In the current climate of higher education, the role of the librarian is changing.
"More often than not, librarians' teaching abilities are taken for granted by faculty staff; there has always been a resistance to acknowledging library staff as a legitimate faculty. Academic librarians tend to be multi-skilled and equip themselves with a teaching qualification in addition to their IT/library/undergraduate qualifications ....academics will have to become more like librarians..." .
Deliberations , an interactive electronic magazine, is taking steps to increase dialogue between academic staff, librarians, computing staff, and educational developers. These are groups which have traditionally worked in isolation from one another, but now increasingly need to work together (for example in the areas of course delivery and design).
We are experimenting with a number of different topics and structures in the web site to raise and enhance communication among these different communities by interaction with DeLiberations. Librarians already have very fruitful discussions using the internet (e.g. NLS -Forum and Web4Lib), but they seem relatively isolated from other groups. So we are choosing topics specifically to stimulate discussion between these different groups of staff. For example, we are conducting a series of interviews on Integrated Learning Resource Centres to stimulate discussion between librarians, audio visual and computer services staff. Other topics geared to draw in all groups of staff include: Resource Based Learning, Flexible Learning, Courses and Resources, and Collaborative Learning.
In contrast, academic staff are generally less interested in generic educational issues and prefer to focus on their subject discipline. Thus we have opened up sections on specific subject areas, for example Art and Design and Engineering, to interest them. Discussion within these subjects includes the relationship between academics and resource staff.
We are experimenting with a number of different structural models to increase interaction with the web site. Our section on Collaborative Learning offers a model which uses html frames to organise a discussion logically. Here the user can both read the comment they wish to reply to and create their response using a form on the same screen. This seems more intuitive than using a separate email system. We have set up pages in conjunction with conferences and seminars to stimulate discussion both in DeLiberations and at the actual event, and offered questionnaires on topics like Assessment and Effective Learning.
The most popular topics in the magazine are currently generic issues rather than subject disciplines. However, we are being approached by subject disciplines represented in the HEFCE's Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning Projects (History and Geography) to help them develop their web sites. We are confident that this will bring the subject areas up to the same successful state as the generic issues.
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 DeLiberations Web Site,
Graham Alsop is the Educational Developer at London Guildhall University