Monday, January 23, 2012

Skyping is the future of Education

While it wasn't preferable to be sick, it was interesting to Skype into class. With distance education becoming increasingly popular, it was interesting to be in the position of the student and whether or not it's effective. Having Skyped in to classes twice now, there are definitely pros and cons, but it could be effective, if you have a teacher/professor who calls on you (otherwise it's really awkward because there's no way to virtually raise your hand). Anyway, that's not really what we talked about in class.
Fixed vs. flex, as if we must choose one or the other. I find debates like this in education (and the world in general) all the time, as if it's black and white and one side is wrong while the other side is right. In all honesty, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Yes, students need to be in the library on a regular basis if you want them to use it; yes, we should encourage them to come on their own (because they want to be there); but there's usually only one library and a lot of kids in the school (the place I'm working this semester, there's one librarian for 2 schools, each with 1000 students). It's not as if the librarian can go to each staff member individually and work with them one on one to develop ways to integrate the library into their curriculum, that's just not feasible. On the other hand, strict fixed schedules, where the librarian has classes coming in one after the other, with little or no time for preparation is definitely not the answer. So, it's somewhere in between; Option C: no you don't have to come in every week on a fixed schedule, but you do need to come in at some point.
Rating the importance of tasks was eye-opening. I less put them in order of importance (did that make any sense). Here they are, for you viewing pleasure:

  1. Creating a nurturing culture for students.
  2. Creating an intellectually rigorous culture
  3. Student access to the physical library outside of the school day
  4. Developing collaborative practices with students
  5. Ethics and Digital citizenship
  6. Citizenship
  7. Love of reading
  8. Free reading
  9. Collection development
  10. Shelving of materials
  11. Teaching web site evaluation
  12. Teaching web site searching
  13. Teaching opac/catalog searching
  14. Professional learning communitites.
  15. Collaborative teaching
  16. Being a school-wide curriculum leader
  17. Taking a lunch break with colleagues
  18. Incorporating technology and Web 2.0 skills
  19. A web presence for you schools
  20. Cataloging
  21. Weeding
  22. Reading contests and promotions
  23. Book Clubs
  24. Teaching the Dewey Decimal System
  25. Creating PR materials
  26. Bulletin boards promoting the library
  27. Planning author visits
  28. Selling school supplies
  29. Laminating of materials
  30. Overdue notices and fines
Why are overdue notices last, well, because we're in a school library. Honestly, any library should be pleased you have a book out, whether it's late or not, as long as you return it sometime. Sure, at the end of the year you should have it returned, and maybe we'll remind you when you check other books out, but it's not of utmost importance.
I presented a short (5 minute) talk at a student run conference yesterday about Customer Service skills and this relates to how I feel about those tasks at the end of the list. No, I didn't get a Master's degree to laminate things for you or make bulletin boards, but if laminating something for you on occasion or helping you make a bulletin board is going to get you into the library, then I am going to do it. Being nice, gracious, happy to help, that's going to get you further in the long run.

Finally, a mission statement. I agree that the library shouldn't have it's own mission statement, but I, as a librarian, would have my own. Maybe it should be a personal motto, as opposed to a mission statement.  Mine: As a school librarian, in conjunction with teachers, administrators, lawmakers, community members, and parents, I am responsible for instilling in future generations of students with the information literacy skills that help them construct an understanding of how the world works, what their role can and should be, and what resources and tools are available for their use. I can provide this by working with the instructional staff, curriculum directors, administrators, parents and students to gain basic information literacy skills upon which they can construct further understanding.

Right, probably too long for a motto.


  1. Love the motto.

    You're right about Skype - we definitely needed Kara to nudge us and say that you had something to share.

  2. Yep, I also like your motto. :)


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