Friday, November 30, 2007
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
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.
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!
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
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 Del.icio.us 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." :-)
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.
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 del.icio.us 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.
Lessons learned: I would go through the entire list of "things" first and create a tutorial for participants to use as a reference tool. And, I would tell them that if it takes them longer than an hour to complete one of the "things", just move on. I believe many stopped because of the time factor. Finally, I would try the pilot again, but have pre-selected branch staff participate in the 23Things and once they complete the program, be available as resources for other staff interested in the program.
MCPL will continue to introduce the 23Things to staff so that they have the opportunity to explore all of the wonderful opportunities on the Internet! -- Kate T.
I loved the idea of weekly e-mail reminders to participants, and kept them up until last Friday. The shared experiences from many participants across the state was great. Overall, our staff had a fun time with the program.
The greatest complaint that kept coming up was the constant requests to create online accounts in order to access many of the 'Things' that participants wanted to attempt. Even for those of us who created these accounts, keeping up with the many Usernames and Passwords was difficult. Otherwise, this was an exciting project with a clever 'hook' to introduce new technologies to library staff.
I thank Nini and her wonderful team for all their efforts in organising this fun project; and especially for keeping it open beyond the initial deadline - who knows(if it stays up), maybe in late December, or sometime in January, some of my friends (still stuck on #13) could still complete the program.
PGCMLS - Training Coordinator
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
One of our staff members posted the above quote on her blog. Sentiments like that were the most rewarding to read...watching apprehensive colleagues move from theory to practice.
Many participants appreciated what one person called the self-paced but with guidance format. They liked the hands-on activities (23 Things reminded me how true it is that you learn by doing…It was a great way to learn stuff that the patrons expect us to know about).
A few said that while they were at first anxious about reading each week’s things, they quickly surprised themselves as they accomplished each task.
teamwork and connections
FCPL’s two liaisons did assist staff via email and phone, but what we heard far more often were stories of staff helping each other (I especially enjoyed exploring new technology with some of my co-workers).
This program gave staff a chance to connect between branches and across departments in a deeper way. Our system is in a time of great growth, just in the sheer numbers of new staff, so it seemed like they had been waiting for an opportunity like 23things, something that would give them a chance to connect.
We got to know more about each other by exploring our blogs and through coaching each other through the tasks.
While the reaction to the format was largely positive with many saying that they’d participate in similar learning opportunities were they presented this way in the future, a few staff did comment openly about their desire for more standard, classroom-style instruction.
Due to the pace of the program, some staff did not see it through to the end.
Some had problem with the time of year. Many staff said that Summer is one the busiest times in their branches due to programming, vacations (both personal vacations and covering for staff who are out), Summer Reading Club, etc. Therefore, many found it difficult to find time to work on this.
Many of the staff who finished the program did so on their own time, often at home. Some took issue with that. Others did not. The division seemed to be between staff who saw this as "work" and staff who saw it as continuing education and "learning for learning's sake."
I, personally, believe that linking the 23things to CEU credit was problematic. Sure for some, it was the carrot that encouraged participation; however, in some people's minds, it was the very act of linking this program to CEU credit that effectively made it "work" (training). For some, like those who chose not to participate (it was voluntary) or did not complete the program, they had a hard time seeing how "play" could be "work."
Our system completed the program in August. All finishers were eligible for a prize drawing. The grand prize was a coveted Nintendo Wii which we gave away November 2nd.
23things was a great program. Its immediate benefits could be felt in small but powerful ways. For example, staff who now recommend Zoho Writer or Google Docs to patrons seated at Internet PCs without the MSOffice suite.
Now, however, the real work begins. While many 2.0 tools are interesting and useful, in and of themselves, some staff thought that the true power for libraries might lie in finding creative ways to employ 2.0 tools that improves accessibility, transparency, functionality of existing and traditional library resources, both for staff and the public. Motivated by the program, there are a few teams who are investigating ways that we might do this.
--James Kelly, FCPL
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Most of the training time spent helping with 23 Things was in the form of 5-20 minute phone calls or emails. A few of the branch staff that could devote longer periods of time to the program received longer 1-2 hour long help sessions. These staff were the ones who needed the extra help to finish the program. They benefited from the extra one on one time that allowed for more detailed explanations of the technologies. We didn't hold group training for the 23 Things but instead our trainer would visit a branch for half a day and answer any questions the staff had. These visits really went a long way in helping the staff feel comfortable with the program in general.
One thing that we did in CCPL was to give out prizes not just for finishing the program but also incremental prizes at 7 and 14 things. This helped spark interest in the program at the early stages since participation was not mandatory. These prises were small but gave the staff small rewards during the program along with a larger prize at the end. Anyone who finished the program was also eligible to win one of 5 MP3 players that were given away.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Well, today marks the end of 23 Things at Howard County Library. (Note the dance of joy!) This has been quite a roller coaster ride - great highs, scary lows and a few surprising twists and turns.
Let me begin by saying that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Most people who signed up are glad that they did. Everyone has reported that they learned some things, even the fairly tech savvy among us. People who finished felt quite a sense of accomplishment. Several of our "more seasoned" staff -- the folks who didn't want to sign up because "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" -- found that they knew more than they thought they did and didn't have as much difficulty digesting all the technology as they predicted they would. All in all, a lot of chests were puffed up by meeting the challenge of 23 Things.
Perhaps the greatest organizational lessons learned were in the realm of 1) our readiness to pursue online learning, and 2) the need for greater partnership between supervisor and employee in learning activities. These were important lessons, especially for me in this newly created role of Staff Development Coordinator.
23 Things was a massive undertaking, too large for a first large-scale effort at online learning. Even so, the attempt revealed that we have much more work to do with computer competencies to get staff ready for online learning. Basic skills such as cutting & pasting or attaching a file to an email still elude some of our staff. The outcome of this is that we're going to move away from having a network of branch technology coordinators, the "go to" people when there's a problem with hardware or software to avoid the IT department being flooded with calls about jammed printers or missing files. Instead, we'll be trying out technology coaches. Their focus will be less on fixing the problem and more on working with the user to avoid the problem in the future, supporting staff in learning how to use the technology around them.
It became clear in the early days of 23 Things that there was not nearly enough communication taking place between supervisors and staff around learning activities. In spite of the fact that both a set of guidelines and an FAQ sheet were developed for specifically for supervisors, I had questions like, "Can you tell me who on my team has signed up for 23 Things?" Yes, supervisors signed off on learning agreements, but many apparently didn't have conversations with their staff about what the agreement meant or what their expectations were. A new performance management philosophy is being developed here at HCL. These tools will help supervisors to manage expectations and help employees manage their workload.
Overall lessons? Again, 23 Things was a massive undertaking - perhaps too massive. The mantra I heard again and again is, "I just don't have time!" Even though we alloted 12 weeks to complete the 9 week program, there were many staff who simply could not finish. With so many things going on, it was difficult for staff to maintain focus for that long, especially without lots of support and guidance from a supervisor. An abbreviated version (more than "Just 3 Things") would have been better for our staff; perhaps a 4 week version, with Things II as a future offering.
Also, even people with the best intentions find it hard to be motivated by an incentive that is given up front. Most of us need the carrot dangling in front of us until we reach the finish line. Eating the carrot at the beginning of the race just makes us feel sluggish as we make our run.
Last, but definitely not least, coordinating such a big project definitely takes more than one person. We had anticipated that there might be up to 1oo staff who would sign up. We had 145. That was way too large a group for one person to serve in the role of tutor, coach, cheerleader, troubleshooter, MP3 distribution manager and record keeper. Next time, I'll need an army of clones.
We probably will do 23 Things again in 2008 for new staff. All of these lessons will play a part in how we manage it next time. I'll look forward to hearing what lessons were learned at other libraries so that we can incorporate those best practices as well.