Marcia Mardis, an associate professor at Florida State University’s School of Library Studies & Information Studies (SLIS), recently spent three weeks as a Visiting Professor at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga Wagga, Australia, where she was able to share her expertise and gain new perspectives in the field library and information studies.
Last January, Mardis was asked to assist CSU in designing a curriculum and materials for its new Master’s of Education degree in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation. After her initial work on the new program, CSU invited Mardis to come to Australia for a visiting professorship as the university finalized marketing, evaluation pieces and course content.
“We had a great time looking at how the courses came together and that they met the aims of objectives that were approved by the university,” Mardis said. “I also walked through their current courses in their school librarian program and suggested how they might be updated and made a little more exciting.”
“Dr. Marcia Mardis provided outstanding and insightful input into recent course development work within the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) at Charles Sturt University (Australia and Canada) in her recent work as visiting professor,” said Judy O’Connell, Courses Director at the CSU School of Information Studies in the Faculty of Education.
CSU is transitioning to tools Florida State uses like Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate, and Mardis was able to share her knowledge in that aspect as well.
“It gave them an opportunity to learn how we do things at Florida State,” Mardis said. “We talked about some instructional design from there, so it really gave me the opportunity to brag a little bit about FSU.”But Mardis also gained some inspiration from the collaboration on CSU’s new program.“The Knowledge Networking and Digital Innovation degree is really the fusion of a LIS degree and an IT degree,” Mardis said. “It allowed me to think about some ways we might bring our two degrees closer together and also how we might cross-fertilize our school librarians who may feel as though they are in danger because more and more schools are eliminating their school librarians. It could allow them to repackage themselves as something really unique, dynamic and current.”
“This new multi-disciplinary degree in the field of education informatics will continue to provide outstanding opportunities for partnership research and content development with Dr Mardis’ ongoing collaboration with the largest School of Information Studies in the Southern Hemisphere, which is providing postgraduate training for Teacher Librarians and other educators interested in the new cultures of digital formal and informal learning, in socially connected global networks,” O’Connell said. “Her ongoing work is instrumental to furthering the quality of global education outcomes in the profession.
Earlier this year, CSU became a member of the iSchools organization, a group of 52 Information Schools dedicated to advancing the field. Florida State joined the organization in 2003 and is Florida’s only iSchool.
“I got to be an iSchool ambassador and spend a lot of time with some of their more senior faculty and their director preparing them for what they might expect and getting them pumped up to go to the iConference in March,” Mardis said.
In addition, Mardis traveled to Melbourne for three days to speak to Education Services Australia, a part of the country’s Education Ministry, about open education resources and digital resources for K-12.
Mardis, who was also a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the College of Education at the University of Alberta at Edmonton in 2008, enjoyed the exchange of knowledge and was grateful for the opportunity.
“I think when you are embedded in someone else’s faculty, it helps you step away from your own practice a little bit and your own colleagues and be able to weigh things out,” Mardis said. “It’s a nice way of getting perspective.”
Florida State’s SLIS school library media program is ranked No. 1 according to the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report, “Best Graduate Schools.”