Category Archives: Learning

July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

My Final Blog Post

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.

It ends today. Right here.

 407 posts

9 years  1 month  23 days

When the Chronicle of Higher Education informed me that they were dropping the Blog Network I was sad. But after a few days I got over it, mostly. I realized they had given me a gift. This was a chance to move on and do other things.

I’ve probably written and presented too much over the last decade. I’m looking forward to letting that taper off. I want to focus on Virginia Tech and the great people, projects, and programs we have here.


Me as a soldier in the name of greater library experiences.

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 14, 2015, 9:03 pm

Raising the volume on HipHopEd. An interview with Joycelyn Wilson.

JoycelynI’ve had many great conversations with Joycelyn Wilson (Assistant Professor, Education, Virginia Tech) about music, history, Atlanta, and teaching—actually, all of those things combined together.

She came to the library a few years ago seeking guidance with her vinyl collection—it is great to see what she has done with it. Joycelyn is a leader in hip hop and education—I’m glad we got to explore that theme a bit here.

What is the Hip Hop Imagination? 

The Hip Hop Imagination is both conceptual and methodological in that it allows for the use of practices, sensibilities, and artifacts unique to Hip Hop culture in learning environments. Think about it as a pair of glasses; like a lens made up of these Hip Hop-influenced aesthetics. When you put them on you see the world through Hip Hop. It’s primarily informed by the sociological imagination of C. Wright Mills and…

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July 14, 2015, 7:11 pm

Group Projects: creating an environment for collaboration. Interview with Tom Ewing.

Every time I talk with students about doing group work there is a moan of displeasure. Most of them prefer to work alone despite the push for more collaborative learning.

Ewing Photo Almaty 2008I wanted to get some faculty perspective. [Originally I planned to make this an ongoing series talking with faculty from different disciplines, but since this blog ends tomorrow -- this is it.] I spoke with Tom Ewing (Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Research, and Diversity in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech) regarding group work.

Tom told me about a course he taught where we added a collaborative project. Along with tests and a final paper, groups worked together to develop a research poster.

He admitted that the project was challenging because there is very little published about the topic: the Russian-American telegraph. Each team explored different themes such as the…

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July 12, 2015, 11:58 pm

Feminisms & Interaction Design. An Interview with Jennifer Sano-Franchini.


I’m a reader for a teaching award at Virginia Tech called XCaliber (shorthand for exceptional, high-caliber work.) It recognizes individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology into teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches. I enjoy reviewing the packets because I always learn so much about interesting pedagogical approaches all across campus. 


Jennifer Sano-Franchini

A recent recipient was Jennifer Sano-Franchini, assistant professor in the Department of English. She received the honor for a course on Feminisms & Interaction Design. I was fascinated by this combination and asked her some questions. She agreed to be interviewed and provided an interesting model for critical pedodogy. I recommend checking out her Course Syllabus; i…

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July 12, 2015, 10:39 pm

Library Engagement with First Year Writing: 4 strategies. An interview with Julia Feerrar


Julia Feerrar

Here is an interview with Julia Feerrar, Learning Services Librarian at Virginia Tech. She joined our team last summer and spent the past year experimenting with first-year writing courses.

The team tested some new approaches and focused on relationship building in order to become better partners with the writing program.

Tell me a little about your work with English 1106 this year. What did you do differently?

JF: English 1106 and 1204 (honors) are first year writing classes at Virginia Tech that focus on writing from research. Traditionally (and not too surprisingly), these classes have been a high-volume instruction area for us and an opportunity to reach many students at a critical point in their college experience.

This past spring semester our teaching team tried some new things in our…

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July 12, 2015, 2:46 pm

Interrogating a Garment Or: The Rise of the Research Question (and the Decline of the Thesis)

I want to draw your attention to a forthcoming book:

 A Guided Inquiry Approach To Teaching The Humanities Research Project

  • Randell Schmidt (head librarian at Gill St. Bernard’s School)
  • Emilia Giordanois (assistant librarian at Gill St. Bernard’s School)
  • Geoffrey Schmidt (director of curriculum and instruction at Phoenix Charter School)


The book was written for teachers, librarians, or students in high school or early college and explores how to research, write, and present a humanities research project and paper.

From Randell:

 As access to the information terrain has both broadened and deepened, students can now use a greater variety of types of sources to find information about questions they may choose to research. Some sources are traditional often textual sources. Others are non-textual and may require an interaction with the information that a student has…

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July 12, 2015, 12:43 pm

Inspiring Work: putting student output on a large monitor


I mentioned in an earlier post that we are framing our library commons as a showroom of knowledge. We curate an assortment of student output (every discipline in any format) and spread it across the library. We constantly refresh the content and aim to make it interactive when possible.

This actually begins as soon as people enter the building. Last fall we installed a 120-inch display in our lobby. It is four screens so we can put up one big image or four separate ones.  We can display any type of multimedia from videos and simulations, to graphics, text, and web content.

The aim is for people to feel uplifted as they enter the library. People build their ideas here. I want to prime you for a scholarly experience.

We’re working on a process now for self-submittal. We’re also talking with a number of instructors on how they could package course assignments thematically.

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July 12, 2015, 12:18 pm

Building Knowledge Together: Interactive Course Exhibits as Project-Based Learning


A program I’m proud of at Virginia Tech is something we call Course Exhibits. The philosophy behind it is that there are all these great conversations happening behind the closed doors of the classroom—what if we could make that public?

We provide a visible space in the library and offer a wide variety of components: digital screens, display cases, projection, large format printing, etc. We can also do a lot of customized work such as wood structures, 3D printed items, and fabric. On top of that we also provide technical and design support.


A number of faculty have taken us up on this and each time we improve. But it’s definitely not an easy sell. “Build an interactive exhibit” is intimidating if you’re not in a design major. I’ve encountered a handful of professors who like the concept but are concerned about student pushback. As we do more of these I’m hopefully…

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June 10, 2015, 1:56 pm

Practicing Critical Information Literacy. Interview with Troy Swanson.


Troy Swanson

Troy Swanson is the teaching and learning librarian and Library department chair at Moraine Valley Community College. His article A Radical Step: Implementing A Critical Information Literacy Model (published in 2004) was my first exposure to critical theory in librarianship.

Let’s keep these critical interviews rolling before they pull the plug on this blog.

You have stated that librarians have long been champions of intellectual freedom and that you see critical information literacy as an extension of this value. Could you tell me more about that?

TS: I have always felt that the value of critical information literacy (applying critical pedagogy to information literacy) is as a lens through which to view the cycle of information production within society. Information products (whether online or in a…

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April 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

Your Assignment: Host A Campus Wide Event (libraries and active learning)

eventAs a follow-up to my post last week about our seven classrooms, I wanted to quickly share an example of how we are impacting teaching and learning.

We’re hosting a Financial Literacy Event today that is part of a class project. It is a digital showcase bringing together students from a Financial Counseling course to offer educational engagement with students in a Financial Management course. Both courses are taught by Oscar Solis.

Here are the topics:


There are many things I like about this.

  • It brings two courses together—this is one of my constant aspirations.
  • It encourages peer-to-peer mentoring.
  • It promotes financial literacy.
  • It fosters active learning. This could have just been traditional talks at the front of a classroom where everyone speaks for a few minutes and where most students are distracted and nervous about their own presentation. Instead we…

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