Free Webinar to Kick Off Lean Government Webinar Series

From my friend Pat Wagner:

When I first heard about the Lean Government movement and how quickly and effectively it could save money, eliminate waste, and improve customer service, I knew we needed to offer practical webinars on the topic. The fact that Steve Elliott, whose work we have admired for decades, is now a leader in Lean Government advocacy in our state, made our choice of trainers very simple.

Please join Steve and me July 9th, 2013 for our free introduction to this engaging series on transforming your public sector workplace. Not only does it apply to government – and libraries – but to any kind of workplace.

I don’t know of any organization that does not strive to be lean! Learn more about this opportunity here:

129 Tips on Using Technology in Virtual and Physical Classrooms from eLearning Guild

If you are looking for some new tips about using technology for learning or are looking for a refresher you might want to take a look at the free ebook from the eLearning Guild. 129 Tips on Using Technology in Virtual and Physical Classrooms. You’ll need to give contact information to download the ebook, but I’ve never been spammed by the guild and have confidence in recommending this to readers.


In this new, free 32-page ebook you’ll see short tips on everything from low-tech classroom training to using Google Hangouts as a tool for online learning. Topics covered include:

  • Using virtual-classroom and virtual-world features effectively
  • Instructional design and presentation skills for the classroom
  • Pros and cons of virtual classrooms and virtual worlds
  • Pros and cons of physical and blended classrooms
  • Games for the classroom
  • Mobile and social learning for the classroom

Download your complimentary copy from:

I’d love to hear what tips caught your attention. Add a comment and let’s discuss!

One tip that resonated with me as both a trainer and a learner is accountability during online training sessions or webinars:

A typical challenge in the virtual classroom is keeping participants from multi-tasking. After all, participants are often taking the virtual course on the same devices they get their email and do other work on. Many instructional designers and virtual trainers build in some level of interactivity (polls, chat, Q&A) to address this challenge. But it’s equally important to build in accountability. For example, assign participants a learning partner, then use the chat feature to allow participants to check in with their partners several times during the session.

~Anne Scott,  Training Program Developer, Sodexo

I’ve always tried to incorporate interactivity, but it’s challenging to keep learners engaged even with polls, whiteboarding, and chat. A partner makes accountability less intimidating for the learner and lessens the load on the facilitator.

A Tale of Two Schools: A Boy Learns to Love Reading

My son and media specialist Ms. Reeding (yes that is her real name)

My son and media specialist Ms. Reeding (yes that is her real name)

Becoming a mom, I was excited when each of my children entered school. If I loved learning and school, they would too, right? In Kindergarten and first grade my son had fantastic teachers. They both told us what a good student he was, he was happy all the time, and we looked forward to watching him grow and learn.

Second grade was a completely different story.  I was saddened to learn that it’s common knowledge among parents that your kids will have good years and bad years and those years are largely determined by who the teacher is. If your child has a great teacher he or she will learn leaps and bounds. If your child has a not so great teacher not only will he or she learn less but your child may fall behind.

Let’s not put all the blame on the teachers. Parents, school policy, administration, and even funding have roles here as well. For second grade my son had a new teacher. By new I mean first year out of college. Due to district budget cuts, there were no teacher assistants for classes. A new emphasis on testing was also put in place for all grades as the district moved to a pay for performance model for teachers (teachers’ pay is determined by how well their children score on standardized tests). For grades K-2, these tests must be administered orally as the children can’t all read yet.

This teacher, first year out of college, with a class of 25 students, would spend weeks at a time administering tests one-on-one, one-by-one with each child while the other children were given busy work and told to remain quiet in their seats. My son, in the second grade, seven years old, declared he hated school. He fell behind in most subjects, and his two parents, who both work in education, were ashamed to admit that no matter what they tried, their child could not read nor did he want to.

My son complained about the testing. He complained about the teacher yelling at other students. He withdrew and seemed depressed. At this point we were worried that he might have a learning disability. The school refused to help because his problems were not severe enough, so we paid to take him to a child psychologist who said my son was extremenly intelligent, mature for his age, and most likely was bored in school.

The relief! We had not failed as parents. He needed to be challenged more at school. However he was already enrolled in a learning immersion magnet program. But with all the testing there was little time left for learning.

I dropped in occasionally to see what was happening in the classroom. Nearly every time I dropped in, the class was out of control and the teacher was yelling at the students. Meanwhile my son would just look at me as if to say, “See I told you so.” We seriously considered home schooling.

Later that year, I took a new job in a different city and we moved and enrolled in a new school system. My son’s attitude about school changed almost immediately. His class had not only one teacher, but a full time teacher’s assistant, and a mostly-full time student teacher from the local university. His class, only slightly smaller, had three teaching professionals in the class all day. With less emphasis on testing, there was more emphasis on making learning fun. By the end of the school year, my son was at grade level and loved school again. He even began reading stories to his sister.

My son reading to his siter

My son reading to his siter

Reading in the Car

Reading in the Car

This year, in third grade, things are still good. Three adults in the class are still making learning fun. This year is the first year my son takes official EOGs, end of grade tests to ensure he’s on grade level. However, the teacher does not teach to the test or if she does she makes it fun. My son earned three As and one B on his last report card, and I’m proud to say he’s now reading at a middle school level. My daughter in Kindergarten also has three teaching professionals in her class and she loves school as well. Both children read for fun every night at bed time. My daughter reads no matter where we are, like her mom she always has a book in hand.

What happened here? How can our experiences be so different?

We did everything we were supposed to as parents. We read to our children daily. We have a home full of books. We are involved with the schools. We communicate with the teachers and attend parent teach conferences. We spend hours helping with homework. We use positive reinforcement. We sought out help when there were problems.

I am scared to think of what might have happened had we not moved. Would my son still be behind and hate school? I like to think I could have solved this problem somehow. But the truth is parents in public school systems are at the mercy of the district, its policies, and the teacher. The other thing I think about is that there were other kids who excelled at our former school. Each child is different, learns different, and our current educational system of standardized testing does not allow for that or at least not all teachers are trained properly in how to teach under this system.

As a parent, I cannot emphasize how important it is to be involved in your child’s education and know what is going on at school and in the school system. As educators we must either fight legislation like no child left behind or find a way to work with it that allows us to still instill a passion for learning in children. As parents we need to support our teachers and find out what they need to more effectively teach our children.

I’d love to hear from other parents and teachers about this. Have you had two vastly different school experiences?

Note:I’m happy to see that our former school system revoked the pay for performance program and the testing that went with it. However there are many systems looking to adopt this model. Had we stayed in this school system I believe we would have eventually enrolled in a charter school or began homeschooling.

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC

If you haven’t heard about MOOCs yet, take a few moments to read or listen to this story on NPR, How MOOCs are Changing Higher Ed, and read the MOOC entry on Wikipedia.

This fall we’ll see one of the first library science MOOCs offered by San Jose State University assistant professor Michael Stephens and lecturer Kyle Jones. From the SLIS site:

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC will examine various participatory theories of library service, the impact of emerging technologies on libraries, and the growing focus on a creation/curation culture. Students will explore the definition of participatory service, some key trends that impact the Hyperlinked Library model, and examine what the shift means for libraries and information work in today’s digital information age.

Having seen Stephens present this topic several times, I’m excited to see a full course developed around his innovative ideas that is open to a broad audience (you don’t need an MLS to apply). I’ve heard the excitement library staff have after hearing Stephens give a keynote, and this course will offer an opportunity for learners to go deeper and and apply some of the ideas presented back in their own libraries.

I was surprised to see the course limited to 200 since MOOCs usually have 10 or 20 times that number, but it’s probably a smart idea to ensure that everyone has a good experience. After all can you imagine a discussion board with 20,000 librarians? The ALA Think Tank has just over 3,000 and I can’t keep up!

There’s no indication on how many people have registered so far for the course, but you can sign up here to receive more information.

What is digital learning, e-learning, online learning? Short answer, learning!

Laysha Ward, president of Community Relations for Target, published a fantastic post this week on the parallels between the different modes for learning. In her post Ward writes,

…we may be witnessing the death of “digital” — at least as an adjective. We don’t go “digital” shopping — we shop, online, by phone and in stores. We don’t read “digital” media — we read, on the printed page and on screens of every size.

Ward goes on to discuss classroom versus digital versus blended learning which many of us in the profession have been discussing for a decade. What’s exciting is to see this discussion taking place in mainstream media where everyday people can see what we’ve been saying for years. It’s all just learning!

Ward’s last paragraph really struck me as it’s something we’ve said about adult learning as well,

Too many of our students are not graduating from high school ready for a post-secondary education or a career in the 21st century economy. We know that, with the rate of technological change, those jobs will require a lifelong commitment to learning.

Laysha Ward as a Reading Buddy. Photo courtesy of Target

Laysha Ward as a Reading Buddy. Photo courtesy of Target

I would add that the same holds true for many students in undergraduate and graduate experiences as well. We still have professors teaching who do not value digital tools much less teach their students about them and how to use them in the workplace. I think this is one reason why workplace learning and development will continue to flourish in the 21st century. It’s one thing to have students who Tweet and have 1,000 Facebook friends. It’s another to have students, i.e. future workers, who know how to use those tools effectively in their jobs.

Ward’s post is a great read. Be sure to check it out!

Ward, Laysha. Re-Imagining Learning: Digital and Physical Convergence. Huffington Post. April, 23, 2013.