Tuesday’s celebration of the green library was fantastic this week – just in time for Open House this weekend – and offering a great setting for a student sustainability fair on Earth Day, next Friday.
The week has also been filled with a different kind of green…as we celebrate tax day today with a nod to baseball season opening this month (thanks Sunshine Committee!), and as our work on next year’s budget continues. In addition to working with some fancy new spreadsheets and trend data analyses that are helping us calculate and predict our costs more accurately, we’re beginning to look at program budgeting as a way of expressing the total cost of library programs. This is a great way of understanding just how powerful a return on investment the library is: every program we offer benefits every student, and the benefits of the investment last sometimes for years or even decades.
Here’s one example that I shared this week with the new head of Parent Philanthropy at Cal Poly. Our library provides 340+ computers to students including loaner laptops and classroom computers. In our traditional budget documents this looks like a $100,000 line item for ‘public computer refresh.” But the total program cost includes the staff, student, and software costs that deliver and maintain software and workstations, staff student assistants to support and circulate computers, servers in the background that drive software delivery, furniture the computers sit on, adding network drops and power outlets, etc. Even with all these costs, the back-of-the-envelope total cost of this program is less than $30 per student per year. Considering how heavily students (and faculty) use these computers and rely on their availability and excellence, that’s a pretty sound investment.
There’s been an outpouring this spring of announcements and reports on the future of learning and higher education, with a lot of attention to personalization. Sanjay Sharma, MIT’s first director of digital learning, suggests that universities should consider “breaking up semester-long courses into shorter modules, so that students can take only the parts they need, essentially remixing the curriculum into a personalized-learning playlist.” Also from the Chronicle’s special issue on tech innovators in education, a profile on Dror Ben-Naim, an entrepreneur and founder of Smart Sparrow adaptive courseware. Their idea includes creating “meaningful choices” as an adaptive and personal element in learning. Ben-Naim is also a force behind a digital system that will allow instructors to share and exchange digital lessons and tools – another instrument in the OER orchestra.
What’s your favorite Open House activity? Maybe I’ll see you at the Rodeo or on the path to Aura (Poly Canyon Design Village)! Whatever you do, have a great weekend,