Infinite Learning: Libraries & Technology

Libraries have always been there for us. Whether it’s somewhere to study, relax or read a book, libraries are that place to visit. Yet, there is one thing libraries don’t have or don’t have enough of. Technology has slowly progressed into the library space but there can always be more of a presence. Libraries in neighborhoods and on college campuses are slowly taking advantage of technology but only as it becomes readily available and affordable. When having computer time in grade school, I remember getting behind one of the twenty computers they had in the library and playing The Oregon Trail in the early 2000’s. In recent years, technology has brought SMART Boards and iPads into the classroom. Why not do the same for libraries? Imagine libraries of the future having every Apple, Google and Augmented Reality technology implemented for every type of learning. How cool would that be, especially for younger children. But are libraries the best place to bring children to learn about technology? Will it change the way children think and solve problems?

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Some may disagree but libraries are just as great as schools when it comes to learning; sometimes more so. There have been numerous discussions about what modern or next generation libraries would look like. Are they a great place to bring children to learn about technology? Yes, definitely. Some libraries have brought consultants in to redesign the layout to appeal to younger patrons. They have changed the seating arrangements and allowed for more collaboration. They have added computers and a circulation desk to make students feel welcome anytime (Vangelova, 2014). In addition to a redesigned layout, Logan City Council Libraries have added a Sensory Space. It’s a hands-on environment for families and children ages 0-12 allowing everyone to learn and explore more via technology, sight, sound, touch and movement (Public Libraries Connect, 2020). Exposing young children to technology at a young age can also be beneficial in many ways. By allowing children to come together in a library setting and learn how to program a new computer language and use a 3-D printer among other activities, it gives them a chance for creativity and freedom. It also aids young children in socialization and relationship building while improving problem solving and perseverance (Barone, 2018). Libraries are the best place to bring children to learn about technology because of the atmosphere. Being surrounded by books, technology, and new friends at a young age can help guide young patrons on the path to success.  

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Speaking of problem solving, have you heard of the Kansas teen that used a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand for a family friend’s 9-year-old-son who was born without fingers (Williams, 2014)? At a young age, Mason Wilde had a passion for figuring out how things work, which led him to take apart his mother’s dining room table, the gliding ottoman as well as building a computer from scratch. Without the exposure of technology, Mason may not have been able to help his friend. Technology will only change the way children think and approach problems if libraries, and schools, make it available enough. The MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition promotes science, technology, engineering and math across the country. Connie Yowell, MacArthur’s Director of Education emphasizes the importance of the digital age of learning because the ‘‘competition is helping us to identify and nurture the creation of learning environments that are relevant for kids today and will prepare them for a 21st century workforce’’ (MacArthur Foundation, 2010). Children have already changed the way they think and solve problems thanks to technology. In the future, children will only become more technologically savvy as devices like Amazon Alexa and the new Apple homepod appear in their homes and classrooms. 

By teaching children about technology at a young age, they will be able to learn from their mistakes and move on to create a better world for all of us.   

References:

Barone, R. (2018, May 10). Positive Effects & Benefits of Technology on Child Development. iD Tech. https://www.idtech.com/blog/benefits-of-technology-for-children. 

Connect, P. L. (2020, February 17). Check out Marsden Library’s Sensory Space! Public Libraries Connect. https://plconnect.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/check-out-marsden-librarys-sensory-space. 

Foundation, M. A. (2010, May 12). Digital Media & Learning Competition. RSS. https://www.macfound.org/press/press-releases/digital-media-learning-competition/. 

Vangelova, L. (2014, June 18). What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like? https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/36326/what-does-the-next-generation-school-library-look-like. 

Williams, M. R. (2014, January 31). Kansas teen uses 3-D printer to make hand for boy. kansascity. https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article337980/Kansas-teen-uses-3-D-printer-to-make-hand-for-boy.html. 

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