Smart Talks

Smart Talks is an occasional series produced by Project Information Literacy (PIL). PIL hosts interviews with leading experts about PIL's findings and their thoughts about the challenges of finding information and conducting research in the digital age. Smart Talks are open-access; no permission is required from PIL for re-use.

Mary-Ann Winkelmes has posed some of the most important questions in higher education today. As the director of the Transparency in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Project, she urges faculty to think about how they teach by asking their students to think about how they learn. We interviewed Mary-Ann in August 2015 to discuss teaching and learning, and how greater intentionality can deepen student learning and boost student success. (Interview posted: September 2, 2015)

Dan Rothstein, Luz Santana, and colleagues created the Right Question Institute over 20 years ago as they began to develop a strategy for helping people in low-income communities learn to advocate for themselves. We interviewed him in April 2015 to ask about how necessary it is for lifelong learners to be able to develop and ask the "right questions." (Interview posted: April 21, 2015)

In the next minute, 433,000 tweets will be composed and shared, up from 278,000 in 2013. Who are these tweeters and how are they accessing this space in the digital world? Sociologist S. Craig Watkins is drawn to these questions and we interviewed him in February 2015 to ask about the growing role social media plays in youth culture and how to harness its power in the classroom. (Interview posted: March 5, 2015)

Zach Sims co-founded Codecademy after dropping out of Columbia University during his junior year. Codecademy is premised on the idea that everyone can — and should — learn how to code. Now with over 25 million users worldwide, Codecademy is offering free classes in programming languages such as JavaScript, Python, and markup languages like HTML and CSS — "hard, employable skills" for today's workplace. (Interview posted: January 12, 2015)

Sari Feldman has run one of the best and busiest libraries in the nation for more than 10 years as the executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. We interviewed Sari in August 2014, asking her about how she believes public libraries can collaborate and keep themselves relevant to users in a time of turbulent and inevitable change. (Interview posted: September 3, 2014)

Katie Davis is an assistant professor at the University of Washington's iSchool, a researcher, and co-author (with Howard Gardner) of the acclaimed, "The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World." She investigates the role of digital technologies in the academic, social, and moral lives of today's youth, bringing this research into practice with educators, parents, business leaders, and policymakers throughout the U.S. We interviewed Katie in June 2014 to discuss how technology is changing the nature of learning, for better and for worse. (Interview posted: June 10, 2014)

Eric Gordon studies civic media, mediated cities, and playful engagement as an associate professor in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College in Boston and as Executive Director of the Engagement Lab. We talked to him about his investigations into games and social media and asked, "Can playing a game lead to civic change?" (Interview posted: May 1, 2014)

David Conley is a policy analyst and professor of educational policy and leadership at the University of Oregon. We asked him what it means to be college ready today and how students can acquire research skills for succeeding in college and their careers. (Interview posted: December 5, 2013)

Cathy is an author, professor at Duke University, and co-founder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory). We asked her why distraction and disruption help to re-envision the K-20 classroom and learning and how "collaborative thinking" drives individuals' motivation and creativity in both education and the workplace. (Interview posted: February 25, 2014)

Char Booth is an inspirational academic librarian at Claremont Colleges (CA), who integrates design, Web 2.0 learning technologies, and pedagogy and produces stand-up-and-take-notice results. We asked her about generating ideas for using new learning technologies for expanding students' access to information as users and contributors. (Interview posted: September 27, 2013)

At a time when YouTube users upload 48 hours of video and Twitter users send over 10,000 tweets each minute, how can students wade through this flood of information to become discerning consumers of the news? We asked Howie Schneider, a veteran newsman, about teaching the nation's first course on News Literacy at the Journalism School at Stony Brook University. (Interview posted: June 4, 2013)

Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, is the undisputed authority on open access. He is also the unofficial, though widely acknowledged, leader of the worldwide movement to make published scholarly works—books and journals—open access, so they are “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” (Interview posted: March 27, 2012)

Ken Bain is the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia and a Professor of History and Urban Education. He is an acclaimed educator who has lectured at over 300 universities and founded and directed four major teaching and learning centers. In this PIL interview, we talked to Ken about his latest book, What the Best College Students Do (Harvard University Press, 2012) and "reframing the very nature of education." (Interview posted: October 10, 2012)

Barbara Fister is a Professor and Academic Librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, a small liberal arts college near Minneapolis. In this PIL interview, we talked to Barbara about why the research paper is a flawed pedagogical practice but continues to be assigned, and what rethinking of research as "play" may mean to teaching today's college students. (Interview posted: July 26, 2012)

David Weinberger, a senior researcher and Co-Director of Library Innovation Lab at Harvard, is a leading thinker about the impact of the Internet on society, markets, and the production of knowledge. We talked to David about his latest book, Too Big to Know (Basic Books, 2012), and what the rise of networked knowledge means for educators, librarians, print publishing and the very act of knowing, itself. (Interview posted: April 20, 2012)

Jeffrey Schnapp, a cultural historian and pioneer in digital humanities who is faculty at Harvard, co-teaches a seminar in the architecture school on the past, present, and future of libraries. In this PIL interview, we talked to Jeffrey about what we can learn from the design of libraries from a course talk to in the architecture school about libraries, the "physicality of space," and the tangible elements, as envisioned by design students and librarians, that could be central to the library of the future. (Interview posted: January 18, 2012)

Dr. Russell Poldrack, a renowned neuroscientist, who heads the Imaging Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin where he and his team use MRI scanners with the inordinate power to study the human brain, multitasking, learning ability, and the effects of information overload. In this PIL interview, we talked to Russ about new discoveries about the effects of multitasking on the human brain and the capacity for "deep learning." (Interview posted: October 12, 2011)

Sandra Jamieson and Rebecca Moore Howard direct The Citation Project, a national study providing open access empirical data about how college students use sources when writing papers for composition courses. In PIL's interview, the researchers say of their latest results: "If your focus is on procedure and correct format, these papers are a great success. But if you look at this another way and remember for most of us, 'research' is about the discovery of new information and ideas, and synthesis of those ideas into deeper understanding, the majority of the papers failed." (Interview posted: August 16, 2011)

Lee Rainie has headed up the Pew’s Internet & American Life Project since it's inception in 2000. He and his colleagues conduct large-scale periodic surveys, which both scholars and the press often rely on to stay current and monitor the impact of the Internet and other new media on life in America. In this PIL interview, Lee talks about the impact of new media on "collaborative learning" in the academy, which studies Lee has always wanted to do at Pew, but has not, and the seismic changes to social order caused by what he calls the "new operating system." (Interview posted: June 8, 2011)

Nick Carr is an author and blogger who has written three books about the impact of technology on society, culture and business. In this PIL Interview, Nick discusses what the "intellectual ethic" of the screen is, and how much it differs from the intellectual ethic of the book. He also discusses an incipient anti-Net backlash, which is a "tiny eddy in the broader cultural current." (Interview posted: April 4, 2011)

Howard Rheingold has been a chronicler of the political, cultural, and social impact of new technologies for almost two decades. In this PIL interview, Howard discusses what he calls "the myth of the digital native," the use of social media in learning environments, and what digital literacy has come to mean for preparing students in the 21st century. (Interview posted: January 3, 2011)

Dale Dougherty, co-founder of O'Reilly Media, first coined the phrase "Web 2.0" in 2004. In this PIL interview, Dale discusses the impact of Web 2.0 capabilities on education, especially how information is shared, knowledge is created, and learning occurs and what it means to educators, students, and publishers. (Interview posted: November 1, 2010)

John Palfrey, co-director of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is the co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (2008). In this PIL interview, John discusses the changing nature of plagiarism, policy implications, and the rise of the "copy and paste culture" on campuses. (Interview posted: September 1, 2010)

Andrea Lunsford, the director of Stanford University's Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), is the force behind the "Stanford Study of Writing," a longitudinal study that investigates how today's students write, including everything in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions. In this PIL interviews, Andrea discusses how college students integrate writing with research and learn the process of critical inquiry. ((Interview posted: July 12, 2010)

Peter Morville co-authored the IA Bible--"Information Architecture for the World Web" (1998) back when most of us were still learning HTML. In this PIL interview, Peter discusses "the relationship between search, learning, and decision making," and why difficulties arise with the search process. (Interview posted: June 1, 2010)