Everyone’s Favorite Word: Collaboration

Collaboration is certainly a buzzword. I once half-jokingly/half-seriously suggested someone add a sentence about their ability to collaborate in a cover letter I was editing, because businesses and companies love the concept. And for all its “buzzy-ness,” I agree. I think collaboration, when done correctly, results in improved final products or outcomes by engaging multiple people, including their points-of-view, strengths, and knowledge.

One of our readings for today, Toward a Theory of Collaboration for Teachers and Librarians, suggested four models for collaboration between media specialists and teachers, which seem to apply to other teaching situations as well. They are:

  • Coordination: bringing librarians and instructors together to better share information and bring their efforts and work into sync, often through better communication
  • Cooperation/Partnerships: involves more commitment from all parties. There is often more structure in cooperation/partnerships, and the collaborators set goals and work to achieve a project together.
  • Integrated Instruction: information literacy curriculum and subject matter curriculum are combined together when developing instruction, through efforts of both librarians and instructors.
  • Integrated Curriculum: similar to integrated instruction, but at the overarching level of the curriculum. Librarians and instructors work together and combine their areas of expertise when developing curriculum.

I think collaboration between librarians and instructors can be very important. Most importantly, I think collaboration leads to more thoughtful, authentic learning experience for students. However, the impression I get is that it is very hard to get buy-in from instructors when making efforts to collaborate. All three librarians I observed teach mentioned how it is often a struggle to get any information (about the class, the needs, the assignments) from instructors, let alone any higher level of collaboration. They also mentioned the feedback they tend to get is usually just an assignment description and a list of resources the instructors want covered. Like many topics covered in this class, it seems like collaboration is another concept that is easy to understand and see the benefit of, but much harder to actually implement.

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