Learning 2.0: Focus on Discovery & Fun!
by Helene Blowers, Director of Digital Strategy, Columbus Metropolitan Library
Keeping a breast of new technologies and trends has always been a characteristic of a savvy librarian. But with the proliferation of new technologies, such as blogs, RSS, and wikis, that reshaping the web, it’s more than just your organization’s tech-savvy librarians that need to be the know; almost anyone who works in a library needs to have some knowledge about these easy to use social networking tools. And as the staff from the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) learned with Learning 2.0, you don’t need to attend workshops or training classes to gain some basic knowledge; all you need is a goal and a little bit of weekly play time.
Learning 2.0 (http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com) is online learning program that was created to help library staff gain exposure and comfort with all the new social networking technologies that are rocking the web these days. Collectively referred to as Web 2.0, these technologies are not only rocking the web, they are also reshaping the way people, society, businesses and, yes even libraries access information and communicate with each other.
The program, which has already been duplicated by over 500 libraries worldwide, walks participants through 23 small discovery exercises over a 9 week period of time. The exercises, or ‘things” as they’re called (after the popular goal setting site 43things.com) are grouped together in categories so that participants can focus on one specific technology (example, wikis) each week before moving on. What makes the program unique from other staff training programs, is that while the participants are learning about all these new technologies that enable online social networks, they are also actively engaged in experiencing one.
To track each staff member’s growth and learning with this program, each participant is required to create a blog (this is focus on week 2) and share their discoveries for each “thing” that they complete. And it’s from this peer-to-peer blogging network that the richest learning experiences are generated. Through the learning and knowledge exchanging process, self-proclaimed tech novices became experienced Learning 2.0 tutors to other staff members and as participants confidences grew their discoveries branched out beyond 23 Things to creating avatars for themselves, playing with image generators, and creating fun polls.
The beauty behind this program is that was also created using the very same free social networking tools that participants learn about making it easy to duplicate by any library or organization, regardless of how resource strapped. In fact, several other library systems around the county have already taken up the offer and have either borrowed or duplicated content from the Learning 2.0 site to create discovery opportunities for their own staff. The Yarra Plenty Regional Library (http://www.yarraplentyonlinelearning.blogspot.com/) system, in Melbourne Australia was the first to duplicate the program and the Missouri River Regional Library (http://mrrllearning.blogspot.com/) in Jefferson City, MO has actually expanded the program to 29 things to include MySpace, Gmail and more. And as any smart librarian knows, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel in order to help your library and staff travel far.
So if you’re interested in finding out more about this freely accessible learning program or are interesting in creating learning 2.0 opportunities for your own staff, take a few tips from me … focus on discovery, offer incentives (even small ones) and make it FUN!
Helene Blowers is currently the Director of Digital Strategy for the Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH and the architect of the popular discovery learning program, Learning 2.0 which she introduced to the staff at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County during her tenure there. This optional discovery learning program was originally developed for PLCMC staff , but since its launch in 2006 and has benefited library staff world-wide. For more info on Learning 2.0, visit http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com