Daily Archives: December 20, 2005

Myths And Realities Of Gaming

A previous post here at ACRLog discussed higher education’s divided response to Millennial Generation learners. While some experts advocate changing teaching methods to conform with the learning styles of Millennials, others insist that it’s the Millennials who need to conform to the way the professor chooses to teach. Because Millennials are strongly associated with the playing of video games one suggestion is that educators should do more to incorporate gaming into their pedagogy in order to better connect with Generation Xbox. Many faculty and librarians loathe gaming on a number of levels, but what many find most reprehensible is the violent themes and action woven into large numbers of video games. But are those concerns overblown? Is there any substance to claims that violent video games create violent individuals? How academic librarians respond to gaming, and whether we choose to accept or embrace it as a method for reaching our traditional user population, can be influenced by our own perceptions of the gaming culture.

It may be worthwhile to read the essay “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked” by Henry Jenkins, the Director of Comparative Studies at MIT, as well as a response to it found at the blog Cognitive Daily. Jenkins takes on some of the key issues related to video games and their impact on players, and argues that most of the claims are just myths. But the folks at Cognitive Daily do a good job of dissecting Jenkins’ arguments and showing where his supporting data contains some flawed logic. Both pieces can certainly help us to get a better sense of how we feel about video gaming, and whether our own attitudes are mostly myth or reality. One thing we should avoid is denying that this is a trend to which we should be paying attention.

John Willinsky on “The Access Principle”

John Willinsky of the Public Knowledge Project provides an interview on his new book, The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship.

What is the “access principle”? In a nutshell:

“The access principle holds that with a form of knowledge that is constituted as a public good, which is the case with research and scholarship, the knowledge should be circulated as widely and publicly as possible, especially as that wider circulation increases the value and quality of that knowledge.”

The Debate Over Conference Participation

There is a fascinating discussion going on across the biblioblogosphere (and on the ALA Council list) about Jenny Levine’s comments about ALA policy regarding compensation for presentation at conferences. While some are posing this as a “generational” issue, or as an unfortunate financial reality that we should all simply accept, there are a wide range of thoughtful (and not so thoughtful) comments posted on multiple blogs linked through Jenny’s posts.

Having been a conference presenter and organizer for ACRL and ALA (and AASL), I know the problems that come with ALA’s strict policy regarding compensation. Likewise, I know that many people have complained about the multi-layered costs of membership in our professional associations (with ALA dues forming the foundation onto which divisional dues are built) and the financial demands made of those wishing to participate at all owing to equally arcane rules about attending both Midwinter and Annual every year during which you serve on a committee (kudos to those sections exploring virtual meetings and virtual committee membership!). All are symptoms of a larger problem affecting our association(s).

We talk a lot about wanting to increase active participation and about recruiting the next generation of leaders for our libraries and our professional associations, but policies like these provide a real hurdle to people dealing with stagnant salaries and declining budgets for travel and professional development. I have been lucky to be able to participate in a number of ACRL programs and I have benefited greatly from that participation, but it came at a high price and I can see why others might balk at it.

I hope that ALA Council will take these concerns seriously and I hope that ACRL will remember them when related concerns come up at meetings of ACRL Leadership (as they have in almost every meeting I’ve attended over the past few years).