On being truly embedded
Well, I’m on my way to gathering research on what it takes to best serve distance/online students in the virtual environment. I’m very interested in discovering what programs provide this opportunity. In my mind, this would be a truly embedded librarian, in the course delivery system and the courses themselves. Many of the platforms and courses that I’ve seen or have taken do include a link to library resources and even the occasional link to Ask a Librarian. Unfortunately, these links go directly to the main library web site and services. As online participants, that is an already accessible avenue. What I see is the need for specialized service – structured specifically for and with the needs of this wholly different environment in mind. Specific resources picked and set up to address the unique needs of online students and instructors.
To go one step further, I think that services in general need to be re-thought in terms of online students. Think about it – physical attendance often includes some sort of orientation; fin aid, admissions, library, student services, etc. For distance ed, there does not seem to be any pathfinder for this information, and you certainly cannot drop in to check on something. It can be a frustrating experience for many students.
Many of the opportunities for community are applicable to virtual learning – but they need to be supported and structured for a good fit. Mentoring programs, study groups, alumni participation – all of these should be equally achievable for the online student.
So, how to make myself into a widget…What do you think?