Monday, December 3, 2007

ESRL experience

We had 62 people finish for the first round of 23 Things on the shore. (We are currently in a second round for those who couldn't participate over the summer.) This type of learning was new to some folks and definitely took some getting use to - but overall the experience was very positive. Most seem happily surprised by how much they learned!

What stands out for me is how this program reinforces the idea adults like/need to take control over their own learning. I liked the flexibility of this program - people could sign in when they had time; delve deeper into some topics/skim others; and be somewhat self-directed. Like all training, the more that people put into it, the more they got out of it. I am also very excited to see how 23 Things helped people gain some confidence in learning new technology.

Thank you Nini!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Carroll County's 23 Things Experience

After reading all the other thoughtful posts, I'm not sure what new things to add!

Our story: 144 of our 250 staff members signed up, and 102 finished by today. We gave prizes to all completers, and sent the weekly encouraging emails. We didn't hold any formal kick-off or catch-up sessions, but most folks who needed help found someone to give it. In fact, watching folks compare experiences and share tips and tricks was especially rewarding--people created their own learning communities.

Of course, it was fun to see who really took to the 'things' and found them an outlet for their creativity. One memorable example was that of a Bookmobile Clerical Assistant who previously would never have considered herself a 'techie'. She posted a YouTube video that showed how to back the vehicle out of the garage (a notoriously difficult move). Later, when she accompanied other staff on the trip to take delivery of the new bookmobile, she posted videos and photos of it so that everyone 'back home' could see that it was, in fact, real. Another staff member used what she learned to make documents easily available to be edited by several teleworkers. Everyone is thinking of ways to integrate web 2.0 technologies into both program content and delivery. And most notably, our Children's staff are actively using a wiki to support the emergent literacy peer coaching project--they found it a good way to archive content, and to interact with other coaches around the system.

What was different: We invited our partners, the media specialists at Carroll County Public Schools, to join us. They designated a pilot team to evaluate the program for their own use, and just working on the project together created more camaraderie. (And no, we did not count them in our 'completers'!)

In short: Were we overwhelmed and sometimes frustrated? Yes. Was there enough time? No. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.

Thanks, Nini, team, DLDS--for taking this statewide!

Gail Griffith, Carroll County Public Library

LATI's 23 Things Experience

LAs in the Spring 2007 session of LATI were encouraged to participate in 23 Things, also - especially if their system was part of the statewide initiative. The thinking was 23 Things was fun;some of the things were already on the LATI agenda for LAs to look at and experience;the LAs would have an opportunity to learn with their colleagues and be eligible for their system's incentives. Since the bulk of 23 Things was spread out over the summer, LATI fieldwork activities were extended 5-6 weeks later in the session. Particpation was optional and 14 LAs (28 in the group)chose to "play."

Some jumped right in and completed the Things in almost one sitting - others, followed the schedule and others, particpated as opportunities presented themselves.
Of course, not everything appealed to all,including me. I think though that by trying out the Things, particpants have a better idea and understanding of the web 2.0 tools that their customers use. Who would've thought that a YouTube would become the forum for querying candidates for the Presidential nominations?

Ditto to some of the concerns, especially "time" expressed by other liaisons - as well as the opportunity 23 Things presented to staff within a system to support and collaborate with one another...and to have fun. Learning is fun and we should encourage it [fun]as much as possible.

23 Things is included in the LATI experience. The current group of LAs that started in the Fall have done Things 1-4. Completing other Things is optional and all who do will receive additional CEUs.

I applaud the committee for developing the initiative and look forward to your next effort.Congratulations on a successful venture.

Honore Francois
LATI Coordinator

PS. One unexpected result: LATI's virtual assistant, Laura Allen, was so impressed and intrigued with 23 Things that she shared it (the link) with her virtual community, so they could learn and upgrade their technology and web 2.0 skills too!

23 Things at the Baltimore County Public Library

The program was a huge success for us at BCPL.

We talked up the program at every opportunity to every staff member or group of staff members that we could corral long enough for them to hear our pitch. That worked very well. The liaisons provided as much assistance and support as possible. Staff members were also encouraged to contact our Staff Help Desk for assistance with any of the Things. This was a big plus for us, although it did increase the workload for the folks on the Help Desk. We did have two hands-on sessions where staff members could come to get one-on-one help. They were very well received. We sent encouraging messages and continued to promote the program through the summer. We also submitted reports to individual branch and department managers to let them know how many people in their areas were participating. We found that supervisor support was a big factor in an individual staff member’s success with the program. One branch held an after-hours cram session that offered people time to work on the program with some dedicated time in a calmer environment.

Incentives and rewards:
We weren’t able to give a prize to everyone who participated but we did have a prize raffle for anyone who had finished by our annual Staff Day in October. We also reminded people that their strong commitment to their personal development and to the future of libraries should be enough motivation in itself. This was annoying, no doubt, but it helped. The CEUs encouraged some to participate but we also had quite a few non-librarian staff members in the program and CEUs did not provide a motivation for them.

On Staff Day we highlighted the overall total number of ‘Things’ that had been completed by all staff up to that date - those who had finished and those who hadn't. We wanted to be sure to acknowledge the work of all who participated.

Learning Styles, Collaboration, and Teamwork:
One of the greatest benefits of the program was its entirely self-directed, online structure. It is easier for presenters who don’t need to create step-by-step instructions or elaborate presentations featuring soon-to-be-out-of-date screen captures. Participants learned through experience which is a much more effective approach. It was difficult for staff members, however. In many cases, people needed to learn how to learn in such an environment before they could really begin to progress.

We encouraged people who were moving ahead quickly to offer help to their co-workers. This lifted some of the workload off the liaisons! It also gave people the one-on-one assistance that we often couldn’t provide. Finally, it helped to develop a camaraderie and spirit of teamwork in several branches and departments. Often (but not always) the fast movers were younger, part-time staff members. It was a great experience for everyone to have them helping long term full-time staff.

Workload, in all its forms, was a problem for us. We acknowledged that there would never be an ideal time so we might as well plunge in now. As one person said, “The train is leaving the station. If we don’t get on it now it will only make it harder for us to catch up later.”

The amount of time needed for all 23 things was substantial. Many participants worked through the things at home on their own time. We were careful to inform managers that, by law, part-time non-exempt staff members had to be paid for all the time that they spent on the program. This was a disincentive to some.

The program structure with ALL THOSE BLOGS was a bit of a challenge. To provide reasonable encouragement, we read a lot of blog posts and made many, many comments.

As others have stated, people complained of having to create so many accounts and track passwords.

Continuation / Moving Ahead:
We are looking for a way to continue in this direction at BCPL, providing online learning exercises periodically and tracking staff progress. We will certainly use the lesson style that the 23 Things program presented. We may, however, step away from having participants report via a blog and go to some online submission form instead. That would make things easier for those assigned to oversee the program.

A note of thanks:
This has been a very, very positive experience for us and has moved us forward a great deal. Thank you to Nini Beegan and DLDS for promoting this statewide. We might have moved forward at some point but we’re very grateful for the leadership that caused us to take this on now rather than later.

Ellen Ward and Jim DeArmey, BCPL

More from Harford County

Just want to add my two cents... Maurice covered most of the key points in his recent post.

I thought it was so exciting to watch the staff blogs evolve and grow. Naturally, there were some folks who simply used their blogs for the project and that was it. But, there were many staff who continued to blog and really used the technology to participate in the blogosphere!

Prior to our staff day, I touched every "completer" blog and I'm so glad I did because I discovered so many thoughtful posts about the 23 Things and the significance of what staff learned. There were, truly, only a handful of folks who wrote negatively about the process. Instead, the vast majority appreciated this opportunity to learn the language and essence of Web 2.0.

Additionally, we are already seeing have a number of staff-based wiki's developing and a system-wide site.

Last of all, I'd like to thank Nini Beegan for her efforts in making 23 Things really happen in Maryland. This was a very successful project and I look forward to the "next big thing." :-)

AACPL Experience and Future Plans

We only have had our pilot group complete all 23 things. We are now designing a briefer version “AACPL’s Exploration of Lib. 2.0” for all Information staff and others who are interested. It will have 7 or so required things and several other possibilities. It was felt that the smaller number of things could be supported with time away from working the public service desk, while the 23 Things in it's entirity could not. The required things will become part of our technical competencies for all public service Information staff, which includes our Part time hourly Information staff .

We already had two system blogs in place and that number is expanding both in branches and system wide. We previously had incorporated sources such as "Library Thing" in our Readers’ Advisory training, we just didn’t refer to these things as Lib. 2.0 or Web 2.0. We now have a New Technology Wiki in place and some branches have been playing around with this format for sharing their own ideas as well. One of our Part time hourly Supervisors designed a Blog to share information and updates about the 5 branches in her area and others are seeing how this can be a great way to communicate. We held a session on blogs and uploading photos to your blog at our General Staff Meeting and will offer additional sessions. So we are moving in the right direction, just more slowly than some others perhaps. Thanks for your guidance and the whole model of coordinating something like this on such a statewide level.

My Harford County Public Library Liaison Experience

This is Maurice Coleman from Harford County Public Library and I was one of three people who worked with HCPL staff on our Learning 2.0 project. The timing of the project could not have been better since were planning and did have a two day system-wide Technology Fair and used that forum to launch the Learning 2.0 project for our system.

Throughout the summer and fall, we had out of 407 staff, 258 signing up and 151 completed the program to date. We have some staff that are still working on the project and I just received an email from a staff member who is getting a group together at their branch to go through the 23 things.

Some of my observations about the project:

HCPL staff loved incentives. Self-explanatory but very,very important. We had incentive prizes for completion and three prizes from a drawing of completers. This raised the stakes for staff and provided a competition of sorts and provided another reason to try/complete the project.

Email's worked. Having both the state email and our internal emails to gently encourage/nudge staff worked well. Some staff during the middle where there seemed to be a slowdown were picked up by the emails.

Support is good. HCPL staff got support not just from all three of the co-leaders but also from other staff that embraced training and mentoring others through the project. Some departments took on the Learning project as a Team Learning objective.

Support from administration is good too. HCPL's Senior Staff encouraged participation in a very real way by saying that all staff could take one hour during their work week to do the program. This upper management seal of approval was vital to the success of the program.

Even with that support, some staff felt they did not have enough time at work to work on the Learning 2.0 project. They then either did not finish, finished very slowly or did the exercises at home on their time.

Too much information. The individual "thing" descriptions need to be streamlined. Some staff felt that the had to do every single thing on each page before saying they were done with the thing. That bogged staff down during some of the exercises. The exercises need to be streamlined and some of the resources reevaluated.

Keeping the knowledge and learning going. As a system we are continuing to spread the knowledge by still encouraging folks to participate in the entire program and folding several of the "things" into our corporate body of knowledge that we expect each staff member from pages to administrators to have a passing awareness of its existence.

Self direction is not everyone's direction. We learned that not everyone was ok with the self-directed nature of the project. We tried to accommodate those folks by offering open workshops where a trainer would work with the person on their impasse in the program. We also offered one-on-one assistance to staff which worked for some. My sense is that some of our staff were put off by having to do the project by themselves and wanted much more hand holding with each of the discovery exercises.

Staff Fertilizer. The program as inspired our staff to use tools from the Learning 2.0 project to work better, smarter, faster and together. We have branch and project wikis, shared tags for all of our branch's reference desks, staff blogs, and our 2008 Summer Reading Program Team is using a wiki to cut down on paper used throughout their year.

Thank God for RSS or You Know, there were a lot of blogs...We have 180 plus blogs that were looked at least once by myself and by my fellow liaisons. What made monitoring them easier was using RSS feeds to create public pages where all of the new posts by all of our bloggers could be seen. Saved 2000 lbs. of time.

Those are some of my observations about the program. If you would like any more information, feel free to contact me via my blog. Thank you for your time.