Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Possibilities for a paper:

For my paper, I would like to study current academic library involvement with the development of learning spaces in cyberspace. The learning spaces that I am interested in would be for the purposes of scholarly research and would include the creation and storage of knowledge and access to it. Specifically, I think this would include wikis, forums, or blogs in conjunction with more traditional library technologies, but I'll have to do more research on what is currently being used and shows promise of further development.

Two possible paths for this paper would be in one of the following forms:
Research Paper
I could limit the type of learning space technology (ex. only study wikis) and do more extensive research on it. If I focused on this for my paper, I could first briefly trace the historical development of this particular learning space throughout the development of cyberspace. This would include identifying some key characteristics of cyberspace and hypermedia; for example, I could consider how the liberation from time-space limitations (at least some of them) facilitates learning. An overview of the general mission of most academic libraries would fit in there, too, so that I could compare the motivations behind 1. cyberspace and 2. academic libraries, and then see where they overlap. As a concrete example of these motivations, I would discuss a specific wiki that is being supported by an academic library. My thesis would have something to do with my belief that the development and ubiquity in academia of cyberspace is an opportunity for libraries to become more visibly interactive and involved more closely with the learning process, and I would try to make recommendations about using the type of learning space technology that I focused on in the paper.

Review Paper
By focusing on a comparison of about two specific projects that are currently being supported by academic libraries I could review the status of libraries' involvement with cyberspace and learning spaces technology. I know that NCSU State Libraries have a couple of wikis, for example, and I could compare these to the learning spaces in cyberspace at another library. This paper could be a comparison of different types of learning spaces, including the benefits and problems with each, especially keeping in mind characteristics specific to cyberspace. In this paper, I would explore technologies that are being developed by academic libraries in greater depth, summarizing the history of their development. This would likely include markup standards (ex. TEI and EAD), as well as programs for the creation and display of virtual collections (text-based and/or image-based).

I realize that these are not really two topics for a paper, but I'm just plain old really excited about this topic (everyone else excited about it, raise your hand!). So instead of two topics, I tried to twist the one into a research paper or a review paper, and this is what I came up with. Honestly, I'm partial to the research paper -- I like having a thesis, but we'll see how it goes. I also know that I'm not including the "equality/equity/justice issues" part of the assignment, so I hope this is ok.

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