Making Learning Fun, Zombie Style

If you missed out on being selected for the Hyperlinked Library MOOC with Michael Stephens, here’s an alternative. At first I thought this was a joke–a MOOC about zombies. But it’s real and even has course objectives listed! If you look at the objectives you’ll see that this class is not about zombies at all. They are teaching real stuff about public health, survival, and disease. Who in their right mind would take a course billed as: Infectious Disease and Public Health. Not many. However thousands are registering for this class based on the title and premise–you can make learning about infections diseases fun.

Is there a way you can apply this idea to your training? Absolutely! There are great films with good and bad examples of customer service. Clerks is the first that comes to mind. When we put ourselves in the role as the learner and think about how we would like to experience learning, we can find ways to make learning engaging and fun. No doubt this course will boost the ratings of The Walking Dead, but it’s a great example of adding a creative twist to what could be a boring subject. Let me know if you enroll. I’d love to have a trainers discussion group to talk about what we learn from the actual class as a trainer.

Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

Course description

From understanding social identities to modeling the spread of disease, this eight-week course will span key science and survival themes using AMC’s The Walking Dead as its basis. Four faculty members from the University of California, Irvine will take you on an inter-disciplinary academic journey deep into the world of AMC’s The Walking Dead, exploring the following topics:

  •  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—is survival just about being alive?
  • Social order and structures—from the farm and the prison to Woodbury
  • Social identity, roles, and stereotyping—as shown through leaders like Rick and the Governor
  • The role of public health in society—from the CDC to local community organizations
  • The spread of infectious disease and population modeling—swarm!
  • The role of energy and momentum in damage control—how can you best protect yourself?
  • Nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world—are squirrels really good for you?
  • Managing stress in disaster situations—what’s the long-term effect of always sleeping with one eye open?

Each week we’ll watch engaging lectures, listen to expert interviews, watch exclusive interviews with cast members talking about their characters, use key scenes from the show to illustrate course learning, read interesting articles, review academic resources, participate in large and small group discussions, and—of course—test our learning with quizzes. We recommend that you plan on spending about two (2) to four (4) hours per week on this course, though we believe the course is compelling enough you’ll want to spend more time.

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe how infectious diseases—like a zombie epidemic—spread and are managed
  • Apply various models of society and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to existing and emerging societies as a means for understanding human behavior
  • Analyze existing social roles and stereotypes as they exist today and in an emerging world
  • Debate the role of public health organizations in society
  • Describe how mathematical equations for population dynamics can be used to study disease spread and interventions
  • Apply concepts of energy and momentum appropriately when analyzing collisions and other activities that either inflict or prevent damage
  • Summarize multiple methods for managing stress in disaster situations

To register go to: https://www.canvas.net/courses/the-walking-dead

Taking Your Ideas to the Next Level: Free Webinar

Infopeople Webinar: George and Joan on Taking Your Ideas to the Next Level


You have a terrific idea for improving your library’s service. You excitedly share this fantastic new idea, only to have your enthusiasm deflated by picky questions, managerial indifference, or passive/aggressive resistance from your colleagues.


No matter how good your ideas are, if you don’t present them in a way that can be discussed and understood by the people who can make them happen, they won’t be implemented. You’ll be left frustrated. And your community will never experience that terrific new service.


This webinar will describe techniques that prepare library staff members at any level to present new ideas effectively. Participants will learn how to:

  • Demonstrate how your idea fits in with other organizational goals and practices;
  • Improve your empathetic skills, “think with someone else’s brain,” and anticipate how ideas will be received;
  • Identify the people who can assist you in carrying your ideas to reality;
  • Face resistance squarely and overcome objections;
  • Improve presentation skills so that a good idea won’t be lost in a substandard delivery.


This webinar will be of interest to any members of the library community who wish to see their ideas move forward. The tips and techniques covered here will also be useful to those who need to coach others in how to present their ideas more effectively. Participation by past and prospective Eureka! Leadership Institute participants is strongly recommended.


Webinar: Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Time: 12pm-1pm PDT
Speaker: Joan Frye Williams, George Needham


For more information go to: http://infopeople.org/training/webcasts/webcast_data/328/index.html

Building with competencies

Trying to create the definitive set of competencies for all library organizations is like creating the definitive LEGO® construction—no matter how spectacular, people will still want to build their own creations. The Competency Index for the Library Field was compiled by WebJunction with that in mind. It provides libraries with the set of building blocks from which to construct a foundation for the development of staff training, recruiting, succession planning, and other personnel strategies.

The Competency Index ‘blocks’ come in four sizes.

  • Large blocks: broad categories, such as Library Management, Personal-Interpersonal, etc.
  • Medium blocks: sub-categories, such as Communication, Customer service, etc. under the Personal-Interpersonal category
  • Small blocks: statements of competency related to the sub-category; for example, Customer Service has four competency statements
  • Tiny blocks: more detailed statements of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior (KSAs) associated with each competency statement; for example, each customer service competency statement has between 3-5 KSA statements.

So mix-and-match freely and let the constructions begin.

Competencies are only the foundation. Check out the connections to courses and resources for building the superstructure for staff development.