Providing an Environment for Authentic Learning Experiences

Providing an Environment for Authentic Learning Experiences

Matthew Treskon (Loyola Notre Dame Library, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4742-7.ch004
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The Loyola Notre Dame Library provides authentic learning environments for undergraduate students by serving as “client” for senior capstone projects. Through the creative application of IoT technologies such as Arduinos and Raspberry Pis in a library setting, the students gain valuable experience working through software design methodology and create software in response to a real-world challenge. Although these proof-of-concept projects could be implemented, the library is primarily interested in furthering the research, teaching, and learning missions of the two universities it supports. Whether the library gets a product that is worth implementing is not a requirement; it is a “bonus.”
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The Loyola Notre Dame Library (LNDL) is one of two independent academic libraries in the United States. The Library supports the research, teaching and learning missions of two adjacent universities located in northern Baltimore City: Loyola University Maryland (Loyola) and Notre Dame of Maryland University (Notre Dame). Loyola is a Jesuit, Catholic university offering undergraduate and graduate programs grounded in the liberal arts, focused on inspiring students to learn, lead, and serve in a diverse and changing world. Notre Dame of Maryland University serves a diverse student population, including an undergraduate women's college, a college of adult undergraduate studies and Schools of Education, Nursing, and Pharmacy. The Library serves a student population of approximately 6,100 FTE.

The Library provides a wide variety of spaces that are tailored to specific research, learning, and teaching needs. These spaces include quiet study spots, group study rooms, classrooms, and lecture and AV viewing spaces. The Library's Technology Services has worked in partnership with other areas of the Library as well as colleagues at both institutions to infuse appropriate technology, from low tech dry erase or glass boards to higher-tech AV equipment, into these spaces.

Offering public computers, meeting room technology, classroom technology, makerspace equipment, printing, and audio-visual equipment, The Library's use of information technology plays an essential role in the patron's experience of the library building. This equipment is managed throughout its lifecycle (from acquisition to retirement) by the Technology Services unit and is available to all individuals affiliated with Notre Dame of Maryland University or Loyola University Maryland. The Library is also open to use by individuals from the general public.

The Library converted its main level into a Digital Commons, replacing bookshelves with furniture and technology designed for collaborative learning. The Library launched the IDEASpace in January 2018 in partnership with Loyola’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Designed with easily reconfigurable furniture and a Visualization Wall, the IDEASpace is a place for students and faculty to create and test out new ideas. The Library completed the Digital Commons in August 2018, providing new furniture and collaborative study spaces designed to allow students to work in groups. Collaboration Stations, mobile televisions with the capability for users to easily display and share their laptop or mobile device screens, are available throughout the new spaces.

Technology Services implemented a low-cost solution for displaying the availability of meeting and group study rooms using Internet of Things technology. Each display consists of a tiny computer (Raspberry Pi) and a 7” touchscreen display. The device displays a webpage that lists the bookings of that room that day based on a feed from the Event booking system “25 Live.” Each display costs approximately $180, which is substantially lower than an off-the-shelf solution. This technology helps library patrons understand what rooms are available and book them in advance of visiting the Library.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Arduino: An open-source electronics platform that enables a wide variety of functions based on easy-to-use hardware and software.

Capstone: In undergraduate curriculum, a class that serves to unify the academic program through project work.

Raspberry Pi: A small, affordable, general purpose computer based on the Linux operating system.

Metaliteracy: The ability of a student to reflect on one’s own literacy capabilities.

Vex Robotics Competition: A robotics competition for elementary through university students.

Internet of Things: A system of interconnected computing devices that transmit data without human intervention.

Makerspace: Space that democratizes the design, prototyping, and creation of objects through shared equipment.

Authentic Learning: A learning opportunity that is either based on the real world or mimics real-world situations.

Active Learning: An instructional method that engages students by guiding students through meaningful learning opportunities and by encouraging reflection.

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