Hack the Learner Experience, or Get Yourself Some Pedagogical Perspective

June 6, 2012, 4:04 pm

Let’s keep this rolling for all the ubiquitous librarians out there. I want to post more but the tradeoff is that I need to write less. You know, only so much time in the day/night…

I mentioned back in January that Char Booth and I were working on a project together. That’s finally wrapped up and we packaged it all together:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping


There is a paper along with links to a video of our presentation and some slides. I’ll let the content speak for itself, but I wanted to highlight a few things:


  • It was great working with Char. I tend to push things a bit far sometimes and she pushes ideas even further. Not only is she a good designer but is also skilled at the art of rhetoric too. Char and I are interested in working together again in late 2013 or 2014, so if someone has an interesting platform… please keep us in mind.
  • My favorite theme in the paper is the library as a pedagogical third place. Over the last decade we saw the rise of the library as place / third place, but our interest is pushing that beyond computer labs, cafes, and comfortable furniture and presenting academic libraries as “a feature-rich platform for the development and encountering of pedagogical experiences” and “as springboards for making academic work available, open, and participatory.” Our spin on third place is that it can be a pedagogical perspective—not just a physical form. Thanks Char for this idea kernel—it has blossomed on my end.
  • We only scratched the surface of Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Visualization – which we both blogged about last year—but it’s not really about those specific techniques. Our main point is that we want to look across the total learning landscape, the end-to-end process or journey to identify strategic opportunities and new deployments. This can strengthen, amplify, or augment current programs, but can also lead to new program development. We believe (as librarians) that we need to take a wide view of what’s happening around us to see where we fit in— especially as higher education is undergoing climatic shifts. Where does the library fit in, in the future? That’s the capacity we want to build.


At Virginia Tech we’re launching several a new initiatives this fall that position the library as an R&D operation as well as a strike force (more on that in the near future) but this paper outlines the way I am approaching my position. The mission of my team is to “hack the learner experience” – and to repackage our perspective and involvement across campus.


Ok—so I’ll leave it at that for now.  Char and I enjoyed assembling this project and hopefully you’ll find it useful for your conversations about rethinking new roles in your library.


Note: shout-out to Amanda Palmer for kickstarting $1.2 Million for an Artist Book (and music and tour too)—it’s the future of creative expression!


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