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Planning a Virtual Reality Program for a Middle School

At the risk of getting in over my head with this assignment, I’ve chosen what I think is truly an emerging technology, but one that has great potential in education, and that is the development of a plan for incorporating virtual reality into the K-12 classroom.  I came across the concept in one of the articles in Module 7 of this course,  9 Ed Tech trends to Watch in 2016 which led me to the discovery of Google Cardboard, an extremely affordable VR headset that operates with a smartphone with which you can download various apps for viewing virtual environments.  The technology is still very new and developing, but is already being used in classrooms with more and more lesson plans and content being created.  I think this technology has enormous potential for increasing student engagement in the curriculum by establishing a connection between students and the material through immersive experiences that place students in the context of what they are learning.  

While there are different types of virtual reality technologies, some more immersive than others, the specific technology that this plan is geared to is the use of Google Cardboard headsets and the free Expeditions app that includes content that teachers can use to lead their classes on virtual field trips to supplement their lessons and learning objectives.  This is a plan to incorporate 1-2 full classroom sets of Google Cardboard within a middle school.  The sets would be available for teachers trained in its use, using lesson plans developed specifically for VR technology.  When not in use in classrooms, the sets would be available for use in the library/learning commons/makerspace setting of the school by individual or small groups of students and guided by the librarian.

And to go back to one of the first readings of the course, Brian Mathews, Think Like a Startup,  this is an attempt to be innovative, disruptive, and transformative.  This is not a plan that is meant to be carried out exactly as outlined.  There will need to be changes, it will not be perfect, but it is a path to get started.  Here we go.

Goals and Objectives

This plan seeks to create a program for one middle school to integrate virtual reality technology into the curriculum with the use of Google Cardboard and its associated Expeditions content.  As stated above, the main goal for this technology would be to increase student engagement in the classroom.  This buy-in from students would potentially have many other beneficial effects on their academic success including increases in motivation, an expanded worldview, increased participation, improved grades and test scores, and a more empathetic attitude.

 Specific goals and objectives for lessons would be created by a collaboration of teachers, and would vary by subject and lesson.  Goals and objectives could also be developed with participation from students themselves within the library environment-school library VR programs could be planned cooperatively by students and library staff based on student-driven interest.  Not only would the technology itself be participatory, but the program development would be as well, which would advance the hyperlinked library model as described in numerous course readings including Stephens’ The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate.

 

The Middle School Community

The information community that this plan seeks to directly target is that of general education middle school students of all subject areas.  The goal of the program is to engage all students in the material being taught, regardless of the subject matter, and inclusive of all students.  There could potentially be specific lesson plans or virtual environments for particular segments of the middle school population, such as students with special needs, however, this plan is meant for the student population of a middle school as a whole.  Secondarily, the plan also seeks to engage teachers with this new technology, as teacher investment in the technology is integral to the success of the program.  Teachers will be the ones to lead students in the use of the technology, and if the teachers are not willing to adopt or be invested in the technology, then it will be of no use to students.  On the same level, administrators will also need to be on board in order to get approval and support for funding and implementation.  This is similar to the discussion on the necessity of library staff buy-in as described in our course text, Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Service.

Action Brief Statement

Convince middle school students and teachers that by participating in lessons that utilize VR technology they will experience an increase in student engagement with the curriculum which will improve achievement of educational outcomes and learning objectives because they will then be better prepared to enter the 21st century as successful and productive citizens.

Evidence and Resources 

This is still a very recent development, so there is not much concrete evidence/research or scholarly articles yet to support its wholesale adoption into all curriculums.  However, there is evidence that warrants exploration of this technology within the curriculum on a supplemental basis.  And like all technology, there will be further developments, new devices, better and more affordable options as the technology progresses.  This should not be undertaken in a moment of “technolust,” but neither should it be avoided out of “technophobia” (Stephens, 2008). Like any educational technology, it is not merely the technology itself that provides meaning and value, it is the ability of the technology to enhance the lesson.  One must be careful not to rely solely on technology itself as the article in Module 7 on the L.A. School District’s failed implementation of Ipads here.  Technology does not replace quality teaching, but can be used to augment the educational experience.  With that said, there are real world examples of the value of this technology within an educational context.  

According to an article in the School Library Journal in December of 2016, “ Of 349 K–12 schools answering a June 2016 survey by Extreme Networks, more than half reported that they are actively investigating VR for classroom use.”  While many schools are concerned about the current lack of educational VR content, the development of that content is currently underway.  There are estimates that the market for VR technology will continue to increase, with some estimates claiming that could be as much as $200 billion dollars by 2020 (Reede & Bailiff, 2016).  Currently, Google Expeditions offers over 200 trips, and has a partnership with educational content creators such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson.  Doing just a Google search on lesson plans for Google Cardboard brings up a multitude of sites and blogs with specific lesson plans that have been created and shared by teachers already using the technology in their classrooms. Virtual learning environments and simulations have been used with success in the areas of higher education, medicine, military, and scientific endeavors and has been shown to increase engagement, motivation and the development of specific skills (Reede & Baillif, 2016).  

I’ve listed some links to articles below for more information on VR and its use. Where I think the real potential with VR within the K-12 environment is, is in its potential to engage students with the use of story and empathy.  One of the books on the suggested reading for this course is Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, which lays out the skills and concepts that will be essential for success in the future, and two of these skills are that of story and empathy.  Using VR to take virtual field trips makes use of the story concept first by teaching students concepts through the use of story, as well as allowing students to tell their own stories of what they have gained and experienced with this technology.  I also think the empathy that can be invoked with this technology could be very powerful in motivating students.  To quote one article, “Perhaps the most utopian application of this technology will be seen in terms of bridging cultures and fostering understanding among young students, as it will soon be possible for a third-grade class in the U.S. to participate in a virtual trip with a third-grade class in India or Mexico” (Reede & Bailiff, 2016).  Students can “experience” the contexts of others, making learning more real and creating a connection.  I came across an article here that describes one Makerspace Coordinator’s philosophy on using empathy as a starting point for students to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  There are many other examples of the use of VR to engage students with story and empathy.

Google Expeditions
EdSim Challenge
How Virtual Reality is Changing Education
How Virtual Reality Could Change the Way Students Experience Education
How our school is using Virtual Reality to prepare pupils for a future dominated by technology
Virtual Reality as the New Field Trip: The Importance of Place in Learning
When Virtual Reality Meets Education

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy 

Mission

The program would align with the mission of the school/district, as well as the mission statement of the library/learning commons of the school, which every library should have according to Casey & Savastinuk in Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.  The importance of aligning any technology or service to the library’s mission is also discussed in Casey and Stephens’ post here.

Policies and Guidelines  

Policies and guidelines can be guided by other districts that are currently and successfully utilizing the technology.  Speaking directly with staff who have used the technology, and obtaining advice on what should be included would be invaluable in developing policies for use.

In the development of lesson plans that utilize the technology, the program should align with any curriculum standards, including State standards and the Common Core.  Lesson plans should demonstrate specific learning objectives that align with these standards.  These lesson plans will be developed collaboratively with teachers, instructional technology facilitators, and teacher librarians.  Policies regarding any accessibility issues that may arise should be developed with input from the Special Education Department of the district.

Safety guidelines should be in place based on the recommendations of the technology manufacturers.  For example, there are guidelines in place for the safe usage of VR headsets among young people, including the maximum time spent using headsets, and making sure students are given frequent breaks.  There should also be parental consent required for use, specifying to parents how this technology is to be used, and how it aligns with educational standards.  Damage policies will need to be developed with input from administration and the IT department.

Funding 

Several options exist for funding of this project.  The Google Cardboard sets themselves are relatively inexpensive, with various models on the market between $5-$15 each.  As the initial plan would only require one or two class sets, the capital needed for that component could easily come out of the school budget.  Also needed would be a concurrent amount of smartphones for use with each headset and a teacher tablet per classroom set.  Possible funds for these devices could come from donations-either of money or smartphones themselves from the community, or crowd-sourcing venues such as donorschoose.org.  Many schools have parent groups that distribute funds for special programs, and there are also grants to apply for.  Fundraising is another option.

Once the initial purchase is made, there should be financial contingencies in place for maintenance of the technology in the event of replacement needs due to damage or breakdown.

Action Steps & Timeline

The initial planning stages of the project would take place during the school year with everything ready to go for the beginning of the next school year.  I don’t anticipate a very lengthy process once the equipment is received, but there would be sufficient time needed to secure funding for the devices.  Total time for the project from securing funds and approval to actual use in a classroom lesson plan with students is projected to be 1 year.  Evaluation of the program would take place during the school year following roll out,  with any changes or expansion of the program taking place the next school year.

Approximate Timeline:

Submit program request to Principal for approval: 1-2 weeks

  1. There are several possibilities/alternatives at this step.  The Principal could approve the project as submitted, authorizing funds from the school budget for purchase of equipment, which would greatly speed up the timeline.  This would be the ideal situation, but not likely in most school districts.   In this scenario, the fund-raising step of the timeline could be bypassed and the project could move directly to the prototype phase.
  2. The project as submitted could be rejected by the Principal.  In this scenario, the alternative plan would be to initiate the prototype step using only funds within the existing library budget, as well as any donations, fund-raising, or parent group funding possible.  Evaluation of the technology would be undertaken, gathering evidence to support further expansion.  Once the technology is observed and experienced by students, staff, and administration and its potential value demonstrated, the original project plan would be resubmitted to administration for approval.  This would set the timeline back by another year.
  3. The anticipated scenario would be approval from the Principal for the project, but with partial or no funding from the existing school budget.  At this point, the process would move to forward with the following timeline.

Securing Funds and Initiating Prototype Program: 6 months

Funds would be secured as outlined in the Funding section of this plan already discussed above and would take approximately 6 months.

The prototype/pilot project would occur simultaneously with the fundraising efforts and is a key part of the entire process, involving user input to make any changes as described in Stephens’ Taming the Web post, Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world (2008).  The prototype project would include the purchase of 5-10 Google Cardboard headsets for use within the library/learning commons with small groups of students, as well as for staff experimentation.  The headsets would be used by students within the library using their own devices, under the direction of the teacher librarian/media specialist.  During this prototype period, the librarian would master the use of the technology in order to train teachers in its use once a complete set of devices has been received.  Resources for lesson plans would be gathered, with the creation of specific lesson plans by the librarian with input and collaboration from teachers.  Users (both students and teachers) could help identify any issues or bugs with the technology that could be addressed during this period to facilitate a smooth start with classroom use.  

Any IT issues would be worked out by the district IT department, but if significant issues occur, the timeline for completion of the project could be set back at this point, depending on the issue and ability of the IT department to address the issues in a timely manner.  There could be other tech issues that take priority within the district.

Purchase of 1-2 full classroom VR sets: 1 month

After securing funding, 1-2 full classroom sets of 35 Google Cardboard headsets with smartphones and one teacher tablet per set would be purchased.  The librarian/media specialist would take responsibility for set up of devices.

Development of lesson plans for demonstration: 1 month

The librarian/media specialist would have developed 3 specific lesson plans within different subject areas for demonstration to teachers and administration during the prototype period.  Ideally, this would occur with teacher input and collaboration.  It is assumed that the librarian is familiar with the curriculum.

Promotion/Staff Development and Recruitment: 1 month

The promotion and marketing of the program to teachers is detailed below.  Once this has taken place, a core of teachers who are interested in using the technology would move to the training step.

Staff Training: 1-2 months initially

Interested staff would be trained with the already completed lesson plans with practice sessions consisting of staff.  The first use within the classroom setting would be facilitated by the instructional technologist/librarian along with the teacher.   Further content development would be ongoing with collaboration between teachers and instructional technologists/librarians.  A shared collaboration space such as a blog or wiki would be used with continued demonstrations and training of other staff.

Staffing 

This new technology will not require any staffing additions to the school.  The technology will be used by current classroom teachers primarily, as well as by existing librarian/ instructional technology facilitators during school hours.  As far as set up and delivery to classrooms for scheduled use of the devices, student aides could be trained in basic care and maintenance under the supervision of the school librarian/media specialist.

Training 

Initially, there would be one person responsible for training staff in the use of the technology-this would be the school or district technology leader, instructional technologist, or teacher librarian/media specialist.  This person would develop the training program, including the creation of example lesson plans for teacher demonstration and use.  Once the technology and lesson plan resources are in place, the training of teachers would begin following promotion of the program.

Training would start with voluntary teachers-those willing to undergo training as a pilot group who are interested in using the technology in their classrooms.  This would ideally be a mix of subject areas to compare across disciplines. Training would take place during Edcamps, times set aside during professional development days and during after school prep periods for the entire group of trainees.  One on one training would take place during individual teacher’s prep periods.   

Once teachers are initially trained, the first actual lesson plan with students would be conducted by the teacher with guidance from the teacher librarian/ Instructional Technologist.  Teachers then would collaborate to develop further lesson plans and resources that would be shared.

Promotion & Marketing

Promotion within the school: During the prototype phase of the project, administrators and teachers would be invited into the library to watch a librarian-led guided tour with a small group of students.  Teachers would also be invited on a librarian-led guided tour to try the technology themselves.  This promotion would be done within the school via word of mouth.  The Instructional Technologist or librarian would also hold “Edcamps” on use of the technology during professional development days.  These Edcamps would introduce the technology to interested teachers, demonstrating how the technology can be used to supplement lesson plans and learning objectives.  Once teachers have been trained and have implemented the technology, interested teachers would be invited into those classrooms to experience the technology in action and could talk with students following the lesson about what they learned.  Following a period of evaluation, the efficacy of the lessons utilizing the technology would be shared during staff meetings, with further Edcamps and training opportunities for more teachers.

Promotion outside of the school:  During conference periods, the technology could be available for parents to experience within the library or a classroom specifically set aside for demonstration.  

Video of the use of the technology within classrooms, as well as small demonstrations could be given by the Instructional Technologist to other schools within the district.  These videos, as well as success stories, could be published on the school district website.  Local news outlets could showcase the technology through articles and newscasts.

Evaluation

Evaluation of the program would be constant and ongoing, with assessment of the effectiveness of the program divided into two types.

Statistical Data:

This data includes concrete, objective statistics including usage statistics and student performance statistics:

How often is the technology being used?  If it not being used, determine the reasons: is it a technology issue or a content issue?

Does the technology increase student engagement, motivation, and achievement?  This can be measured by increased participation in class, increased completion of assignments and less missing work, a decrease in the occurrence of classroom management issues, increased scores on assignments and tests.  

The second form of assessment is far more telling and valuable, and consists of the stories that would come from students and teachers themselves in their use of the technology.  Students could share how the technology allowed them to feel a part of the context of the material, how it caused a change in attitude, an emotional response, an a-ha! moment, the ability to see through someone else’s eyes, feelings of joy and excitement during a school history lesson!  How often does one hear those stories?

Students should also be a part of the evaluation process, with student feedback solicited after using the technology-what worked or didn’t work for them, and what programs or lessons they would like to experience.  Including students in the planning and evaluation processes is very empowering and effective, as evidenced by our course readings including the article about the San Franciso Public Library’s teen digital media space here.

References

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.

Casey, M., &  Stephens, M. (2008). Measuring progress.

Herold, B. (2015). L.A. iPad program an ongoing mess, evaluators find.

Ishizuka, K. (2016). Top Ten Tech 2016.

Kelly, R. (2016). 9 Ed Tech trends to Watch in 2016

Levitt, M. (2017). Magic of the Everyday: Southern CA Educators Share 10 Best Teaching, Technology Practices.

Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup.

Pink, D. (2005). A Whole New Mind.

Reede, E. & Bailiff, L. (2016). When Virtual Reality Meets Education.

Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world.

Stephens, M. (2010). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate.

YouMedia, (2015). In San Francisco, Teens Design a Living Room for High-Tech Learning at the Public Library

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Hyperlinked School Libraries

I chose hyperlinked school libraries for my adventure, mostly because I currently work as a “librarian” at a middle school.  I use “librarian” because technically I am a Library Assistant-there are no certified librarians in the school district other than one at the high school.  And sadly, that is all too common now, which is why I don’t consider school librarianship a viable career path for me.  At least where I live, credentialed librarian positions are practically nonexistent.  I don’t know if this will be a permanent trend, or if school libraries will be able to make a comeback.  I hope so, as the possibilities for hyperlinked libraries within the school environment could be amazing.  Here are the top trends in school libraries that I’ve come across in my explorations:

Information/Digital Literacy

The potential impact for school librarians in this area is more relevant and important than ever before.  The type and amount of information available today can be overwhelming, even for adults (hello, fake news).  While there is an assumption that young people are more digitally literate and savvy than previous generations, that is a stereotype that is not supported by research.  Students need instruction, not only in traditional information and digital literacy skills, but in all areas of digital citizenship-what Yuhyun Park calls “digital intelligence” that is illustrated in the graphic below.

In the crunch of trying to get through the curriculum, teachers often don’t take the time to specifically teach these skills.  Technology is obviously not going away, and these are real life skills that students need to practice in order to be successful citizens.  School librarians can lead this instruction.

Instructional Technology/Technology Instruction

These are two sides of the same coin.  School librarians are also acting as Instructional Technology Facilitators-instructing staff in how to integrate technology into the curriculum as well as directly teaching students and staff how to use technology.  There’s a big push for technology in the curriculum, with many schools going to a 1:1 model, but without a comprehensive plan for how this technology will be used, as evidenced by the reading in Module 7 about the L.A. school district’s lack of planning for their iPad program here. Simply putting technological devices into students’ hands is not an effective use of that technology.   We don’t just give students textbooks and expect them to magically learn the material, and the use of technology is no different. School librarians can contribute to the creation of a strategic plan for the incorporation of technology into the curriculum.

Collaboration

Libraries (and nations) that adopt an isolationist policy are doomed to fail.  Collaboration with teachers is an absolute necessity.  School libraries should support and enrich lessons and curriculum.  Collaboration should also occur with partners in the community, including the public library, as well as between school libraries in the district.  School libraries can foster an environment of collaboration throughout the school, between staff and students by providing spaces for people to work together, either digitally via a blog or wiki, or physically within a shared learning space.

Makerspaces/Learning Commons/Innovation Labs

School libraries that are fortunate enough to have funding and support are transforming their spaces into interactive, hands on environments where students and teachers have the opportunity to create, share, and communicate, often in a self-directed manner.  Learning and teaching takes place in the open, rather than in isolated classrooms, and creativity and innovation are encouraged and cultivated.  Much of the publicity about makerspaces tends to focus on the technological aspect, but makerspaces don’t have to be only about technology.  Mostly, they are about allowing students the freedom to pursue their interests which leads me to another trend:

Exploration/Play

This one is my favorite.  In the TedTalk by Ken Robinson, “Bring on the learning revolution,” Ken talks about how most people just try to get by with their jobs and wait for the weekend, rather than actually enjoying what they do.  The same thing is happening in schools.  We try to push students through the same standardized curriculum, sucking the joy out of learning.  School libraries are in the unique position of being able to allow students to explore their own interests and talents and find what they are passionate about.  I came across a WeCreate Center at Shattuck-St Mary’s school in MN that had an awesome philosophy about focusing play into purpose.  By letting students explore and play, they are discovering their individual passions, which can then be cultivated and focused into purposeful play, which could then become a fulfilling, lifelong purpose in that student’s life and career.

Interestingly, the one area that does not come up when exploring the 21st century school library is that of reading.  I do think that promoting literacy is still an essential service of the school library, just not the only service.  I think school libraries need to embrace new services and technologies, but can also use these innovative techniques to encourage a love of reading.  Honestly, no matter how technological our society becomes, you still need a certain amount of literacy skills to be successful.  Like technology, literacy is also here to stay. It may not be as glamorous as a makerspace with a 3D printer, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

 

References

Herold, B. (2015). L.A. iPad program an ongoing mess, evaluators find.

Park, Y. (2016). 8 digital skills we must teach our children.

Robinson, K. (2010). Bring on the learning revolution!

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Reflection Post#2: Participatory Service and Transparency

Many of the issues discussed in this module really resonated with me, and unfortunately because I’ve mostly experienced examples of how libraries or other organizations are not practicing either participatory service or transparency.

Many libraries do not attempt to elicit participation from their users, and those that claim to do so often only do so in a passive manner-such as having a library blog or Facebook page where events or information is posted by the library and there is no two way communication.  Or asking users to complete surveys about library services.  This type of participation is not going to be enough to really transform how libraries interact and impact the lives of those in their communities; partly because this level of participation only includes those already using the library and does nothing to pull in any other potential users.  Real participation involves all community members, not just the library users, creating services in cooperation with the library as well as with each other.   I love the example of the NYPL’s creation of an open access site for users to utilize the warping technology feature with freely provided digital maps.  Who knows what types of discoveries may occur because of this user-generated content?  I am amazed that the library had the capability and/or funds to create this kind of technology.  Obviously, not all libraries can develop these kinds of technology, or libraries like the Hunt Library, but participation does not always have to include cutting edge technology.  Libraries can lend other items like tools, art, cake pans, etc.-it all depends on the needs of the community served.

Transparency goes hand in hand with participatory service.  You can’t expect people to be able to effectively participate in something that is not fully open to them.  In the reading “Going to the Field”, Casey and Stephens advocate for library employees who work behind the scenes to get out and experience the face to face interaction with the public to be able to make fully informed and meaningful policies.  Library staff should be cross trained, feedback from all staff should be elicited, conversations between administration and staff should be open.  At one library I worked at, administration would ask for staff input, but then just make decisions that didn’t seem to take that input into account.  Or maybe the input was considered but there was no communication from administration on why the policies they decided on were chosen.  Staff just had to guess, and felt they weren’t being listened to, and as a result, did not agree with the decisions made.  This creates a lot of negative energy in the workplace, whereas open communication could dispel that negativity.  The same thing probably is felt by the public when asked for input through surveys.   Real participatory service requires a lot more open communication.  Those who make the decisions need to be more open about what they are considering and why, and can’t be afraid to face criticism or disagreement about their decisions.

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Context Book Reflection: BiblioTech by John Palfrey

  In John Palfrey’s book, Biblio Tech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, Palfrey discusses both the reasons why libraries are and will always be needed in the digital age, as well as ways libraries need to adapt to the changes in order to fulfill their role in society.

Palfrey’s main argument for why libraries are still important and necessary institutions is grounded in the original philosophy for the creation of the public library system- that information should be made freely and equally available to all in a democratic society.  That is a core value of librarianship that should not change, although the ways in which we operate to uphold that value must constantly be changing.  Palfrey discusses the increasingly digital landscape of information, and the seemingly easier ways to access it, but that ease of access is still greatly uneven in our society.

For example, internet access is still very unequal.  Students from lower socioeconomic households tend to have unreliable and slower access than their more affluent peers, while schools are increasingly requiring internet connectivity for assignments.  Libraries are an important third space for these students to access reliable, fast internet.  But because of budget issues, library hours are decreasing, and students often seek out places like McDonald’s and Starbucks that provide free wifi with longer hours of availability.  Palfrey points out that libraries are one of the few remaining public spaces in our lives that do not have a commercial or private agenda or a profit motive.  Libraries and librarians are trusted sources of information because they are unbiased, and because of the dedication to free and equal access to information for all.  In order to remain a truly democratic society, libraries must exist to provide this service.

But Palfrey recognizes that libraries, as they are now, will not be successful in this goal if they do not change and adapt.  One of the concepts Palfrey discusses that I found to be very much in line with the idea of a hyperlinked library, is that of libraries as platforms.  Palfrey encourages the collaboration and cooperation among libraries to create one large network as a platform for users to connect with information, ideas, and others.  What he calls a network seems very similar to a hyperlinked library.  Right now, although there is an increasing amount of collaboration, libraries tend to see themselves as individual insititutions-organized along the lines of silos of information with each library maintaining its own collections.  Palfrey envisions a national, or even international, network of both physical and digital materials that are openly and freely available to all.  Redundancies in materials can be eliminated, freeing up space and resources for libraries to provide better services that reflect the needs of their individual communities.

As platforms, libraries could turn their focus to serving people, focusing on user needs rather than a materials focus.  This focus on users will result in libraries offering different services based on the needs of their communities, and communities themselves can best determine what their information needs are.  As Palfrey puts it on page 123, “there is no one size fits all model for the community library”.

Libraries need to listen to their communities, engaging users in the experience of learning and not just acting as providers of information.  Palfrey is describing exactly the participatory service model of Library 2.0 and the Hyperlinked Library described in our various course readings. 

The concept of library as a platform was also used in one of our course readings to explore, the report of MIT on the future of it’s libraries found here.

As Palfrey is one of the founders of the Digital Public Library of America, he also emphasizes the need for mass digitization of materials as well as more funding into creating methods for the long term preservation of digital materials.  He argues that this is where libraries need to surpass the corporate realm, although the lack of funding would make this extremely difficult.  But if private companies are in control of how digital content is stored and accessed, our democratic principles are put at risk.

References

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2016). Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of Libraries: Preliminary Report.

Palfrey, J. (2015). BiblioTech: Why libraries matter more than ever in the age of Google.

 

 

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Foundational Ramblings

I admit, I have a hard time imagining the future of libraries.  It’s not that I think libraries will become obsolete, or that change isn’t needed, I am just overwhelmed by the possibilities of directions that libraries can take and what libraries should aspire to become.  

Previous to the innovations in technology that have created this challenge, libraries were points of access to information for users.  And usually, this was in the form of books, as is the still prevailing brand of libraries that endures among the public perception.  But people have access now, and in abundance, and that’s not going to change.  To some extent, there will always be a segment of the population that does need access, and that is important to provide, but it can’t be the only, or even the main value of libraries to their communities.  So if the main purpose of libraries is not to provide access to information, what is the purpose?

Libraries need to go beyond basic access to information and technology; we need to evolve into an entity that enables people to do something with information.  And what that something is is entirely up to the user-which creates an infinite number of possibilities.  How do libraries, or any entity for that matter, cater to infinity?  This is where my brain goes into a tailspin.

But I don’t feel the situation is hopeless, on the contrary, I am super excited about the future as I see this challenge as an opportunity for libraries to become what they were always destined to be: centers of community.  

A hyperlinked library(as I see it) holds at its core the idea that libraries are there to make connections: not just to provide access to information, but to provide connections that allow people to make use of information and each other.  How this is done will need to be unique to each individual library and community; and as communities change, the libraries that serve them will need to follow suit.  While I have no idea as of yet what specifically libraries need to do to make this happen, I do believe that the model of a hyperlinked library, a library in which the users are participating in the creation of changes, is necessary.  

And although libraries aren’t businesses, in the sense that they’re not trying to make a profit, I think libraries need to start acting more like businesses.  This is where I found the Library 2.0 guide very helpful.  Conducting market research, tailoring to user needs and wants, focusing on customer service, promoting their products-these are all things libraries need to be doing and aren’t doing very effectively, if at all.  For example, consider OPACs.  Sure, they’re effective at telling people what is in a library’s collection and where to find it.  But is that all it should do?  When people aren’t sure what book they would like and are browsing, the library catalogue is basically no help at all.  I use Amazon a lot when suggesting books or looking for titles to purchase for the collection.  There are reviews by customers and suggestions for items based on what other people purchased, etc.  Why aren’t libraries doing this?

Another things that bugs me is the lack of promotion of services among libraries.  My public library recently started offering ukeleles for check out as part of the “Library of Things” service-but they are all kept in a back office and there is no promotion whatsoever of this offering.  Nothing on the library website, no signage in the library, no displays of ukeleles-how are people supposed to check these out when their existence is being kept a secret?    It baffles me.  

Anyway, to summarize my ramblings-hooray for hyperlinked libraries that are creating connections through user participation, and libraries need to get with the 21st century as far as sound business practices are concerned.  

Profile photo of Joleen Jin

Introductions

   Hello Everyone!

So this is me in a nutshell-

 

Ok, so I’m neither funny nor original…

I live in Dundee, Oregon where I work full time as a middle school librarian, and part time at a public library.

This is only my second semester in the program, so I hope I’m not out of my depth here.  I have wanted to get my MLIS for a long time, but have always been afraid of spending the money and not being able to get a job afterwards. But I know it’s what I want to do, so I’m finally doing it!  Yay!

I’m not sure what area of the field I am most interested in, although I am definitely leaning toward public librarianship.  I love the whole concept of a free, open, public service.  I chose this course because the ability to adapt and foresee new changes is essential to the profession, especially in the area of technology.  One of the chapters in the textbook for the foundational courses was written by Professor Stephens on the concept of hyperlinked libraries, and I found the idea very interesting and would like to delve further into it.

Me in my natural environment. Just kidding-this was me working as a living history interpreter-I’m nerdy, but not crazy

Also, technology is an area that I do not have a natural preference for.  Although I am very comfortable learning about and using technology, it’s not something I prefer to do in my personal life.  I still use actual maps and I don’t have a Facebook account, but I realize the importance of technology to society and the information profession, so I’m excited to learn about and use more technology in a professional capacity. But if given the option, I would definitely be living in an era not only pre-internet, but pre-electricity where horsepower was literally measured in horses.

On a more personal note, I spend any spare time I have (not likely in the near future) trying to keep my two dogs from doing any permanent destruction to my house or each other by spending as much time as I can outdoors.