A reimagined core


Published: December 17, 2012 by Dr. Robert Boyd

I am part of a team reviewing the core classes at SJSU’s School of Library and Information Science, in particular, LIBR 200 (Information and Society), LIBR 202 (Information Retrieval) and LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management). The discussion with fellow faculty has been exciting and I am finding the topics under consideration to be both challenging and humbling. My realization: I have spent far too much time in the actual practice of taking or teaching the courses and not nearly enough time thinking through the significance and interconnection and, best of all, their future direction and opportunities for innovation in our curriculum, teaching and learning.

As with any good exploration, we need to get our bearings. Mine started with helpful readings from Linda Main (http://ischool.sjsu.edu/ciri-blog/framework-of-a-core-lis-class-an-opinion-piece/ ) and Michael Stephens (https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=an-evolving-lis-core-office-hours ). Two personal takeways: a revised core must (1) provide the tools and inculcate the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively participate in a virtual environment for individual and team-based work; and (2) offer opportunities to reflect upon and participate in our information environments as well as actively creative innovative systems and solutions to help the communities we serve.

I am also using some new-found time between semesters to read and reflect on two noted thinkers/practitioners, one old and one new. The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman was originally published in 1852 where Newman proposed the theoretical underpinnings of what would become University College, Dublin. At core, Newman argued “the general principles of any study you may learn by books at home; but the detail, the colour, the tone, the air, the life which makes it live in us, you must catch all these from those in whom it lives already.” The interaction with faculty, practitioners in the field and with fellow classmates animate and deepen our own learning and can, and should, be introduced and fostered through a re-considered core.

Published a few months ago, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reconsidered written by the founder of the Khan Academy directs our gaze forward. In describing what higher education could be like, Salman Khan imagines an education “rather than taking note in lecture halls, (where) students will be actively learning through real-world intellectual projects”. Key elements in the content, delivery and assessment of the curriculum must be further explored, but the innovation actively promoted at SLIS makes the discussions, questions and possibilities for the foundation of our curriculum full of promise, rigor and creativity for faculty and students, alike.

Khan, S. (2012), The one world schoolhouse: Education reimagined. New York: Twelve.

Newman, J.H. (1982) The idea of a university. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press.


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