Instruction Reboot in Three Words: Intentional, Meaningful, and Strategic

    Today marks the beginning of Spring Break at Penn State and the beginning of Week 9 of the Library Learning Services Instruction Reboot.  Since the Reboot will last through the Spring 2019 semester, we have just passed the halfway mark in our instruction reboot at this point.  It seems appropriate to take the time now to share a bit more about how this project is situated within the larger structure and goals of Library Learning Services and how this time has already started shaping our approach to instruction–and beyond!
    As Anne Behler wrote a few weeks ago, I was enthusiastic when she mentioned the idea of taking a “sabbatical” of sorts in order to make the professional space to reflect, plan, and grow.  It was January 2018 when we first began discussing the possibilities and potential of such a project, which meant that I had just completed my first two full years in the role of Head of the Library Learning Services unit at Penn State.  As Anne also mentioned in her post, these two years had been full of change for the Library Learning Services team.  Over the course of these two years, we re-defined our mission and vision for Library Learning Services, identified a new scope of work including four strategic areas supporting our mission and vision, and welcomed new colleagues who would help us lead new projects within our four strategic areas of work. On top of all of this change, in January 2018, the Library Learning Services team also learned that it would be moving into a new, shared office space in late 2019 as part of a Libraries-wide renovation project, which will be a very different way of working for all of us, since it will be the first time the department has been co-located and the first time that many of us will be working in an open office environment
    Essentially, in early 2018, I realized that our roles, responsibilities, resources, and working relationships were all shifting so dramatically that we needed an equally dramatic approach to managing our change. The major problem, though, was that we were so invested in our day-to-day routines of teaching, meeting, and answering emails we had no room for anything else–including managing change.  A time out from our hectic, daily schedules would give us the space, time, and capacity to reflect on how we’ve grown, strategize around how we want to continue to grow, and be intentional about where we invest our time, energy, and resources, going forward.
    Together with our Library Learning Services colleagues, Anne and I worked hard during 2018 to clarify our goals and deliverables for what we ultimately named the Instruction Reboot.  This preparation paved the way for our conversations with our campus collaborators and library administrators.  As the Library Learning Services department head, I was able to use what came from our months of preparation to advocate for the goals of our Instruction Reboot with our Associate Deans and Dean.  Fortunately, our University Libraries administration understood our need, appreciated our planning, and supported our decision to hit the pause button on many of the face-to-face teaching opportunities we usually engage in during the Spring 2019 semester.
    At this halfway point of our Instruction Reboot, I am excited by the data we’ve collected, the conversations we’ve had, and the shape that our work is taking.  If I had to pick one word that described our work during the Reboot and our future outlook, it would be “intentional.”  Our conversations have focused around being intentional about who we teach, what we teach, how we teach, and where we teach.  We recognize, though, that our intentions can still be constrained by a number of factors, including limited time, personnel, and resources.  Because of this, I would use two more words to describe our work during the Reboot:  meaningful and strategic.  We know, going forward, that we must make strategic, and often difficult, decisions about where and how we invest our time so that our work is meaningful to as many students, faculty, and community members as possible.  We have our work cut out for us over the next eight weeks or so as we continue to discover what is meaningful to our learners and to us and, with that information, make strategic decisions about our work.
    Over the next week or so, all of the reboot teams will be sharing updates on our focused efforts revolving around foundational learners, distinctive populations, and digital badges.  Stay tuned for more details on what each of these teams has been up to over the last few weeks and what we’re finding!

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