November 22, 2017

Academic Movers 2014: In Depth with Kyle Denlinger

Movers2014webBigDenlingerbIn the latest of our In-Depth Interviews with Library Journal Movers & Shakers from academic libraries, we caught up with Kyle Denlinger, eLearning Librarian at Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library in North Carolina. Fresh out of library school, Denlinger helped create WFU’s information literacy massive open online course (MOOC) ZSRx: The Cure for the Common Web. It provided easy answers to common questions about online research. Passionate about library teaching, knowing “just enough HTML to be dangerous,” Denlinger continues to promote life-long learning through the resources libraries can offer.

LJ: You initially started out planning to be a teacher. How did that change to going into library work?

KD: I was doing my undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati, studying to be a high school English teacher. During that time I landed a part time job at the library there and the opportunity to teach people research, to show them the resources we had available, to show them kind of the magic of the library opened my eyes. From there I was kind of sold. Here are tools that everybody should be using and I’m passionate about teaching but I found I was not passionate about teaching English, I was passionate about teaching libraries. So that was a pretty fundamental shift in my career path. I went to library school in the University of Missouri, graduated in 2012. I got my job here at Wake Forest, my first big boy gig eventually but enjoying the heck out of it.

CQ Researcher

In this interview series, sponsored by SAGELJ goes in depth with this year’s Movers & Shakers from academic libraries, delving into just how and why they pulled off the projects that brought them recognition as innovators, change agents, and more.

Your first job straight from library school was to create a massive open online course (MOOC). Can you talk about that experience?

I was very fortunate to have landed this job because our library leadership was very forward thinking. So I was this kid fresh out of library school.  I have some background in pedagogy. I have some background in instructional technology. I was very comfortable on the web. And they just asked me if I would be able to do a MOOC. I didn’t know what that meant, all the work that would go into it, but I was like, “Yeah. Sure. That sounds great.” What we did was design a four-week online course for parents and alumni primarily. I built it on a kind of conglomeration of free Google tools. Once we opened it for enrollment, we had about 700 people sign up. We were pretty thrilled at that turn out. Since that first course we’ve done three more. We’re not trying to [say] that these courses are at all an alternative to the very high-quality education our students get here [Wake Forest University]. But it’s trying to position the library as a place where we can contribute to your life-long learning even after you graduate. Because that’s what libraries do, they foster life-long learning. MOOCs are a great platform for life-long learning.

What advice would you give to libraries who are considering implementing a MOOC for the very first time?

I think having somebody dedicated to that project—I hesitate to say full time, but if you want to do these well, and you want to do them frequently, a full-time person is probably your best bet. I have a number of different responsibilities, this being one of them. This is kind of my fun project. It could certainly benefit from more attention and more hours. If a library is interested in creating online courses on its own, there are already some platforms that will help you do that. For anyone interested in doing MOOCs, making sure you have the staff to support it, making sure that you have somebody who’s familiar with online pedagogy, with the tools necessary to create a lively course not just a passive course where there’s not much interactivity, that would be important.

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