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 Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Technology boosts academics in Norlin Library
by Michelle Clifford, ITS academic technology program manager

Within the venerable Norlin Library, home to millions of research resources, today’s tech-savvy, digital-native students will find dynamic new environments and services to meet their expectations for instant access to all the world’s resources all day and all night, along with social amenities that foster their individualized and collaborative approaches to learning.

Since spring 2008, major renovation projects have been unfolding at Norlin—research services on the second floor, a new graduate student study suite on the third floor, and the Norlin Commons. Expanded and centralized services, resources, and technology tools, and both dedicated and café spaces for collaboration, meet evolving requirements for student learning, scholarly investigation, and the campus as community.

A joint project of the University Libraries and Information Technology Services, the Norlin Commons is an integrated, flexible space with "functional neighborhoods" organizing activities and offering seamless access to information sources and productivity tools. The intention is to bring it all together and enable the full continuum of research, learning, refreshment, and discovery.

A renovated Writing Center is a key component, where the Program for Writing and Rhetoric and the Libraries Research Center jointly support first year writing students. ITS Bug Busters, a desktop support service, now has a satellite in the Norlin Commons that operates on staggered hours for broader coverage.

The Commons offers many technology services to the campus. It provides a location where students can collaborate on group projects, or practice presentation material. Teams can work together both in open group workstations that have dual screens and additional seating to accommodate a team, and in private schedulable team rooms with dual boot computers, wireless keyboard and mouse, and LCD projection.

For an additional kick to the informal learning space and the productivity of a team, there is an application for real-time collaboration available in team rooms and the group workstations. Teamspot is an application that will allow students to bring their laptops and collaborate real-time on a shared space on the LCD panels or dual screens. They can work together on a word document, share websites they have found in their research, and save drawings from a whiteboard they jointly work on. High definition video conferencing is available for scheduling in the largest team room, providing visual collaboration across the globe.

The entire space is equipped with dual-boot Apple hardware offering Mac and Windows functionality, including many specialized applications such as statistics packages and multimedia suites for all users. Technology equipment checkout is a primary consideration for the users, with hundreds of laptops and associated devices currently available; coming soon is additional technology, potentially including digital cameras, camcorders, scanners, headphones, and mini projectors.

The Commons Classroom offers laptops and flexible work areas to redesign the room on the fly to meet the current user’s needs. This space is opened up in the evenings as additional seating and work space for student activities. Other services include color and black and white printing, and many walk up Scarpie stations for quick email and Web access. All of these resources support classroom and faculty pedagogies, and reflect shifts in curriculum and the university mission.

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