Week #14: The finale

So this is it, the last week! Looking back, I’m amazed at all that this class has done: we’ve created our own screencasts, we’ve hosted one-shot workshops, and we hosted our own webinars as well. That’s really something to be proud of, my fellow 643-ers! All of those activities will prove useful in our future careers, whatever they may be, I’m sure. It was nice working with you all.

But now what we’re all here for, the readings:

“When Teachers Drive Their Learning” by Semadini discusses a program that his school uses, called Fusion, that encourages professional development by allowing teachers to pick what they’d like to improve on, and through study groups and mentorships, the goal overall is to improve their teaching skills. As I was reading this, a thought struck me: at my high school, we had (and they still have) Late Starts. All I knew about them was that I got to come in at 9:45 instead of 7:45 one Wednesday a month, and that was amazing. Now that I think back on it, though, in the fuzzy recesses of my mind, I think the reasoning for that was for teacher professional development. Interesting. Leave it to me to never question 2 more hours of sleep, though. At any rate, the article was interesting because it seems to me that this sort of program relies on the motivation teachers have to continue to improve, which I think is kind of amazing. The Fusion program is clearly a lot of work: the teacher picks their topics they’d like to improve on. Then, they’re assigned to a group of teachers that are also working to improve in that same area, and they’re given reading assignments to complete before they meet as a group several times to discuss their findings. After that, they observe a peer (a master teacher in that area) and then they themselves will  be observed as well. When it’s all done, the teacher submits evidence of improvement, and they get a stipend ranging from $50 to $500. Like the article stated, that’s a lot of work for $50, so it’s obvious that the teachers are really looking to improve. I think a program like Fusion is a really fantastic idea; it allows for teachers to continue their professional development without having to go elsewhere. It also encourages mentorship and collaboration, both of which are great in the teaching environment. Since the program also offers a lot of choices, it means the teachers can really work on what they want to, instead of being forced to work on a particular subject. It also allows teachers, who may be somewhat inexperienced in teaching overall, to become a “master teacher” in a particular area; that way, all teachers feel valued and included. After reading, I’m curious to know how unique a program like Fusion is.

“Planning an Online Professional Development Module” by Fontichiaro talks about creating professional development modules for a school district concerning technology. I really don’t have a lot of experience with modules in a professional sense (I’ve done them for school), but the way they were described in the article was really interesting. For six weeks, there were 17 “explorations” (like TeacherTube, Flickr, etc.) that teachers would experiment with and then reflect on their blog about how they could utilize it personally and professionally in the classroom. I think overall for me, the strength of this module idea was something Kristin brought up almost immediately: I learn best by experimenting with technology myself, not in a classroom. Granted, having some groundwork isn’t a bad idea, but the actual learning’s going to occur when I’m in a no-pressure setting and can just experiment with the tool. When I had to learn InDesign for yearbook, we had classes on it where we had to complete in-class assignments on the topic of the day. It really made me nervous, and while having the teacher there did have its advantages, I largely learned InDesign sitting in my bedroom, doing my own assignments. Also, like Kristin mentions, I really began to talk to my fellow students and we began to learn from one another, which is invaluable. That these modules can be reused from year to year is also a bonus. Continual professional development is really important, and these sort of modules are a no-pressure way to ensure continual professional development.

“The C’s of Our Sea Change” by Blowers and Reed discusses the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County’s (PLCMC) Learning 2.0, a similar “exploration”-based module program to Kristin’s that is based on four core competencies that the library had developed. Library workers were asked to use a certain Web 2.0 site and then blog about their experiences (anonymously, if they so chose). I really like that this article was based on change; libraries, and technology, are constantly changing, and so we have to create ways to keep up with those changes. And the authors are right; librarians need to know how to troubleshoot computer hardware, for example, or help a patron with Flickr because there’s just not the time or the resources to call in special help for things like that. As such, then, the trainers developed the core competencies through their program Learning 2.0, because that approach taught the lifelong skills needed to tackle new technology instead of the new technology itself (because let’s face it: in a year, it may be obsolete or completely changed). Like with Kristin’s program and Fusion, Learning 2.0 depends a lot on motivation; the author say it best when they state: “Libraries are full of high achievers.” (I think the LIS group here proves that as well!) When you have people that are continually willing to professionally develop, it’s important that programs like the modules, Fusion, or Learning 2.0 are available so that they can do so.

I think this week’s topic was planned because we’re at the end of our road in this class. It’s up to us now to continually develop while at SI, but also once we’re out of here and working as well. Hopefully, we’ll work in environments that have programs like these, or we’ll be in positions where we can plan programs like these if there isn’t!


Reflections on class #13: webinar wrap-up!

Wow, what a week we had! We all hosted (as a group of 3, or in my case, 2) a webinar on either copyright issues or on a underrepresented/underserved group in libraries. My partner, Kirsten, and I chose to do our presentation on the LGBT*Q community and some methods as to how best serve that group in a library setting.

Basically, I was terrified before, terrified during, and kind of terrified after. It was a weird experience for me. As much as talking in front of people makes me nervous, not being able to see my audience and gauge them ended up being really difficult. I guess I never really realized how much I count on nonverbal cues from my audience before!

From the surveys we collected back, it seems like people really liked our topic and found it useful. I know one thing I have to work on is pacing; I’m a fast talker, anyway, and when I have a script, that exacerbates the problem. I also stumbled a few times saying the LGBT*Q acronym three or four times in one sentence. We also had an audio issue where I accidentally pushed the Talk button before we were ready, so you could hear a few runaway words, but I think overall, our audio worked better than we expected. Although I wish I was one of those people who could go off-script and be okay, I’m not, and so even though it sounded like I was reading from a script, I think that was still the best decision. I have a tendency to get caught up in my words, and even having bullet points might have caused me to mess up what I was saying.

Just like with every other activity in this class, even though I’ve been terrified before them, I’m really glad I did it. Not only can I put it on a resume, but I think with something like webinars, the first one is always the hardest, and we’ve got that one done!

We also attended three other webinars, and all of those were great. I went to one on welcoming millenials into the library, on intergenerational families (how to welcome grandfamilies into the library) and how best to serve the homeless/poverty-stricken in the library. All of them were incredibly useful and I was really proud of my classmates. I know a lot of us were really nervous, but we did it!

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about webinars, to be honest. I like that I can attend webinars even if I’m halfway across the country, but there’s just something about them I can’t quite put my finger on that makes me not 100% sold on them. I’m sure that’ll change, because the library world loves them!

Reflections on class #12

I wasn’t able to attend class last week, but it sounds like it was quite the class! It seems like I missed quite the time with the introduction of Blackboard and the ability to draw on slides before Kristin had to take away privileges (full disclosure: I know I would have been one of them!). I’m definitely bummed about missing this class because I think it would have been incredibly useful to get some hands-on experience with Blackboard, but I’ll definitely be sure to get a good look at it so that I’m fully prepared for webinar time.

I’ll admit: I’m way more terrified of this webinar than I had been of the book club or the one-shot workshop. That’s probably because we’re being graded on our performance and not the reflection, which really makes me quite nervous. I’m excited about mine and Kirsten’s topic, for sure, but any time that I have to simultaneously use technology and speak in front of people usually ends up being quite the experience.  Despite all of the nerves, I know that this experience is extremely practical, because webinars are HUGE in the library world right now. I also feel like I can put this on my resume and it’s going to set me apart.

It seems like we also talked a little about our Twitter experiences, and that some people, like me, are a bit apathetic about it. I’ll be honest: I haven’t touched my Twitter since last week. It’s not that I hate it, but I have so little time right now, and if I do something other than homework, that activity has to really capture my attention, and so far, Twitter hasn’t done that. To be honest, Twitter (because I use it for professional reasons) feels a little like homework. I don’t mean that in a bad way, necessarily, but it’s just not the social networking site I go to for fun.

Reading other people’s posts, it’s obvious I’m not the only nervous one about the webinars. But we’ve got this, guys! Good luck to everyone and I can’t wait to see your webinars!


Reflections on class #11

During last week’s class, we spent a great deal of time discussing a recent local library controversy. The Ann Arbor District Library has been making the local news lately (check out one of the articles here) because of their concern that the city of Ann Arbor wants to build a park adjacent to the library. The library’s concern stems from the library’s problem with heroin and alcohol use in the library. The director and many others worry that the problems the library are already facing will simply travel outdoors to the park, possibly endangering park users. The director, Josie Parker, is concerned that many in Ann Arbor are just not paying attention to this problem, which is certainly a problem in the library, but also a larger reflection of the community’s problem at large. (She gave a really great interview, which can be found here.)

The discussions we had, in our blogging groups, were interesting because they brought up a lot of important issues surrounding the library’s place in the community. AADL spends an astounding $250,000 on security (for some libraries, that’s their entire budget), so it’s clear that the security of the people in the library is something that AADL takes very seriously. People of Ann Arbor seem shocked that these problems are occurring, but in reality, the problems are right in their own backyards. AADL has been handling the problem internally, but if the park is built, the problems AADL are experiencing will most likely just move there as well, and AADL can’t police that area, too.

I think one of the most interesting parts of the discussion involved one of the quotes the director gave in her article. She stated that while some think that the homeless population at the library causes the library a lot of its problems, in reality, most of the library’s problems come from those that are well-educated, well-fed, and well-housed, and their entitled and privileged attitudes. I thought it was a great point to bring up because the stereotype is that the homeless population is the root of the problems, and that’s simply not true.

Since we’ve been talking about the ALA Code of Ethics so much lately, we also discussed how to use the Code in relation to AADL’s problems. My opinion was that I love the Code of Ethics, but the director can’t stand up in a board meeting and say, “Well, according to the ALA Code of Ethics…” and expect that people will take that Code as seriously as librarians do. However, like someone else pointed out, the director and other librarians involved can certainly use the Code as a way to direct how they are personally going to handle it. Many of the statements in the Code do apply to this situation, and while Josie Parker can’t get up and say that in the board meeting, it’s possible she can consider the Code when attempting to make her decisions.

Talking about these problems are incredibly interesting, obviously, but also incredibly useful. Drugs and alcohol are a problem no matter a person’s socioeconomic status, and while bigger cities tend to have bigger problems, little tiny libraries will have their issues as well, and it’s good to be aware of those problems as well as take note as to how the problems are handled. I know that the library I worked at occasionally had problems like AADL’s (although certainly not nearly the scale they have) and I’m from a smallish town. These problems always shocked me, and I was always really careful in studying how the head librarian handled it, because I know that someday, I will have to as well.


Week 12: Twitter “travels” @exlibriskrista

It’s probably pretty obvious by my blog that I’m a verbose person. If I can say it in 30 words, I’ll somehow manage to take three times as many words to say it. It’s something I’ve always known about myself. So having to write something in 140 characters? That, my friends, has proven to be quite the challenge for me.

I’ve tried Twitter before, but I wasn’t really that into it. Part of it was the limit of characters, but another part was because previously, I was just talking about my life, which can only take me so far. Using it professionally never really occurred to me before, to be honest. Focusing on my future career interests and things to do with libraries/books, which I can talk about all day, definitely interests me more than my past Twitter endeavor.

I think one of the greatest things about Twitter is its amazing ability to disseminate information quickly and then enable people to band together and do something about that information, if they so choose. My first little Twitter “crusade” was the news that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget would cut the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services), which provides the primary source of funding to over 123,000 libraries (and thus privatizing libraries). The ability to tweet him my opinion and then encourage others to do the same is one of the amazing powers of Twitter. I’m not sure if I would have heard about the Rep. Paul Ryan situation as fast as I did without Twitter.

Another observation I had was that I don’t think Twitter is tremendously user friendly. Mollie was nice enough to tell me how to retweet and add something of my own, which entails copying and pasting that tweet into a new one and then adding RT and the person’s handle who you’re retweeting from. That just seems completely backwards to me. Also, I have yet to figure out the difference between RT and MT. (RT is retweeting, but MT? No idea.) I’m also not sure how to handle retweeting when you want to add something to someone else’s tweet, but theirs is a 140 characters already. Lastly, why random Twitter accounts are just following me is something that I will never get. I guess I’ll just have to get used to that part and Google the rest!

I’m not sure that Twitter will ever be the social forum for me. I enjoy tumblr most of all (and ultimately blogging) probably because I’m so verbose. Perhaps the limit of characters is something I’ll get used to, but for now, it just endlessly frustrates me. When I have something to say, I have something to say, and I hate being limited to 140 characters. However, I think that it’s important for librarians to always keep up with what’s going on in the profession/libraries all around, and Twitter is a great forum to do that. Social networking is obviously important in the library world;  we spent quite a bit of class time on library/librarian branding as proof. I don’t want to brand myself, obviously, but the fact that it’s so popular in the librarian world merits some of my attention. Maybe in two months, my somewhat apathetic opinion will change, because I’m really going to try to keep up with Twitter for professional reasons. Because let’s face it, who really cares what I had for breakfast this morning?