Category Archives: LIS Education in the 21st Century

The Online Student Experience

A very striking example of what online education can be for some. I’m currently teaching a class this summer and am trying to do as much as I can to increase my visibility/presence. The good folks at SJSU University SLIS shared this video with me – I’m on their Technology Advisory Board.

One thing I noticed last semester is that my classes really responded to video, so I’m aiming to do more and more with video. Here’s a silly class check in from last week while Cooper and I were hiking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJV-dKq6zq8

One thing I heard from the SJSU folks that agreed with my own realizations: if you are going to do video, don’t fret too much that it is absolutely perfect – just do it. The video above was the second take of only two I did on the trail.

I’m interested to hear from other folks who teach online – what has worked well? What have you found that sparks interest and engagement online?

Welcome to Library School & Congrats New Grads

A brief post based on my notes for a short speech this week at Dominican GSLIS New Student Orientation and some reflection on the 55 students who graduated from our program last Saturday:

Ranganathan said “the Library is a growing organism.” That evolution continues and you all are starting your graduate library school journey at a perfect time.

I was recently in South Carolina, where I found myself in the hotel bar after a speech for the library school. The bartender was fired up about his brand new iPod Touch. He was running the bar’s music of of it via a cable attached to the sound system, and surfing the Web via the hotel’s wifi. He praised the access to the Web and his apps and held up the shiny new device and said:

” I have the whole world of information in my hand.”

This is the landscape our new students and graduating students are experiencing.  For many – not all, of course – but for many, this ultra-connected world is the norm and new  devices and services enhance it almost daily.

One of my goals as an LIS educator is to prepare my students for a decidedly digital future in libraries. Technology will touch every aspect of library service and operation is some way – big or small – from storytime to book clubs, from research collections to media production studios within the library.

Technology allows us to extend the presence of library service and librarians in ways that Ranganathan and Shera might have only dreamed about. But the most important thing is these technologies allow us to extend our missions of service, stewardship and access in surprisingly human channel.  When technology falls away, it’s not a blog, or a Meebo-embedded staffer, or a Drupal reader’s community, it’s simply a group of people having a conversation.

For our new students – I wish you great success and urge you to be curious and creative with your coursework. Creativity will be a valuable commodity in your future library work. In my LIS701 class, we read Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” in which he suggests one way to free the creative right brain to have new ideas is to occupy the left brain with a task, such as walking a labyrinth. For the last night of class, we met at Oak Park’s First United Church and did just that. Each turn, each pause for reflection, each moment spent in the middle of the maze offered a chance for my students – and me – to consider our semester’s work and the next step. It was a pleasant exercise.

For our most recent grads – I wish you great success with everything you do in libraries. I have high hopes for the innovations and changes our graduates and all new LIS professionals will make. This is an incredible time to be working in libraries. Economic issues force us to be creative and to be vocal advocates for our services. Go forth! Create the future of libraries! I am counting on all of you.

Ithaka Report

Jeff Trzeciak writes about the recent Ithaka Report:

http://ulatmac.blog.lib.mcmaster.ca/2010/04/09/ithaka-report/

My biggest take away from the report is this quote

“if the library shapes its roles and activities based on what is currently most highly appreciated by faculty, it may lose a valuable opportunity to innovate and position itself as relevant in the future”

In order for this to actually take place we have to have librarians with skills and characteristics that lend themselves to marketing/promotion, creativity/innovation, vision and risk. How are these characteristics playing out in our libraries given that we tend to be a profession that values tradition over risk and innovation?  Yes, there are many innovators out there but there are many, many more who are not.  Too many of us would rather hide behind “evidence based librarianship” as an excuse for not doing something different than actually attempt something new (and risky).

Take a look at the report and Jeff’s post. To me, this is another call to arms for library schools to ramp up curriculum around marketing, creativity and innovation.These ideas should also be a part of the process of  realigning positions and focus of our current employees.

LIS768 Group Projects Day 2

We have two more projects today. First up:

Social Networking Tools & Marketing

Slides: http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=0AUckRKXNEbDYZG5jNDQ5Yl8yZmM3dmN0ZDU&hl=en

This group used the Geneva Public Library’s Web presence to frame their presentation about marketing. They created a Drupal site for the library: http://librarylasso.com/geneva/ Wowza!

Social Networking for School Libraries

This group created a Ning for librarians and teachers, presenting as though the class was the school board.

Social Media Best Practices for Libraries: A TTW Guest Post

This post was written by Kasia Grabowska for last semester’s LIS 768: Library 2.0 & Networking Technologies class. Kasia has allowed me to repost it here.

After doing brand monitoring research for the past few weeks, looking closely at Skokie Public Library (and not so closely at several other libraries), I decided to put together a list of “do’s and don’ts” for librarians on successfully utilizing social media.

This is what I learned from doing brand monitoring and what I personally would recommend to libraries that are getting started with social media.

Tip #1: Learn how to monitor your brand

Join the RIGHT conversations at the RIGHT time. In other words, stay on top of what people are saying about you and make sure to respond, to let people know that you are listening and willing to join the conversation.

Tools to utilize for brand monitoring include RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Technorati, and staying on top of your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. This is definitely the number 1 lesson I learned from this assignment.

Tip #2: Learn from your brand community

You’re already engaging in conversations, why not ask people for some feedback? There are plenty of quick and easy ways to get good information that will help you keep learning from what you’re doing and improving the process as you go along. Just make sure not to overdo it; remember to always engage in conversations as a person.

Tip #3: Have a game plan

Set goals, measure and iterate your social media efforts in order to continue to grow and improve your efforts. Make sure everyone who is involved in your social media strategy clearly understands the role and goals of this initiative. There’s nothing worse than joining a social network with no purpose, plan or a way to measure what you’re doing.

By using trackable links (like bit.ly or su.pr) to help track what your users are responding to, you will be able to measure your efforts and make improvements.

Tip #4: Promote, promote, promote

I noticed a lot of libraries who do wonderful things on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr yet they don’t include links to their social networks on their websites. Or libraries that use Twitter often but don’t follow anyone; that’s not a good way to start a conversation.

A library website should be an entry point to social media; you need to create awareness. People should not have to search for you on Facebook, or Twitter, you should reach out to every member of your community first.

Tip #5: Allow open, yet governed access for your employees

This is where a social media policy comes in. By making sure everyone who is involved in your efforts understands what to do (what they’re allowed to say, how they should respond in different situations, etc) you won’t have to monitor what each person does. Instead, you will be able to focus on making improvements.

One tip about your social media policy — make sure it’s succinct and to the point, otherwise no one will want to read it.

Tip #6: Stay relevant and be helpful

Use social media to build trust, credibility and awareness in your community. Instead of broadcasting information, try creating conversations. Remember, speaking doesn’t always result in being heard.

Be helpful, stay relevant and focus on your community’s needs. It’s also important to humanize your efforts; don’t hide behind your library’s logo, allow your users to get to know you as a person.

Tip #7: Give your community room to grow

Focus on small, consistent and ongoing change. Let your members decide how they want to use “their” online community. Listen to what they have to say and change your goals and objectives based on how your community wants to utilize social media.

Tip #8: Remember, you’re not alone

By building relationships with key people within your community who also utilize social media you can leverage your efforts and obtain better reach. People who are influencers, those who are natural communicators or leaders in your community can help your social media efforts immensely. Identify these people and ask for help. Word of mouth can be very powerful.

Tip #9: Go where your users are

Remember, you don’t have to be an early adopter. It is much better to wait for your community to start utilizing the technology before adding it to your social media arsenal. In short, go where your users are. It’s much easier for someone to join you on Facebook or Twitter if the person actually uses the technology.

Tip #10: Lead change

This is important, especially for libraries that can be very resistant to change at times: if you want to lead change, find one thing you said no to in the past and give it a try.

This is actually something I heard at a digital marketing conference I got a chance to attend last month, but I think it applies great to libraries and social media.

Kasia Grabowska is currently working on her MLIS at Dominican University. She is a website manager for Train Signal, Inc and the editor in cheif of www.trainsignaltraining.com a blog focusing on IT training and certification.

Online Education & Blogging

http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning/online_education_and_blogging

Joshua Kim writes:

The best preparation I received for blogging was teaching online. One of the most important elements for running a successful online course involves presence. The instructor must be “present” in the course discussion boards and blogs. Teaching online gave me tons of practice in writing rapid, hopefully thought provoking, discussion and blog posts around the curriculum and the student’s work. Much has been written about how teaching online can improve on-ground teaching. I’d add comfort with blogging to the benefits online learning.

Is the ability to quickly produce prose that (at least sometimes) may interest a reader the sort of skill that we want to cultivate in our students? The importance of rapid, persuasive writing is growing as blogs and other social media displace other forms of communication. We all need to learn to make our case, to persuade, to make arguments based on evidence – and to do so in a limited attention economy. For all of us, both writes and readers, time is our scarcest commodity.

Perhaps participating in online courses provides students the same practice with rapid and persuasive writing as teaching an online course. The same behaviors that make for a good online instructor, namely the willingness to be active and engaged with the asynchronous communication tools, are also those behaviors of a successful online student. An online course is all about collaboration and interaction. The best students post persuasively, briefly, and often.

I would venture to say the best preparation I received for online teaching is blogging! Quick posts sharing links and commentary – something bibliobloggers have long been doing – translate perfectly to the way I interact with my online and hybrid classes. I also think the blogging activities have helped my students with their writing – just afeeling, no evidence yet, but it might be a good thing to study.

The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate

Dr Michael Stephens delivered the Dr Laurel Anne Clyde Memorial Keynote Address at the ASLA XXI Biennial Conference, held in Perth, Western Australia, from 29 September to 2 October 2009.

Reprinted with permission from the Australian School Library Association Inc. (ASLA) Access 2010 24(1): 5.

The evolving Web is an open and social place. The Web has changed everything. Its impact on every facet of our lives — home, work and school — would be difficult to measure but the ‘always on, always available’ Internet is certainly a game changer. Can you recall the first time you realised that the Internet would change your job? Your school? Your students?

Dr Laurel Anne Clyde recognised the power and potential for emerging technologies in schools and spent time exploring the implications. As technology evolved, so did her research. Her work examining weblogs was one of the first scholarly endeavours with emerging Web 2.0 tools. Now many of us study and move in a world of hyperconnected spaces: Facebook, WordPress Multi- User Blog communities (WordPress MU), Flickr and any number of socially enabled sites.

What a world Dr. Clyde would see today!

Sadly, this world includes the fact that many libraries are suffering financial setbacks. The recent news that Australian school libraries are in dire need of support all too well illustrates that changes are needed. The press release from the Australian School Library Association (ASLA 2009) detailed the findings of a 2007 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including:

That means ensuring there are enough qualified teacher librarians as well as maintaining and improving infrastructure. Having a new or refurbished school library is important, but the full potential of these resources cannot be realised without a qualified teacher librarian in place as well.

This fact cannot be ignored. Schools need qualified librarians. And in this Web-enhanced world, the qualifications and skill sets required are many.

Today’s teacher librarian (TL) must master foundational skills built on our core values, understand the importance of a strong and useful collection of materials and resources AND be knowledgeable in the emerging world of online social engagement. Exploring emerging tools and trends should be part of every qualified TL’s duties. Dr Clyde wrote (2004) about the use of blogs in the library setting:

“By not taking advantage of this simple medium (and doing it well), libraries will be the losers.”

This sentiment could easily be expanded to include many new tools and technologies to enhance learning in that ‘always on’ way. The potential for fostering connected learning and inquiry is broad.

As technology continues to evolve so quickly, TLs are faced with many challenges: providing resources, supporting the curriculum and guiding access. What can we do to ensure we are best meeting the needs of our students and their learning in times of change and challenge?

Embrace the 21st century learner

These learners are ‘born with the chip’ and the world they are growing up in is different from that of the previous generation of learners. There has been useful research about the so- called ‘Google Generation’ and it can help us understand how to meet their needs. Recent findings include:

These young people use the social Web. A recent study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority reported that:

children aged eight to 11 years are spending 1.3 hours a day online, while 12- to 17-year-olds average 2.9 hours … among older teenagers that shifted to using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook (The Age 2009).

These young people write — a lot! Pew Internet & American Life Project found that:

85% of teens aged 12–17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending e-mail or instant messages or posting comments on social networking sites (Pew Internet & American Life Project 2008).

These young people learn differently. Pew also noted in an earlier report that young people’s learning is shaped by technology and collaboration. Although this is US data, the connection between technology, collaboration and learning for Australian youth who have access to the tools would surely be similar.

These young people integrate technology into their lives. Mine the report entitled Listening to Student Voices for more about student perception and use of technology and ponder the answer to this question: Are we forcing our students into a decidedly text-based school environment when their world is a hyperlinked, digital space? Key components of the report include:

  • Technology is not an extra. • Computers and the Internet are communication tools first.
  • Students want challenging, technology-oriented instructional activities.
  • Technology has caused students to approach life differently; to adults nothing has changed.

These young people are living in a decidedly different world. University of California, Irvine, researcher Mizuko Ito conducted interviews with 800 youth and young adults and performed 5000 hours of online observations for another ground- breaking study in the US. The America-centric findings are telling and could illuminate Australian viewpoints as well. Findings included:

  • New media forms have altered how youth socialise and learn and raise a new set of issues that educators, parents and policymakers should consider.
  • To stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media.
  • Interest-driven participation can lead to learning opportunities from peers and those who are more experienced.

What emerges from this scan of recent research is a focus on the new digital realities of our learners and the need to help them understand new digital literacies. Don’t be fooled, however; young people demonstrate time and time again that they understand the basics of privacy and sharing in a connected world. Don’t miss interviews with Australian teens in a recent Herald Sun exposé (Herald Sun 2009) for more.

Explore emerging tools

What tools could you use to extend the reach and potential of your library services? The simple power of blogs, the ‘simple medium’ Dr Clyde noted could be used to great effect, has now given way to wikis, Web-based chat, Flickr, Twitter, Skype, virtual worlds and much more. Many of these tools are open source — meaning they’re free to use and enhance. Use a blog to encourage student writing. WordPress MU allows for multiple blogs via one installation, allowing a teacher to create a virtual community for a class where everyone can customise their own blogspace and practise writing and linking. This could be done within a school firewall or outside on the open Web (WordPress MU see http:// wpmu.org/wordpress-as-a-learning- management-system-move-over- blackboard).

Use free applications such as Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net) to record and edit podcasts based on curriculum or students’ creative projects. Students could be ‘roving reporters’, creating news stories about school events, projects and so on.

Grab a digital camera and enable your students to practise their visual skills. Tell a story via images, stored on blogs or sites like Flickr, if available.

Expand this creativity to short video segments produced with any of the various low-cost, hand- held video camcorders available. What could a class do with a Flip Video (http://www.theflip.com/ en-au) to show off their learning and creativity? Book reports? Mini- movies illustrating curriculum?

Utilise Skype to connect your classroom to the world. Find a class nearby or across the country and Skype in for a group-learning module. Connect and let students interact, while blogging the experience. For a real world example of this in action, please see http://learningismessy. com/blog/?p=191

Create a school social network with Ning to promote connected collaboration. This DIY tool does all the dirty work. Visit ASLA Online’s Ning to see the site in action.

These are just a few ideas for bringing technology into the classroom. All of them take the idea of a ‘simple medium’ and expand the tool into digital learning modules. What else would you add?

Celebrate the potential for 21st century learning

Many have said this is the best time to be a librarian. The challenges are there, but so are the means to make change, to make a difference, to make an impact on the lives of our students. Open source options, connected communities of online support that span the globe and shared practice via the Web are all low-cost or no- cost ways to implement some of these changes. Stop for a moment amidst all of your work, take a breath and celebrate how far we’ve come.

And ponder then how we might move forward? What traits are important for these new channels of learning? I would argue that the following characteristics are key to creating an effective 21st century learning experience:

Curiosity: Be curious with your students. Promote curiosity as a means of learning with teachers and administrators.

Exploration: Give students the necessary ideas and the tools to work with, then step back and let them explore. Stand by as a guide as they navigate new waters.

Transparency and openness: Work to build a library within your school that’s open and transparent. Involve everyone in decisions and keep them informed. Start that From the teacher librarian’s desk blog for your students, teachers and parents.

Creativity: Offer as many outlets for student creativity as possible. Provide tools and space and let imaginations soar. Share the results with everyone as well.

Flexibility: Rigid rules and overly structured procedures dampen the creativity and ‘just in time’ nature of our work. Be flexible with students and teachers and encourage the same from them.

Play = learning: Make space and allow time for ‘play’ in your library. It might be interactive gaming on a Wii, an online scavenger hunt centered on science or maths or a problem-solving contest built around information literacy. Launch a 23 things for your teachers and administration as well — then expand to students and parents. Let students help create the modules for their parents!

Continuing the journey

At the ASLA XXI Biennial Conference, I spoke about these topics and interacted for the day with some excited librarians from all over Australia. We sat in the conference centre lobby after my presentations and discussed how to proceed. I was reminded of the slide in my talks of a road disappearing into the horizon. How do we move forward into an unknown future?

Break down barriers: What roadblocks have you encountered? Money? Access? Strict rules about content? Work within your school’s structure to educate teachers and administrators about the value of emerging technologies. Perform a ‘kindness audit’ of your library space to see what your students see. Posted rules made up of ‘No this’ and ‘No that’ are not encouraging to the young learner’s heart.

Develop your own personal learning network (PLN): Find the online spaces — a virtual community for TLs, blog networks, Twitter friends in the profession — and learn from them. Constantly update your PLN with new and opposing voices to encourage your own critical thinking. This will guide your growth as you bring about change.

Use evidence: Use studies noted above, books like Born Digital and supporting materials, blog posts or tweets from your PLN to demonstrate the power and potential of online collaboration. Research concerning Australian youth — including Indigenous youth — would be timely and telling. Seek it out or do some yourself. Report to all of us.

Explore play for yourself: If you haven’t had a chance to participate in a 23 things or Learning 2.0 program, find one online and DIY! Set aside 20–30 minutes of professional development time weekly during the school year or break to be curious about some of the tools you might not have used. Or band together with other TLs in your area, state or nationally to offer a program for everyone.

Be selective: Use what fits best with your library and students. A focus on writing might include student blogging opportunities via a WordPress MU installation onsite. A focus on creativity might include a small, inexpensive video camera and editing software so your students can explore digital storytelling or reporting.

Know it’s okay to fail: One impact of the gaming generation is the mindset that it’s okay to make a mistake, learn from it and go on with new knowledge in a different direction. Talk about these ‘failures’ within your PLN and share what you’ve learned. Others may have insights or may benefit.

Don’t be afraid to change: The way it’s always been done does not have to be the way it will always be done. The biggest change right now is not technology but of mindset. Set an example. ‘Bring it on.’

Be persistent: Keep doing all of the above to hone your craft and add to your storehouse of evidence, facts and proven results. Meet resistance with a kind but firm push the other way. Educate everyone every chance you get: administrators, governing bodies, parents and so on.

The potential is there for a great future for the school library. Recently, I was asked to describe my vision of the role libraries will play for learners. I imagine the school library, public library and academic library forming a connected web of support and service for learners as they grow. Learning will happen everywhere in collaborative spaces and online.

Successes will be shared. Learning from failures will be shared as well. It will truly be a celebration.

Download a PDF of the article here: Michael Stephens pp5-8

The presentation at ASLA this article is based on is here: http://tametheweb.com/2009/10/01/thanks-australian-school-library-association/

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) 2009, http:// www.asla.org.au/advocacy/ mediarelease-May09.htm

Clyde, LA 2004, ‘Weblogs — are you serious?’ The Electronic Library, vol. 22, issue 5, pp. 390–392.

Herald Sun 2009, ‘We’re Gen-Y and we care’, http://www. heraldsun.com.au/opinion/ were-gen-y-and-we-care/story- e6frfhqf-1225778349502

Pew Internet & American Life Project 2008, Writing, Technology and Teenshttp://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/ PIP_Writing_Repot_FINAL3.pdf

The Age 2009, http://www.theage. com.au/national/social-networking- lures-teenagers-to-internet-20090708- ddew.html

Additional resources

http://tametheweb. com/2009/10/29/the-hyperlinked- library-adapted-for-anangu-people

Utilizing Emerging Tools to Extend the Classroom

Links from my Dominican “Technology Bytes” session tomorrow:

Finding My Tribe at EDUCAUSE LI

WordPress as a Learning Management System – Move Over, Blackboard

Slides: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/TechnologyBytesSessionStephens.pdf

Links from ALA Techsource Post:

Born Digital: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/BornDigital/196238
ELI2010 Presentations: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/Browse/ELI2010/37186
Gardener Campbell’s Blog: http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/
Google Moderator: http://moderator.appspot.com/
Michael’s Hyperlinked Campus:http://www.educause.edu/Resources/CreativeCollaborationandImmers/196260
Twitter Symbiosis: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/TwitterSymbiosisALibrarianaHas/196234

WordPress as a Learning Management System – Move Over, Blackboard

Don’t miss this interview with the Kyle Jones all about the WordPressMU/BuddyPress sites he’s developing for my classes at

http://wpmu.org/wordpress-as-a-learning-management-system-move-over-blackboard/

Q: What are the pros and cons of using BuddyPress in an educational / classroom environment?

A: No other LMS that I’m aware provides such a human touch on learning. We really see the students personalities show in BuddyPress – they open up to each other, they open up to the world. We get to read their academic reflections on their blogs and are provided insights into their thought process on their wire posts. If you’re an instructor and you’re looking to create a personable and personal learning space BuddyPress is the way to go.

If you’re an instructor that prefers the lectern and strict office hours don’t come near BuddyPress with a 20 foot pole. There’s a real onus on the instructor to monitor the communication streams not for behavior but to keep in touch with what’s going on in their online classroom and to be involved in a very dynamic conversation. In just over a few weeks of class there’s been over 200 different types of posts on the LIS 768BuddyPress-powered course site.

But this the state of 21st century learning with online communication technologies and the always-on classroom. There’s a higher level of responsibility placed on the instructor to stay tuned into the collaborative online experience that organically develops.