Here at Harvard Business Publishing's Higher Ed group, we've been collaborating more closely lately in new product development efforts with Harvard Business School's Baker Library and the Knowledge & Library Services group that supports it. They do incredible work, from faculty research support and disemmination (including the Working Knowledge publication) to creation and maintenance of historical collections.
So it was a privilege to be invited via Baker Library to participate and provide a publishing perspective in a 3-day 'design shop' conference called Envisioning Our Information Future and How to Educate for it.
The field of information science is fascinating and relates so closely to all of the core competencies that we hold as necessary for modern citizenship. Hence, how the field educates its students affects us all. The output from this event will include a white paper, implementation plan, prototype activities, etc -- all of which will be posted on the website above, as is evidence of the conferene's activities. So this entry is just meant to give a quick, partial snapshot of a few really interesting days.
The event included an impressive array of about 50 participants, most from the information services / library science / museum / archiving fields, but also including a few tangential field folks such as myself, user experience folks, a data artist, etc. The conference was hosted at Simmons College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science and was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, whose mission is to "inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement." Accordingly, this event focused "evaluating and implementing relevant curriculum focused on innovation, continuous learning, and critical engagement within a global context."
The conference was administered in workshop format and facilitated by a team from Tomorrow Makers. These folks specialize in experiential, collaborative and active team-based activities based on the DesignShop process, which leads folks through a series of "Scan > Focus > Act" activities that are meant to bolster creativity and optimize brainstorming. Ultimately refinement is a big goal, as stated in one of the process axioms: "Creativity is the elimination of options."
Ultimately the participants were grappling with some big challenges, including: how to consider all of the information services fields within any given curriculum; whether to retain 'information services' and even 'library' as brand monikers; how to retain the importance not just of digital archiving, but the need to retain stewardship of the "materiality" and physical object collections; how to better incorporate necessary technology fluency into graduates; how to focus on ROI within a changing landscape; how to partner with employers for field experiences and embedded faculty programs; how to attract and retain the best students; and how to best prepare students to contribute to, bolster, and uphold a civic society.
I'm looking forward to seeing how the curriculum plans evolve.