Thursday, March 14, 2013

Webwise 2013

I was at Webwise 2013. This year the format included more participatory and interactive sessions than usual. The theme was “Putting the Learner at the Center”. Sponsored by the IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) and the CHNM (Roy Rozenzweig Center for History and New Media), the event offered many project sessions and preconference workshops as well as a keynote lecture and a Project/Partnership Incubator session.
 I attended  a presentation on Makerspaces. It was presented by  Nini Beegan, Carroll County Division of Library Development & Services; Lisa Brahms, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh; David E. Kanter, New York Hall of Science; AnnMarie Thomas, Maker Education Initiative. Inspired by Hackerspaces, makerspaces are learning environments that can happen in libraries or  museums, among other places. The interdisciplinary projects are implemented through a program that includes five elements: networks, project libraries, tools, learning labs, training and support communities, hardware and software tools.
I also attended was Juggling all the Pieces, Project Management for Beginners, presented by Sharon M. Leon, Associate Professor at George Mason University and Director of Public Projects at the Center for History and New Media. The workshop focused on strategy and planning for successful management and mentioned the use of Basecamp.
Another workshop I attended was on Digital Preservation and was presented by Robert Horton, previously State Archivist for the State of Minnesota and currently Associate Deputy Director for Library Services at the IMLS. The workshop explored the benefits and costs of digital preservation as well as challenges posed by issues of authentication, data ingestion, migration and curation. Legal and policy aspects of the field were mentioned. Horton talked about various approaches, including the Digital Preservation Capability Maturity Model; the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC); the Library of Congress’ DPOE (Digital Preservation Outreach and Education) program; the CDL, California Digital Library’s UC3 Merritt repository service and its micro-services approach to data curation.
Apart from many other workshops, there was a Project/Partnership Incubator session in which people sat around tables with a facilitator and exchanged ideas of projects for their institutions, devising plans for implementation and for grant proposals (including crucial parts of planning such as identification of needs, audiences, stakeholders, etc.) Foster Zhang and I sat at the same table and mentioned ideas on digitization of brittle collections (like our library’s Schaechter gift) and on providing increased online access to the library’s collections in general.
The keynote speaker this year was free-lance writer Audrey Watters who posts on the Hack Education blog. In her talk, Whose Learning is it, Anyway? Watters reflected on technology and education, with thoughts on the links between use of computers in education, improv, and MOOC initiatives that, she reminded us, originated in artificial intelligence research.
Webwise was, as usual, a good opportunity to learn about trends, ideas and projects and meet professionals from various cultural institutions through the country.

Isabelle Kargon.