[The following program proposal is part of an ongoing series on Reinventing the Academic Library. It is intended as an example of the kinds of things librarians supporting a research-intensive university can do.]
The Library Serves as a Hub for New Forms of Instruction
MOOCs; continuous education; alumni teaching; intensive programs to improve STEM education: the library plays a unique role in spanning disciplinary boundaries to identify, understand, and disseminate innovative educational models. All programs are co-sponsored with an academic unit on campus. No more stand alone instruction.
Through programs like “hack the campus” and “lock in doctoral research weekends” librarians team with the university’s best faculty to produce the best graduates.
Further Talking Points
Production teams and “Hack the University” are just two types of educational innovation that librarians can facilitate. It makes sense that all programs of the library have an instructional angle, because librarianship is all about knowledge and learning. Books, databases, rare books, images, even the very building, are tools to accelerate and enhance learning.
Just as a mission of accelerating the scholarly conversation creates a natural research agenda for librarians, so too does it make the library into an ideal incubator of instructional experimentation. By understanding new methods of instruction online and in person (and most often in a hybrid setting) librarians can advance their own curriculum of information literacy. They can also serve as valuable partners with faculty and IT services in areas such as distance education.
However, the real potential for library-based instructional innovation is in the potent of a continuous education model. Rather than looking at the university as a sort of commencement provider (starting people in careers with a bachelors degree, adding management and depth in a masters program, or depth and research skills with a doctoral degree) what if the University was able to expand to starting people in a degree, but sustaining them throughout their life with continuous access to expertise (faculty, graduate students, staff, other alums)? Imagine a knowledge hub where alumni and others regularly interact with the University to both increase their skills, certify their learning, and teach the next generation of alums.
All over the university folks are struggling with new modes of instruction. From the flipped classroom to MOOCs to online education, these efforts need to be brought together. Creating a hub for this innovation allows the library to adequately support new forms of instruction, but more importantly, it speeds diffusion of innovative practices to all corners of the campus. The world that higher education lives in is changing rapidly, and the university is ripe for disruptive change. Rather than wait for this to happen to the University, the University would foster disruptive change that forces other institutions to respond.