Webinars from both sides of the mic

I’m writing this post in bits so that I can reflect both on presenting a webinar and attending some put on by my peers.

Thursday’s Webinars:

“Serving Patrons Who’ve Served Time: Programs for incarcerated people and former offenders” – My first webinar of the day, as well as the first webinar of the week. I thought that this group did a good job finding resources that libraries can use when working with people that are either in prison or have recently been released. I also liked that they thought of some potentially pre-existing library resources that could be beneficial for this group. The best example was makerspaces, since they could be a place for people to learn skills that could help them get a job as they try to reintegrate into civilian life. One quibble: they referred to them as “adult makerspaces.” It seems to have been implied by the presenters that makerspaces are for children and young people and not for adults. Though at UMSI we work mostly with younger makers, the movement itself is for people of all ages. And if I recall correctly, it’s actually a movement that started with and for adults. I know it’s one very small issue in the light of an otherwise very informative presentation, but I think it sticks out to me because makerspaces have become a thing that is close to my heart as I gain experience researching about and participating in the field.

Meeting Tribal Needs: A Cross-Country Exploration of Library Service to Native Americans” – This group talked about an underserved population that I don’t always think about but that I want to try to incorporate into my future libraries. They were very thorough in the kinds of resources they covered, with things that could be used for public, academic or (just for me 😉 ) school libraries! I know I want to look at the types of programming done in K-12 schools working with Native American populations. And I think they did a solid job keeping people engaged, with their polls and chat questions every few minutes.

 “Queering Spaces, Empowering Pride: Library Services for LGBT*Q (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer) YA” – I actually just watched this today, but I thought I’d save my webinar for last. This webinar was all about finding ways to include all teens in programming, regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender expression. It was focused specifically on public and school libraries, and they had a lot of great ideas! One takeaway is that even if you can’t do a ton of programming for this demographic due to working in a conservative area or school district, you can include them in smaller ways that might not rock the boat quite so much but will include them. This would mean incorporating LGBT*Q books into displays on other themes where they would fit (e. g. romances for Valentine’s Day – would David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy be perfect?) and including LGBT*Q authors on panels if you invite multiple authors to your school. Small steps are the way to help LGBT*Q students feel safe and accepted in the library, which is how I want all students to feel.

Lastly, I wanted to go over the webinar I did with Rachel and Kirsten, called Intergenerational @ your library: Serving Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.” After getting together to make sure things were ready to go and giving a quick runthrough that took us right up to our scheduled start, it was showtime! We had a small but helpful and patient audience, which proved good when we forgot to hit the talk button to start off – oops! But lesson learned, and it went mostly smoothly from there. We had one glitch with a mic, but we fixed it really quickly by switching computers. We delivered all the information we wanted, and we took turns moderating to respond to people’s questions in the chat. For a first webinar, I don’t think it could have gone much better! And our feedback pretty much said the things we knew went right and wrong (though we would have loved more survey responses from our audience). I’m really glad to have this group experience under my belt before my 4T presentation. I’m still a little worried about going it alone for that, but I’m sure I’ll be fine if I just use what I’ve learned from this experience and what I’m learning at 4T training.

One lesson that I think was most important from this experience: try things out, but don’t practice too much. I think it’s better to get a solid agenda and do the whole presentation a couple of times, but I still think it’s important to be flexible and conversational. It’s a little different for me, since I’m used to straight-up presentations, both for classes and for things like the Undergraduate Symposium back at EMU. There can be questions and answers at the end, but you basically just plow through your talking points until it’s time for the Q & A. For me, it seems much more formal than a webinar, and so it needs to be much more practiced. I’m not saying that you can go into a webinar cold, with no real idea of what you’re covering – that would be silly. But like I said, once you have your plan down and you know it’s going to fit into your time slot, and you account for questions along the way and/or at the end, you don’t need to practice and polish quite as much. And you want the audience to feel like they can interact with you, even moreso than at these more academic presentations. So prepare, but don’t necessarily go through it word-for-word. Leave some wiggle room!


Providing Professional Development

(Readings post is coming before the weekly reflection because I’m waiting until I’m done with my webinar and I have attended my last webinar!)

We’ve talked about the potential for librarians to lead professional development in a school in the school library management class, and we might have even talked about it in this class before. But it’s something that I really like thinking about as something I could do in my school in order to connect with my teacher peers. We could teach each other a lot. I like that we’re taking the time in this class to think about professional development.

I really liked the Semadeni article “When Teachers Drive Their Learning.” It’s all about allowing educators to choose what sorts of professional development they want and building this sort of ongoing learning into their schedules. This is a great idea! Teachers are so busy that it might be hard for them to fit in the necessary PD; this makes it easier for them to do this. Also, choice is very powerful in getting students engaged with what they are learning, so why not offer this to educators as well? I would think that a librarian could help facilitate this kind of PD because he or she would know of where to find resources for a particular topic that teachers what to learn about, and because he or she would have a strong network to turn to for finding people who might be able to work with teachers on their topics. It’s a very user-centered approach. Good stuff!

Kristin’s article also focused on individualized PD – in this case, an online module that teachers can do as they have time. It was a practice adopted due to cuts in library staffing, but I think it also worked out to let teachers work through the process of learning a tech tool at their own pace. One interesting thing that happened is that some teachers started to work together when they didn’t have an expert to work with. I love the collaboration that this inspired! And I think blogging about the learning experience is great; it provides teachers a way to “write to learn” and reflect on their use of the tool and how they could use it with students.

Lastly, we have the Blowers & Reed article. I really liked this model of PD as well, with both the individual discovery portion that inspired Kristin’s version, and the in-person core competencies courses. The tiered approach is great so that each staff member can get the information that is relevant to him or her instead of everyone learning everything even if they don’t need it. And I think it’s important that those core competencies are learned in a classroom setting as opposed to on one’s own; this way, whoever is leading the PD can make sure that everyone is gaining the necessary knowledge and skills they are there for. The individual approach seems like it would work better with the Web 2.0 tools, especially since I would think that there is more room for creativity in these tools than in the things covered in the core competencies – you don’t want people filling out timecards creatively!

All in all, I think all of these ideas for PD keep the user in mind and make it so that each user gains the necessary and/or desired skills in a way that generally works best for an individual. Of course I’ll need to wait until I’m in my own library to know what sorts of continued learning are needed and how it might best be taught, but I think that these user-centered learning designs can be used in just about any context.

Webinars, a.k.a. Do ALL THE THINGS!

I’ve been getting info about webinars from two different streams lately – our class and then the training for the 4T Conference. So I think I should be pretty prepared for the basic parts of webinars – being a moderator, how to load the technology, how to use Blackboard Collaborate, etc. However, I’m still a little nervous for the webinar itself. Luckily we don’t present for almost a week, so we have lots of times to get info and to practice.

Webinars are so complex, between the technology, the teaching, and the attempts to incorporate audience input. It’s hard to capture people’s attention when you’re just a voice and some slides coming from the computer. But Rachel, Kirsten, and I think we have come up with a couple of interesting ways to keep people engaged and maybe even have a little fun as we talk about grandfamilies (where grandparents are raising their grandchildren). It’s a lot to multi-task, but luckily we are doing these webinars in teams and so we have someone who can present, someone to moderate, and someone who can make sure the audience is seeing what we want them to see and who can look up information if someone’s question stumps us. I don’t quite know how I’ll manage everything when I’m by myself for my 4T webinar about Canva, but by then I’ll have this webinar and my time moderating the one for my 4T master teacher, Judy Bowling, under my belt, and so I should be at least a little more comfortable.

The highlight of class was Kristin’s demonstration of Blackboard. Maybe it’s because I’m incredibly tired at this point, but I will admit to being one of the students who was drawing on the presentation when we still had the privilege. I just couldn’t resist! But it did allow Kristin to take away everyone’s privileges and show us how to do that in our own presentations. All in all, the misbehavior turned into a learning opportunity. At least that’s my excuse. 🙂

Well, soon enough we’ll be put to the test and have to deal with potentially rowdy (but hopefully not!) webinar goers. Our assignments have been very practical this semester, but this to me seems the most real in a lot of ways, since we’re really doing a full (albeit a little short) webinar. And we’re graded on our performance instead of our planning and reflection. Best of luck to all, and I’ll try not to doodle on your slides while you’re talking if you don’t doodle on mine. 😉

Twitter Experiment!

So my dive into Twitter has been a whirlwind, mostly consisting of yesterday and today, but it has been an interesting experience so far! And I’m sure I’ll have more to update on in the future. Anyway, I thought I’d tell you what was up so far.

First off, my first Tweet tagged #si643:

Right now, Laurie Halse Anderson and the publisher of Speak are trying to raise funds for the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, where MacMillan is matching all donations up to $15,000. Check it out! The first time around, I forgot the hashtag for class, so I did it again with it. It seems like Twitter has a few specific uses, including the ability to raise awareness and/or encourage action among users. This can also be seen in the tweets people have been sending to Representative Paul Ryan about his proposed budget that cuts funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Services. I’m not sure what impact these tweets will have, but it is a way that people are speaking out against this budget. You can’t see the tweets on Ryan’s Twitter page/feed/whatever it’s called, but you can see many if you look for #imls.

Another thing I’ve been trying to do on Twitter is grow a network of librarians and other people and organizations that might be helpful in my future as a school librarians. I started out with the bloggers I followed earlier this semester, and then followed Kristin, and then just expanded from there. There were already some authors I was following, so I kept them, and I added some more. I love authors, especially how much they support librarians. I mean, libraries are a big part of author success, but it’s also just nice that they are so fond of us! 🙂 And it’s a way to keep up with what they are doing. I also followed publishers for the same reason. It’s an easy way to keep an eye on the children’s and YA book market. Besides them, I followed a bunch of librarians, some of whom I’ve heard of and some I haven’t. It’s cool to see how close the community of librarians is on Twitter and all of the professional conversations that go on. Individual librarians and professional organizations post information about what they are up to and what is potentially coming in the world of libraries, and so again it’s a way to stay on the cutting edge. It’s also easier to follow than things like blogs because it comes in such small, condensed pieces.

So I’ve had Twitter for a little while, but this is the first time I’m using it for more than just contest entries. I kind of retooled my account, unfollowing a lot of the celebrities I was following. I already see what they are up to on Facebook, so I don’t really need to see it on another platform, even if Twitter is quite a bit different from Facebook. For me at least, I think it makes more sense to use Twitter for mostly professional business or at least things that are interesting to librarians such as myself. And I’ve linked the Tumblr from my 500 project, just to to try to do a little more with both Twitter and Tumblr. I don’t know how long I’ll stick with Twitter without needing to for a class, but now that I’m looking at it from a professional angle I think I might get at least a little more use out of it.

AADL, Embedded Librarianship, and webinar stuff

This past class, we started off talking about the AADL controversy, where the director told the Ann Arbor City Council about her concerns that heroin usage in the library (which is surprisingly common) would spread into the park they want to build next to the downtown branch. It was an important conversation to have with our blog cohorts. What my peers and I talked about is how the heroin use piece of the puzzle needs to be seen as a larger community problem that strikes people of all walks of life and throughout Southeastern Michigan. The library can’t do everything to stop it – it’s not in their jurisdiction – and it is something that everyone needs to work on together so that we can save lives and keep our communities safe. For the library piece of the puzzle, we talked about how the increased police force that one city council member proposed for the library would not only be unnecessary (they have good response times to the library when there are issues) but also a violation of the library code of ethics about giving the best service to all patrons. I thought particularly about people who come from places where the police might not be as helpful or friendly as they can be here; an increased law enforcement presence would just make people scared and nervous. And we need people to be comfortable in the library if they are going to use our services. So there are behaviors that we want to reduce in the library (drug use), but we want to make sure patrons are treated respectfully. It’s a little tough, and I don’t know the answer, but it’s something that I’m sure the AADL will work through it.

After that, we hit on the idea of embedded librarianship. This term is new to me, but it kind of sounds like what school librarians do all the time, and there are public library connections I didn’t consider – like bookmobiles! It’s about visibility and outreach in ways that patrons want. I love the idea about giving books to senior centers! What better way to drum up support than to work with the people who, as Kristin pointed out, are the most likely to vote. It kind of ties into our webinar topic of underserved groups, since we need to find the way to meet them where they are and provide what they want. I can’t wait to see what our class comes up with!

Speaking of webinars: I might end up blending what I remember from this and what I remember from 4T training this week. Sorry about that – we did the same assignment for both! We went over effective and ineffective webinar strategies. There were plenty to write about, but I think I will take one that I liked in an example from 4T: setting up group norms so that participants know what is expected and are more inclined to participate. I bring it up since I don’t remember it coming up in class, but it was a really simple but powerful way to get people engaged from early on instead of fading in and out. The presenter in the example, Delia DeCourcy, told participants that she wanted them to do what she was doing instead of “lurking.” She wanted them using the tools she mentioned, answering polls, and taking part in the chat. I know I’m not good at paying attention during webinars, so I think these expectations would help me stay with it and really learn something. It’s something I want to consider for our webinars in class and for 4T, even though my sessions for both of those are pretty short. Though it takes a bit of what precious little time we have to share with our audience, I think it could make the experience that much more meaningful for them.

Getting Ready for Webinars

This week’s readings were a preparation for our upcoming webinars. I like the chapter from How People Learn that talked about how master teachers can combine their knowledge of pedagogy with their deep subject knowledge. The authors also talked about the way master teachers know the information that might make novices slip up. I think I have mentioned it before, but Dr. Chuck is a great example of a master teacher in this context. He knows a ton about Python, and he knows the best way to explain it so that programming newbies such as myself in 502 can understand and learn. It takes a lot of experience to get to the point of being a master teacher. I’m glad to have the experiences in this class and other coursework as well as my student-teaching so that I can get a little closer to being a master teacher before I’m working as a school librarian.

One thing that I thought was interesting was whether or not a master teacher can teach any subject. The authors of HPL don’t think so, and I would tend to agree with them, due to the content knowledge it takes to be a teacher. However, I do think there is something to be said about trying to learn something alongside students, at least once in a while. It’s what happens sometimes at Michigan Makers, where we might be unfamiliar with a tool we’re demonstrating to the kids. I’m still working on my understanding of the Little Bits Korg kit, though I have worked with students as they learn. But it obviously isn’t as effective as if a master of it were teaching. There is some clunkiness or awkwardness in the teacher and the student being on similar levels, though I think it can facilitate a connection between the teacher and student by bringing them closer together.

The articles on embedded librarianship were another interesting thing to think about. I’m not planning to work in an academic library, so my experience will be different, but I can see some of these concepts in practice at MLibrary where I work. I’ve heard a little about how the subject librarians go into classes to teach lessons, or how some of them host office hours where their students are located. I’ve also heard about a class where students are taught how to use the library’s resources. These are all ways to reach out to patrons. The webinar idea was interesting as well, and I like that it would be a way for librarians to connect with students when they may not be able to get to their class. And it allows students to interact with librarians wherever they are in the world, kind of like how we use chat for reference. The only way for librarians to get patrons to use library resources is to reach out in ways in which they will respond and that fit into their busy lives.


One-Shot Workshops: The Aftermath

That title makes it sound really ominous, but I think that the one-shot workshops went pretty well. Our group covered a wide range of topics and tools that apply to the profession:

  • collaboration between school, public, and academic librarians (that’s us!) – ways we can work together to provide better service to patrons
  • the World Digital Library – an awesome tool that compiles primary-source materials from around the world
  • problematic patron behavior – how to deal with it
  • awkward situations – a discussion that focused particularly on microagressions and how to respond to them respectfully
  • how librarians share information with patrons and each other – what’s working and especially what needs to be improved

The workshops were basically facilitated discussions on the above topics. As I think Amber or Kirsten brought up in their workshop on awkward situations, sometimes the best thing to do with a lot of the things we focused on is to get together with our peers and discuss them openly and honestly. I haven’t been to too many workshops so far, so I’m used to thinking of them more as how-to demonstrations of databases or other tools. That was sort of what the World Digital Library workshop, presented by Kirsten and Enrique, was, except they gave us much more exploration time than a normal workshop would have. It was really all about exploring an awesome and new (for me at least) tool that I know I will be able to use in my future career. Now I’ll know one place to send history teachers if they’re looking for primary sources for their students to use!

Thinking back on the workshops, I find myself comparing them to the book clubs. It felt very different in a lot of ways. As facilitators, we needed to be more involved this time around, since we were actually teaching something, even if we did a lot of discussions like we did in the book clubs. And we had more to plan out, like what activities we wanted to do to help our participants learn. And we had to keep a better track of time to fit everything in. Workshopping in 20-minute increments is hard! But I think we did well in this challenge and put everything we could into those 20 (ended up being more like 25) minutes we had, and I think we got a lot of thought going about collaboration, which Krista and I are really passionate about. In case you missed it, here are the Venn diagrams we created with the group for the responsibilities of different librarians and the ways they can collaborate:

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