Anythink’s Approach to Connected Learning at TechFest 2013 – A TTW Guest Post by Matthew Hamilton

Anythinkers get creative as they learn how to write and record a song.
Note from Michael: I caught mention of this event on Facebook from Stacie Ledden. I’ve been watching what Anythink has been doing for some time and the R-Squared conference only made me more interested in what’s happening at this most forward-thinking, innovative library. Stacie put me in touch with Matthew, who graciously agreed to write this guest post. Give a read and take a look at the photos Matthew provided for a glimpse at what is possible when you move from being an “experience library to a participatory library.” I’ll be sharing this post with students in my Hyperlinked Library class for sure. Thanks Matthew!

Anythink’s Approach to Connected Learning at TechFest 2013

On Monday, February 18, Anythink Libraries held our fourth annual “TechFest” staff development day. In the past, we’ve had some amazing experiences—petting zoos, fantastic keynotes, guest instructors, and presentations from Anythinkers all across the district. However, this year was also the launch of our “Studio” initiative, a culmination of our efforts toward evolution from an experience library to a participatory library. These efforts began with our participation in the IMLS Digital Learning Lab grant, inspired by YOUmedia Chicago and funded by the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur foundation.
Anythink’s goals for the grant were to:
  • Transform the district approach to teen technology programming by placing a greater emphasis on creativity
  • Build the capacity of our teen and technology guides to support digital media tools
  • Open a pilot lab at Anythink Wright Farms
  • Develop a roadmap to opening similar creative spaces in all of our libraries
To this end, inspired by the spirit of the R2 conference— the TechFest team (Logan Macdonald, Samantha Meisinger, Leilani Schrichten, and myself) decided to take a risk and approach the day  in a completely new way. We decided to take what we’ve learned about Connected Learning and turn the day into a collaborative, interest-driven learning experience. We recruited 12 “mentors” for different content areas: including video, web design, animation, podcasting, 3D printing, and audio recording.Each group of ten got to “Hang Out, Mess Around, and Geek Out” with their mentor providing just in time instruction to help them develop an end product for a showcase at the end of the day. Staff had the opportunity to feel comfortable exploring their creativity, and learning together.
When we came up with this idea, we weren’t sure how it would go over. We worried that perhaps staff would expect a more traditional day, but we found that we had better attendance than we’ve had for our other TechFests. There’s already been talk of making this a model for future training days.
Walking away from TechFest, many Anythinkers find new relevance in supporting community creativity—and greater confidence with the technology that helps make it possible. By emphasizing collaboration and staff interests, rather than training on tools, we feel it overcame potential anxiety associated with learning a new technology and situated the learning in people’s lives.


TechFest 2013: Anythinkers Got Creative In-World and IRL with Minecraft


TechFest 2013: Anythinkers Explore the Promise (and Perils) of 3D Design with Tinkercard and the Makerbot Replicator


TechFest 2013: Anythinkers Get Creative with the Green Screen
AvatarBW 069DC84B-F3B9-4DD7-A4B9-19921E359C7B[4]Matt Hamilton is part hardware geek, part software geek. He brings a punk rock “Do It Yourself” ethos to librarianship, often turning tradition on its head. Matt is the IT Director for the Anythink Library System in Colorado and wasnamed one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for 2010. He received his MLS from Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management and has since presented around the country on innovative services, staff development, and emerging technologies.