Ian Jukes, just sent me a link to a study that was published last year by Education|Evolving, a joint venture between the Center for Policy Studies and Hamline University in Minnesota. The report, Listening to Student Voices — on Technology (pdf), describes 15 findings, culled from various literature. The findings are mostly not surprising, but worth noting again:
- Computer and internet use is growing
- Students are sophisticated users
- Technology is important to students in education
- Technology is not an extra
- In-school access to technology is limited
- Home use dominates
- In-school use is not integrated
- Computers and the Internet are communications tools, first
- Metaphors describe how students use the Internet for school: The Internet as:virtual guidance counselor, virtual textbook and reference library, virtual tutor, study short-cut, study group, virtual locker, backpack, and notebook
- Technology has caused students to approach life differently; but adults act as though nothing has changed
- Students desire increased in-school access
- Students want to use technology to learn, and in a variety of ways
- Students want challenging, technologically-oriented instructional activities
- Students want adults to move beyond using the ‘Internet for Internet’s sake’
- Students want to learn the basics, too
My favorite? Technology has caused students to approach life differently; but adults act as though nothing has changed
Great stuff for planning library services and working with teens. If you don’t subscribe to David’s blog, you may want to add it to your aggregator for his unique insights into education, 2.0 and students.
From a librarian who wishes to remain anonymous:
Dear Michael, I heard you speak last May and I had to ask your opinion on something happening at our library. The other librarians want to write a Conduct Policy for the teens who come in after school: no skateboards or rollerblades, no games, one teen per computer, quiet behavior, etc. I want to speak up but I’m a new librarian and I’m scared they’ll all get mad at me. I think I know the answer but is this the way to pull teens in?
Just sign me Anonymous Next Gen Librarian
Oh ANGL! You do know the answer! Part of me wants to say: Run! Run Away! but I believe you can over time be a change agent at your library. In the Ten Rules for new Librarians, I wrote:
Listen to the seasoned librarians you encounter. They know things. Good things. Listen and they may inform your future decisions and planning. Learn from every conversation, meeting or water cooler chat. (And seasoned folk, listen to your new hires! You do the same: listen, learn and share… break down the generational divide present in some organizations…you’ll be happy you did!)
I would hope the librarians pondering these policies would read that paragraph and consider a discussion, that might include a brief, informal presentation of some resources that may be helpful:
For example, those “Born with the Chip” are multi-taskers:
NextGens multitask as a core behavior. The packed screen that looks unfocused to the average Boomer, who probably closes unused open windows, feels natural to NextGens. The ability to integrate seamlessly and navigate multiple applications, simultaneously combining their worlds in a single environment, is a key skill of this generation. This skill is not just about running several IM conversations at the same time. Add in listening to MP3s on a PC as well as surfing the web while adding content to homework projects and assignments. This is not bad. In a noisy world, it’s a great skill to be able to multitask and focus differentially. Indeed, as MS Windows and MS Office add more applications, it will become critical for libraries to access, acquire, and adapt easily information for this next generation’s decision-making and work environments.
IMPACT: NextGens expect that all information appliances—desktop, mobile telephones, and PDAs—will support multitasking. In contrast, many libraries have chosen not to take advantage of some of their PC capabilities by 1) installing them without sound cards or speakers; 2) preventing the use of IM or email; 3) precluding the ability to use web sites that require animation enablers like Java; or 4) limiting the ability to view streaming media or run applications like Real Media, Windows Media Player, or Quicktime. Some libraries are still using ancient versions of Netscape and MS Internet Explorer.
Create zones in your library. Gamers are technologically savvy and can take in multiple streams of information while they socialize. They multitask! They need a space with all kinds of simultaneous activities—music, television, video streaming, computers. They thrive on all of the commotion. The Boomer zone should be much quieter. They need technology and service but not the noise.
These are the spaces to plan for in your library, not a “Conduct Policy!”
American teenagers today are utilizing the interactive capabilities of the internet as they create and share their own media creations. Fully half of all teens and 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations.
Teens are often much more enthusiastic authors and readers of blogs than their adult counterparts. Teen bloggers, led by older girls, are a major part of this tech-savvy cohort. Teen bloggers are more fervent internet users than non-bloggers and have more experience with almost every online activity in the survey.
How could you ask young people, collaborative by nature, to use a computer solo?
I think what we need is a balance between understanding the needs and experience of young people, building spaces for all of your types of users, and finding ways to welcome them into the library. I am not saying we shouldn’t have some rules or that any behavior goes, but adding rules such as the ones you mention above may just send the kids far away from the library and they may never come back.
I wish you good luck!
Just a link for now:
Lots of cool stuff to explore and good ground for imagining what your library could do! Take a look.
Michael Sauers reports on a flickr find of yet another “not Library 2.0″ sign.
Excuse me, but… well., you know the drill. Turn em off now and how will they vote on the big library tax bill in ten years?
At SJCPL, I’ve helped a couple of young fellows actually SAVE THEIR WORK to their PSP!
But I believe that it is time that we stop hiding behind our immigrant status, and start acting like natives. We need to stop making excuses and start leading. We are teachers, after all. It’s our job to lead, not follow. Sure, we’ll never be able to keep up with our kids in lots of ways. They have the luxury of time and their brain cells are fresher. But it is our job to look into the future and then plan and lead the way for our children. You may say, “but who’s going to teach me to do that?” That’s an immigrant question. Natives teach themselves. They work with each other to grow their knowledge and skills. We’ve got to figure this out!
In class on Sunday, we were discussing what we liked about different library Web sites to pave the way for my students designing their own small library-related Web site. We happened upon Oak Park Public Library’s Teen Page, which featured “Battle of the Bands.” It was nice synchronicity because I had just shown them slides of “Rock the Shelves” at flickr. ( I love turning the students on to flickr and we’ll do more at our next weekend.)
Oak Park shares photos on their own page while “Rock the Shelves” was thrown into the great pool. I think both are viable, and should we go even farther? How effective would it be to put links to galleries like this on local teen spaces? Or what if OPPL had a teen blog to share the photos and get comments back from those that participated as well as teens that might not have been there.
What’s the best way to be found? The best way to share?
Here are some off the cuff tips for sharing images like this to promote the library, its services and its presence:
Use flickr for sure and Tag Tag Tag!
Explore the spaces folks are using. Some librarians are investigating myspace. Others are calling for the creation of teen-friendly, safe spaces in library space.
Look for the spots teens (or any of your users) are gathering online and see if you can establish a presence, share images or links.
Post pictures such as this in the library as well. Let your traffic see the cool stuff you are doing. Make teens feel welcome. (OMG, you say, what if they are loud or come on skateboards?? Puhlease!)
What else? What’s worked for you, dear readers?
We need to ask ourselves which of our policies really are not working for us and which one’s need to be made positive and friendly. Let’s make sure we don’t extend our authority control issues with information to authoritarian control foci with users. Not good.
Then let’s run our policies through a discussion with our teen advisors. Adventurous and visionary libraries know the value of this through experience.