28 October 2008

Teaching Students

I had a paper accepted at ACRL Seattle a few weeks ago. = Very cool. I will be bringing two students from Champlain's Emergent Media Center with me to talk about the process we have gone through in developing our new information literacy game. I have learned so much from these students about our approach to info lit and pedagogy. And I don't mean it in terms of just what's fun. They are tremendously creative and evaluative so they really push me to give session design my full attention. Talking with them often leads to long writing sessions afterwards where I try to put together my thoughts with the ideas we generate.

It's interesting to me how often we use the words "teach our students". For me, I have been fortunate to watch and learn from educators who view working with students as a two way street: we teach and they teach. Perhaps we are more intentional in our teaching but students teach me things all the time. And not just while I answer their reference questions. Just listening to them sort through a problem or respond to questions teaching me a great deal about the ways they use, understand, and relate to information and the library. But more so, they teach me about the world in which we live and how they participate in it. How do they interpret what is taught them at school? Are they learning? How does what they are learning relate to what we are seeing, doing, thinking, wanting? Especially when it comes to info lit, my goal continues to be to create skills that are applicable and injected into students' everyday lives. It's hard to know how to do that without really learning from students what they value, what they do, what they are interested in, what they are learning and wanting to learn.

Sometimes it is hard to create space for that kind of dual learning. Working on this project with Tim and Lauren has created a project dedicated to that kind of learning. We are collaborating, teaching one another, bringing our own strengths and vision to the table.

But what about when I'm not working on the proposal? When do I create spaces for that kind of teaching and learning? Where do I do it? Where do you?

20 October 2008

The Part We Have to Play

Perhaps you are wondering where the Sheck has been as of late? And I don't mean the Sheck Spot, because I have been posting tidbits, but where is THE SHECK? The thoughtful posts, that get me to flesh out a question or an experience?

I've been wondering that myself. And two things come to mind:
1. Teaching. I've just finished the IL sessions for the 2nd Year Core courses, Champlain's nascent Gen Ed curriculum, and I am meeting with the other librarians tomorrow to rehearse for the 1st year courses, which start next week. I've been putting a lot into the design of these sessions and to collaborating with the ever energetic and amazing Andy Burkhardt to make these suckers work. And not just work but interest the students. Invigorate them. Engage them. Did it work...I think so. I hope so. I think so.
2. The Election. No one should be that surprised to know I am an Obama supporter. But I also am passionately interested in the way in which the digital, media entrenched world shapes the election. Even more interesting is how the digital world shapes our understanding and participation in elections, in democracy. And without question, it has. Sarah Silverman, Don't Vote, Yes We Can, We Are the Ones...full of famous folks, yes. But also aimed at informing and empowering voters, young voters, to participate and think about the world we live in and the opportunities that are before us.

So when I read this post by Ryan Deschamps, the wheels really started turning. Perhaps it was the wikipedia analogy that got me thinking:
To me, voting is the Wikipedia of our government. If alot of people participate, putting in quality thought and decision, then a wiki will provide excellent content. If people let the system be taken over by folks who just happen to show up, our system crumbles and can even be used for serious wrong-doing.

Ryan, that's an idea worth running with. I mean, Forrest Gump style running.

But here's the part that I am stuck on. Ryan's analogy puts a hefty burden on everyday people: to educate themselves enough to make a quality decision. I am in no way suggesting that Joe the Plumber couldn't do that. My question is about WHERE they do that? HOW do they do that? Are we assuming that every one knows the difference between "good" information and "bad" information? Truth and lies? Facts and fiction?

If so, I'll be out of job.

If not...then we have a lot of work to do. And we is not just librarians. We is those of us that do know the difference. Those of us that have the skills and experience to discern between the shades of gray, at least as best as we are able. So videos that bring good looking people out to those of us in our pjs perusing YouTube is great. But we need more than just a Get Out the Vote campaign. We need everyone to have the tools and skills to make quality decisions. We need to find creative ways to educate more people about the issues in ways that they can understand and engage in, much like Andy and I have been trying to do with our students. We need to push our media, our politicians, our schools, but most importantly ourselves. Learning More Is Doing Something!

Which is why I am voting for Obama. Because in the end, the real message, the first message, and the one that still puts butterflies in my stomach is Yes WE Can. Not just him...Us. We. The People. We have a part to play, and it's time that we played it. Game on.

08 October 2008

Met the Author: T.C. Boyle

Every year, Champlain selects a Community Book for the campus to read and come together to discuss. The highlight to the experience is the author's visit to campus. This year we had T.C. Boyle.

I'll be blogging more about the program and his visit at Champlain on our library blog but I wanted to take a moment here to talk about how AWESOME a person "Tom" was. We've met a number of authors at Champlain but this was the first one who was genuinely interested in getting to know us, the people that brought him here, and share a bit of himself with us. What's amazing is that this is an author who is often known as a renegade. But I, and I feel comfortable speaking with my fellow committee members here, found him to be warm, funny, engaging, and just plain cool. And what's best is that our students felt the same way. They laughed at his stories. They asked him questions. They introduced themselves and talked to him about their interpretations of the book, his experience as a writer, his perspectives on the issues he delves into in his books. It takes a lot to bring authors to campus but those few hours, those few precious hours when you see a student really learning something, really experiencing something by meeting the author...it makes it so worth it. We never know what will put students onto their paths, something that Tom talked about in his lecture and reading. I hope that some student looks back on this visit as a moment that helped them realize there are a lot choices, some of them different than what they find in the box.

If you have a Community Book, whatever you call it, that brought the author to campus, I'd love to hear which authors you've had and how your students reacted to them. We are always thinking about next year's book.

However, I think T.C. will be a hard act to follow.

03 October 2008

Doing a lot with a little

I love when other librarians blog conferences. It lets me feel like I am included without having to be present. With such a heavy teaching load these last few weeks and having just returned from a conference, I decided to skip Dartmouth Biomedical Library's October Conference. I know. This is a great conference. Believe me, I hear you. And great conference less than two hours away is a real rarity in Vermont.

Even though I wasn't able to make it, I was excited to see the Multitasking Librarian blogging away about it. Amanda seems to have interest in a lot of the same topics as I do because she hit all the presentations I would have checked out. Her posts really gave me a sense of the presentation: the issues, the questions, the opportunities, the obstacles. Great job!

Even though The Sheck couldn't make it to Dartmouth, I was excited that my director, Janet Cottrell, was slotted to speak, and even more excited to see Amanda's description of the presentation. Champlain has done an awful lot from within in a short period of time to make the library the epicenter of campus events and an essential part of the intellectual fabric of the college. Between our Events and Displays, our cool use of technology, especially photo sharing, we might be small but we are mighty!

In a way, it's much like blogging. As I said about Amanda's posts, they are informative albeit informal. It might take only a little to post but it offers others quite a lot.

And it brings me back to Champlain. I happen to be at one of those libraries where every one on staff is putting in 110% and doing it creatively, passionately, and collaboratively. So while we often can't do everything on our wish list, the real point is that our wish list is long with awesome ideas. So as I sat here on a Friday, getting ready for a much needed weekend, and I saw a post about Janet's presentation, it reminded me that even though I am busy and sometimes struggling to keep up...I have a great team around me. Small but mighty. Doing a lot with a little. But making an impact in big ways. Happy Friday.