Empires of the Future: Libraries, Technology, and the Academic Environment

Empires of the Future: Libraries, Technology, and the Academic Environment

Denise A. Garofalo (Mount Saint Mary College, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3938-6.ch010
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Exploring technology and academic libraries concerns more than just machines, functions or processes; the human factor is as important as the equipment. Implementing successful technology changes requires attention to the people involved, and academia is no exception. Technology can be divided into either disruptive or sustaining technologies, and these technological changes impact students, faculty, and staff. In higher education, technology changes are shifting knowledge transfer to a more participatory environment and a more synergistic experience. The academic library is in a transitive state of change, evolving from a warehouse of things to a collaborative learning destination for resources. Both the library and the academic environment must adapt to survive. Overcoming the challenge of changes to the delivery of instruction may lead to extensive restructuring of courses and curriculum. The academic library can serve as a collaborative partner with faculty, leading by example to incorporate technological changes.
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The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

—Winston Churchill, September 5, 1943, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Technology is more than just machines or functions or processes; the human factor is as important as the equipment (Rizzuto & Reeves, 2007).The prevalence of technology in teaching and learning and the changes brought through technological innovations in education may seem at odds with any observation about reluctance to embrace technology, but as Clark (1983) observed, although academia has been a source of social change it continues to remain entrenched in tradition, and reactions to technology and change can fall into this traditional perception. Comfort with technology is not universal, and technology is impacted by “an organization’s culture and people [that] can significantly impact the success or failure of technology implementation” (Averett, 2001, p. 34).

Academic Environment Changing

The college and university environment is in the midst of changing from the comfortable standard of the preceding decades to a brave new world of learning. The paradigm shift is here--the model of the lecturer sitting at a desk or standing in front of the blackboard, imparting his knowledge to the quiet, listening students, is changing into a more synergistic experience (Adelsberger, Collis, & Pawlowski, 2008, p. 253), where the instructor may be in a classroom with interactive whiteboards and response systems, or in a room all alone with students “attending” from around the world, or a mix of both. These technological changes in the higher education environment have the promise to disrupt as well as to transform the learning milieu, impacting the delivery, location, and form of learning and requiring the development of new literacies.

These changes in learning are not always embraced by all (Bower, 2001; McBride, 2010), and human barriers to technology and the resulting resistance to change can have significant, detrimental impact on efforts to integrate new technologies in learning. Knowledge about learning technology innovation is not extending across academia as fast as expected (Hannafin & Kim, 2003), resulting in a failure of teaching practices keeping up with student expectations (Oblinger, 2005). Resourceful use of technology in the classroom occurs only after any resistance to change from faculty, staff, administrators, and students is surmounted and technology is integrated and incorporated effectively into the delivery of learning, and can support “the philosophy of integrative learning, a view that encompasses student integration of the various disciplines into a way of understanding the world and ideas rather than simply acquiring pieces of knowledge through a college education” (Hinchliffe & Wong, 2010, p. 215).

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