This article discusses the increasing importance of using social media and applications as part of the learning process in universities. While the focus of this article is on business schools, I think that it could be applied equally well to many other disciplines. I’m currently involved in a committee that is assessing our online learning technologies. As someone who teaches online, I am often frustrated by the limitations that are imposed by our learning technologies: The system we use, at least, is very top down in structure, instructor controlled, and very much based on the distance-based, asynchronous, and static model of learning. I am heartened to hear that we will be getting an updated version of this learning technology and am very much hoping for a much more interactive, dynamic, and synchronous learning environment.
This article seems particularly a propos, given recent local discussions about whether universities should outsource many of their IT services to providers such as Google and Microsoft. On the one hand is the argument that universities often can no longer afford to maintain massive server space to provide the increasing needs of faculty, staff, and students. Outsourcing to a cloud computing environment is a greener option, reduces the operational costs of the IT department, and provides us with better and more efficient services at lower costs. On the other hand are the concerns about privacy, security, and academic freedom. If universities no longer store their information on their own servers, but contract this services to vendors, how secure will this information be? I’ve heard excellent arguments from the IT, legal, and faculty association sides of the question.
A lot of what I’ve heard reinforces the crucial need for organizations to have well-developed and centralized records and information management policies. We need to have a clear idea of the types of information that universities and their personnel generate, legal obligations with respect to the retention, privacy, and security of this information, and clear guidelines with respect to who actually owns the records generated within a university. How will digital records with archival or long-term retention periods be preserved to ensure that they will continue to be readable and accessible? What metadata do we assign to our records to enable efficient recovery? What plans do we have to address eDiscovery requests? The list goes on. I understand why the question of privacy is so high on people’s agendas, but it does tend to overshadow the larger matter of centralized policies, of which privacy is a key component.
This article has certainly given me food for thought, if you’ll excuse the pun. Given my love of gadgets and technology, I would probably be an excellent candidate for a study of the impact of gadgets on cognitive functions. I’m fortunate to work in a career and environment where cognitive functions are tested rigorously every day, but I do wonder what effect my use of gadgets is having on my memory. According to the VARK inventory of learning styles, I process information best by reading or writing it; I see my gadgets as being an extension of this style. Tell me a phone number verbally, and I will forget it within 30 seconds; I invariably need to write it down (in one of my gadgets …). I wonder, however, whether by feeding my learning style, gadgets are reducing even further my ability to process information verbally.
Hats off to the cataloguers at Yale University for creating a MARC record for Monty, a therapy dog. I particularly like the “not checked out” status in the local 9XX field. I must definitely share this record with my students next year; it’s certainly a stellar example of the adaptability of MARC, not to mention hilarious, to boot. Lillian Goldman Law Library /All Locations.
Good summary of the Association of College and Research Libraries conference. It might, perhaps, be interesting to ask non-librarians to provide qualities of academic librarians, in the vein of Benjamin Franklin, to get a broader and less exclusive perspective.