MozFest Day 1: Opening Plenary by Mark Surman & Others

Feel the Internet. Reminds of people, experiences, memories. There was a sense of creativity, empowerment.¬†When thinking of the future, want the people online and getting online to also get that sense of empowerment. Continue reading “MozFest Day 1: Opening Plenary by Mark Surman & Others”

Ryerson Faculty Conference: Opening Keynote Notes

Teaching and Learning in Socio-technical Networks

Transition to new technology can be hard, but while it can be difficult to learn new technology, there are some positive sides e.g. story of his father getting immediate help when having a heart attack. Continue reading “Ryerson Faculty Conference: Opening Keynote Notes”

Code4Lib Day 1: Opening Keynote – Leslie Johnston

Want to talk about communities and community building. It was a partial contextual shift as to her place in a number of communities.

Thought a lot about where she fits in. Have had a lot of identities, and thinks of herself as: nerd, geek, wonk, curator, archivist, woman, leader. Originally thought of herself as just another person, but everyone in this room should take on the role of leader.

Everything we do is part of the community, everywhere. Everyone in code4lib is part of a

community that succeeds through relationships.

Take the ethos of code4lib back to each organization.

leslie johnston doing the opening keynote

Software Development

Every software requires a community. Each person is part of it cares. Sustaining software requires a community of people who really care. We need to think about who uses our software. This

community is not just about people who write code,

it’s also about people use the software.

The most important thing is to work with those groups of users.


These communities are built using communication, inclusiveness, consideration, even more communication, and sense of ownership.

Need to think about users, stakeholders, researchers.

Everyone should read this blog post on backchannel conference talk.

Seen projects fail because they’re shared with the world but no one really takes ownership. Ownership goes both ways. Owning what you release, but also helping other projects be a success. Not everything fails, but it needs a community to thrive.

This is what we’re looking for in our communities and in our projects.

That they thrive.

You want a community that participates, looks out for each other.

What Defines a Successful Community or Project?

Participation. One project was a massive failure because no one participated.

Enthusiasm. Who would even want to fund it?

A sense of pride. ‘I’m part of that, made it happen, succeeded in part because of me.’

Learn from the history and the people who can be your mentors. Look at what you’re doing and what came before. Part of inclusiveness is acknowledging that you’re not the only person who has ever worked on the problem, who can work on the problem.

Adoption. A sign of success is that they’ve take it, use it, and contribute to it.

Now we will discuss.

Q&A Session

This supposedly not shy group, but is actually shy a lot of time.

Do we not think we’re not ‘real’ coders? Have the self imposter syndrome. But actually, she is a coder too.

Why does this community has to self-organize? Actually, awesome that this community has self-organized. Used to think every collection is unique and not doing the same thing, but we’re seeing emergence of communities that are realizing this is not true. For example, linked data community cross-fertilizing regardless of the type of collections they had. We self-organized was a sense of shared problem and shared passion.

No one organization can do it alone. We all need to work on it together.

Two most attributes to fail projects. One person thought it was a good idea, but no one else knew they were working on it. It didn’t succeed because there was no sense of participation, because no one was invited to participate. No one should work alone. We fail because we don’t collaborate.

How do you convince someone that they are a leader? Tell them that they are a success.

How do you adopt something when the leaders are not on board? ‘But everyone else is doing it, dad.’ Adoption by others. It’s really hard to be the first one though, we know.

Data-Driven Documents: Visualizing library data with D3.js

Bret Davidson, North Carolina State University Libraries

Access 2012 Day 3 Closing Keynote: Brain Injuries, Science Fiction, and Library Discovery

by Bess Sadler


We do the things we do, because it feels good. It provides us with a reward. Being intrinsically motivated is the best predictor of happiness and healthy living.

What is missing is how we can make libraries better for users.

Used emotional words to describe physical collections, but efficiency for digital collections. How can we change this?

The emotional design is more important than practical design.

Virtual Shelf List especially useful for multi-branch libraries, including closed collections with digitized materials. Using semi-automated metadata.

What is Still Missing?

Falling short of providing emotional, spatial sensory that physical shelf browsing.

Need to take inspiration from sci-fi. Render library in 3D virtual world e.g. browsing the library as if in Hogwarts

Do this at a human scale. Consider making it more personal and smaller for children.

What’s Next?

This can happen.

See also Affordance theory: a framework for graduate students’ information behavior by Bess Sadler

Emotional Design by Donald Norman

More notes on Access 2012 Live Blog.

Access 2012: Opening Keynote – We Were Otaku: before it was cool

Aaron Cope

Archives (and libraries), where things are frequently obsessively collecting, are just like what happens with otakus.

Curating: the act of choosing, e.g. flickr galleries

The Economics

Time is money. Stand-in that something that takes time has the greatest value, but the counter is no longer true. Can no longer say that something quickly and cheaply made has little value. e.g. maps

Collapsing Distinctions

Distinction between museums and archives (and libraries) are collapsing. Assumption that archives are the basement of museums. What’s happening is a kind of mushing. Blur in whether looking at archives or showcase, especially in digital realm.


Efficiency of storage and retrieval at Amazon (robotic system). Allows you to get something delivered the next day. Makes possible a kind of expectation that the web has. If we can make it happen for trivial things, we’re going to want to make it happen for important things.

It’s About the Users

If people can’t get to it or see it, why are we keeping it? Why is it important? It is no doubt difficult to provide access to physical objects, but doesn’t mean we cannot. We can simply talk about our collection and why we have them. It’s about keeping open a narrative space. We are the timekeepers.

Trust. Users. Delivery.

There is no (final) design, there is only reckoning.

It is everyone else that is letting us do this. We are held to a higher standard. We have to trust our users even if it’s not on our terms. No uniform motive. e.g. Add a random button Cannot assume either the same level of expertise. e.g. Making objects, first class objects that are URLs.

The proxies are important to get people in the door, to see the physical objects. The proxies also provide a broader surface for discussion and conceptualization. Not everyone also has the luxury of travel.

It’s about being present on the network, and allowing things to happen.

The unit of measure of what is important has changed. e.g. foursquare as building registry.

It’s Messy

Ultimately, we need to think about how we share things with people, and allowing people to interact with them. Keeping something safe vs. canonizing.

More notes on the Access 2012 live blog.

Ryerson Faculty Conference Keynote #2: Getting Students Engaged

Presenter: Dr. Arne Kislenko

Everyone does things differently and there is a huge subjective component to teaching. What’s presented is also not necessarily based on theories of teaching, but based on overarching principles garnered from experience.

1. Enjoy the Teaching

Teaching is the greatest job in the world. This is the most important place to start, that students understand that you like your job, that they see your enthusiasm. Faculty can actually influence people’s lives, which is a great honour. However, some teachers don’t show up, cut classes, lecture right from a textbook, substitute with technology, which does not allow the development of a personal connection. You need to be there, students need to want to come to class.

It’s worrisome that many universities seem to be diminishing the role of teaching by putting the pursuit of research above all else. However, teaching reinforces research and through teaching we actually communicate with our students.

2. The Active Citizen

We have to teaching from the perspective that students in our classrooms are trying to become citizens in the full sense of the word. We should teach research, writing, critical thinking, objective analysis, to care and take an active role in the world. We should impart some broad consideration of the world.

If someone is apathetic about everything, they are a lost cause. Students should see their education as more than 3-4 years here with a job at the end. They should graduate with a sense of ability to think critically, engage in analysis, direct thoughts about search, and care a little bit about the world, especially since they want to work in this world.

Not only do students need to be engaged, they need to be made engaging with a broad perspective, not just the classes they take. They should be questioned about how they are going to move forward in the working world.

Many students though feel unchallenged and many instructors are fine with them just getting by.

3. High Standards

Respect them as adults with responsibilities and obligations instead of coddling them as children. Have high standards, communicate that to students, and they may aspire to them.

Aside. Draw Connections

We should leave students guessing what we think, and we should welcome them as participants and journeymen.

4. Extracurricular Activities

Be prepared to deliver to our students more than just in the classroom. e.g. alternative spring break – overseas working with NGOs, international discussions

This is the best way to enrich the educational experience, and increase personal growth for students.

Ryerson Faculty Conference Keynote: Can Statistics Help Us Understand Student Engagement?


  • Christopher Evans

National Survey of Student Engagement

While statistics don’t tell the whole story, it shows student perceptions, which are important because those are passed onto other current students and prospective students.

  • 1st + 4th year students, 4200+ at this university
  • from 146 countries


  • live with parents 69%
  • commute to campus 95%
  • >10 hrs/week commuting 38%

Student Employment

  • on campus 13.6%
  • off 54.7%
  • work 68.3%
  • work >10 hrs/week 45.3%

Campus Life

  • participate co-curricular 40%
  • attend campus events < 50%
  • < 10 hr/week (outside of class) 68%

Academic Life

  • significant time studying 79%
  • prepare >10hr/week for class 61%
  • unprepared for class 35%

Satisfaction with Education

  • good/excellent 79%
  • would attend again 81%
  • faculty available/helpful/sympathetic 66%
  • faculty make students aware of research activities by applying their research to teaching 62%

This last point is valuable experience for students and gives a little window to faculty life, which allows students to get to know faculty a little better.

Sense of Community

  • in class 56% – faculty crucial to student’s feeling at home at Ryerson
  • academic program 46%
  • study groups 29%
  • none 12% – realistically, no matter what, some students won’t feel at home, will never be zero

Contributions to Engagement

  • presentation 39%
  • project that integrated ideas from different sources 86%
  • worked with other student during class 46%
  • worked with classmates outside of class 70%
  • discussed ideas with faculty outside class 56%
  • received prompt written/oral feedback 50%

All instructors feel that they give prompt feedback, but perception might be skewed somewhat. For example, an instructor might return a quiz the next class, but when midterms are returned a week later, students may think faculty are being lazy. Faculty activities become important for student perception of engagement as well.

  • participated in community based project 34%
  • practicum/intership/co-op/etc 30%
  • worked with faculty members on activities other than coursework 38%
  • capstone/thesis/senior project (4th only) 23%
  • worked on research project with faculty member outside of program requirements 8% – skewed to lower side, because includes 1st and 4th year students


  • work/financial 83%
  • family
  • health/disability

What would Improve Learning Experience

These were very generic answers.

  • quality of instruction 34%
  • increase contact 21%
  • improve quality of academic support 24%
  • more opportunities to undertake research with faculty 25%
  • reduce class size 13% – large classes aren’t a big deal, but the subject matter and how it is presented

Teaching Chairs Report – Faculty Concerns

  • most common presentation forms: lecture, seminar/method course, lab/studio
  • motivating students 89%
  • evaluating students’ learning 65%
  • understanding learning differences 53%
  • understanding how students develop intellectually 59%
Faculty Express Concern About
  • students attitudes and behaviour – class attendance, participation
  • administrative and logistical challenges – scheduling, large class sizes

Faculty feel large class sizes are a problem, but students don’t.

What does the data tell us about engagement?

NSSE data gives us hints about academic and social interaction

  • academic integration: perception of faculty interest, academic resources, academic preparation
  • social integration: student’s perception of his/her ties to the post-secondary institution, which include extend to which student is involved in institution-related activities, perception of faculty and staff attitude, institutional sensitivity, institution events

Some faculty portray a kind of remote veneer that keeps them at arm’s length, which makes them unapproachable.

The data tells the what, but not the how or why, and only about student perception.

Levels of Engagement

While the NSSE focus on two types of levels of engagement, the data doesn’t give us much insight into any of the others.

  • mentoring – highlevel, multi-variant interaction (NSSE focus)
  • personal
  • functional interaction – contact for particular, institutional purposes (NSSE focus)
  • incidental
  • disengagement

Benefits of Increasing Faculty Student Engagement

  • higher grades
  • improved student confidence
  • increases student perception of being valued
  • increases persistence in higher education

Faculty may find it a bit of a balancing act for sure, but asking about a student concern at the time may help to save time later, should situation grow worse.

How to Increase Engagement

One slice does not fit all – some suggestions will not be for you.

  • provide opportunities for students to write = dialogue
  • attend student events, esp those at are purposeful (e.g. student colloquium)
  • encourage students to attend offices hours, and keep encouraging
  • have projects that encourage collaboration and continued feedback
  • pay close attention to student interactions – if socailly isolated, struggling
  • have faculty model their methods of engaging students to each other – some faculty members are known to be oustanding teachers and have the skills with engaging students, we can learn from them