Bucks Community College Organizational Spotlight

This month, Emily Bailin, NAMLE Student Leadership Council Member, interviewed Jacqueline Burger, Associate Professor, Learning Technologies Liaison, Learning Resources at Bucks Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

EB: When did your organization launch and why?

JB: Media Lab in the Learning Resources Department of Bucks County Community College went from concept to preliminary implementation during summer and fall of 2009. A Video Mashup Contest held in spring 2009, before services were in place, illustrated the overwhelming need for space, resources, and services to support student completion of digital media projects.

EB: What does your organization do? What are your main goals and projects?

JB: We aim to provide opportunities for students to become makers of meaning through creation of multi-media productions. Our hope is that engaging in such projects will lead to improved retention and completion. To reach this goal, we begin by supporting faculty. For many faculty members, media projects represent unfamiliar territory. We also seek to assure that faculty are well versed in how to design assignments with learning objectives that foster students’ media literacy skills. To accomplish these goals, we provide a Digital Media Literacy Institute as a week-long, intensive skill building workshop for faculty. We also provide one-on-one support to faculty as they develop assignments requiring students to utilize digital media literacy skills.  For students, as they work on assignments developed by the faculty, the Media Lab provides a collaborative work space, along with tools and resources for projects that engage students in learning and applying digital media literacy skills.

EB: What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

JB: Collaboration among faculty and staff across campus sets our Media Lab apart from others. The Media Lab is part of Learning Resources. Faculty and staff in Learning Resources serve as liaisons to the academic areas. The relationships built via liaison work help to address the challenge identified in the 2014 Horizon Report for Higher Education, low media literacy fluency among faculty. Since Media Lab’s inception, about 140 faculty have participated in the Digital Media Literacy Institute. The participation rate would not be as high without the support, guidance, and encouragement of our Learning Resources liaisons. The support for participants relies on faculty in Learning Resources and staff in both the Learning Resources and ITS Departments. Through this collaboration, our instructional spaces are equipped to support digital media literacy instruction and library staff and faculty are prepared to support students at all three campuses and our virtual learning campus.

EB: What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

JB: A project of ours that would be of interest to other members is the improvement of our virtual services. As more students operate in a 24/7 accessible learning environment, the need for services in that same format have increased. We aim to have equivalent services and resources in this entirely virtual learning environment. To address the need, librarians created a Media Lab Guide. This provides students and faculty with information, tutorials, and links to resources to support their acquisition of digital media literacy skills. In conjunction with use of the Media Lab Guide, librarians participate as embedded librarians, eBrarians, in online course spaces. The librarian is integrated with the online course making it easier for students and faculty to communicate their digital media literacy questions and receive support during non-traditional working hours.

EB: What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

JB: Our work instructs faculty and students on how to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate information. The toolkit we use to achieve this goal has evolved, and we continue to evolve our skills and resources. Understanding a meaningful direction in which to build on existing services or create new ones is essential. Our participation in professional organizations such as NAMLE helps us to build this understanding and continue to be at the forefront of implementing literacy programs and services.

EB: Why is media literacy important to you?

JB: Seventy percent of the students at Bucks County Community College require developmental course work. Many students view themselves as less than successful learners, yet they are comfortable with digital tools. Building media literacy skills by completing multi-media presentations provides an avenue for students who are not yet confident writers to access, analyze, and evaluate resources and to communicate content in ways that are meaningful but that reduce some of the fear that many associate with writing assignments. Not only do they gain confidence but they also improve the skills essential for being an active member of today’s society.

EB: Is there anything else you think we should know about Bucks Community College?

JB: The Learning Resources Department, including services and programs provided by Media Lab was awarded the 2010 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award, recognized as a finalist in the Bellwether 2010 Awards by the Community College Futures Assembly, and featured in the 2015 Horizon Report for Academic Libraries.

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