How many books are in your academic library?
Will the student tour guide leading prospective students (and their parents) around campus still mention the number of books in the library?
Back in my own prospective student college tour days (1986 / 1987) the number books in the library was a marker of the status and seriousness of the school as an academic powerhouse.
More books signified more resources for scholarship. The number of books equated with the seriousness of the institution, how long the library had been collecting, and the potential to find information about any possible subject.
Today we need a different measure of quality, investment, status, and learning potential.
What should that measure be?
The number that seems to always come up is the famous students per faculty member. Sometimes we hear about average class size. Or the percentage of classes taught by full-time faculty members.
These numbers, ratios, and percentages might be important - but I find myself looking for some other measure of investment in learning.
The working theory that I’m operating under is that a partnership between faculty, instructional designers, and librarians will likely result in improved student learning outcomes.
In particular, faculty collaborating with instructional designers and librarians (and other learning and technology specialists) is particularly beneficial in the re-design of large introductory and gateway courses.
This is a hypothesis that gets some pushback from our IHE community. Whenever I talk about faculty collaborating with anyone who is not faculty we often hear objections that this approach serves only to raise costs. That money spent on instructional designers is money not spent on faculty.
This is a good discussion to have.
While we debate the merits of faculty collaboration with learning and library specialists in the context of introductory and gateway course re-design (and I’d like to emphasis moving towards more blended learning models), can we at least agree on some sort of metric that would capture this collaboration?
Perhaps a good statistic might be the percentage of courses over a certain enrollment (say 40 students) that are associated with a teaching team?
Or maybe a simple ratio of the number of faculty-per-instructional designer?
Maybe we could report the number of classes that have elements of a flipped approach, where lecture material is available for students prior to class time and precious classroom minutes are spent adding value to the lecture?
What ideas do you have for summary statistics that capture a campuses investment in learning technology?
How can a focus on introductory and gateway courses, one in which larger classes gain some of the benefits of more intimate seminars, be communicated with prospective students?
What measure should we use to replace number of books in the library?
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