Principles of The LearningForce

The Library in Action


The Library Service Offer

The UMass Lowell Library is the library of human knowledge, providing access to a vast collection of titles. The value of the library is its networks: putting the right knowledge in the right hands at the right time. The medium used for this complex process are library guides, known as libguides. These are the signposts through the branching web of the library’s collection. The library serves the UMass Lowell community by offering them access to what is uniquely their own: the literary and scholarly commons, freely available to those who seek it.

The LearningForce constitutes a new approach to enrichment, engagement and academic success. Through the LearningForce, the library offers to work with faculty to provide a turnkey solution that achieves these benefits for students.

UMass Lowell aspires to a student body which includes students destined for high achievement in their fields. The library proposes to contribute to this goal by supporting retention of the most ambitious of UMass Lowell’s students, as well as support for those who struggle to succeed, and go elsewhere as a result. By supporting a student’s interactions, the LearningForce can help foster a sense of allegiance to a professor, class, department or field. It effectively levels the playing field for students by offering a bridge to acquisition of the skills of scholarship.

It also addresses shortcomings of the university’s LMS.

In supporting Academic Success, the main goal of the Learningforce is equipping students with the concrete skills of research: navigating the library’s subscription databases, conducting Literature Reviews, correctly forming citations and bibliographies.  Screencast demonstration videos of these skills are embedded in the library guides side by side with links to relevant databases, the library catalog, a WMS or Ebsco discovery search box. The student can toggle between the demonstration and the live database in order to practice the skills of scholarly research, or she can compare the citations in her paper to the stylesheet displayed in a libguide.

Pre-lectures or Mini-lectures can be embedded in a libguide page, also powerpoint or Brainshark presentations. The ideal libguide experience is immersive and immediate, capturing attention without exhausting it. The guides also have the capacity for interactive pages, where surveys, quizzes or discussions take place.

Library staff are in the process of identifying the most practical method for sending reminders to students via e-mail or text about upcoming deadlines, including links to material which can be used in carrying out the assignment.

Enrichment is the second goal of the LearningForce. Using a type of libguide page called e-reserves, faculty can create collections of articles and book chapters comprising a course packet, which might substitute for expensive textbooks. The e-reserve page can be passworded, and the library will assist with copyright questions. The Library is also the source of thousands of images, sound, films, and primary sources, which can be embedded in lib guides and made available as a student does the central reading for the course.

Engagement is an ongoing challenge for faculty and a crucial factor in academic success. The library offers it’s digital and media equipment and expertise to guide students through projects connecting classroom content with real-world situations. Examples of these initiatives include, student-produced Brainsharks describing personal  responses to their chosen field, creating a brochure promoting a non-profit, making a public service video. Students can also embed media in team projects with the Library’s help, or make their own libguides. 

The ideal LearningForce Libguide is immersive, engaging and focussed.

The library invites faculty to collaborate with us by letting us know what would most serve their efforts, and let us do the rest.