Creativity, Space, and Audience

Online Course Design Pitfall #4: Expect your students to consume knowledge rather than create it.” 

The balance between taking in new information vs. applying that knowledge in creative, constructive ways has been on my mind a lot over the past couple years as I’ve been reading about more and more libraries incorporating Makerspaces into or alongside their Learning Commons areas.

As we talk about hybrid classes and questions of what students do in face-to-face settings or online settings, I also have to wonder WHERE these settings will actually be.  The university library is often used for all these settings and a neutral “third place” as well. Perhaps with increasing numbers of hybrid courses, the third place isn’t outside home and work but is instead a place to mesh the social engagement of the physical classroom with the independence and freedom of the online learning environment. Some interesting examples are coming out of Stanford’s and more musings on this are available at the Learning Space Toolkit.

All of this brings me back around to Pitfall #4 quoted above and wondering how I can build library instruction sessions so they include both the passive, info-gathering stages of research and opportunities for the active, collaborative application of results of that research. I’m inspired by Tona Hangen’s Extreme Makeover of a class syllabus to encourage the students to set their own goals week by week.  I’m excited by initiatives like the Student As Producer program at University of Lincoln.  The next step in my exploration of this process will be looking for ideas of potential outlets for student-created work, such as reflections, mind maps, bibliographies, and so on. In the end, I believe encouraging students to create is heavily dependent on giving them adequate motivation to do so, and that motivation is tied up with the notion of an audience, or social pedagogy.

What will this intersection of social, space, and creativity look like in hybrid library instruction?  Stay tuned!

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About Sara Q. Thompson

OSU-Cascades Librarian in beautiful Bend, Oregon
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5 Responses to Creativity, Space, and Audience

  1. Cub Kahn says:

    Wonderful post, Sara! In a very positive sense, you’ve modeled what you’re writing about here, in that your post is richly linked to a number of very interesting sites that encourage the reader to explore. It would be very difficult to passively read your post and not try out at least 2 or 3 of the links. I couldn’t!

    Your post aligns with the blended learning philosophy of moving toward an experience in which the student is actively engaged (sometimes collaboratively) with the course content, rather than passively consuming it.

  2. For all the attention they’re getting, these “third places” still don’t seem plentiful enough, and libraries are definitely in a position to pick up some of this slack. I think it’s all about perceptions of inclusivity and exclusivity–the old social stigmas associated with libraries are beginning to crumble away, and I see that as a healthy transformation, but we should definitely be accelerating that transformation. What can we do to make these environments more welcoming of people who wouldn’t necessarily feel like they belong there? I look forward to the day when there’s a sign in front of one of our library doors that says “Safety Eyewear Required Beyond This Point.”

  3. Amy Ford says:

    Sara, I enjoyed reading your post this week – and your use of all your links inspired me to think about blogs. Having all those links accessible encouraged me to click on them and visit the sites, further substantiating what you are communicating. I am new to this, and your post is a great model as to what it should look like! 🙂 I can really see how using a blog or forum like this one can help students co-create their learning – in a sense, the student would be compiling or linking together all types of new information.


  4. newsomej says:


    Great resources, as always. I loved the “new look” of the syllabus, which makes me want to rethink the visual interest of many of the “handouts” we create.


  5. Kara Witzke says:

    Sara, as I was reading, I was struck by the metamorphosis that has taken place in the field of “library science.” I was harkening back to my masters days when I spent weeks fumbling through card catalogs, copy machines, and driving an hour-and-a-half each way to go to the UCLA library in order to photocopy journal articles for my thesis. Wow. Librarians these days have to be technology savvy with their finger on the pulse of everything you mentioned here! They have to know exactly where and how to help people, I’m guessing largely NOT face to face anymore. The librarian as the Instructional Technology champion and resource guru…pretty inspiring…as you can meld instructional technology with content resources…something that IT-only assistants maybe aren’t as skilled at. You’re in a great area!!

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