In the Library with a Comic Book: CLA 2014 Panel

in the library with a comic book logoIn this episode of In the Library with a Comic Book recorded in November, Jack Baur and Amanda Jacobs Foust host a panel discussion at CLA 2014 in Oakland, CA with Nick Dragotta, Mariko Tamaki, and Gene Luen Yang.  Produced by Donna Mettier. On the panel: Gene Luen Yang, author and illustrator of Boxers & SaintsAmerican Born Chinese and The Shadow Hero; Nick Dragotta, illustrator of HowToonsEast of West and Fantastic Four; and Mariko Tamaki, author of This One Summer and Skim.

Digital Badges Survey

What’s a Digital Badge?

A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned, a class you’ve taken, or a task you’ve mastered. Earn badges and then display them online on your website, blog or on your social media accounts (like Facebook and LinkedIn). Digital badges make learning visible.

Digital badges are currently being used by libraries in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:

Badges and Professional Development

Infopeople is exploring the potential of digital badges for professional development. How could digital badges be connected to professional development for library staff? What is their potential as a way to motivate learners and also as a way to document and validate professional development? To consider this, let’s look at a scenario.

Current Scenario
Karen graduated with her MLS several years ago and is employed as a Reference Librarian. She has taken numerous online Infopeople courses for professional development. She downloads a Certificate of Course Completion after each course and shares it with her supervisor. Karen would like to become a library director and has also been taking online Infopeople courses to develop some of the skills and knowledge she will need in that role. She recently applied for a director position and on her resume, she listed the relevant Infopeople courses she has completed.

What if digital badges were issued instead of (or in addition to) Certificates of Course Completion? One of the things that badge advocates are excited about is that, unlike a Certificate of Course Completion, a badge can contain links to evidence of learning, such as artifacts produced by learners.

Digital Badge Scenario
Karen would receive a digital badge for each of the courses she has taken. She could include these on her website, blog, or social media sites (like Facebook and LinkedIn). When her supervisor or a potential employer clicks on the badge, they will see an outline of content covered in the course and examples of work Karen completed for the course.

There are, of course, numerous questions and issues that would need to be addressed. For example, Karen may take advantage of professional development opportunities beyond Infopeople. Will other organizations offer badges, too?survey

As we explore the possibilities, we’d like to hear your thoughts about digital badges!  Please take a few minutes and respond to the questions in this brief survey. Your input will not only help us better understand how badges could support learners in Infopeople courses, but will also help us identify training needs that exist.  We’ll share what we learn in a follow-up post. Thank you for your time!

Libraries: The “Spine” of the Community and STEM Learning

The third in a series of IMLS Focus events took place June 5 at the Chicago Public Library and brought together a diverse group of library stakeholders to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Learning in Libraries. As with the previous two Focus events, this series of panel discussions organized by IMLS provided the chance “to hear from a broad range of stakeholders about future IMLS funding strategies, particularly for the agency’s National Leadership Grant program.” Throughout the day panelists from libraries, museums and science organizations considered the STEM landscape, goals and impacts, program models, scalability, capacity and diversity as they relate to opportunities for libraries and STEM learning.

Susan Hildreth, Director of IMLS, led the charge for the day with the thought that libraries have the chance to grow and support a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs by bringing successful STEM programming and learning spaces to the community. Connie Yowell (Director of Education for U.S. Programs, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation), the panelist most quoted throughout the day, aptly described the role of libraries as the “spine” of the community that connects organizations, people and services into a network of learning. Connie also encouraged libraries to value their existing assets by remaking and remixing what they already have to transform their communities away from consumption and towards participation in those assets through STEM programming, maker spaces and interactive engagement. The discussion throughout the day produced the following takeaways:

Libraries that are successful in this endeavor will need to…

  • Commit to change in staffing, policies, structure, procedures, collections and staff training
  • Build capacity in alternative funding, structures, outreach and embedded and meaningful partnerships
  • Collaborate in partnerships rather than being the isolated gatekeepers who are experts on everything
  • Focus on context rather than content since youth are most engaged when solving a problem or challenge in context

Libraries that attempt to engage with STEM learning will find challenges such as…

  • Training and educating library staff in STEM principles and programming
  • Adapting STEM concepts into the library culture, language and mission
  • Maintaining diversity in STEM learning opportunities

Panel participants represented various successful models and partnerships around STEM learning include…

  • FUSE – A new kind of interest-driven learning experience being developed by researchers at Northwestern University with the goal of engaging pre-teens and teens in STEM/STEAM activities.
  • Star_Net Library Education Programs: Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Star_Net provides science and technology resources for libraries.
  • Hive Learning Networks: Funded with innovation funds from the MacArthur Foundation, these networks connect librarians, museums and after-school folks to create connected learning experiences in which youth can more easily participate in accessible, “anytime, anywhere” learning activities by pursuing their interests and following their peers.
  • XTech and California Tinkering Network: Both projects connected with Exploratorium and intended to provide programming for populations that are underrepresented in STEM.
  • City-Wide STEM: The Chicago Public Library partnered with multiple organizations for the Summer of Learning, a city-wide effort to engage young people in hands on STEM learning.

IMLS plans to develop an updated funding guide based on the discussion and feedback from all three IMLS Focus events.