Chatbots, abundant intelligence (AI) and other algorithms have impacted librarianship since I’ve started working at Concordia 20 years ago. I remember a time of card catalogues, microfilm and the smell of toner. During my tenure, I’ve seen the emergence of Google, Wikipedia, iPhones, social media’s echo chambers & fake news, open access, open data, open sesame (that was an Alibaba joke), and so many pictures of kittens… which is to say, the only thing to fear is fear itself: don’t be a tool for AI, understand how to use it so it doesn’t own you. I’ve started using this logic in my lectures to business undergrads this semester: “if you use the top 10 hits in Google for your paper, you’re already obsolete because an algorithm is cheaper and more powerful than you.” Job prospects are a great motivating factor for JMSB students!
I’ve always had a knack to keep the attention of students. This time, they were begging me to help them avoid plagiarism and develop searching and analytical skills a librarian can provide. This builds on the knowledge provided by your disciplinary knowledge. The next decade will be as fascinating as it will be exciting. I am confident I will see libraries into the next Millenia. I’m not so sure about the contemporary form of Universities, though.
I like to remind myself that Socrates had a gripe against the written word. Quill, ink and parchment were a disruptive technology after all, and they feared that it would eliminate the skills required for societal discourse. Ditto for church leaders and that pesky invention called the movable type… And yet, here we are. Universities are a rather “recent” institution (at 1000+ years), compared to libraries (3000+ years), archives (at an impressive 5000-8000+ years) and cities… which archeologists point out existed well before the existence of (“big H”) Western style History (you know, the kind which uses traces and other records).
I would like to venture two hypothesis that ChatGPT brings to light with regards to teaching and learning in Universities. First, that the lecture (of the synchronous, on-site or online, “butts in seats” or “faces on screen” and “prof in front” kind) is quickly becoming a superfluous and an oddly conspicuously anachronistic use of everyone’s time. Second, that the standard academic paper, which is the echo of the lecture, really, is following suit.
What are we to do, then? Simple. The rhetoric about experiential and blended learning and other trends of teaching and learning are pointing the way forward. Oh, and open education too. (ok, ok, preaching for my parish, I know, but really, the only people who have harder knuckles than librarians are, well, archivists, having survived power struggles and the occasional fire for millennia, so you should probably see through my trauma & bias and listen).
I have spent the past decade studying how to lead artistic and cultural organisations through what highly priced consultants call digital transformation (pro tip: write a good copyright license for a simple technological community tool and you will transform for the better). I sense that we are overdue for a very serious conversation about how we all collaborate (within departments, between Universities, etc.) as well as what we consider valuable use of everyone’s time. Having a small army of humans draft papers that are essentially thrown away seems like rather wasteful, particularly given that we now have technological and legal methods to capture micro-contributions to build stunning knowledge objects. We also need to talk about who owns the ideas we generate and the methods or means we have to make them available. Let’s remember we owe that to those who pay for our nice buildings and pensions.
If we don’t discuss, it won’t be long that most of us (not I!) will be left in the dust by a abundant intelligence (AI).
This essay was inspired by the conversations provided during Concordia’s Digital Skill Share Days Conference, an on-campus level up activity for staff and faculty (Feb 9-10 2023) of which I am a member of the organizing committee.
These words were written by my hand directly on a keyboard, on this website. (reposted from my Faculty Union’s private forum)
A colleague of mine used a tool call Padlet in a classroom setting during a presentation to foster open collaboration with attendees. Padlet is a collaborative website which allows posting small tidbits of information in a series of “wall-like” pages. A bit like a community board filles with sticky notes of links, videos and the like.
If you fiddle with the access settings of a padlet site, you can create a semi-open collaborative activity with a class.
Here is a quick tutorial I found on Youtube:
In fact, this tool reminds me of this interesting list of iPad apps presented at this training event in my university:
Here is an the abstract of an interesting article looking at student prefeferences between lecture capture versus screencasting published in the International Journal of E-Learning and Distance Education:
Students’ Preferences for Types of Video Lectures: Lecture Capture vs. Screencasting RecordingsAlaa Sadik
The use of online videos as a supplement to traditional lectures or as a way to reach students at remote sites has become increasingly popular in higher education. Faculty and university technology centers have focused on approaches to recording and distributing online video lectures over the last ten years. Regardless of learning outcomes, the purpose of this study was to investigate students’ preferences for lecture capture and screencasting recordings as a supplement to classroom lectures. A questionnaire about video lecture format preferences was used to collect data about students’ preferences in two courses over a three-year period. The overall findings indicated that the majority of students rated screencasting recordings as better than lecture capture recordings in many aspects of video quality and usefulness. Factors affecting students’ preferences for screencasting and the implications of this preference have been reported.
My team of engineers are working hard on building a functioning prototype. We have selected a “stripped down” Linux distribution running Kodi as a platform. We picked some generic controllers, a hard plastic case and a mini-computers running on solid state memory (the Gygabyte Brix in fact).
They will hopefully deliver a first version of the device by late June. We will also deliver all our code via the usual open source venues (not sure which actually, but my team is keen on contributing their work back to the community quickly).
Afterwards, my team and I hope to visit with 2 public library systems: Montreal and Austin public libraries. We aim to discuss this project with library employees (administrators, professionals and staff), game developers and patrons. I have ethnographers working on our research instruments.
So, my team is busy with the work our grant has funded and we should have some tangible results in a month or so.
Please let me know if you have questions, ideas or comments, I am most interested in them! My email is: o.NOSPAMcharbonneau@concordia.ca (note to humans: please remove all capital letters from my email address to reach me).
Darren Wershler is an English prof at Concordia University where I work (as well as many other things) has been teaching a course on stories in games. As part of the curriculum, he explores legacy games and their narrative structure. Here is the retro game cart he uses as part of his teaching:
I am very pleased to announce that our project, called Indie Games Licensing, was awarded a Prototype Grant as per the most recent Knight News Challenge. I am absolutely thrilled and thankful towards the Knight Foundation and all my partners for this incredible opportunity to “leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities.”
Without further ado, here is a short video presenting the initial prototype we will be delivering at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco:
UPDATE as of May 19th 2015: The Knight Foundation had originally planned to have us present our prototypes at the ALA Annual Conference in the Summer of 2015, but that is no longer the case.
10 TMT Predictions most relevant in Canada (All dollar amounts are USD):
1. In-store mobile payments will (finally) gain momentum
2. For the first time, the smartphone upgrade market will exceed one billion.
3. Print is not dead, at least for print books
4. The ‘generation that won’t spend’ is spending on TMT – Millennials who are 18-34 years old in Canada will spend an average of $750 for content, both traditional and digital.
5. Click and collect booms: a boon for the consumer, a challenge for retailers.
6. The connectivity chasm deepens as gigabit Internet adoption rockets
7. The end of the consumerization of IT?
8. The Internet of things really is things, not people – In 2015, over 60 percent of the one billion global wireless IoT devices will be bought, paid for and used by enterprises – despite media focus on consumers controlling their thermostats, lights, and appliances (ranging from washing machines to tea kettles). The IoT-specific hardware will be worth $10 billion, but the services enabled by the devices will be worth about $70 billion.
9. 3D printing is a revolution: Just not the revolution you think
10. Short form video: a future, but not the future, of television
Also of interest, the Keytrends report from the Canada Media Fund, a funding agency for television production. Here are the top 6 trends:
There are fewer entry points for a growing number of overwhelmed users;
The blending of TV and online consumption continues;
Game watching and e-sports hold a growing place in the entertainment industry;
YouTube is becoming more professional, with some user-generated content achieving pro standards;
There are fewer and fewer intermediaries in revenue generation, and fan labour is becoming a major promotion source;
Worldwide, a few giants hold a growing share of the media properties and competition is intensifying.
A new report from the UK highlights 10 trends or new techniques in education that may have a profound impact on how we teach and learn. Academics from the Institute of Educational Technology and the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology at The Open University offer us the Innovating Pedagogy report, the third such report released to date.
Here is the outline:
Massive open social learning : Free online courses based on social learning
Learning design informed by analytics: A productive cycle linking design and analysis of effective learning
Flipped classroom: Blending learning inside and outside the classroom
Bring your own devices: Learners use their personal tools to enhance learning in the classroom
Learning to learn: Learning how to become an effective learner
Dynamic assessment: Giving the learner personalized assessment to support learning
Event-based learning: Time-bounded learning events
Learning through storytelling: Creating narratives of memories and events
Threshold concepts: Troublesome concepts and tricky topics for learning
Bricolage: Creative tinkering with resources