This blog post, published by the ACRL Distance and Online Learning Section, features descriptive annotations of five articles exploring how to support online MLIS students. The articles selected all feature distance students describing what’s working, what could be better, and what’s missing from online library school classes and programs.
This is good work, but it doesn’t always feel good. Still, I’m delighted and humbled to do it with you… And I’d like us to keep at it for a good while longer! As such, I remind you to love yourself the way I love you. Whether you want a coffee (like Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s Marshal), snack, nap, craft, game, walk, or meditation break, take it because you deserve it. Your well-being (aka your health and happiness) is non-negotiable, so enforce those boundaries often and without guilt. In other words: Try to be on your own side today. (p. 5)
I trust “small-scale solutions impact the whole system” (brown, 2017, p. 33) and embrace conversations—many of which, after all, compose teaching—as the smallest unit of change. With these values in mind, my theory of citation becomes quite granular: I cite for you, me, and all of us. To clarify, I cite first and foremost for you, the reader, to contextualize my experiences, observations, and claims while sharing the sources which influenced them so that you can make your own meaning from the story. Of secondary importance is why I cite for myself: to expand my perspective, strengthen my arguments, and build scholarly credibility. Fundamentally, however, I cite for us, human thinkers and feelers all, to lift up my peers and honor those ancestors who have made and continue to hold this space in academia for all us scholars with non-dominant identities. (p. 4)
I champion free, publicly available, and ideally open source audiovisual applications as alternatives to expensive enterprise solutions that often relegate learners to mere content consumer. Most of these resources, such as those used within the Learning Management System, aren’t used beyond schools and many are unlikely to grant access to original content post-graduation, once the email granting institutional subscription expires. As such, I individually use and collectively promote: OBS Studio for video recording and screen capture; OpenShot or ShotCut for video editing; Cursor Highlighter for presenting, live or recorded; Adobe Cloud alternatives such as Audacity, Blender, Notepad++, and Paint.NET for all kinds of creative work (these are especially useful for folks unable to use public computers on campus); and PicPik for taking scrolling screenshots and editing images. (p. 3)
On campus, I work in a large, six-foot-tall office cubicle with shelving, part of a pod of four. Our pod is situated within a huge room of windows with several other cubicles lining the outer wall and a shared workspace for group gathering, crafts, and printing to the right of my cubicle. I’ve furnished it with an adjustable sit-to-stand desk and anti-fatigue mat. At home, my formal office boasts three monitors on a traditional desk and a high back office chair with arms. My formal office is in the study which also houses my partner’s formal office. However, I spend little time there as I frequently work via laptop from bed, on the couch, in my glider, or standing on my other anti-fatigue mat at the built-in kitchen bar. I alternate between these positions based on pain, job task, and my partner’s work. For instance: When I have a particularly bad chronic pain flare, I work in my SleepNumber bed, an adjustable smart bed that allows me to set firmness and incline, with my laptop propped comfortably on a pillow on my lap. On the other hand, when my old back injury requires full ergonomic support, I grab my adjustable lap desk and sit in my glider. This lap desk features a retractable device ledge, 20 adjustable angles, mouse pad, and phone holder with a dual-bolster cushion to keep laptop heat off your lap. (p. 2)
Altogether, these moments, facilitated and enhanced by technology, illustrate the disappointments and joys of not just teaching and learning online, but connecting and living there too. Indeed, the online experiences and relationships that matter most to me are the ones in which my matter, matters—in which my physical, mental, and emotional experiences shape the virtual place, space, and interactions as much as they shape me. They are connections of reciprocity and reflection, capacious enough for both emergent responsiveness and consistent iteration. But the question remains: How to foster and maintain such online experiences and relationships within Cook Library’s Research and Instruction department? (p. 2)