One of the key features of the 21st Century is the abundance of informational resources with which we operate; and yet, we still operate in many ways as if we lived in a culture of information scarcity. The transformation of our methods of discovering, researching, teaching, and thinking from the tools of scarcity to the tools of abundance is a central challenge in higher education.
Many large-scale digital projects are attempting to create new tools and methods. Visit the Hathi Trust Digital Library to browse their more than eleven million digitized volumes and user-created collections; or check out the exhibitions at the Digital Public Library of America to get a glimpse of the wealth of information.
One group that is attempting to ask big questions about how to navigate in this new information landscape is the Committee on Coherence at Scale for Higher Education. Founded in October 2012 by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and Vanderbilt University, the Committee aims “…to foster strategic thinking about how to more rigorously manage the transition from analog to digital in higher education.” That transition is generating many of the challenges and opportunities in the educational environment today.
Elliott Shore, Executive Director of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has been writing a series of columns in EDUCAUSE Review about the work of the Committee. The first of those columns can be found here:
The core insight of the Committee on Coherence at Scale is that contemporary education must support greater collaboration among educational institutions of all types if we are to realize the benefits of the digital learning environment. “Coherence at scale” may require us to rethink the nature of libraries and technology services; to work globally to discover and share information resources; and to redesign the units and boundaries with which we have structured our current institutions. If we can think creatively, we have a wonderful opportunity to realize some of Clay Shirky’s “cognitive surplus” in the decades ahead.