Early January, OCLC held a webinar about a study done by by Temple University Libraries (Philadelphia, US) on practises of instructors selecting, sharing and organising course content. I didn’t have time then, but when we started to discuss what we as a library can do for teachers in the context of Open Education, especially for “Enrich online learning”, I decided to watch part of the webinar and look in to the study to see what we might learn from our colleagues across the ocean.
You can find a presentation as well as the webinar online at OCLC. The study has been conducted by doing a structured interview with ten full time teaching staff at Temple University. It has had a long run: from preparation in 2011 to presenting the results in 2015. The content in the study can be readings, video, images and other supporting materials other than the course syllabus.
So what are instructors doing and why? Some are creating home video’s and posting them on YouTube or streamed to Blackboard using Ensemblevideo.com. Pdf’s of published articles are shared using Google Sites. Textbooks are carefully selected to be used for the long term, but supporting materials like links, images are on-the-fly selections. Teachers have accumulated this material, sometimes organised using tools like Dropbox, Delicious or EndNote. How do they discover these resources? “Well, that’s my job to know. I’m always aware of things, so if it appears to me, I’m gonna see it.” Also, teachers rely on their network: “…A social network is a little bit less cumbersome than doing a keyword search in [database name].”
The take away for libraries is that the teachers said they rarely specifically search or “hunt” for course materials. What works at Temple is to weekly push content as an alert, such as an email with new book lists and/or relevant news from popular newspapers. What is necessary to be relevant is a good understanding of the appropriate level for the different target groups and a focus on quality.
According to Temple, to help teachers it might be more effective to “unbundle content” so instead of sending a link to an article or book, send a paragraph of chapter that is highly relevant. If I had been in the webinar, I would have asked: For all these (hundreds of) courses, how can the library have and maintain the knowledge to evaluate what is relevant and the right level for a specific course? They have library liaisons at the faculties at Temple, but I wonder if that is enough. Hey, let’s just send them an email!
Each year there are a lot of predictions in the media about the state of technology . Recently, the use of Big Data analyses has been of great influence in the industry and businesses and therefore Big Data is considered as one of the fastest developing technology trends of 2016. In addition, the correlation of Big Data with AI (Artificial Intelligence), VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) has received significant attention .
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Big Data makes cities smarter
We really do not have to look into a crystal ball to predict the most important technology trends of this year. We are already dealing with different developments. One of them is a trendy service, made possible by the use of Big Data, the so called smart city. The urbanization and the use of personal technology that increases daily are making the lives of the masses more and more connected to people and devices. This IT development has become a reality in which every city can collect data of the masses’ traffic and personal technology behavior . They can collect all kinds of data received and measured for example through WiFi-spots or through mobile-signals. These can be used to find out new patterns of our lives by measuring the traffic around the most popular facilities, entertainment and merchandising locations . For example, they can use Big Data to predict the locations where cars can be broken down in the city, which could help to prevent or facilitate near these possible locations in order to improve the repair process. These possibilities are increasing through the combination of personal technology with Big Data.
photo from automatedtrader
An Intelligent combination
AI, VR and AR have separately incredible potential power. However, the combination along with Big Data is game changing and of great impact on the industry . For example, the combination of Machine Learning, which is a part of AI, together with Big Data has already shown how intelligent it can be. Publicity agencies and the financial industry are using Big Data analytics to predict the behavior of individuals . According to Forbes, “their power combined can even become so intelligent to the point where some believe they will be able to accurately predict both market trends and human influences on the commerce”. Imagine if you could use Big Data and Machine Learning (AI) to improve your own business or your life in general.
Virtual and augmented reality experiences are growing focus in the market and are getting closer to mainstream acceptance. However, if these exciting technologies use more Big Data (youtube examples), the development steps will be bigger.
In general, this year we will see more Big Data providing services on different levels than only smart city. The expectations are high regarding steps in targeting mainstream consumers in 2016. So Big Data are getting bigger and will be widely used.
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 Big Data is needed ,
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