Back to School – Online!

I have a new post up at ALA TechSource:

http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2009/09/just-in-time-for-back-to-school.html

Since I started teaching at Dominican, I’ve been requiring students to blog, aggregate RSS, explore Facebook, try out Twitter, and engage in many other Web 2.0 interactions. Recently, I heard from a former student, who proclaimed that “Most of the LIS students I keep in touch with I’ve met in your classes, and it’s all because of social networking websites.”

At other LIS schools, I’ve seen similar courses or use of the tools spread out across the curriculum either in the hybrid or online model. This can be beneficial–technology should not be just for a technology class but present in the core courses and beyond, woven throughout the students’ learning objectives and deliverables. I would be greatly disheartened if someone graduated from a library school in 2009 without knowledge of and the ability to use emerging technologies.

Another benefit outlined in the New York Times article is that it seems like online courses are inherently student-centered:

“The real promise of online education, experts say, is providing learning experiences that are tailored more to individual students than is possible in classrooms. That enables more ‘learning by doing,’ which many students find more engaging and useful.”

If anything, library education should be based on an understanding of the foundations of our profession with a huge serving of “learning by doing.” That’s why I turn my students loose to explore–to PLAY–as much as possible.

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4 thoughts on “Back to School – Online!”

  1. Hi Michael
    I like your concluding statement: “library education should be based on an understanding of the foundations of our profession with a huge serving of ‘learning by doing’”. The way you teach your own students shows the many benefits from a blended online/live aproach under the supervision of an inspirational coach. Your statement also confirms my experiences with the library staff here in Haarlem Netherlands who have followed the blended ‘Learing 2.0′ Course. They experienced Learning 2.0 as a joyous adventure and augmented their skills rapidly by doing, improvising and asking online & live feedback from their coach & fellow students. The course provided them much more pleasure than they experienced from former more traditional library training programs. I’m glad the SRI-report (see: http://tinyurl.com/mp9sfx) confirms that blended learning methods using the possibilities of Interaction & conversation from Web2.0 apps gives students using them a lead. The conclusions in the report and the experiences you wrote on your blog tell me a lot about the future of learning. I agree fully with you but I have also a question. Isn’t this kind of learning very much dependent on someone who is capable in facilitating the group: a real ‘leader of the tribe’.
    Jan

  2. Jan -

    Great question. I’m glad your staff at Haarlem excelled in their Learning 2.0 experience and I did pick up on your mention of a coach. I wonder if having a coach for 2.0 learning experiences adds value and motivates participants. I would tend to think it does – a leader, a coach, a mentor, a guide – all can serve the same purpose. What follows is this question: how do we identify and encourage leaders in our profession without simply funneling anyone and everyone who’s been in a library awhile up to management. A coach or leader does not have to also be a manager.

    I’d look for these attributes for both learning experiences and team-based workgroups in our libraries:

    An Encourager: Sometimes with new technology or emerging systems, we need a little “hand holding.” That might simply be words of encouragement or gentle pushes. This person also encourages and then steps aside to let the the team excel.

    A Connector: Someone who can facillitate a group to make connections between learning and practice or real world scenarios. Also, this leader connects people within organizations and lets those connections grow.

    A Learner in his/her own right: This leader of the tribe is also a continual learner. The minute someone steps back and says I don’t need to understand this, the encouragement and connections falter.

  3. Michael
    The urgent question you ask here makes a challenging conclusion to this little conversation: “How do we identify and encourage leaders in our profession without simply funneling anyone and everyone who’s been in a library awhile up to management. A coach or leader does not have to also be a manager”.
    Let’s explore that question thoroughly in our libraries.

  4. “Most of the LIS students I keep in touch with I’ve met in your classes, and it’s all because of social networking websites.”

    This is so true! It is a great side effect of taking Michael’s class.

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