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|Volume 11 Edition 7: April 2012. Zachary Dayhuff, Editor|
IPC Welcomes Belgian Business Students
International Internship at Jackson Library
UNCG Distance Librarian Beth Filar-Williams recently had the unique opportunity to work remotely with an international intern as part of the Digital Library Learning (DILL) program. During the month of February, Filar-Williams supervised Iskander Rakhmatullaev, a DILL student from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as he converted the Jackson Library Instructional Tech Toolkit to a LibGuide format.
The Toolkit was originally created in 2011 to provide remote collaborators a single digital access point to share, assess, and develop information on a given project. LibGuide is a software application that allows multiple users to change and customize that access point collaboratively. Filar-Williams decided to adopt the LibGuide format to make the Toolkit more accessible and customizable for both users and administrators.
When she agreed to supervise Rakhmatullaev, Filar-Williams decided the LibGuide conversion was an ideal project for him; it lent itself to his IT background, and it could be completed remotely. Still, the effort was not without its challenges. “Having to establish a relationship internationally,” says Filar-Williams, “with culture and language barriers and a 10 hour time difference is challenging. We used Skype to talk at least once a week, early morning for me and evening for him. Sometimes the video worked but not always.”Filar-Williams found that video communication was crucial to overcoming obstacles in language and culture. “Video helps create a more personal connection than just voice, and I appreciated the times we could use video to communicate. Even though [Rakhmatullaev’s] English skills were great there are still some language or culture differences with communication.” Filar-Williams frequently relied on a free tool called Jing, with which she could record a video of herself demonstrating or explaining something and then upload it for Rakhmatullaev to access later.
The internship was as much a learning experience for Filar-Williams as it was for Rakhmatullaev. “I find challenges like these exciting to overcome,” she says. “It also opened my eyes to the difficulties in other countries that I take for granted. He could not get into the library’s virtual room in Blackboard Collaborate due to restrictions, firewalls and low bandwidth in his country. Even Skype would often break our connection with or without video. To get a solid internet connection he could try an embassy but due to the time difference they would be closed when it was morning work time here in North Carolina. Learning from Iskander about libraries and education in his country was enlightening.”
Filar-Williams and Rakhmatullaev found the experience ultimately very beneficial. As a result of it, he has invited her to Uzbekistan’s annual library conference in 2012 to discuss the project, and the two continue to share an unofficial collaborative relationship, including plans to write an article on the experience with Elena Corradini, an instructor at the University of Parma who acted as site supervisor for the project.