Monday, October 15, 2012

DILL Program in Parma, Italy!

The last two weeks of September 2012, I had the honor to visit Parma, Italy as a guest lecturer for the Digital Libraries Learning Program (DILL) of Erasmus Mundus of the European Commission. DILL is a two-year, English speaking, international masters for information professionals to provide them with the skills in the area of digital libraries. It is offered in cooperation between Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (Norway), Tallinn University (Estonia), and the University of Parma (Italy) and students spend at approximately one semester at each institution, and then complete an internship and thesis.   
View of Italian Alps from Parma
Quaint pedestrian friendly town  

February of 2012, I first learned of the DILL program as I volunteered to host a virtual student, who lived in Uzbekistan as had completed the study Parma the previous fall. [See webinar video:]   The success of our collaboration  led DILL Parma coordinator not only ask me to host another virtual student this fall, but also inviting me to travel to Parma to meet and lecture to the DILL students face to face.  I was also asked to meet and lecture to local are library professionals while in Parma.

Visiting Biblioteca Palatina in Parma, Italy

In Parma, I lectured to the students on Creating the Digital User Experience at UNCG Libraries, showcasing   we do collaboratively as a library to virtually support our students such as reference virtual help, our digital library collections, our hosting services, apps, and tool creations, our online teaching, etc. The DILL students asked many questions about our technologies and services, and by the end of my half day talk, I had many DILL students asking if they could work at our library!  My other lecture day covered Designing eLearningDigital Objects where I discussed basic e-learning concepts, instructional design process, and technologies used to create tutorials and online learning at UNCG Libraries.  

While in Parma, I also connected with UNCG Library and Information Studies Department, primarily the Digital Libraries course and professor. Together we formed a secret Facebook group connecting students at both UNCG and DILL to discuss digital libraries. We pulled off a synchronous virtual session using Blackboard Collaborate to join both groups virtually, with video and audio. DILL students introduced themselves, shared their country (they came from 17 different countries across the world!) of origin, and what they were doing in libraries. Though the session was short and mainly involved introductions and sharing – not discussion - the goal was to show the possibility for synchronous, global connecting of librarians and students and its potential for collaboration.

An added benefit was meeting other visiting professors for the DILL program from all over the global including Australia, France, UK, USA and Sri Lanka.  We had some amazing discussions about digital libraries with truly international perspectives.  Visiting the area professional librarians for a morning was also positive experience. I showed them the Digital User Experience slides, answered many questions about how we do things, and  we all discussed libraries and our practices.  They were also impressed by what UNCG Libraries does for their students and said we had the “ideal academic library.” 
"Irma"  and I visiting Parma professional librarians
I have remained connected with the students and professional librarians I met while in Parma and hope to build more collaborative endeavors. I am currently hosting a DILL student from Germany as a virtual intern for the rest of the fall semester, planning a synchronous webinar with her in early December as I did with my student last February. I am currently wrapping up a collaborate article on the experience last year with my first virtual intern and the last years’ student intern supervisor in Parma. The Parma DILL coordinator asked me to write on my recent experiences in Parma with the program and she will translate for the Italian audience. She also requested I return next year thrilled with my contributions to the Parma DILL program.   The DILL program coordinator and our library Dean supported this international endeavor with hopes of building a more dynamic partnership with DILL and UNCG,  to create better global perspectives for both parties.   This collaboration has benefited all parties and promoted UNCG, especially the Libraries, on an international scale.
Special  thanks the UNCG University Libraries and Koehler Fund for their travel grant to help make this travel experience possible!

PS I had also enjoyed visiting Bologna and Venice for the weekend ... and eating lots of great foods and good wines!

Visited Sala Borsa in Bologna ... 
... in library, ancient roman ruins can be seen below! 

Streets of Venice... 

...and all the canals! 


Anonymous said...

Looks like you had an amazing trip! But then again YOU are an amazing woman deserved an amazing trip!

Anonymous said...

Looks like you had an amazing trip! Then again YOU are an amazing woman deserved an amazingly special experience. Your work is pheonminal!