A Lovely Arc

Hey, Library 2.0 taps into my schema!

In 2008, my very first course in the SLIS program, LIBR 200, had me writing my first research paper in 20+ years.  I chose to focus on information literacy because I felt I didn’t have a deep enough understanding of a term that was bandied about with such frequency.  I initial intent was to draw on lessons learned from information literacy instruction in schools to inform an approach to life-long learning for adult populations.  But my research led me to the realization that successful information literacy in schools is far from a done deal.  In fact, its success…or, more frequently, lack of success….often hinges on the information literacy levels of the adults charged to promote it.   What is sorely lacking in many schools is ongoing, purposeful professional development designed to raise the comfort levels of teachers, librarians and staff with today’s swiftly changing array of technology tools.

Based on these new aha’s, I re-focused my attentions on the issue of professional development and I went looking for best practices.  What did I find?  23 Things, of course!  I discovered Helene Blowers and James McKenzie, another champion of technology-related PD, both arguing  for professional development programs that were ongoing, well-supported by leadership, exploratory and non-threatening, and organization-wide.

Then in 2009, unbeknownst to me, the information technologists and librarians at my school launched 12 Things, an abbreviated 23 Things. They made it relaxed, elective and fun.  They brought my esoteric research topic to life!

Here are my bloggy bits from that time:  the tRuth

Those 12 Things catapulted me forward into the 21st century.  They transformed my world.  I intensively use, on a daily, minute-by-minute basis many of the Things I learned there for the first time.  But, more importantly, it changed the way I think about myself — who I am and who I can be.  I felt technologically empowered!  Newly equipped for modern living.

And now here I am, about to tinker with the inner workings of 23 Things.  For me, this all has a lovely arc.

There is one characteristic of Helene Blower’s 23 Things that I want to applaud above all others for just a minute.  23 Things is egalitarian!  It is professional development for the masses.  Hurrah, Helene!  That’s the way to maximize the learning potential of everyone in an organization and to build a collaboration network that includes the strengths and reach of all in innovating for the future.  Based on my experience in schools, professional development is often geared toward faculty with only the spottiest of training available to staff.  A sort of trickle down effect is imagined, I guess.  But whether or not that occurs, staff can’t help but feel excluded from the forward momentum of a community that doesn’t include them in new learning.  When that happens, it’s a shame.

Blowers’ 23 Things concept is the antidote.  It is a generous, all-encompassing model that doesn’t discount for a second the possibility that an organization’s next best idea can come from anywhere in the organization.  It extends the promise of of life-long learning for all.


About tellthetruthruth

I'm a 12 Thinger.
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7 Responses to A Lovely Arc

  1. Pam Martin says:

    Nice post, Ruth! You’re an engaging writer!
    So your school is conducting the Learning 2.0 program again just three years after the first time? This would make sense, I guess, to catch newly-hired staff, and to present new technologies that weren’t around in 2009. I’d never really thought about the fact that a Learning 2.0 program might have to be repeated on a regular cycle. The nature of the program makes this doable, though, so it could certainly be made part of a planned staff PD strategy.

  2. ruth says:

    Thanks, Pam! You know, at the time I was doing our 12 Things I hoped that it would be a constant, or even multiplying, source for PD in our school. That didn’t happen but it is getting a breath of fresh air now. PD is so often a “one off” event….a 1/2 day or full day mega-download of something new where it is assumed that all participants will leave fully ready to go forth and act on what they learned. But really effective PD, I think, is ongoing and cyclical, coming around to deepen understandings of early participants and capture late adopters or new employees. When we did 12 Things, many faculty and staff opted out. But they heard the buzz and some of them would definitely have jumped on board if given another chance. Good PD models make that possible.

  3. Amy says:

    Hi Ruth,
    I, too, feel energized and (holding my breath) maybe even empowered regarding my ability to learn and use technology. It is true that information literacy/tech literacy hinges on the knowledge of professionals who are presenting or leading. I work with adults who are learning English and a majority of whom do not know how to use computers at all. My challenge will be to increase my knowledge and comfort level so I – hopefully – can create meaningful learning opportunities for them. My hope is that our library can be a place for people to explore and enjoy learning while building confidence.

    • ruth says:

      Amy, I’ve come to think that being open about our own learning curves is one of the most generous ways to show that not knowing is really a universal condition. What is key is to engage it, struggle with it and hopefully chip away at not knowing until we become knowledgeable in a new area. I think the fact that you are actively trying to increase your knowledge and comfort level with technology while your patrons are hoping to do the same makes you an empathetic guide and excellent model. I just finished reading the explanation of constructivist theory in Booth and noted that it emphasizes the teacher learning along with her students. You are doing that and I have no doubt that your example will have good ripple effects.

  4. joanne peace says:

    Hi Ruth, a very engaging blog post, and your take on 23 Things as egalitarian, professional development for the masses is so true. I never thought of it that way, but is truly a great way for all staff, thinking in terms of this class project and of when my own library did a similar model, to learn, no matter what their skills, and to get comfortable with the tools. I’m excited to hopefully make a difference and really teach some good stuff . Joanne

    • ruth says:

      Thanks for your comment, Joanne. I really do think an organization is better off….not to mention a more humane workplace….when it operates with that belief that everyone contributes….in large and small ways…..and, therefore, has the potential to evolve those contributions with new learning opportunities. It does feel good to be a part of an initiative that makes that possible, doesn’t it?!

  5. michael says:

    Yes! The fact that L2.0 was implemented for all staff at PLCMC under Blowers’ supervision was a touchstone on the way to inclusive learning for all.

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