Librarians go first. Chanelle Pickens, a resident librarian with West Virginia University Libraries, just returned from a two-week scholar exchange fellowship in Shanghai, China, at which she was the first participant from an American institution of higher education.

The Institute for International Exchange at the Shanghai Open University provides scholars with a platform for capacity building and establishment of sustainable partnerships as well as fosters knowledge exchange and promotion of mutual understanding among participating international universities.

“The fellowship was a great opportunity to meet scholars from around world, to work with the university’s librarian, and talk about the changing role of academic libraries in the digital age,” Pickens said. “I am honored to have been chosen.”

The two-week immersion included panel sessions on the integrity of information communication technology and the role and competence of teachers in open and distance learning, visits to branch schools in Qingpu and Xuhui, and interactive demonstrations in SOU’s Digital Lab of Open Learning.

Pickens presented her research on the role of academic libraries in student success efforts and previewed open educational resources available from WVU Libraries.

“This fellowship was a wonderful opportunity to exhibit on an international scale the essential role of libraries to students, while tackling the complex issues of open and distance learning,” Pickens said.

But it wasn’t all work. In addition to research and collaboration, the nine international scholars enjoyed a number of cultural attractions, including the Bund, Zhujiajiao water town, and a tour of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum.

“I ate some really awesome food, went to the top of the second tallest building in the world, and rode the subway for the first time,” Pickens said.

As a member of the Global Universities in Distance Education (GUIDE) Association, Pickens had been seeking out an opportunity to work with international scholars and looks forward to continuing the conversation at future conferences. Participating in unique and varied professional development is part of her responsibility as a Diversity Alliance resident and professional librarian. Pickens plans to use what she learned during the fellowship to further WVU’s commitment to student success, adoption of innovative technology, and global collaboration.

Offering associate and bachelor level degrees, Shanghai Open University operates a main campus and 40 branch schools and provides open and distance education to over 100,000 Shanghai residents. The goal of the yearly fellowship is to promote cooperation between foreign open universities and SOU through academic exchange and to enhance the quality of teaching and research in the field of open and distance learning. In addition to the faculty exchange fellowship, SOU also offers a short-term international student program each fall.



CONTACT: Monte Maxwell, communications coordinator for West Virginia University Libraries

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