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From library to lighthouse: leadership and change for academic futures

In 2014 the University of Canberra restructured the way in which it led and supported academic practice.  The library, teaching and learning technologies, curriculum innovation and academic development, and academic policy were all brought together in a single team.

The rationale for this was future-facing: increasingly, the boundaries between library-based information resource practice and the development and support of engaging learning technologies are blurring.  Courseware, interactive content, e-reading lists and open information resources sit in the space between the traditional provinces of library and learning technologies.  In turn, technologies are supporting and driving pedagogical innovation; and those technological and pedagogical  innovations – such MOOCs, badges and micro-credentials, VR and AR, mobile, social and personalised learning – are running into conflict with the traditional university policy frameworks managing academic practice.

This paper highlights some key strategic gains and innovations that it has been possible to achieve.  At essence, taking a holistic view we have been able to modernise the tools and approaches to supporting academic work as the latter evolves towards the third decade of the twenty-first century.  Specific gains achieved through leveraging a holistic and interconnected view of practice across these areas include:

  • A procurement of all library and learning technologies in the institution during 2016, focusing on user experience and interoperability to provide staff and students with a seamless ecology of tools and services (not “systems”) to support academic practice.
  • A two-way, personalised learner and teacher experience drawing on an integrated student support framework across library, learning technologies and academic skills, physically through the learning commons “help zone” and virtually through the new UC learner analytics dashboard, InterFace.
  • A radical review of UC’s policy framework to enable a model of education based around personalised learning, work- and portfolio-based experiential learning, and microcredentials.