Hello! I’m Maddy, taking over the Digital Learning Fellow position (and blog!) for the next two years. Where Ikra started this position with an interest in web design and accessibility, I’m geared towards the critical education aspects: why do we use the tools we use? How do they shape our learning and teaching? How do their histories and origins affect our interactions with them?

If you’ve met the team, you know that these questions guide pretty much every aspect of our work. 

Since Ikra’s first blog post where she introduced Sundi, Daniel, and Thomas, three more people have joined the team. We now have Tiffany, our digital scholarship specialist who joined from the library’s research team; Matt Davis, who just started at Davidson in June as the Systems and Data Services librarian; and Maurice Norman, a fellow like me who works on the joint Digital Learning and Archives team on the Stories Yet To Be Told project. Matt and Maurice, like me, joined the team during this remote-working period of indeterminate length. 

Starting work remotely has both good and bad aspects. The commute is significantly easier. The kitchen and its many snacks is right there (some people might argue this is a bad thing; I believe that all food that nourishes or pleases you is good food, and that you should eat when you’re hungry). You can play music without your earbuds in and not worry about bothering your coworkers. And you can jump from one meeting to the next without leaving your seat.

It’s much harder, though, to make connections with my new coworkers, especially those who aren’t on my team. I haven’t gotten the break room chats or been able to wander through the offices and introduce myself to anyone I come across. It’s much harder to simulate those experiences, especially when the whole workplace is adjusting to an online environment and preparing for one of their busiest times of year.

Thankfully, the whole library staff, including those who’ve been here for years, seem to feel the same way, and have made moves to create that sense of community where they can. We’ve had all-staff meetings not just for business but also for coffee chats or “happy hours” (I’ve never seen anyone drink anything but water, but the name seems to have stuck*). One of the greatest parts of those chats, the part that made me feel most connected, was Sundi’s Showcase, where one person shares a personal project they’ve been working on or something they’re interested in. Video chat, despite the name, can make chatting difficult, with people being cut off and slight (or significant) time lags. Making a specific space for people to share what they’ve been doing in their personal time and for others to ask questions about it can help a new employee learn about their coworkers and give them conversation starters.

For professors, asking students if they’d like to share something they’ve made or found could help establish some of those connections that they would usually make chatting before class about a new backpack pin or their work in the most recent Davidsonian. And I encourage you to share your own work, too–your students will become more comfortable sharing if you provide an example and show yourself not just as their teacher but as another human.

(Of course, everyone knows that teachers live in their classrooms.)

Bye for now,