressive in the nation. Our vision is to lead the way in higher education innovation. We plan to continue to build upon the momentum created by our innovation. iKnow 2.0 will not only move toward a greater focus on mobile learning and technology, it will simply make the traditional classroom a thing of the past. We expect to enhance instruction and improve student-learning outcomes with our innovation. This program will allow us to continue that journey toward effective, relevant, and transparent use of technology in learning,” Mark Scott said.

In 2008, Freed-Hardeman pioneered integrating technology in the classroom with the iKnow initiative. With the development of mobile technology and the fusion of academics, highly trained faculty and the best students in the Southeast, FHU was repeatedly recognized as the leading technological university within the region and in the Southeast.

BuddyPress, Libraries and Higher Education: An Interview with Kenley Neufeld and Michael Stephens

Kyle Jones interviewed Kenley Neufeld and me for the new Library technology report from ALA TechSource: “Using WordPress as a Library Content Management System” by Kyle M. L. Jones and Polly-Alida Farrington.

Here’s a snippet:

KJ: You both work at institutions where you have some kind of formal learning management system. Why did you make the decision to not use the resources you had? You could have made your lives extremely easier going with the norm and instead you chose to roll your own. You put a lot of struggles on yourself to do so.

MS: I can’t have my students spend so much time creating and writing inside a tool that they’ll probably never touch once they graduate, unless maybe they work in academic libraries. They should be using a tool or a handful of tools they will be using in their jobs. I want them to come out of the program and say they have used WordPress and took advanced web design and experienced Drupal and used Twitter. That’s much more important than these systems. The feeling that I’m serving the students better by using these systems is good.

KN: For me, it’s been more about trying to build tools that will meet the needs of the types of things I want incorporated. The system we had originally, WebCT, I used for only one semester and was very disappointed. As a result, I started using Moodle the following term and then the college went to Moodle as well (thankfully). I do use Moodle, and it works well for the most part, but I found it a little bit clunky here and there for some things I’m trying to accomplish.

The main reason I’m using WordPress/BuddyPress is because the class I’m teaching has to do with social media. Since the class focus is social media and social networking, it seemed like the obvious solution would be to actually use the tools that I’m teaching about. It was a non-decision. This is what we’re going to use and I’ve been very happy. Now, as I look ahead, and if I were to teach other classes without the heavy social media focus, then I would still be inclined toward using the WordPress/BuddyPress solution. I am comfortable with it and happy with it. But I also need to think about the overall student experience and recognize that the school does support one system, which is Moodle, and rather than have students learn a new system, it may be smarter to stick with Moodle. It would really depend on the class. In the current situation, WordPress is the obvious solution.

Fortunately, learning management systems are trying to incorporate more of the social media tools where you can easily incorporate the video and the audio; the interactivity and visual representations that people seek. I haven’t looked at Blackboard in a couple years, so I’m not that familiar with it, but with Moodle you can incorporate just about anything. There are methods to do it, but you are still building within a framework though it is customizable. It will depend on the support you have locally because most instructors are not going to go the extra step unless they have an easy mechanism in order to do so. On our campus we are working in that direction — to support instructors to add other types of media content, interactively, to allow for a richer learning environment. It is possible.

MS: I taught 25-students last summer using WordPress/BuddyPress doing Internet Fundamentals. What Kenley said about media is incredibly important and this summer I would be out on the hiking trail with the dog and my iPhone. I’d be thinking about what I’d like to tell the students, so I recorded a video that isn’t just a talking head. They see a tree going by, or the lake, or the dog, and they hear my voice saying they are doing really great and here are some things to think about while doing this next exercise. And the feedback I got from the students for a 3-minute video was that they loved it. It helped them feel connected and it helped me feel more connected with them. It became part of what we were doing.

Please take a look at the whole post and don’t miss the new report from authors Kyle M. L. Jones and Polly-Alida Farrington.