Talking as novelty

Things are moving along here at MPOW, which is keeping all of us busy.  Today is Accepted Students Day, and we have a number of students and their parents coming to spend the better part of the morning.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the Learning Lab Experience, teaching with the Biology Guy, the Chemistry Guy, and the Math Woman.  (We should have name tags with those titles.)  Information literacy is being built into the curriculum from the start, and so I’m being woven into classes to talk about its various aspects. 

Now for those of you not in academic libraries, this sounds like a no-brainer.  Of course information literacy should be built into the curriculum, you say.  And you’d be right.  Weirdly, it’s relatively rare that this is actually done.  The library has traditionally been an afterthought, the place where students naturally went to do their research.  Little thought was given as to how they did their research.

To be fair, in years past this was a much simpler equation.  You go to the library, wander through the stacks or the card catalog until you found something that looked close to what you were looking for, and then dove in.  Since this is the model that most of the faculty used as students themselves, it doesn’t occur to many of them that the library has changed considerably, and so has the retrieval of relevant material.

I’ve attended a few conferences in the past few weeks and was amazed at the presentations that informed us, with some wonder, that the librarians were now talking with the faculty.  They would then give tips on how to talk to faculty.  Meanwhile, I’m in the audience thinking, “Huh?”  I guess I didn’t realize quite how unusual our little adventure here in Rochester is in the academic world.

So this morning, on our interdisciplinary campus, the group will be asked to consider global perspectives of disease, with particular attention to drinking water.  (We only have 45 minutes to do this, so it’s scaled down.  A lot.)  Three questions will be posed: What is the distribution of water-related illness across the globe? (That brings math and statistics into play.)  What are some chemicals that can be found in drinking water? (That’s the chemist.)  What are some examples of infections or diseases related to microbes in drinking water? (That’s the biologist.)

The group will all have computers and will be asked to research these questions….and that’s where I come in.  How do you do an effective search?  What are your search parameters?  Where are you doing this search?

I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.  I think it will be a blast.  Hopefully, the students will, too.    And just maybe we can be an example for the rest of academia on how to not only teach in a more innovative manner, but to actually talk to each other.  What a novel concept.

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