Thursday, November 09, 2006

ISLMA workshop: using new media to stimulate creativity and collaboration

[crossposted from ISLMA conference 2006 blog]

today i'm in arlington, right outside chicago, for the illinois school library media association's (or ISLMA) annual conference. this afternoon i led a workshop titled "using new media to stimulate creativity and collaboration"; tomorrow, i give the breakfast keynote talk called "consumed young minds, creative young minds."

the focus of the workshop was collective intelligence and student learning so the audience of k-12 librarians and teachers was perfect. the workshop was three hours long and included somewhere around thirty librarians and teachers.

we covered a lot of ideas in three hours and here's a few things i remember:

web 2.0
i began with an overview of web 2.0, noting that much of it is a marketing meme for (surprise) web 2.0 start up companies. that said, i introduced the notion of collective intelligence (something librarians know a lot about) and talked about adding and editing (or annonating), tags and folksonomy, and user-driven content. (much of this part was generated from multiple readings of tim o'reilly's important and influencial "what is web 2.0?") i coupled web 2.0 characteristics with web 2.0 sites like amazon, blogs, facebook, flickr, wikipedia, yelp, and youtube.

participatory culture
next, i discussed portions of henry jenkins' "confronting the challenges of participatory culture: media education for the 21st century." i love this paper because it describes participatory culture as something that can take place online or offline, on blogs or in libraries. in particular, i discussed jenkins' five elements of participatory culture:
  1. relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement;
  2. strong support for creating and sharing one's creations with others'
  3. some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices;
  4. members believe that their contributions matter; and
  5. members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).
(at some point during the workshop i mentioned that jenkins' paper was funded by the macarthur foundation's $50 million, 5 year initiative on digital media and learning. i suggested that in addition to funding individiual scholars at individual universities perhaps they might fund organizations like ISLMA which serves to network multiple libraries at multiple schools across the state of illinois. plus, if we are talking about digital media and learning, doesn't this include libraries and media centers?)

then, the fun part - examples! borrowing heavily from the insights of brian benzinger (of solution watch blog), and especially his blog entry titled "back to school with the class of web 2.0: part 3," we discussed educational uses of flickr, course blogs, and school blogs. along the way, i mentioned the many and wonderful ways the rambling librarian uses blogs to promote, extend, and re-imagine libraries, including the role of computers games in libraries. [i promised participants citations for other web 2.0/library 2.0 blogs and here's two of my favorites: and free range librarian. i hope participants will add more!]

but the best part was when workshop participants began talking about their own projects. we talked about what individual librarians and teachers are doing, what classes are doing, and what libraries and schools are doing. and we talked about what we could be doing - with modest technological help, with modest funding, and with modest collaboration with teachers and administrators.

we talked about getting buy-in from teachers, students, and administrators. we talked about starting with modest projects and letting them grow as needed. we talked about projects that require a minimal amount of technology (not to mention time and labor) and we talked about projects that would require a lot (or too much) time.

we talked about a lot more than my notes above reveal. but it's hard to conduct a workshop and simultaneously take ample notes for a blog post! some can do it, like kathleen, but i'm still learning.

i've always enjoyed conferences and am a regular attendee of AIR and ASA. but there's something about library conferences - whether it's ALA or PLA or ACRL or ISLMA - that is so much more exciting, so much more communal, so much more collective. when done right, conferences are about collective intelligence and, once again, this is a topic librarians know quite a lot about.

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