Sunday, August 17, 2014

Collaborating to Create an Open Badge Ecosystem for Information Literacy

Now that I have entered a new phase in my career, one that affords me much greater freedom to accomplish good work, I am ready to contribute to the library profession in a meaningful way. I began my latest semi-Quixotic quest at the 2014 Library Summit this past week in Dallas. I'm grateful for the 15 audience members that contributed their time and ideas when they could have been in some other amazing sessions. Here are the basic premises of this new idea.

  1. A Library entity, anything from a School library system in a school district to a State or National Library Association can create a system of badges that grants digital awards to students that have demonstrated competence in a specific area of Information Literacy as defined by AASL 21st Century Learner Standards and/or ISTE NETS.
  2. The Badge Ecosystem should after a diversity of badges that are attainable to all skill levels and allow for a progression to the ultimate endorsement of "Information Literate." This endorsement which is a strong indicator of college readiness, would be sought out by students seeking to demonstrate their suitability for admission to college or university.
  3. A Badge system is desirable for librarians because, if implemented and marketed successfully, would give them more power to promote information literacy skills, which are often not adequately taught in the test-driven environment of public education.
  4. The badges could be awarded via the following ways
    • Ordinary coursework
    • Capstone research projects,
    • Online simulations or games
    • Library based tasks independent of classes
Imagine a world in which school librarians could leverage actual power! Today few of us can issue credits and grades even if we teach frequently. Badges issued by librarians have the potential to transform our practice. It is up to a thoughtful and determined group of us to design a badge system that will motivate the millennial generation towards information literacy. Please see the slideshow below and contact me if you are interested in being a part of this project. Public comments are also welcome.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why I Became Librarian-For National Library Month

Back in High School, before I developed an attachment to the Jewish Religion, Frank Zappa was my rabbi. I searched his song lyrics, album liner notes and read his book looking for pearls of wisdom by which to live my life.  I even moved to Montana for a little while during my college years. One particular quote I repeated more than once was from the liner notes of Zappa’s record Freak Out! It read:
“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts.”
My parents wouldn’t let me drop out of course, so I did the next best thing and tuned out classes when I felt like it, went to the library as often as I could. School wasn’t challenging. I got tracked into non-honors classes and I liked to ask questions. My questions annoyed many teachers, who often could not answer them, but fortunately the school librarian, Mrs. Friedman, understood me.  I was the kind of crazy kid that checked out books that had sat for decades unread. That must have endeared me to her.

During my Senior year, I found Economics class especially stultifying. I slept during the endless documentary films. I actually found Economics the subject interesting, and important, just not the class.. I remember the thrill of finding books by John Kenneth Galbraith, Thorstein Veblen and other surprising wise and humorous econ authors in the library.  At some point I was probably failing the Econ class, I decided to show off my knowledge gained from my library escapades by asking the teacher questions. When I got an admission that he didn’t even know who these people were or even the first thing about their ideas, I realized that Frank Zappa was 100% right, that real education came from pursuing knowledge via books and libraries.

I found myself adrift in my career after graduating college, trying out numerous jobs, ranging from bicycle messenger, to environmental educator and customer service representative. In spite of my view of school, I decided to go back and earn a teaching credential. Of course I was determined not to become one of “those teachers” who were boring and uncreative. Rather, I was going to be a revolutionary teacher that helped kids to think for themselves. For 5 years I taught science, which was rewarding at times, but I eventually came to the conclusion that the role of classroom teacher wasn’t truly suitable for my personality.  I wanted to stay in education, but do something different, something that would make sense for me. After only a little deliberation I decided that a school library was the most logical place.

Now I have the privilege of paying forward what Mrs. Friedman did for me back in the 1980s. I’ve been in the library for 13 years now, and I have no regrets.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Mini-Lesson on Citing Images and Online Ethics

When I first started in this profession, I established several important rules for myself when presenting library lessons to high school students.

  • Rule #1-Never speak for more than 10 or 15 minutes
  • Rule #2-Always focus on a few useful ideas or tools for the assignment in front of students as opposed to general library skills
  • Rule #3-Start with the 'Why' before going on to the 'How

These rules have always served me well, as I generally see a minimum number of glazed eyes, and often get genuine applause or appreciation at the end of my short talks. 

The topic of this lesson is citing images. Following the above rules, I began this presentation with a story about a picture in National Geographic and showed a 2 minute video from YouTube about how the image was captured. In this case, the photographer spent over a year getting the pictures he wanted of a mountain lion in the vicinity of Los Angeles. The message is very easy to understand; if a photographer spend that much time, money and effort on capturing an image, it is only fair to give that person credit. 

The remainder of the presentation consists of:
  • Definite 'nos' of using images
  • Brief treatment of copyright and creative commons license
  • Practical methods for using Flikr and Google Image search to locate images that may be used in presentations
So here is the Slideshare. It may be downloaded and modified for re-use.