Future of Library Space + Open Textbooks

This afternoon I attended the fourth meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) for University Libraries at Virginia Tech. During this session the DAC members discussed the future of library spaces (focusing mainly on physical environments) and the type of data/information discovery and user experiences that could support research and teaching. What is evident from these discussions is the significant transformations that are underway in libraries around the world and specifically at Virginia Tech. The library experience in the coming decade is likely to be radically different – both from a physical and virtual environment perspective – to what it was a decade ago.

During the meeting, David Ernst (University of Minnesota) and Anita Walz (Virginia Tech) provided an informative discussion on the growing field of Open Textbooks. The slideshow below includes a number of images from their presentation, which outline the need for open textbooks.

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DAC Discussion of Research and Teaching

During the third meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) for the University Libraries this morning, VT faculty and staff engaged in a productive discussion of research and teaching practices at the university. The focus of the conversation was on how university libraries could support emergent trends in areas such as the measurement of research impact, the communication of scholarly material, and teaching/learning environments. The (slightly blurred) images below (taken through Glass) capture the main questions the working groups were asked to explore during the 1.5 hour session.


For me, the value of the DAC meetings is the exposure I have to the broad variety of research and teaching approaches that are used by faculty at VT. A key challenge facing the university (and especially university libraries) is how to support innovative approaches while ensuring the traditional models of research, teaching, and engagement are supported.

A lingering question I have is how to advance VT’s “hands on, minds on” vision via the platforms I use to support my classes. My use of Google Glass and Apps has enabled the fluid sharing of information among class participants (and with the public in some cases). It is also allowing me to provide personalized (and private) video feedback on assignments to students via YouTube. The deeper question is whether or how this platform can help me advance the “hands on, minds on” vision. In some courses it can be difficult to find ways to provide hands on experience – e.g., think about international development courses where it is not feasible to take students overseas – but technology can be leveraged to close the distance gap. This evening I plan to take part in a Twitter conversation with VT students and the author of the Crisis Caravan (see below). Such opportunities provide new ways for students to engage with professionals and the general public. While not “hands on” in the traditional sense, there are certainly aspects of this engagement process that require students to demonstrate their social media skills (=hands on) and mastery of the subject matter (=minds on).


Second Meeting of the DAC

This morning we held the second meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) for the University Libraries. The committee was asked the following questions which led to an engaging conversation that touched on the opportunities and challenges facing colleges, departments, programs, research institutions, faculty, and students:

  • What will research and teaching look like in ten years?
  • Is there anything you wish you could change about your research practices and the way you teach?
  • What barriers or obstacles prevent you from teaching differently and approaching research differently?
  • What core research, teaching, and learning skills, literacies, abilities, or mindsets could faculty and students develop at Virginia Tech? (How do we prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet?)


Since I have been using Google Glass and Apps to advance the way I teach and undertake research, I have been confronted with a number of these types of questions over the past year. From this experience, I believe the future of teaching will be heavily influenced by “teaching analytics” that will enable faculty (and students) to identify how, where, and when student learning occurs. I also believe these data will enable faculty to become better teachers by identifying those techniques that effectively engage students.

As a relatively junior faculty member, I would also like to see the creation of “teaching coaches” who mentor faculty in the art of pedagogy. These coaches could be identified through VT’s awards for teaching or through projects funded by TLOS (Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies and be compensated (either financially or through a reduction in duties) for their mentoring work. The creation of an environment where faculty can experiment with new techniques, approaches, platforms, etc. is likely to be critical to advancing teaching and learning.

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First Meeting of the DAC – University Libraries

This morning, the Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) for the University Libraries had its inaugural meeting in the new multipurpose room in Newman Library. Over the next year the 22 DAC members from across the university will work to identify opportunities to put Virginia Tech at the leading edge of library services. The images below were taken #throughGlass.

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