Saturday, April 4, 2009

Virtual, Collaborative Info Lit Instruction at the Consortial Level?

As I sit here at 4am Saturday morning , insomnia stubbornly staving off slumber, I thought I'd take a stab at reviving this blog with a random thought.

I've been using an online, synchronous classroom tool called Elluminate Live! Academic for a while now to teach simple one or two hour, hands-on, voluntary workshops, both to students who can come into our participating regional computer labs located throughout the state (each regional center is semi-autonomous & not every one participates in this program for reasons I have yet to figure out, but most likely territorial), and directly to students at their home computers. The program has mostly been a success so far (the @Home version is still in pilot phase), although not without a few hiccups along the way.

I should mention that Elluminate is also tentatively (there are many administrators and faculty who have a hard time with this kind of technology, and many centers and units do not yet have the equipment or technical support know-how to use it effectively) being used throughout our geographically dispersed college centers and units as a means of convening virtual meetings, and by the language faculty as a way of doing live language speaking exercises with their students.

In addition, I've also offered up our library's Elluminate room as a means of holding meetings for the SUNYLA instructional subcommittee I sit on. I have also suggested that SUNYLA, SUNYConnect (the body that purchases library resources for use by all SUNY institutions) or even SUNY as a whole, think about purchasing a consortia-wide subscription to this product or something similar for use by libraries, faculty and administrators.

I view such an initiative as a parallel to today's economic crisis and Obama's stimulus plan. We need to spend money up front to save money in the long run and make things run smoother. On the financial side, a consortial-wide subscription would allow us to negotiate a large discount, as well as save everyone who serves on various SUNY- or SUNYLA-wide bodies tons of money on travel and lodging.

On the academic side, it could potentially open up a whole new avenue for collaboration. For example, I could see interested instructional librarians coordinating on planning, delivering and assessing a suite of workshops targeting many kinds of information literacy skills to students (and faculty) at various levels of experience. With the ability to team-teach (and offer a great way to mentor & train new or even still-in-school instructional librarians) and offer exponentially expanded instructional opportunities across institutions as well as to students regardless of physical location, this could have a major impact on the acquisition of basic information literacy skills, which I would guess continues to be a major concern at all institutions.

Alas, whether a large and varied consortia like SUNY can ever come to a consensus on what product to purchase, how to pay for it, and how to administer it, let alone whether it's worth the price up front to do it, is a challenge far beyond my meager strategic experiences. But I think it's certainly worth looking at.

1 comment:

Morphed Librarian said...

I just found your blog! It's great! I used to work for a state consortium in PA a few years back as a Virtual Information
Desk Librarian (VID for short). The program was discontinued after the funding ran out. We helped a lot of distance ed students and students who found that their libraries were understaffed nights and weekends. It was a great job, ahead of its time.