Faculty Spotlight: Librarian Helps Pilot New Technology

March 25, 2014
photo of Diana Perpich
Diana Perpich helped introduce the CTools technology to U-M. "I would consider myself a faculty advocate," she says. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

Librarian teaches faculty, helps pilot new technology

By Jordan Swope, The University Record
March 24, 2014

Diana Perpich will never forget the day that she figured out exactly which combination of permissions would allow multiple GSIs to share a gradebook on CTools without being able to see each other's students' grades. She was working as a part of the CTools implementation group at the time.

"I had said, 'Sorry, it can't do that,' to faculty for years, and that was frustrating," she said. But after months of troubleshooting permissions, a light went off.

CTools has become an important aspect of daily U-M life, for both students and faculty, and Perpich has been there since the beginning. The technology was developed here, with the university experimenting with vertical product management. A team of developers, designers, trainers and more came together and shared the project like research.

Perpich was a part of the team that introduced the technology to U-M faculty, taught them how to use it and also solicited feedback from the faculty so the developers could refine and improve it. "I would consider myself a faculty advocate," she says.

Perpich, educational technologies librarian at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, is no stranger to change in the workplace.

"The expectations of faculty revolve around teaching and research," she says. In her current role, Perpich provides consultation and instruction to faculty and departmental academic staff on how to best use educational technologies and Web tools for teaching.

U-M faculty constantly are pushing the edges in technology, and Perpich works alongside software developers to retrieve and deliver feedback to improve the functionality of new programs. She also works with many doing programmatic work, such as the Sweetland Center for Writing, helping them balance what they put on the Web and onto CTools.

In addition to teaching and research, she also helps coordinate the annual Enriching Scholarship Conference, assisting with workshops, developing the website and engaging U-M faculty to teach workshops.

Perpich, who recently transitioned from staff to a faculty member, is enjoying her new role. "As a librarian, you're still in a service group in the way that staff serves the community, but there are also these components of teaching and research."

Q&A

What moment on the job stands out as the most memorable?

Any time anyone says to me, "That's devious, but it's good." When an instructor or administrator comes to me with a seemingly unresolved question about how to do this or that in CTools, or with Google tools, or Qualtrics, or whatever, and when I can propose to them in a way to string tools together or take advantage of lesser known features of the tools to hack a solution, that's a good day.

What can't you live without?

Getting outside. Being inside all day makes me feel crazy, especially if I have to spend any significant time in a windowless room.

What is your favorite spot near campus?

I suppose the farmer's market. I have photos of the market hanging in my kitchen from my U-M Intro to Photography class in 1982, and I still love going.

What inspires you?

Working with instructors and support staff who are passionate about teaching and who are relentless in refining best practices.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished "Caleb's Crossing" by Geraldine Brooks. Takes me back to my New England Literature Program days to read about early New England, even if it's by a modern author.

Who had the greatest influence on your career path?

My high school English teacher. That sounds trite, but it's true.

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Last modified: 03/25/2014