One of my daughters just found out that one of her favourite managers is also a university student.
From what we can piece together, our man’s week life looks like this:
- 10pm-6am work
- 6am-8am travel home and get his two children ready for kindy (his wife will likely have been up with one or both at some time in the night)
- 8am-3pm drop children to kindy and do some study/sleep/attend lectures
- 3pm-5pm pick up children, prepare dinner, quick hello to wife when she returns home from her full time job
- 5pm-10pm study/sleep depending on what happened during the day and what uni work is due
Why is this important for me to think about?
This man’s story struck me for a few reasons. First, I re-recognised how very bloody tough it is for some of our clients. These folk are often working flat out across multiple domains: work, family and study (and probably others as well). If we can keep this in mind, this knowledge can inform our services and how we provide them. So, for me, this man is one of the students I am talking to when I create an online learning object. I imagine he needs to be able to access that material at any time, and perhaps on a mobile device (during a meal break at work?) The materials I provide also need to be brief, clear and to the point. They need to be clearly labelled so that he can select what he needs in the moment. So my thinking and design need to be focussed on these aspects.
Second, and related to how tough it is for some of our clients, I realise in the story how important education is for our clients, that education is perhaps the only way for folk to create opportunities, and to find work that is personally and financially rewarding (the employer has a reputation for being very demanding of employees and providing the minimum in return: there is little juice in that fruit over the long term). For me, I can use this as motivation to really push myself to provide excellent service, to remove barriers and create scaffolds wherever possible.
The third thing that strikes me about this person’s story is that we really need to kill once and for all the idea that students need to fit in with our institutional schedules and routines. I know that the university sector has been developing online and blended learning and other strategies, but I want us to keep asking How can we do even better for our living, breathing, real life students? Maybe we can ask them what they need and respond to that? Can we find ways to be more flexible and responsive and still meet our industry and regulatory expectations? What might my role be in this process?
Finally, this story tells me I need to keep growing myself as a librarian and educator. I need to continue to explore the information and digital literacy needs that my clients will need to master as university students and as members of the professions. I need to be up to date with pedagogy, including face-to-face and online teaching methods and philosophies. I need to continue to be curious about and connected to our clients and their needs and aspirations.
How will I accomplish this? I need to find a way that meets my needs too.