Having access to national studies helps academic librarians stay informed about their community members. Finding the time to read and analyze them—and make sense of possibly conflicting information—is a new “keeping up” challenge. Four studies in particular are most worthy of our ongoing analysis and reflection.
From the Bell Tower
Educators are struggling with distracted students. It’s a competition for their attention. It’s time to experiment with different strategies for getting them re-connected. Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and an expert on the psychology of technology, believes the solution lies with helping students to focus their attention, as opposed to simply trying to get them to do without their distractions. The recommended technique is actually quite simple. It revolves around that fifteen-minute time period in which students will check Facebook or for new texts at least once.
While the debate about whether college is even worth the investment lingers on, for some the discussion has shifted to questioning what it means to be college educated – or what should it mean. Will the answer be decided by college educators or politicians, and how might the outcome impact the work of academic librarians?
A new book reveals information about our students and the way our institutions treat them. It’s sure to draw a “this just can’t be” reaction from those involved in the higher education enterprise—and some are questioning the research—but if it’s true, academic librarians may want to be thinking more about the socioeconomic status of the students. Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality concludes that higher education may be the great un-equalizer, serving to maintain the status quo, rather than giving students the education and experience needed to move up the status ladder.
The Department of Education recently ruled to give colleges and universities more flexibility in allowing competency-based programs for degree credit. This rethinking of how students can earn credit creates new opportunities for academic librarians to help students accumulate those competencies. Who says higher education is the most change resistant institution? Admittedly, some of the traditional practices, such as face-to-face lecturing, majors, and credit hours, remain the same after hundreds of years. But throughout that time there are notable pockets of experimentation. One of the big ones is about to commence. Change indeed!
Higher education requires cost containment, and recent calls by some governors for a $10,000 diploma sound good, but some goals are doomed to failure. An academic library without a strategic plan is almost unthinkable. Without one how would we share our goals with the world, or whoever cares enough to look? Perhaps we should question the value of all the time spent on developing plans and the goals found in them. Some experts believe the specificity of our strategic plans may actually contribute to decreased levels of productivity. Perhaps there are better ways to devise the roadmap to our intended outcomes.