If you want a glimpse into one possible future for LIS education, look no further than Scott Nicholson’s free Gaming in Libraries course, running now on a computer near you. It makes use of a fascinating mix of tools that together let anyone participate at whatever level works for them, even after this iteration ends.
Dr. Scott Nicholson is an associate professor at the Syracuse iSchool. In fact, he’s the program director for the Masters of Science in Library and Information Science program there, and if you’ve followed gaming in libraries at all, his name is already familiar to you because of his video series, the monthly podcast he runs, the annual census he started in 2007, the Library Game Lab he runs, and more.
Now he’s one-upping himself and running a 30-day, introductory course about gaming in libraries. Syracuse and WISE consortium students can take the course for credit, but anyone, anywhere can watch the daily video lectures he’s posting on YouTube and discuss them in the class community on ALA Connect (you have to join the community to see the discussions, but anyone, including non-ALA members, can do that). The syllabus is available as a Google doc, and you can even download the videos from the Internet Archive to take them on the go. So far, the videos have ranged between about 5–17 minutes, so they’re easy to watch and digest.
He’s already up to video lecture #10 (I’ve been remiss in not posting about this before now), and you can join the other 66 participants in the Connect community to discuss your thoughts about the content, including some videos by guest lecturers. In fact, this is one of the most active communities on Connect right now since it’s such a hot topic.
In fact, now is a good time to jump in, because starting with lecture #9 (posted yesterday), Scott is breaking new ground by offering new insight and specific strategies for planning gaming programs in libraries.
“This is a new conceptual model I’ve developed over the last few months on how to look at the library gaming experience, and then I use that model to create five gaming archetypes, into which you can classify all (I hope) library gaming experiences. The archetypes then form a bridge between library goals and specific game choices.
Watch for yourself and see what you think. Whether you’re new to the topic or an expert advising others, the new model alone is worth it (I love that it’s called SNAKS). With a total cost of $0, you’ve got nothing to lose, and if your library’s gaming program is relatively young, the content from the course will be invaluable for you. I hope other LIS professors begin teaching Scott’s model when they talk about gaming, and libraries that use it should report back about how it works so that we can begin building resources around it. Luckily, Scott is writing a book that will include information about the model, but I’m sure he’ll be reporting further research around it via the Library Game Lab.