Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An Acadmic Commons: Library, Meeting Space, Lounge, Gallery, Coffee Shop, Student Services Center, Faculty Development Center, or Digital Repository

So what's happening in your college library these days? My former campus, Salisbury University (MD), is in the early stages of building a learning commons. What is a learning commons? Well, it seems that a learning commons is a mix of teaching and meeting spaces, student services centers, computer labs, lounges, theaters, maybe the IT Helpdesk, video edit bays, paper resources (previously called books and newspapers, coffee shops with lite fare, and soft seating. These academic playgrounds are an amazing new addition to colleges that are lucky enough to have waited until now to build such a place. Those who built and ordinary library in the last 10 years really missed the boat. Imagine a library (sort of) that looks like a shopping mall, but has the contents of the college center, IT labs, auditoriums, bookstores, and has a few student and faculty services thrown in. All of this under a cloud of Wi-Fi. If you classes are online, hybrid or blended, you may have to rarely leave this amazing new place. Here are a few examples:

The Anderson Learning Commons at the University of Denver includes:

154,223-square-foot building
98,000 online journals
39,500 linear feet of library collections onsite
4,000+ pieces of furniture refurbished and reused from Penrose Library
1,864 chairs each with access to power outlets
1,000 databases
200-seat event space
135 computers (Macs & PCs) for patron use
75-seat café, 50 seats on the porch
32 group study rooms, six seminar rooms and dozens of group booths
2 fireplaces

I don't see a running track or showers, but they must be in there. Special thanks to Campus Technology the magazine for this lead.

The University of South Dakota learning Commons looks to be more of a mega services center - with coffee.

Academic & Career Planning Center
•Seek academic advising
•Explore majors & careers
•Understand graduation requirements
•Excel at job interviews
•Discover internship opportunities
•Succeed through First-Year Experience

Academic Support
•Writing Center
•Presentation Center
•Math Emporium
•Student-Athlete Success Center
•Lab Consultants
•Supplemental Instruction
•Learning Specialists

Center for Academic and Global Engagement
•Learn through service-learning
•Study abroad
•Conduct undergraduate research
•Explore National Student Exchange
•Compete for a national scholarship
•Help for International Students

ITS Help Desk & Equipment Checkout
•Receive personal computer support
•Request technology assistance
•Checkout computer & media equipment

University Libraries
•Get research help in person and online
•Research 24/7 in 250+ databases
•Find scholarly research sources
•Check out books & media
•Access local & regional historical materials

I started by mentioning the Salisbury University Learning Commons. This is very early in the construction phase, but will included:

2 stories in the Internet café
12 classrooms
18 group study rooms
24/7 = hours of the café study room
40+ seats in board/meeting room
48 bells in carillon
62 feet = height of the central atrium
115 laptop computers in the building
290 desktop computers in the building
290+ large monitors for classrooms and study areas
350 area jobs supported
418 seats in the Assembly Hall
1,020 square feet for the IT Help Desk
1,650 square feet in the Math Emporium
3,940 square feet in the Writing Center
4,287 square feet for Instructional Design and Delivery
9,841 square feet in the Center for Student Achievement
25,610 square feet in the Nabb Research Center and archives
224,071 square feet overall

These are some amazing spaces. For those who have been thinking that the traditional college campus was going to vanish and that all 19 year olds would be earning their degrees online - forget about it. Who would not want to come and spend your day at any of these places. What about the cost you say? You gotta play to win. These schools are betting that if you build it, they will come. I think they are right (at least for many 19 year olds).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Educause Top Ten Issues for 2014 vs 2009

The annual Top Ten Issues list for 2104 was revealed in the Educause Review in March/April 2014 . If you have followed the list for more than a few years you will notice that the list seems different this year. Usually the same items shift positon a few spots each year and maybe one new item pops up. This year it has a totally different feel. It should be noted that the panel that puts this list together costs of about 20 leaders from large, small, private and public colleges. Of the group of 20 or so leaders, only about 4 are presidents or non-CIO types.


1. Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that strategically leverages technology.

2. Establishing a partnership between IT leadership and institutional leadership to develop a collective understanding of what information technology can deliver.

3. Assisting faculty with the instructional integration of information technology.

4. Developing an IT staffing and organizational model to accomodate the changing IT environment and facilitate openness and agility.

5. Using analytics to help drive critical instititonal outcomes.

6. Changing IT funding models to sustain core services, support innovation, and facilitate growth.

7. Addressing access demand and the wireless device explosion.

8. Sourcing technologies and services at scale to reduce costs.

9. Determining the role of online learning and developing a strategy for that role.

10. Implementing risk management and iformation security practices to protect institutional IT resources/data and respond to regulatory compliance mandates. Also included in the #10 slot was developing an enterprise IT architecture that can respond to changing conditions and new opportunities.

For so many years the list mentioned Funding IT, ERP, infrastructure, and a little about instructional technology each year in different orders.

In 2009, five years ago, we saw:

1. Funding IT

2. Administrative Systemes/ ERP

3. Security

4. Infrastructure

5. Teaching and learning with technology

6. Identity and access management

7. Governance, Organization and Leadership

8. Disaster recovery and Business Continuity

9. Agility, adaptability and responsiveness

10. Learning management systems.

It is refreshing to see that IT may be breaking out of the self perception as an infrastructure provider and is now thinking of itself as more strategically. I am hoping this is a good sign that the leadership on campuses is seeing IT as a partner and as part of the solution. I know this is not true on every campus. The 2014 CORE Sata Survey, also an Educause effort, notes that 47% of CIOs are a part of the presidents cabinet on their campus. Another good sign. We are in a time when colleges need to redefine themselves, or at least reaffirm (to themselves) who they are. Colleges that don't recognize the role of technology in the delivery of all products and services will be in trouble.

So good job Educasue and many college presidents for bringing IT to the table. I would like to survey college presidents and see if they agree with the Educause panel. Maybe Educause will do this too!