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In light of advances in library information technology, and interests in improving teaching, learning and research in Geography, the ad hoc Geography and Library Working Group has created the basis of a Geography Collaboratory proposal (see Attachment B) to be submitted in the Fall, 1995 to the National Science Foundation. A Collaboratory is envisioned as a place where students, faculty, and librarian come together to enhance teaching, learning and research through synergistic exploration of educational topics. Over time, Smith Hall 415 will transition from the Ullman (Geography) Library into the Ullman (Geography) Collaboratory. Access to electronic library resources is viewed as a fundamental component of this Collaboratory.
Model of Student - Faculty - Librarian Collaboration in Geography
Professors Gunter Krumme and Tim Nyerges and UWired Librarian Anne Zald, propose to develop the Collaboratory information tools using the model depicted in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Collaboration Linkages for Student - Faculty - Librarian
The model shows that collaboration in a course takes place between students, librarian and faculty. In this case, we are focusing on two 300-level courses, an Economic Geography (350) course and a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (360) course. At the center of the model is the collective resource pool. This is an electronic resource to which all participants contribute and draw. It includes not only our own campus library system, other resources on campus and in the local community, but also an organized and class-specific resource, evolving access to the Internet and other non-local resources. Links between students, librarian, and faculty each bring a different type of interaction to the learning experience. The main task in this project is to identify the nature of the substantive content of the resource pool to be transferred across the links, and collaborative sets of links for each of the two courses. Each of the links requires us to identify the appropriate skill types as listed in the UW Libraries Information Literacy Skills Presentation.
Economic Geography Education Enhancement
Geography 350 represents a link between the conceptual/ theoretical Introduction to Economic Geography (Geog. 207) and the specialized analytical courses at the 400-level (Geog. 440, 443, 471 etc.). The course therefore introduces students not just to specific analytical tools, but, more importantly to a research path. The path extends from developing conceptual frameworks via the formulation of theoretically informed questions and hypotheses to the selection of analytical methods and resources in a potentially broad range of subfields and topics.
Due to the short quarter and the ever increasing time constraints of students, Geography 350 has been redesigned to emphasize less the writing and "finalization/ closure" component of student research, and more the "resource discovery" and "resource evaluation" component of the course. The rapid development of new forms of electronic access to an ever wider range of resources across the research path from conceptualization to empirical investigations, mandates the rethinking of past course structures and the increased collaborative involvement of students in the discovery, evaluation and integration of new resources from new sites. The collaboration linkages might use skill types II - asking questions, IV - where info-seeking begins, and VIII - basic info-seeking skills. These skill types need to be further refined as a collaboration between faculty and librarian.
At this time, it is envisioned that the design of home pages will be the concrete center of this collaboration. Home page themes would be selected by individual students or group of students on the basis of their background and interests as constrained by substantive class objectives. Many attributes of the home page structures will be left up to students' initiative and ideas. However, the resource project designed for Geog. 350 for Spring 1995 (Attachment C) may serve as a broad conceptual background for such home pages. It is anticipated that the authors of the best home pages would be invited to link their creations to the Geography home page of the World Wide Web (WWW).
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Education Enhancement
As an advanced, enabling information technology, geographic information system (GIS) developments and uses are continuing to expand world-wide, hence continue as an important part of the Geography Program. A GIS is a combination of data, software, hardware, people and institutional arrangements for collecting, storing, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying geographically oriented data in the context of inventorying, managing, planning, and researching complex problems. Some applications include (1) routing of sanitation trucks, (2) characterizing commitments over several years to establish trends in human services programs, and (3) inventorying timber to establish clear-cut and planting strategies, to name but a few.
Geography 360, an introductory GIS course (see Attachment D), has been chosen because it is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Project on Collaborative Learning and Critical Thinking in GIS Education within the Department. However, access to electronic library services has not been a part of that project. Therefore, the information literacy skills in the UW Libraries composite need to be synthesized with the collaborative and critical thinking skills used in the NSF Project. Along these lines, it is envisioned that Geography 360 students will work in groups to develop a homepage of Internet information resources describing social and economic conditions of counties in Washington State. In a sense, these home pages become "mini yellow pages" for data references. Electronic library access will include Internet resources such as WWW Mosaic, Gopher, Lynx/Mosaic, Veronica, and references to CD-ROM data sets as prepared in Library curriculum material. Student groups will add the homepage references to the already available data provided to them on CD. With this information, the groups will develop map displays on the "State of the State" through discussions of what is important and what is not. An archive of these reports will be maintained, both as an example of past work, and, so student projects can be added to the archive, giving them a sense of contribution to greater good.
Outcomes, Evaluation and Dissemination
Three major outcomes are sought: 1) creation of sample homepages and guidelines for Geography faculty (perhaps useful to other social science units as well), 2) use these guidelines as the basis for instructional tools in our Collaboratory proposal to the National Science Foundation, and 3) when the collaboratory tools are put to use they will foster enhanced teaching, learning and research experiences with library resources. We intend to evaluate the use of the tools through assistance with CIDR and instruments under development (See Attachment E). Dissemination of the results of this project will be through UWired seminars and a published paper describing incremental development of the Geography Collaboratory.