#ISEWLib2014 Minerva Plaza learning environment

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

Mikko Halonen introduced us to the Minerva Plaza building, which is like a tech petting zoo!

9 Minerva PlazaThe big presentation room is called the Owl’s Nest, and it’s surrounded by smaller rooms with their own technology equipment.

10 Time lapse video

Time-lapse video showing how flexible the Owl’s Nest learning space can be!

Some academics don’t like the glass walls of the Owl’s Nest – everyone can see what you’re doing; and some are tech refusers.

No point having devices if you have no idea how to use them to teach – showing academics how is key part of Minerva Plaza.

Kirsti Lonka has written about Minerva Plaza and its use – see this presentation from slide 19  and my own notes from her talk on engaging learning environments at the IFLA satellite conference on information literacy.

We tried out Flinga (live shared desktop) by NordTouch:

11 Flinga

Flinga

Flinga has been valuable in encouraging discussion and engagement in conferences, as well as with students.  It lets people type rather than talk.  Non-native speakers of English in our group said they felt more comfortable with this.  Conclusion: Flinga is a great tool to use in presentations or during courses. It combines discussing, learning and interaction!

Learning Grid

This post is part of a series about my visit to the University of Warwick to find out about their use of space in the library.

The Learning GridThe Learning Grid was established in 2004 as a social and technologically-rich space for students to work.

A view of the Learning Grid

The Learning Grid has two floors and its open spaces can be segmented using movable room dividers.  There are computers, whiteboards, smartboards and Panaboards as well as a reference-only collection of core texts.

The LG is staffed by a team of part-time student advisers – often PhD students.  They answer all sorts of questions from students, and many of them find that knowing about presentation skills and technology helps their work too.  I like this concept of having the Learning Grid staffed by students – hopefully they will feel comfortable asking for help from a peer, and there is also plenty of professional help available at the library (and librarians were students once, too!).

The Student Careers & Skills desk is located in a corner of the Learning Grid – a great way to combine other career skills into a ‘job preparation and seeking’ service, and having it in this central location helps to make it part of every student’s world from their earliest days at the university.

Student Careers & Skills desk

Teaching Grid

This post is part of a series about my visit to the University of Warwick to find out about their use of space in the library.

"To be a teacher is my greatest work of art"

Entrance to the Teaching Grid

The Teaching Grid is a space for academics to experiment with innovative ways of teaching, and incorporating new technologies into their work.

As well as a central area for academics, the Teaching Grid has flexible learning spaces with walls and furniture that can be rearranged to suit the session that is taking place.

Flexible spaces at the Teaching Grid

In the central area for academics, there is a technology “petting zoo” with tools such as iPads, Kindles, video cameras and sound recorders for academics to try out.

Tech petting zoo

Tech petting zoo

Some of the other tech resources available include a large touchscreen device, Panaboard, iMacs and a document visualiser.

Some of the tech resources available in the TG
As I looked around the Teaching Grid, it occurred to me that there were three factors contributing to its success:

  1. A dedicated space where experimentation is encouraged signals both to the person leading/facilitating a session and to the participants that what takes place there will be different
  2. The high profile of technology helps to make its presence normal, rather than just an add-on or gimmick
  3. Assistance is available from knowledgeable staff who are available to help you practice a presentation, or try out a new technology you haven’t used before

It was exciting to be in this space and I wished I could have stayed longer to try out all the tools I hadn’t used before.

Engaging learning environments for the future

Elizabeth Stone memorial lecture

by Kirsti Lonka, Professor of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki

Kirsti told us about the Designing society through thinking project, which is part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 – I love this idea, and it seems typically Suomi!

Integrated competence as the goal of higher education (HE) – an idea that came from medical education – problem-based learning.  Knowledge is important, but students need to learn how to be self-regulating, to think, communicate, have emotional intelligence, be able to handle stress (theirs and other people’s), think ethically, see technology as a natural part of life.

She introduced us to the sociocultural idea of human mind:

  • Learning always takes place in a context
  • The context relies on culturally and historically developed structures
  • Human mind or brain does not simply ‘grow up’ biologically, but it is sensitive to being nurtured in a human-life environment

The “bulimic learning model” involves taking in knowledge, storing it and regurgitating it for assessment.  This type of instruction aims to fill a container (the human mind takes in knowledge, spreads it on the exam paper, then forgets it).  The goals are defined in quantitative terms e.g. a student scored 60% in a test.  This means they know 60% (of what?).  How do such practices shape our minds?

Modern ideas of learning involve the learner as central in the creation of meaning, not the teacher as transmitter of knowledge (Biggs 1996).  Learning as an active, constructive process rather than a passive, reproductive process.  How do these ideas really apply in HE practices?

What is epistemic agency? (Scardamalia 2002)  Epistemic agency indicates that the students themselves deal with the problems of goals, evaluations, and long-range planning that are normally left to teachers and managers.  Instead of studying for isolated courses and credit units, students engage in personally meaningful study projects.  Epistemic agency and self-regulated learning are valuable aspects of HE.

Our working days don’t roll as out planned, even with meticulous preparation.  We have to teach students how to cope with this kind of fast-paced working life, and how to manage interruptions etc.

Technology is a part of our social and knowledge practices.  95% of young Finns use technology for leisure, but only a very small proportion for education, so they learn that it is a distraction, not a potential work tool.  Blended learning environments combine physical, virtual, social, mobile and mental spaces of learning.

What is interest?  Interest is a psychological state including an affective component of positive emotion and a cognitive component of concentration.  Students who experienced more interest also showed more persistence, and performed better in a recall test.  Caring/interest correlates with results.

Four-phase model of interest (Hidi & Renniger 2006)

Situational interest (CATCH)
A) triggered
B) maintained

Individual interest (HOLD)
A) emerging
B) well-developed

Agency and ownership are so important.

What makes lessons interesting? (Tsai et al 2008)

  • If the teachers control too much, students’ emotions are less positive
  • Cognitive autonomy support gives students an enhanced sense of control
  • Cognitive autonomy is supported during lessons where students’ prior knowledge and understanding are activated and aims are transparent

Such lessons are associated with more enjoyment and interest!

Four-channel model of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1988)

Four channel model of flow

Challenge and feeling of competence is a recipe for success!

What do Kirsti’s studies show so far?

  • even mass education can be engaging and promote flow
  • academic emotions, especially interest, predict cognitive academic outcomes
  • on the basis of our measurements, can group students into c,uses that react differently in instructions settings:  “cook-book learners”, “theorists”, “reflective professionals”
  • during an engaging lecture, optimism, reflective thinking and student engagement may increase

Creating new knowledge practices

Collectively cultivated knowledge practices have their impact on the nature of learning.  Knowledge practices are social practices related to working with knowledge and they include personal, collaborative and institutional routines.

The knowledge practices of digital natives (those born since 1990) are different. Typically, they multi-task, read from screens, are fond of computer games, make extensive use of social media, use online chat; and outsource many cognitive functions to different technological tools.  Collaborative knowledge construction means connecting people and ideas!

Reflect on what has been constructed collaboratively.  Puzzles and problems are great for deep learning.

New practices call for new tools – Kirsti has been involved in designing new office environments for academics which have multi-level desks, electricity points, space to hide cables, separate space for drinks.  Also, the practices of informatics have drastically changed.  Libraries may support a range of student activities in a flexible learning environment.  The library’s physical space can provide a unique learning experience to the students as well as allowing a new level of social interaction.

Israel and library technology

Lots of library-related technology such as remote access was developed in Israel.  Because Israel was politically isolated from many of its neighbouring countries, it could not develop inter-library loans systems such as we are used to in the UK and other countries.  This meant that there was an urgent need to develop other ways of sharing information resources with other institutions worldwide.  As a result, many library technology companies such as Ex Libris started life in Israel and are still based there today.

Developing libraries beyond web 2.0

Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries) gave a fast-paced tour of technology developments on the horizon and their applications and implications for libraries.  He encouraged us to think of the opportunities and the gaps associated/filled/opened up by each.

Nick works in the public library sector, and feels that academic libraries are ahead in terms of technological change and he gains a lot of useful ideas from following them – as an academic librarian, this felt good to hear!

Hype cycle – bear this in mind when considering adopting a new technology.

Hype cycle

It can be difficult to tell where you are on the curve – he suggested that Twitter was at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ but I think who you are and how you use a technology has a strong influence here.  For example, for me and many other librarians who use Twitter, I feel that I have reached a point in my relationship with Twitter where it really helps me do my job and network with other professionals, and I would place our use closer to the ‘plateau of productivity’.

RFID

  • Nick recommended Mick Fortune’s RFID blog
  • Similar standardisation problems as ebooks – different tools not interoperable between different systems (though ISO 28560-2 standard should help?)
  • Future: wearable RFID devices?

Context-aware computing

  • Gadgets will become more like personal companions
  • Example: TV remote control can collect data about how it is used by different people and offer recommendations for TV shows

Location-based data

  • Great advances in GPS technology
  • Proximity marketing using facial recognition uses expressions to decide which advert to display
  • Facial recognition used stealthily by Facebook (as reported in the Daily Telegraph)

Social media

  • Increasing business use has made social media more corporate
  • Google+ is the new competitor

Open source data

Augmented reality

  • Lets you know about nearby services, or combine with RFID to locate the position of a book
  • E-commerce
  • Apps for tourists

QR codes

  • Increasing use in business and advertising
  • Signposting – useful in libraries!
  • Green (paperless) ticketing
  • Dutch coinage with QR code

Issues

  • Privacy and security
  • Openness and transparency
  • Linked data – where does it go?
  • Costs and savings
  • Marketing and promotion

Other trends

  • Web traffic to mobile devices increasing
  • Rise of cloud computing
  • Ebooks and digital publishing

Are you a technology pack mule?

I’ve just been reading “Technology training in libraries” by Sarah Houghton-Jan and was struck by her description of “tech pack mules”.

In the first chapter, she builds the case for providing technology training for staff and one reason she gives is to lessen the burden on “tech pack mules” – the “staff (in positions of all kinds) who have kept pace with technological changes in the workplace and as a result end up as to go-to-folks for any and all technology questions and tasks”.

Until now, I hadn’t really thought of myself in this way, but I guess I am the kind of person who has this role.  Most of the time, I don’t mind being asked, and it’s nice that people feel they can come to me if they have a question (in the past week, I’ve been asked about library Facebook pages and the new library management system which is going live in July 2011.  Oh, and photocopiers).

I just hope it doesn’t turn into this…

(pssst… click on the image to view the cartoon)

Are you a tech pack mule?  How do you feel about it?