SPEC Kit 328: Collaborative Teaching and Learning Tools · 17
offering collaborative teaching and learning tools in
the library. The amount of benefits and challenges are
nearly equal, but the number of unique statements for
challenges seems to outnumber the beneficial ones.
Although the responses are quite varied, several no-
ticeable themes emerge.
The benefits of providing collaborative teaching
and learning tools cover many needs of the research
community. Their very nature seems to be the inspi-
ration for a large majority of the respondents who
feel these tools support a collaborative teaching and
learning environment, as evidenced by responses
that mention the benefits of team learning, support-
ing collaborative work and new teaching styles, and
meeting the changing needs of teaching, learning,
and research at their institutions.
The second most common perception held by re-
spondents is that the popularity of collaborative tools
serves as good publicity and outreach for the libraries:
“Brings users to the library.”
“Broadens the identity of the library on
“Allows us to reach people who might not
normally visit.”
“Good marketing for the library as a techno-
logically relevant place.”
“Fulfills a user need, thus providing good
Several comments emphasize the importance of
having access to new tools and technology for users in
developing the much-needed knowledge, skills, and
abilities within a 21st century knowledge discovery
“Access to technology for workplace skill
“Improves their skills for future entrance
into the work force.”
“Provides students with valuable skill-
sets that will make their resumes and grad
school applications more competitive.”
Quite a few responses point out the added benefit
for users of increased access to new tools and cutting
edge technology. The libraries absorb the sometimes
prohibitive cost for researchers to experiment with
new tools, thus evening the playing field for economi-
cally disadvantaged users.
A few institutions stress the mere convenience
and flexibility of being able to check out laptops and
how that too extends learning beyond the classroom.
Another common theme is that offering these tools
enhances the users’ learning experiences in and out
of the library and also provides improved patron ser-
vices. Other responses mention satisfying user needs
and demands, as well as keeping the library up-to-
date and relevant.
When respondents were asked to identify chal-
lenges, an overwhelming number of comments con-
cerned costs associated with the initial purchase of
these tools. They also expressed the need for recurring
funds devoted to technology maintenance, repair, and
replacement. Even though not requiring institutional
funds, one respondent interestingly pointed out that,
“even free apps require having a credit card on file.”
Technologies that are lent out could easily be dam-
aged and expensive to repair or replace. Several re-
spondents were concerned that the budget for more
traditional library materials (e.g., books) would be cut
in favor of buying technology tools.
Another prevalent issue is that collaborative teach-
ing and learning tools always need updating:
“Keeping up with rapidly changing
“Things change so quickly, deciding where
to invest is a challenge.”
“iPads are challenging to keep updated.”
“Some technologies are on their way to-
wards obsolescence by the time a service for
them is launched.”
A number of the responding libraries mentioned
the effect on staff workload and the learning curve
involved in keeping up with the latest hardware and
software. The time involved in assisting patrons and
troubleshooting seems to be taking a toll on some
library staff, as one pointed out they, “must maintain
a bigger workload with the same number of hours
in a day.”
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