Designing Experiential Learning to Support Teaching, Research, and Practice
• Senior Research Scientist, Center for Digital
Inclusion, GSLIS at UIUC
• Action Research Illinois
Teaching, Research, and Practice
• Engaged scholarship/boundary spanning,
community inquiry, digital justice, equipping
collaborative information & learning spaces
• Doctoral Student & Research Scholar,
Center for Digital Inclusion, GSLIS at UIUC
• Adjunct Research Fellow, New America Foundation
Teaching, Research, and Practice
• Digital justice, community media & technology
infrastructures, and U.S. communication policy
To open a conversation about how the Community
Informatics Studio can be understood as a model
of experiential learning to support LIS teaching,
research and practice
Public libraries as community engagement leaders:
• IMLS & American Library Association: “The Promise
of Libraries Transforming Communities” (IMLS,
• IMLS & MacArthur Foundation: “Learning Labs”
(IMLS, 2011)
• Knight Foundation: “Information Needs of
Communities in a Democracy” (2009)
1. Introduce theoretical frameworks from
community informatics, studio-based learning,
and service learning literature.
2. Present three “Community Informatics Studio”
case studies
1. Discuss how the CI Studio can prepare students to
advance LIS-led community engagement projects
• “Using technology to support community
development goals” (Stoecker, 2004)
• “A sustainable approach to community enrichment
that integrates participatory design of information
technology resources, popular education, and assetbased development to enhance citizen empowerment
and quality of life.” (Campbell & Eubanks, 2004)
(Bishop, Bruce, & Jeong, 2009)
• Learning to be a professional using
master/apprentice model (Lackney, 1999)
• Students’ “purposes” + current environment +
teacher as guide = current learning (Dewey, 1938)
• Iterative design process through desk critiques
• Working within studio space provides important
modeling of professional practice
• Integral pedagogy in architecture and fine and
applied arts.
• Day 1 – Introduce design problem/case
• Early classes use readings and discussion to
ground and prepare students to work in field
• Field visits with community partners and
model sites inform design
• Instructor and outside experts ask students to
defend design choices through desk critiques
during scheduled sessions and informal
Summer 2010: [Re]designing Public Computing
Centers (PCCs) to better serve as collaborative
information and learning spaces
Summer 2011: Advancing the role of PCCs as
community media newsrooms to address the
disparity in effective use of information
technologies in low-income communities
Fall 2012: Using “Popular Technology” (Eubanks,
2011) to develop meaningful digital media literacy
trainings with communities
Besides the specific design project accomplished
with the community, each semester students
created documents providing additional
information for community members
How can the “Community Informatics Studio” be
understood as a model of experiential learning to
support LIS teaching, research, and practice?
Research Question: How does SBL compare to
other forms of classroom learning?
Theories: Community Inquiry (Dewey, 1939; Bishop,
Bruce, & Jeong, 2009); Studio as Physical Space
(Lackney, 1999; Brocato, 2009)
Methods: Pre-/post-tests, class observations,
discussions with students, interviews with instructor
& teaching assistants
• Studio course set up as master/apprentice model
• Initial lectures for background quickly give way to
hands-on doing
• Instructor’s “active guide” role, rather than passive
sage, made a difference for students
• Project-based approach fostered experiential
learning environment (Kolb, 1984; Dewey, 1938)
• Clients and class jointly owned the projects
Research Question: How important was the goal of
equipping a community media newsroom to foster
citizen journalism and community media?
Theories: Community Media (Howley, 2009), Citizen
Journalism (Gillmor, 2006), and Digital Storytelling
(Lundby, 2009)
Methods: Interviews with students, instructors, and
community members
Course Structure
• Course was too short
• Too much time in the classroom
Course Content
• Shortage of community engagement literature
• Citizen journalism framework too limiting
Training of community members
• Lesson plans need to be flexible & adaptable
• The combination of digital & media literacy is key
• More writing & print newsletter projects are needed
Community Engagement
• Include families as a key target audience
• Mentoring process can be effective with youth
“This was one of my favorite GSLIS classes. I’m not just saying
that. It was because, well, I really enjoyed [instructor’s]
teaching style because it’s very inclusive. I’ve never had
another class like that here at GSLIS. Most classes here are not
like that. They are quite the opposite. It’s a lot of feeding you
facts and figures and processes and assignments that require
regurgitation of those things, which is like a very traditional
way of teaching. But I think [instructor’s] was the most
experiential of any approach that I had while I was here. I
mean you learn way too much from it—which is almost a
problem [laughing].” – Student
“I learned a whole lot from this. I had a lot of personal
growth, you know when you’re dealing with the
community, community media, and just listening to
their conversations. For our part, I think our success
was at Dorsey Homes.” –LIS 490 ST Instructor
“I think with all the different programs, a lot of those kids will
be kids that go to college. And they will think that I lived in the
projects and look where I am now. Look where I am now. I
think that is so important because I think when they see a U of
I student, they think, ‘Where are you from and you come way
down here to go to school?’ I just think that for those kids, and
even these seniors when they see these college kids
coming, it’s an opportunity for them to think, ‘I want
to do this when I go to school. I want to get involved
because it’s a great opportunity.” – Community member
• Select readings that better prepare students for
community engagement projects
• Prepare students to help organizations develop & build
capacity to use digital media
• Provide students with opportunities to engage in “icebreaker” & “trust-building” activities to help
strengthen relationships with community partners
• Create opportunities for youth to visit University
Research Question: How can studio-based learning
(SBL) – informed by perspectives from community
informatics – prepare students to advance LIS-led
community engagement?
Theories: Addams (1902), Dewey (1938), Freire
(1970/1993), Eubanks (2011), (Stoecker, 2013)
Methods: Student journals & desk-critiques;
interviews with students, instructors, & community;
Based on our experience teaching:
• Institutional system that’s not setup to readily
support community based research
• The blurring of teaching, research, and practice
• Helping students to develop meaningful LIS-led
community engagement projects
• Difference as a resource; liberating knowledge;
shared ownership
• Three different sets of research questions,
theoretical frameworks & methodologies
- Questions driven by funding sources
- Research led by different researchers
• Discovered core research question over time
We believe that to fully capitalize on studiobased learning to advance LIS-led
Community Engagement, the following
Community Informatics values are key:
Sustainable Approach to Community Enrichment
Asset-Based Perspective
Popular Education & Participatory Design
Difference is a Resource
Teach, Research, & Practice with Community
Building Healthy Communities
How can the Community Informatics Studio can be
understood as a model of experiential learning to
support LIS teaching, research and practice?
• Studio pedagogy resonates strongly with students
because it is rooted in experiential learning
• Studio pedagogy invites students into research on
current topics in LIS through the design problem
• Studio pedagogy compliments the rich tradition of
practical field experience commonly found in LIS
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• Martin Wolske: [email protected]
• Colin Rhinesmith: [email protected]
Presentation URL

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007