Instructor's Cafe and Digital Rhetoric Collaborative

One of the most interesting things about my job is connecting with all the folks across campus who are already sharing their work and the content they are producing at U-M with the rest of the world. As you know, MLibrary has a commitment to open access and they continue to develop new collections of accessible, useful content that focuses on collaboration across universities. What better way to collaborate than to make your work visible (i.e. not password protected) and to let other people know how they can use your work (i.e. add a Creative Commons license to it)? Over the summer I discovered two new efforts on campus to do just this: bring folks together around resources they can share. They’re both supported by Library efforts but focus on different dimensions of professional practice.

Instructor College Cafe

The first resource is the Instructor College Cafe. This is the outgrowth of the library’s continual effort to provide opportunities for librarian instructors across the campus and institutions develop their teaching skills and share best practices across academic settings. This summer marked the first Michigan Instruction Exchange event, hosted in Ann Arbor, for area librarians to connect and share experiences, models and anecdotes with each other. The Instructor College Cafe is intended to serve as a collective hub that librarian instructors can use to find and contribute content like lesson plans, evaluation tools, conferences to attend, and content to adapt. It has everything from “Tips for Conference Presenters” to “LinkedIn Discussion Board.”

Since it just kicked off this summer there’s a lot of room for growth in the collection. What I like about this collection is its focus on being lightweight and easy to use. Contributors upload content and are prompted to choose their license immediately. There are lots of Google docs represented so in some respects this serves as both repository and referatory, making it simple for contributors to format existing resources. These are the types of documents that provide a clear window into what it’s like to perform library instruction from the presenter’s perspective. Many of these documents are ephemeral but very valuable to other practitioners. I’ve already found useful resources in what has been uploaded so far for my own work. This is a community-centered effort and you don’t have to be part of U-M to contribute or use these materials.

Digital Rhetoric Collaborative

The second new resource is a new collaborative for digital humanists and those in the writing and communications disciplines, called the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. This is a multifaceted space, centered around providing support for the digital writing community. It’s closely associated with the Computers and Writing conference and the professional networks that extend from these activities. The Collaborative provides a diversity of resources and offers participants an opportunity to sit at the table by submitting their own work to the wiki, to the resources section, and to the publishing series. Like the Instructor’s Cafe, folks can contribute all sorts of content to the “Resources” section that support teaching in the field. One great resource in the collection already is the Language, Technology, and Culture course materials from Lisa Ede (Oregon State University). The licensing information for the resources is not as clearly laid out as in the Instructor’s Cafe, but the site’s content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

We’re excited to see how each of these resources develop on campus and across institutions. They’re both examples of how institutions and professionals can easily and effectively share resources and how U-M continues to position itself as a leader in making knowledge accessible and useful for the wider learning community.

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