R&D @ VT — a quick glance @ LearnHUB

October 30, 2012, 9:39 pm

Yesterday at the Library Assessment Conference I presented my paper about R&D. I wanted to share a bit on how we’re actualizing this philosophy and combining it with startup thinking at Virginia Tech.


We’re working on outlining a CORE & HUB model:


CORE functions and services are foundational programs, processes, and services that are executed by library faculty and staff. They currently exist as mature program offerings. Examples are: reference, circulation, instruction, cataloging, etc. Core functions and services are managed and carried out by existing library departments.


HUBS are organizational units consisting of library faculty and staff working together on emerging themes of strategic importance.

Hubs work in a number of ways:

1) as an ‘R&D lab’ to explore, imagine, and brainstorm new roles and activities for the Libraries and deeper understandings about Virginia Tech in teaching, learning, research, and service.


2) as a ‘strike force’ that implements, supports, and assesses emerging library roles and activities.


3) as a team that develops a deeper understanding of hub themes and creates learning opportunities for the Libraries (mentoring and peer-to-peer and cultivating others)


We current having three active hubs:

  • Collection Strategies
  • Research
  • Learning


Each hub has its own shape and texture. Here is how I have outlined the group I lead:


The LearnHUB serves as a platform for expanding the library’s role and degree of engagement at Virginia Tech. Combining talents, interests, and expertise within the library and around campus, the initiative is a project-based engine of experimentation, idea incubation, and educational entrepreneurialism. It seeks to harness the “pioneering spirit” and apply it across the larger learning landscape by using a discovery-driven and discontinuous thinking.


The heart of this effort is immersion. LearnHUB members interact closely with faculty, advisors, students, support agencies, and administrators to be a part of the total learning process. This 360-degree view is invaluable for uncovering new strategic opportunities, and also strengthens the position of the library as a campus leader and collaborator. The initiative propels a conceptual shift toward partner-contributor model.


LearnHUB builds upon the foundation of Research and Instructional Services and the work of other departments, by amplifying the Library’s reach. This effort serves as an interface and connector to the campus-wide teaching and learning enterprise with an emphasis on integrative learning, transdisciplinary opportunities, problem-discovery, and deep engagement.


LearnHUB members work with instructors and others on implementing experimental learning, applying new pedagogies, designing academic experiences and encounters, developing learning environments, and employing new technologies and literacies. Other objectives include developing programs that facilitate skill building, co-creation of knowledge, intellectual tinkering, perception shifting, social reading, and digital citizenship.


Membership resembles a faculty fellowship model with self-directed independence framed around an active community of practice. Efforts ebb-and-flow during the semester depending on volunteer availability and project opportunity. Participants have the freedom to engage their interests entrepreneurially, but are also expected to undertake specific endeavors ranging from hands-on support and co-instruction to knowledge building, proposal writing, and visioning.



That gives you a taste of how we’re organizing ourselves for transition and building for the future. Once we have some projects further along we’ll launch a web presence with more details, but I wanted to share this framework in connection to how we can think and operate like an R&D enterprise. I imagine in the summer we’ll post more info about the three hubs and what we learned in year one, but the main thing is to decouple continuous from discontinuous innovation.

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