Transitions with Technology: Information Specialists at California Lutheran University

Article excerpt

Information specialists work in many different library and information center environments. Whether they work in the corporate world or a special library they, like other information professionals, are forced to contend with the exponential growth of technology in the workplace. At California Lutheran University (CLU), an early embracement of technology led to campus-wide networking and the transformation of the academic librarian to the academic information specialist, a position that incorporates traditional librarianship with technology training for the campus community.

Just as technology has crept into the stacks of the academic library, it is now finding its way into lecture halls and classrooms. This emergence of technology in the classroom presents many issues. For example, how does one systematically train every student with the skills to use online information retrieval systems for research? How can software application training (eg., Microsoft office) and web page development find their way into the classroom curriculum? At CLU, one answer to these questions can be found in the Center for Teaching and Technology (CTT), which was funded by a Culpeper Foundation Grant. This grant allowed for the formation of the CTT lab and the genesis of a faculty-development program called Teaching, Technology, and Teamwork (TTT).

The Team Structure: Information Specialists, Students, and Faculty

Within the TTT, a four-person team collaborates on redesigning a course to integrate technology into the curriculum. This team is comprised of a faculty member, an information specialist, an educational technologist, and a student majoring in multimedia studies. All CLU faculty are invited to submit proposals that will effectively incorporate technology with a faculty member's already successful teaching methods. Since the inception of this project, which was presented at the 1999 American Library Association's annual conference, nine projects have been completed in such varied disciplines as biology, computer science, education, accounting, history, and religion.

The information specialist on each team works to identify information resources (print, electronic, and web-based) to enrich course materials; counsel on copyright issues; and consult with team members on design, content, and training issues. Faculty revise the curriculum and oversee the design of the project, the educational technologist coordinates the CTT and its resources, and the students create the end product using various applications which they have learned through their coursework.

Every faculty member brings a different skill set to the team-based course redesign project. Unlike other technology-to-curriculum projects, there is no resistance to change in pedagogy because the projects are faculty-driven. Some faculty members have experience with using technology in their curricula already, while others are making their first venture. This disparity in technology experience leads to a varied array of technological approaches and the applications used to carry them to fruition. In the current model, the students are doing the majority of the labor-intensive development needed to complete the projects. Some revisions of curricula result in the creation of course-based web sites, while some are more lecture-driven and use applications such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

Technology Driven Tools to Make it Happen

Most course re-design projects take advantage of web-based technologies. Web site course management software is gaining popularity on our campus through the CTT's usage of WebCT. "WebCT combines state-of-the-art web application technology with educational content supplied by major publishers or instructors themselves. The result is a fully integrated easy-to-use, web-based, [password protected] network learning environment, which offers instructors and students the ability to easily access and create content and interactive web-based learning experiences. …