SLAWNY Spring Sharing: Librarianship = Helping Local Youths Develop

SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

Under Jinny’s invitation (as mentioned earlier), I made my way to Cheektowaga Central High School at 9am for the SLAWNY Spring Sharing event. Organized by the School Librarians’ Association of Western New York (SLAWNY), it was going to be a day workshops, talks and mingling among librarians from various local community and school libraries. Check out how it all went after the jump…


SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

For my session at 11am, I presented a discussion on Wikis in education, by sharing my experience using wikis with students. On time, I had a full classroom of more than twenty librarians, all intrigued with how they could better integrate Wikipedia and the use of wikis in education.

SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

Most of them acknowledged how we couldn’t simply deny students from using resources like Wikipedia, so the answer would be to figure out how to do it in a more informed manner. We covered some issues about how to better reference wikipedia articles, by using static snapshots Wikipedia pages (using a wiki’s history feature) and by using any Wikipedia article’s citations, rather than referencing the Wikipedia page itself (as seen on the page footer). I recalled what Alex Halavais once mentioned before, that “Wikipedia is a great place to start, not end, your research”.

We later switched gears to producing a class wiki, where I demonstrated Wikispaces.com for the ease of use, customizability and privacy options necessary for the needs of educators. You can see how my COM125 Internet class (Spring 2007) took to Wikispaces.

SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

On a personal note, it was my first time in a real American High School, so this was a treat. As I was telling Jan, one of the SLAWNY organizers, that all I knew of American high schools was from those teenage TV drama series.

SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

As I hung out for lunch, I got to know more friendly librarians (mostly women of course) and listened to several impressive speakers at the event. It was really something to peer into the world of librarianship, where one of the biggest concepts I took home was how the role of the librarian has transformed from the idea of cataloguing media, to facilitating information sharing, to a whole social movement of improving youth development in local communities.

SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

As discussed with Jan, I might pay a visit to the Cheektowaga Central High School soon again to chat with our young students about how they’re using the Internet and how they could possibly use it for school work.

SLAWNY: School Librarians' Association of Western New York - 1

To Jinny and Jan of SLAWNY: Thanks for this great learning opportunity! ­čÖé

3 thoughts on “SLAWNY Spring Sharing: Librarianship = Helping Local Youths Develop

  1. Kevin,

    I spend all my time working with K-12 teachers. I think it’s interesting that they tapped a resource outside of their district to learn about a Web 2.0-class tool; that was very good of them… how did the connection between you and the SLAWNY group develop?

    I hope you can follow up with your experience there with any success stories or at least what issues you find they face in the coming months. Many districts will ban anything with our favorite words in the URLs: wiki, blog, social network, etc. Our concern is always worrying about what kids will say in public spaces such as Wikispaces, etc.

    I have encouraged our teachers to use the Wiki module for classes inside of Moodle as a starting point; I later follow up with other alternatives. What is the teacher computer situation like there? Our teachers each have laptops; I have found a local install on the laptop of Instiki has been good; the server goes with the teacher. Students connect via the laptop’s Bonjour name (we’re all Mac).

    John’s last blog post..A Quote for Safe-Keeping

  2. Hello John, your thoughts are exactly what I experienced at the local school. Technology use is very restricted and from my understanding, while teachers and librarians are all for blogs and wikis, the State regulations just makes it so difficult for anything to happen. The risk of student abuse is present (just as the whole Internet has been), so it’ll take a while before higher-up educators realize that a little risk could bring greater rewards. As you’ve mentioned, there’s a stop-gap though, as some technology vendors have started to provide internal wikis with their learning systems, so its fairly safe since its meant for private use.

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