Home » Uncategorized » Live from the masslib14 panel (2:45-4, 5/8/2014)

Live from the masslib14 panel (2:45-4, 5/8/2014)




We are ALL tech educators – we just don’t get credit enough. We have to work together and make it a core mission of what we do in oublic libraries.

Anna Litten started us off.

Michael Wick is here from Peabody (and has a 10 day old at home). He does tech instruction at the main branch but finds getting to the branches difficult. He teaches “to whatever questionc omes theough the door, in whatever format the person can understand – handouts to YouTube. ”

Jason Homer teaches in the third most educated community in the country. Theresa Maturevich is in a smaller community with lots of people who have gifted technology. She is the only full time persons her department and they don’t have a computer lab. She “answers it all” and has found a recipe for moonshine. Sharani Robbins is in a library with two branches but all the tech training happens at the main one (her’s). She does drop in and classes (Thursday afternoon for absolute beginners). She uses handouts (PDF online). She likes Michael’s YouTube videos. She used to be frustrated by overdrive support but has found it improve greatly recently. She helps people because she’s not a geek and is still learning tech herself – so she has patience, sympathy, and compassion.

Michel uses Camtasia (free to tryst create video

Jason used wordpress in a class. It was a useful tool and provided a great resource for the students to refer to after class ended.
Theresa’s most successful tool is her home-designed overdrive pamphlets – that they have to update frequently. Their are five different ones (identifiable by color). She shares with the Minuteman network and freely borrows from others doing the same. She’s found that people really like handouts!
Sharani uses gcflearnfree.org for great tutorials and teaching tools on a ton of topics – and high quality.

Jing is another suggested tool for a cheaper version of Camtasia.

Classes are not a common teaching tool. Theresa started with e-reading classes and got overwhelmed by tons of unique questions on different devices. One on one works better. Michael saw Anna doing an open computer lab and copied it. It’s basically a drop in class. He still conducts traditional classes – especially when he can work with local community organizations. He found local business leaders were looking for a presenter at a meeting. He purchased a business database and showed them how to create sales leads, business profiles and more. He got 30 people at the class by using his community contacts to fill it. His Facebook class got no students.

Jason is a proud geek and teaches more advanced classes – like making directions in MS Publisher. His handouts are heavy on concepts, not pictures.

Sharani teaches absolute beginners (usually seniors) and e-reader classes after the holidays (with local business support). A challenge she’s identified is the great diversity of devices that walk in our doors. She’s best at beginner courses, not so much at more advanced skills.

This summer michael is going to hang out at the pool and teach people how to use overdrive!

If no one is attending classes, stop and do something else. Be ready to change gears – Theresa turned a book discussion into a Pinterest instruction opportunity.

Some libraries use high school students to staff open labs and get a volunteer opportunity as well as providing instruction.

Instruction should follow community needs and wants – as should all library services. Using a mouse is a necessary skill for finding a book in our catalog. Building tech skills will also help address our community’s economic challenges.

Wellesley is a “gateway for ideas” and directly addresses technology and instruction in their mission. The information landscape requires fluency in technology. Finding credible, lasting information and being intelligent users of google is SO essential. Technology is simply how information is shared now – it’s integral to what we do.

The Bedford mission addresses lifelong learning and posits the library as an “idea center”. Technology is the idea we are very often helping people with. When they ask for help downloading ebooks they really want help using their device. Theresa keeps styluses at her desk (and big erasers too). She’s also not afraid to learn new gadgets “on the fly” and immediately share what she learned.

Sharani finds so much of what she does is help people do what they want to do on the technology the library provides. There are so many other electronic resources the library provides, it’s essential to help people learn how to access them. She feels the library focus really shifting from books to computer access.

Anna shows how google helps people find, organize, and share information. We have to remember the second two parts.

Jason reminded us of the massive change in taxes – they are all going online. Hunting and fishing licenses are entirely online.

Question: how do you get other staff to help teach?
Jason is lucky – his administration requires certain tiers of librarians to teach.
Michael tricks staff. He doesn’t ask them to teach classes – not their strength. The best teachers though are only one step ahead of their students – easiest when not loaded down by jargon and assumptions. He has one staff who does one-on-one intro to the internet on demand. Another staff member took every ereader home and became the resident expert.
Theresa is often alone at the desk. With admin support she’s working on developing other staff’s skills so that help is available when she’s not there. They are taking small topics and addressing them in staff meetings. She brings staff in and offers extra hours to learn – and expects people to be constantly striving to improve. “The biggest room in the world is room for improvement”.

Technology instruction IS reference. It’s not always possible to deliver it (one staff on a Sunday can’t given an hour of attention to anyone).

One audience member shared her frustration teaching overdrive across multiple devices in one class. Separating by operating system really helped.

How do you deal with chronic students who never learn?
Theresa instituted a limit of two classes per topic. Beyond that, people get referred to a list of other places they can get additional help. Once they have addressed the fundamentals they can return.
Michael uses curriculum with set classes. He has been successful getting people to self-deselect when they just aren’t getting it. Patience is essential!
Anna reminded us that often we need to evaluate our teaching if people aren’t getting it after several repeats.

How do you manage pre-requisites?
Jason has simply asked people to leave. “This isn’t the best time for you and I to talk. To be respectful of YOUR time, you should come back later.”
“Why don’t we talk after class?”
We have to mindful of the temptation to talk to the”top of the room” and respect people who are starting with less information.

Getting out there and finding who needs your classes is important to do BEFORE organizing the classes.

Tech instruction takes many different forms. We need to stay goal oriented, talk with educators and instructional designers.


  1. annalitten says:

    Huge Thanks to Clayton Cheever for live-blogging our presentation!

  2. […] Clayton Cheever live-blogged this session; his notes are posted on the Teaching the Tools site. […]

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