Reflection on Mobile Devices & Connections

This past week’s module had excellent timing. Lately my students have been driving me insane with their absolute inability to put away their phones during class. At my school, the Great Cell Phone Policy Debate has been left in the hands of the teachers (as I personally think it should be). As a math teacher, I know that my students will be using their cell phones as calculators at home when they work on their homework – I use my cell phone as a calculator all the time! – so what’s wrong with having them use it in class? I also love using internet-based quizzes (like Kahoot and Quizizz), and while I am fortunate enough to have enough Chromebooks for my students to use, if they have a phone, why not use it as the tool it is?

This Debate, as I’m sure most people are aware, is a hot topic in education. Many people do not agree with me, citing reasons such as those in the video below. (Note how they provide no cited references for their claims or statistics, however.)

So when this module discussed how mobile devices can be used as tools, I loved the ideas. People are already using their phones. Why not use their phones to connect to them?? I kept thinking, “How can a school library effectively and efficiently enhance a student’s learning experience through their mobile device?” I came away with a few ideas and a lot of think about.

One idea that is solidified in my mind after this week is that the school library website needs to be mobile friendly. Although I know very little about website design, I’ll have to find someone who does or get to learning, because I completely understand the vitality of this concept. Students use their phones even more than I do, and I hate it when websites are not mobile friendly; it discourages me from using those sites at all. That is definitely not how I want my students to feel about the school library website!

One of the articles this week discussed beacons, and I loved that idea! I appreciated Alice’s post and her more thorough research into beacons, but I’ll have to do some more of my own to see if this is viable to use on a public school campus. If so, what a wonderful idea! My students need constant reminders about homework assignments and test dates and I still get complains that they were not aware of something I said three times, posted on the school gradebook website, and wrote on the whiteboard. Maybe if the message went to their phone, they would actually see it!

The last concept that I came away with is not to be discouraged. Sure, my students are driving me nuts with their texting and scrolling through instagram in class lately, but mobile devices are an excellent tool, and I should not ignore that just because they are annoying me. Yes, there is a balance to be had, but as a school librarian, I should continue to look for and encourage that balance instead of supporting any sort of banning.

Emerging Technology Planning Assignment

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in my reflection post about a concept that really struck me: teaching life skills at the library. The article we read for class was about one library that offered such classes, under the name “Adulting 101,” but in my research, I discovered that many other public and academic libraries have been hosting similar programs. I think that introducing this sort of program in a high school library is a logical way to meet these often unaddressed needs of students, staff, and other members of the community while increasing engagement and involvement in the school library. As I am currently still a high school teacher in the classroom and not yet in the library, this program design is based somewhat on my current high school, but in a general, flexible way in order to be applicable to my future school library site.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  1. To teach real world skills in through interactive discussions and hands-on experiences
  2. To engage students, staff, and parents (or other members of the community) in library-based school activities
  3. To increase use of the school library resources and space
  4. To provide an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions about life skills
  5. To address the missing gap skills that the student population feels that they need to learn to succeed academically, professionally, economically, and socially
  6. To encourage life-long learning

Description of Community you wish to engage:

 The main target community for this program is the high school students from our campus. Staff and other members of the community, including parents and other family members of our students, are secondary considerations. Staff and other members of the community would be primary sources to engage in helping teach these skills to the students and whoever else may show up.

Action Brief Statement:

For students:

Convince students that by coming to the library to learn various basic life skills they will be better prepared for life after high school which will enable them to succeed academically, professionally, economically, and socially because they will have some practice with these foundational skills.

 For staff, administration, & other members of the community:

Convince staff, administration, and outside members of the community that by providing students with the opportunity to learn a variety of life skills not addressed in the school curriculum they will better fill the gaps in the students’ education which will better prepare them for life after high school because the school’s goal is for the students to be successful members of community in every aspect of their lives.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: (URLS, articles to help guide you)

Bernhard, B. (June 3, 2019). ‘Adulting’ classes around St. Louis offer life skills not taught in school. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved from https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/adulting-classes-around-st-louis-offer-life-skills-not-taught/article_2e09cab6-a35b-5d64-807f-9ede69dfba2a.html

Dar, M. (July 19, 2017). Libraries provide teens with important life skills. School Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=libraries-provide-teens-with-important-life-skills-ala-annual-2017

De Leon, L. (December 17, 2018). ‘Adulting 101’ classes are teaching people life skills in Central Texas. KVUE. Retreved from https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/adulting-101-classes-are-teaching-people-life-skills-in-central-texas/269-623906315

DiTullio, N. (March 5, 2019). Adulting 101: Life Skills Classes for Tweens, Teens and Adults [Webinar recording]. Retrieved from https://onlinetraining.tsl.texas.gov/course/view.php?id=390

Ford, A. (2018). Adulting 101. american libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/

Life skills academy. San Jose Public Library. Retrieved from https://www.sjpl.org/lifeskills

Sapulpa Pubic Library. (April 15, 2019). Adulting 101. Retrieved from https://www.eventbrite.com/e/adulting-101-life-skills-class-at-sapulpa-public-library-8-class-series-2019-tickets-45976852002

Woodland Daily Democrat. (August 20, 2019). ‘Adulting 101: Life skills for teens’ course sponsored by city. Daily Democrat. Retrieved from https://www.dailydemocrat.com/2019/08/20/adulting-101-life-skills-for-teens-course-sponsored-by-city/

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

 As is usual with school libraries, the school administration would probably be involved in either developing policies or at least approving policies written by the school librarian. One possibility would be developing a school club on campus involving students and other staff members to help develop the specific guidelines and collaboratively write a mission statement to help encourage ownership.

A suggested mission statement would be something as follows: “The mission of the Life Skills at the Library Program is to teach students how to prepare for life outside of high school through interactive and hands-on experiences.” Linking this mission to the mission of the school library, the school, and/or the district is also a good idea.

The following are suggested to be included in the guidelines:

  • How often these programs would run?
  • Who would be present to run/manage the individual classes?
  • When would be the best time to offer these classes? (During lunch, after school, later in the evening?)
  • How should the topics be chosen in order to reflect student needs?
  • How can local authorities on the topics be found and asked to teach a class?
  • What topics should involve hands-on experiences?
  • What can those attending the classes be reasonably asked to bring?

The following are suggested to be included or considered when creating the policies:

  • Permission for members of the community outside of the district to be on campus, if necessary.
  • Considerations of when the classes can and should be held.
  • Considerations of what funds can be used.
  • Considerations of what staff members must be present during classes.

Librarians and those helping create the guidelines and policies should keep in might any school or district regulations that might affect the program.

 Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

              If it is possible for this program to be run as part of the school club, fundraising following school policies for club fundraising could be a major source of funding for any resources or equipment that might be used. As often as possible, librarians and those running the program should seek for parents or other members of the community who can volunteer their time and skills to teach students according to their specialty (e.g., a parent who works as a mechanic helping teach basic car maintenance). If involving staff members outside of the usual school hours in a teaching capacity (not as an attendee), a discussion with administration should be held to see if either payment via a timesheet or counting this time under any contract-required hours of adjunct duty is possible.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

              This program would undeniably change each school year, not only as those running the program would learn from each previous class, but also as the students attending change and the needs of the students vary. After permission is granted from the school administration, a discussion of the policies around the program and funding for staff involvement should happen as soon as possible, but at least before meeting with the group of students and staff who will be running the program. Advertisement for such a council will also take a couple of weeks. Participation in any sort of Club Rush event would be ideal.

Each school year, the new collection of students and staff who will be running the program should gather together at the beginning of the school year, ideally the first month. Student officers should be selected in the first meeting. Also during the first meeting, a plan should be developed to figure out what the current student population is interested in learning through the programs classes. This could take place over the following couple of months or consistently throughout the program. Discussion of social media pages and other types of promotion should also be addressed in the first couple of meetings. Meanwhile, for the first couple of program classes, those students involved in running the program can brainstorm ideas. A timeline should be established in the first couple of meetings for when the classes should take place, and how often (suggestion: about once a month). Plans for fundraising should take place at least once a semester.

The librarian should be involved as much as necessary for the program’s success, but as little as possible to ensure the program is directed by the needs of the students themselves. Individual or groups of students should be put in charge of the different aspects of the program, including finding and reaching out to outside “experts” to ask if they are willing to volunteer to teach, reaching out to any other staff members (teachers, counselors, or administration) who the students would like to ask to teach, managing the finances (including fundraising events and expenses for resources for classes), running social media sites, and other promotional events or items.

 Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

              The staffing for this program would involve more than just the librarian; other staff members, teachers, counselors, or administration, might need to be involved, depending on the timing of the classes. Approval might be necessary for these hours to be counted as adjunct duty or compensated via a timesheet. Student volunteers, whether involved through a school club or getting community service hours, could also help as “staff” in charge of aspects of the program.

 Training for this Technology or Service:  

              While the librarian should not be expected to know or learn all of the skills covered through the courses, as outside experts would ideally be involved as much as possible, the librarian and those involved in managing the classes (whether volunteer students or staff) should be trained in how to best help facilitate the instructor. The librarian would ideally design the training based on the chosen topic. It should be scheduled a few days prior to the event, perhaps during lunch or after school in a brief meeting.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

              This program can be promoted on any and all of the school’s social media pages, as well as through the school library’s social media pages. A social media page specifically for the program could be created and ran by a student from the club running the program. Awareness of classes should be included on school bulletins or school news videos whenever possible. Physical posters in the library and in classrooms or other areas on campus can also promote the program and individual classes. Any classes offered outside of school hours and open to other members of the community can also be advertised at local places such as the local public library.

Evaluation:

              Evaluation of this program could be based attendance, attendee satisfaction, and feedback from those running/teaching the classes. During the classes, the librarian or another person help run the program could take a count of those who show up, differentiating between students and other adults. Surveys could occasionally be given to all or select attendees, either on physical paper or digitally through some means such as Google Forms. Students and staff helping run or manage the classes can be asked for feedback either with opened questions or a general request for feedback; this information can be received in person, on paper, or via email. Similar feedback received in similar manners should be sought from any members of the community who volunteered to teach a class in the program.

              Hopefully, students who attend the program’s classes will share their positive experiences with their classmates, teachers, and parents. Interest and engagement will increase with time, and more students will participate in identifying what topics should be covered in future classes. The program might be expanded by involving more members of the community, whether individuals or other group organizations. Possible increases in funding could increase the possible times and days that program classes could be held to increase attendance or the resources available to be used in the classes.

Reflection on Hyperlinked Environments

Most of the time that I learn new information or come across innovative ideas in this or other classes, my mind starts thinking of ways that these generalized concepts can apply to my (currently) fictional future high school library (AKA, my ideal future workplace). The ideas discussed over the past few weeks in this class about participatory services in hyperlinked environments really resonate with me.

In my INFO 233 class (the other course I am taking this semester), we are currently discussing policy statements, and some of it is dry and traditional, but there are so many innovative and progressive ideas that can better meet the needs of students and staff using the school library, and even other members of the community! Reading Christie’s post Reflection: The Hyperlinked School Library, I found myself nodding over and over. Yes! This idea of “reinventing” the school library is exactly what I want to implement in my future workplace. And involving the community is one exciting possible way to do so.

I loved the concept of idea boxes. Oh, and the article Adulting 101? So often in my career as a math teacher I have heard students (and parents!) complain that they will never use the concepts that I teach in class (which I have to admit is often true, if I consider the specific mathematical skills themselves and not the overarching skills of problem solving, use of precision, deductive reasoning, et cetera). And I have to admit that there are many life skills that are no longer taught in any classes at most high schools! Why not have the school library host sessions where students (and staff and even parents!) can learn how to sew, do their taxes, or change the oil in their car? Libraries, after all, are about learning. Not just books.

References

Ford, A. (2018). Adulting 101. american libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/

Reflection on Hyperlinked Communities & Participatory Service

So many of the messages from the readings and videos over the past couple of weeks have deeply resonated with me; this is what libraries are truly about.

Yes, we all know that libraries are traditionally considered to be about books and more broadly about information, but libraries truly exist for the communities they serve. The books and the information are for the people. The services and programs are also for the people. If the people do not use these things, there would be no point for the library to exist.

Fortunately for us current and future librarians, many people do often turn to libraries for information (though probably mostly in the form of books still). In general, people often turn to other people for help, but usually only if they feel comfortable doing so or know that the person that they go to will be capable of helping them. To best serve its community then, a library needs to established itself as a safe, open, inviting resource that can help. Connecting with the members of its community is probably the best way to do this. I loved what Aaron Schmidt was saying in his article “Asking the Right Questions: The User Experience;” libraries need to get to know the people in their communities as people in order to figure out what their needs are and design programs, services, and policies to then meet those needs.

Even better news? People already form connections in so many ways, so a library can tap into that connection, such as through social media. The clever ways that various school, academic, and public libraries involved the members of their community is just inspiring to learn about! And the creativity! The Idea Box in the Oak Park Library became so much more than a simple room by involving the people who walked through the library doors. I absolutely love the concept of inviting people into the library to have fun, explore, mess around with different ideas, or share something with the world in a casual but collectively meaningful way.

Currently I am still working in the classroom, but one day I hope to transition to the high school library. When I do work in that hypothetical library for teenagers, I cannot imagine not implementing so many of these ideas. Getting input from the students and staff about its design and what is available at the library. Learning more about the students and staff as individuals in order to determine what else they might enjoy seeing or doing at the library. Creating spaces for students and staff to get creative and connect with one another at the library. All of these concepts would not only lead to the library being used and appreciated more, but most importantly, it would have an impact on the people in the school, the students and staff that the library exists to help.

Embracing Chaos

I am not a well-organized person. Despite the binders, folders, and crates of hanging file folders that I use in a desperate attempt to keep the literal thousands of papers in my classroom organized. Despite the carefully designed bullet journal of my own creation. Despite the label maker in my closet and the drawers, boxes, and fabric storage bins containing all manner of objects. The idea of organization is there, the potential, I might dare say, but when the stacks of papers on my desk cover the entire surface and I haven’t gone through my mail in two weeks, I cannot in good conscience call myself organized. And I definitely cannot call myself tidy.

According to Tim Harford in his book Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives, this is not necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it could be beneficial in a number of ways! Although counter intuitive at first glance, the major concepts behind Harford’s book are actually quite logical: mess forces people to think more, predetermined targets can skew future data, feeling in control is more helpful than feeling tidy, and trusting a computer too much can lead to danger.

Music artists forced to improvise are more creative. Students forced to focus more to figure out what something says retain more information. Drivers forced to think about where the road is going are safer and more considerate of others. A number of the chapters of Messy addressed this idea that disorder can lead to positive results. The entire point of developing a practice into a habit is that the brain literally does not have to think about what to do. While undeniably useful when it comes to eating healthy breakfasts, exercising, and accurately applying mathematical formulas, the side effect of not having to think about our habits means that we think less about what it is that we’re actually doing.

This video is about neuroplasticity. I actually show this to my students at the beginning of the year to encourage a growth mindset, but the concept of how habits physiologically make it easier for our brain to not think about what we are doing is well illustrated here.

This idea applies to all people in every aspect of their lives. Students trying to learn, office workers trying to be productive, bicyclists trying to get home safely, and people both using and working at libraries. In order to meet the needs of its patrons, a library needs a decent amount of organization. People visit libraries expecting the books to be organized the same way today that they were yesterday. The method used to check out and return books should be consistent. However, mixing things up at the library could spark new and improved use. New displays can catch the eye of someone who planned on merely picking up something they had on hold. Artwork from the community could inspire someone walking by to try something new or to get involved in some way. A group gathered for an event in a more open portion of the library – rather than always being behind closed doors – could beckon more attendees. The results could be people feeling more connected, trying new things, meeting new people, or even just finding new books that they otherwise would not have looked for.

Harford also discussed how setting targets based off of statistical data can sometimes have undesirable results. In his book, he gives one example of ambulances bringing patients to the hospital within 8 minutes of answering a call. Statistical analysis showed that this was a good goal, as this time frame tended to lead to better outcomes. However, pushing ambulance drivers to meet that arbitrary goal that is only indirectly related to their actual job – safely transporting a patient to the hospital for treatment as quickly as necessary depending on the situation – both ignored other positive indicators and neglected other possibly negative factors. Similarly, librarians need to be careful not to focus too much on the data and forget why they are analyzing the numbers in the first place – to determine if users’ needs are being met. Meeting those needs is the priority, not having the numbers that some authority has decided reflects their success in doing so.

Not quite the same kind of misuse of statistics, but as a math person who ardently loves the beauty of mathematics and vehemently detests the abuse of numbers known as statistics, I just had to share something pointing out how people misuse statistics. PS xkcd is hilarious. If you have never seen these comics before, you are really missing out!
Source: http://xkcdsw.com/2274

One of the aspects of Harford’s book that I personally found the most validating was the idea that clean, cookie-cutter work spaces were proven through scientific research to not lead to the most productive workers. Rather when workers had the option to control their own environment, however tidy or messy that ended up being, they were much more productive.

If anyone gives me a bad time about my eclectic classroom walls again, I’m referencing this book.

This idea that those actually using a space benefit the most from it when they are allowed to provide input on its design echoes the ideas of Casey and Savastinuk in their Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service; “empowering the user” through “user-centered planning” is something that libraries should take into consideration when designing their spaces and their services (2007). The entire concept of participatory services reflects this very idea.

One of the more serious portions of Harford’s book included the tragic tale of an airplane that crashed when a storm led to an equipment failure that lead to the autopilot system being turned off, leaving three professional pilots who did not know what to do. Of course, they theoretically knew what to do, but the situation was so unexpected that they did not react quickly enough. Over reliance on computers and technology in general, especially when it comes to making decisions in the place of a human being, can lead to dangerous outcomes. For librarians, the system behind the scenes needs to be extremely well-organized in order for the librarians to do their jobs. In fact, this is one of the major benefits of technological developments to libraries today. As described by Michael Buckland in Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto, the so-called “Automated Library” allows librarians to focus less on the behind-the-scenes cataloging and data storage while also easing searching. However, librarians need to make sure that they do not get over-reliant on technology. Librarians should prioritize the needs of library patrons over the computer, whether that means figuring out a fine error or ordering books not recommended by the computer’s analysis.

Overall, this book was an excellent read, with applications not only for librarians when considering their organization of the library itself, but in the interaction of the library patrons with the space, the services, and the librarians themselves.

References

Buckland, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: A manifesto. Berkeley: American Library Association.

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

Harford, T. (2016). Messy: The power of disorder to transform our lives. New York: Riverhead Books.

Reflection on the Foundational Readings

Reading the foundational readings over the past couple of weeks, I kept thinking of the book Who Moved My Cheese? that we read in my 204 class. It is obvious and undeniable that libraries are changing, in multiple ways. Especially with the dramatic increase of technology over the past couple of decades (which I am still realizing the extent of, as that is the vast majority of my life), libraries have been fundamentally changed in how they operate. The Automated Library is much more commonplace than a strictly Paper Library; I haven’t seen a library use those cards that are stamped with the due dates that slide into the envelope attached to the first page since elementary school.

Remember these??? Okay, maybe not quite like this one, but I could not resist.

Anyway, back to change. Change in all things is inevitable, and like the authors of the foundational readings say, it is something that some people have difficult accepting. The importance of being willing to change, however, is inarguable.

If you are unfamiliar with Who Moved My Cheese? here you go. Cheesy (pun intended) animated video version for your education and enjoyment.

My favorite aspect of the readings though was actually the discussion not in how libraries have already changed, but in how they have the potential to continue changing, and not just in a reactionary way. The focus of changing not just how we as librarians use technology to make the behind-the-scenes work easier and faster and better but how we as librarians serve our patrons by providing different services that either we could not before or there was no demand for before. With changing times comes not only adjustment, but opportunity. Library 2.0, Electronic Libraries… not every library will look the same and incorporate all of the same ideas, but isn’t that the beauty of it? Libraries have the potential to do so much more than they have done in the past. And not as a replacement of their traditional role in society, but in addition to it. No one wants the New York Public Library to remove its beautiful reading rooms and Children’s Center, or for their local library to stop carrying the latest best sellers. But changing times and new technologies should not scare librarians; instead they should enable librarians to better meet the needs of the people who walk through their doors.

Introduction

Hello all! My name is Kristin. I live in Elk Grove, just south of Sacramento, California, where I’m currently teaching high school math. This is my sixth year teaching, and while I love the classroom and mathematics, my plan is to eventually transition to the library. If all goes as planned, after next semester I’ll have finished both my MLIS and Teacher Librarian Credential.

I wanted to take this course because I think that I have a lot to learn about how libraries can most effectively harness the power of technology to best help (in my case) students. It honestly sounds like such a fun topic, so I am really looking forward to the class.

A few other random things about me:

  • I’m really into fandom life, and this semester in particular I’ll be freaking out about Star Wars a lot in anticipation of The Rise of Skywalker in a few short months.
  • I love to travel. This past summer I went on a month-long road trip that pretty much followed the path of the Mississippi, and then another (significantly shorter) trip with my mom and sister to Disneyland to experience the new Star Wars land. It was a fun summer!
  • I am a night owl, which is unfortunate for my first period class since I’m always half-brainless but also means I’ll usually post in the evenings or middle of the night.
  • I hate cake, but love pi(e).