Last week, I participated in a new online discussion series from the Pennsylvania Library Association's College and Research Division, called Connect and Communicate. This session focused on technology in the classroom, and used Adobe Connect to connect librarians across the state for an hour (noon- 1:00 pm) to chat and share ideas. (To read the discussion notes, click here). While I have used Adobe Connect before, and attended professional networking events, this was the first time I had the opportunity to see what tools professional librarians are thinking about and using on a daily basis. It was a new perspective for me- as a student, I often think about tools that I personally use, or tools that I'm supposed to learn about. Seeing what my future colleagues are using, enjoying, and disliking, was a great way for me to see what I am already comfortable with, and what I need to learn more about.
The specifics: Librarians are using tools in ways that I had not considered; for example, one librarian mentioned using iPads as a way to teach "untethered" classes. He uses a computer to project onto a screen, but rather than stay tied to that computer, he is able to carry around an iPad with the same screen to show students specific, one-on-one examples. He can also move around to monitor students' understanding, a key aspect that is often limited when standing at a desktop. Librarians are also using video editing software to create short demos on how to use databases, for students to access virtually whenever a librarian isn't present to help. One thing that these academic librarians weren't loving, however, was clickers- they felt that clickers were often limiting, and controlled the lesson with stagnant questions that couldn't be adapted to fit the changing needs of the group. The conversation about technology lasted at least 45 minutes, and could easily have gone on for hours more.
What I learned: There's a lot of new, game-changing technology out there, and professionals want library students to be involved in learning about it, and sharing that knowledge! We are their future colleagues, and they want to know what we think. Also, many of these librarians were instructional librarians- they are teaching information literacy classes to students, and appreciate feedback from students on what worked, and what didn't. Joining an online discussion is an easy way to get involved with professional associations; you can participate as much, or as little, as you want. Also, you skip the awkward networking conversations and questions, because there is a specific topic to be discussed. For me, this was definitely an hour well-spent, and I look forward to participating in the discussion on September 11th!