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"There's an App for That"

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2012 Academic Festival

2012 Academic Festival



Back in the Dark Age of 2004, the TC library -- a dim, unappealing place in Russell Hall full of “un-catalogued, unusable materials” -- was “not a destination for TC students.” Some called for shutting it down, but TC’s Board of TC trustees, after some debate, opted for rescue, concluding that libraries are essential to colleges and universities. Gary Natriello, Professor of Sociology and Education, was chosen to assemble a committee that, in consultation with an architectural firm in Boston, redesigned the space into the light, modern, fully wired, five-floor research and collaborative space that it is today.

Trustee Ruth Gottesman (Ed.D., ‘68), who, together with her husband, generously funded the makeover of what is now Teachers College’s Gottesman Libraries, told that story to open “There’s an App for That,”   a tour of cutting-edge technology applications developed and built by EdLab, the library’s technology R&D arm. Then Natriello – today the Ruth L. Gottesman Professor in Education Research and Director of the Gottesman Libraries -- described how, working under the motto “Faster Forward,” EdLab
located on the fifth floor of Russell Hall, designs, develops and tests new learning tools that “think ahead” for TC and for education at large.

Hui Soo Chae, Director of Development and Research at Edlab, said the unit was created to support better collaboration and “rapid prototyping and group critique” of educational technology tools and curriculum development -- first among TC students and then with outside organizations such as HBO, the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Current projects include creating digital assets to supplement a high school curriculum about the national debt and budget deficit, and a collaboration with the musician Steven van Zandt and his Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to assist teachers in teaching “through the lens of rock and roll.”

Brian Hughes (EdD ’06), Associate Director of Design, Publishing and Service at the Gottesman Libraries and EdLab, described some of the communication and research aids developed by EdLab that have become widely used by TC faculty and students. These include PocketKnowledge, the online archive and research tool; the blogging environment Pressible; and Vialogues, an application for watching and discussing online video. All of these products, which are available to alumni as well as faculty, students and staff, support the “service ecology” of the library, Hughes said – and, noted Chae, “make what we’re doing more impactful and spread the reputation of the College.”

 


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