Syracuse University

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Try out course on gaming in libraries via YouTube this June

May 21, 2009

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Margaret Spillett

Universities across the globe have been delivering courses online to off-campus students for decades, but the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) is now trying out the possibility of teaching a course that is open to both students and the public via the online video platform YouTube.

Throughout the month of June, iSchool associate professor Scott Nicholson will teach the course “Gaming in Libraries” (IST 600) in three online spaces:

· the Syracuse University YouTube channel, where video lectures and guest speakers will be posted and where students enrolled in the class will be required to post weekly video responses;

· American Library Association (ALA) Connect, a social networking site for the ALA that will host the discussion of students, speakers, librarians and other participants from the general public; and

· the iSchool’s online learning management system, a private space for enrolled students to ask questions and submit their assignments.

Nicholson decided to offer the course through this open forum for several reasons, including the desire to reach public librarians who are interested in learning more about incorporating gaming into their libraries. “Many libraries are interested in gaming but don’t know where to start,” Nicholson says. “My hope is that the videos will help libraries be successful with their gaming programs from the beginning.”

He also recognizes the potential hazards of teaching a course in a public space such as YouTube. “There are a lot of people there who post negative messages and spam,” Nicholson says. “As it’s a public forum where anyone can post behind a user name, I expect the tone of the discussions may be different than what students expect in an online course. That said, this will also prepare them for what can happen when they become librarians and start to host community 2.0 spaces, so that is part of what we will be talking about in the closed portion of the course.”

Students and other participants in the class can expect to gain a solid understanding of the spectrum of games, know how libraries typically use games, and be able to select games for their own libraries based upon the goals of the program and the mission of the library. They will learn how to start a gaming program, how to facilitate the activity, how to assess the program, and how to tie the assessment back to the library’s mission.

Nicholson’s biggest goal for the course, however, is to bring together students, librarians, gamers and representatives of the gaming industry. He is hoping that some of the 4,000 people who follow his “Board Games with Scott” video series will join in the course discussions.

The course is being offered by the Syracuse iSchool to its students and students enrolled at partner schools through the Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) Consortium. The course is being funded by SU’s Enitiative program.

While Nicholson sees more and more social media tools being used in the classroom, he acknowledges that universities face the challenge of receiving compensation for their content. “Universities survive because people are willing to pay for education,” he says. “Social media tends to produce content that is free. If the course is then being given away, this isn’t sustainable.” Yet, he wants to explore ways in which universities can offer some content, such as continuing education courses or information that could serve the public, through these public venues.

Anyone interested in participating in the “Gaming in Libraries” course can learn more at: http://gamesinlibraries.org/course. Click here for the syllabus.

Watch a video of Nicholson talking about the course.

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