New Honors Think Tank Provides Students with Window into Privacy and Transparency Issues in Web 2.0 World

In a world increasingly characterized by the near-instantaneous transfer of information and a constantly evolving concept of what is personal and what is public information, the launch of the University of Utah’s new Honors Think Tank on Transparency and Privacy in a Web 2.0 World could not have come at a better time. A collaboration between the U’s Honors College, the College of Law, and the Marriott Library, the course allows students in the U’s Honors College to take a critical look at the rapidly evolving and often clashing paradigms of privacy and transparency, particularly as they impact government and individuals.

“This Think Tank is a wonderful example of the power of cross-college collaboration which can benefit students in unique ways,” says Randy Dryer, Presidential Honors Professor at the U, who co-teaches the course with Salt Lake City attorney Corper James.  “These Honors students, many of whom are headed to law school, are benefiting from the creative genius of the law school library staff and the vast technology expertise of the IT department.  The transparent structure of the course — essentially a Think Tank in a fishbowl — is obviously well suited for the topic of the course, but may be a viable model for other courses, as it utilizes social media and other emerging communications platforms as an integral learning tool. “

Valeri Craigle, MLS, an assistant librarian at the law library, developed and continues to oversee the course website, a resource she has dubbed the “Libguide.”  “The Libguide provides pertinent information resources, multimedia, and social networking tools that broadcast a constant stream of creative dialogue between students, faculty, and public participants,” Craigle explains. “Twitter feeds, Facebook wall posts, student blogs, and class video provide an unprecedented level of transparency in course activities, giving observers a rare glimpse into a community debate over some of the most provocative topics in modern society. Students complete the yearlong course with a project that will contribute to the ongoing policy discourse on these important societal issues and have a utility beyond the life of the course. “

Adds Dryer: “The LibGuide, which is being utilized in a novel way, is marshaling a vast data base of substantive information which will remain accessible in perpetuity and is essentially documenting the class as a living history being written by the participants in real time.”

For more information on the Think Tank, or to visit the Libguide, click here

The Deseret News recently profiled the Think Tank.  Click here to read that story.