Voices From The Trenches: The Teacher Librarian's Role in 1:1/BYOD Environments
A few weeks ago, Doug Johnson and I asked for help from teacher librarians working in 1:1/BYOD programs as we attempt to put together a guide of best practices for TLs serving students where everyone "has a library in their pocket."
I'll be honest, even though I've read all 88 pages of data going on 3 times now, I'm still just starting to wrap my head around what it all means. I know this much for sure, however: the folks who participated in our survey were thoughtful and generous in sharing their wisdom with us. I had some suspicions about the results going in, some of which were confirmed, others not so much. (A funny aside, Doug also downloaded and then shared his own copy of the survey results and I just find the difference in how we each felt most comfortable digging into the data interesting. Mine, of course, needed to be organized into tables and in a font that I found pleasing, where as Doug was all about keeping it simple. Proof positive that there's no right way. Just your way). At any rate, for those who are interested, please feel free to pick your poison and peruse the raw data as you like. Like Doug, I highlighted certain comments that I wanted to revisit later, or that I felt needed further unpacking or that just stood out to me in the moment. However, all the feedback we received was valuable and I know I speak for him when I say that we are both incredibly grateful to everyone who participated.
So... what did we learn?
Most of our respondents were new to the 1:1/BYOD game, as this graph indicates and which, I think, made a difference in their responses to the other questions. As one respondent said, she thinks of the 1:1 initiative at her school as "living in beta." I think it would be interesting to see what these same librarians have to say about their work in these kinds of learning environments 3-5 years from now.
Scale: 1 = minor and 4 = major. The results of this question reflect what I see in the field as I visit 1:1 library programs throughout North Carolina.
Scale 1 = negative and 4 = positive. I've got to be honest, I was prepared for these responses of this question to be flipped with 31% (or thereabouts) having an overall positive view of how 1:1/BYOD has impacted the library and the rest being negative. And not because I think 1:1/BYOD programs or even librarians themselves are negative (although, lets face it, we do attract our fair share of Eeyores) but because this shift, which requires us to hand over the keys and let students and staff drive how they access information, represents a HUGE change. And change is hard.
Scale: 1 = none and 4 = high. As Doug said in his post about the survey results, "yikes!"
So... what does it all mean? The short answer: We're still figuring all of that out. However, as I continue to dig into the responses, some trends have risen to the surface.
1. You're gonna have to know the technology:
"The line between librarian and tech support person gets more and more blurred." - Voice from the tenches.
"My new role demands that I become more technologically savvy since I am on the forefront of personalized learning, assisting hundreds of students and staff daily." - Voice from the tenches.
2. How students/staff use your space is going to change:
"No classes physically come to the media center to research since the 1:1 initiative started - it's a tomb." - Voice from the tenches.
"A lot of teachers think they don't need library instruction as a result." - Voice from the trenches
3. But that's not necessarily a bad thing:
"[Students] have taken more control of their reading and seem to understand the organization of the library better.... I also love the way they are thinking. I introduced a video project to my 6th graders and they are telling me about the best way to record and share their videos for grading." - Voice from the trenches
"I never left the media center before 1:1- now I am frequently asked to come to classrooms to work with students (and I love doing that). I work much more with small groups and individual students today, and have a much broader and stronger digital presence." - Voice from the trenches
4. Your physical space may need to change:
"Changing the physical layout of the media center made a HUGE difference. I weeded thousands of books, got a couch and beanbags with pillows, art for the walls, and set up small group areas all over the media center.... The space is STUDENT-centered, not BOOK-centered." - Voice from the trenches
"We removed a few book shelves and designed a new instructional space that we can use with classes and that teachers can use for presentations." - Voice from the trenches
5. You can't do it alone:
"Professionally, I've been forced to actively engage in social media like Twitter. ScoopIt, etc. I can no longer ignore them as these platforms are the best resource for ideas and questions I have." - Voice from the trenches
"You cannot give proper support or opposition if you have no clue about the technology. I ask my librarian colleagues for their advice and opinions quite frequently." - Voice from the trenches
6. (For those doing more teaching and less librarying) the sky is not falling:
"Don't worry. Our jobs are not about books collections; they are about information sharing and dissemination. If our focus remains on information and students, we'll be fine." - Voice from the trenches
Doug and I are continuing to plug away on our guide. Although we obviously felt this work was necessary before taking the plunge, the feedback we've received through the survey and elsewhere has only made us more motivated to finish what we started and to share what we've learned with all of you. I know that our final product will be so much better having benefited from your shared wisdom. So... stay tuned. Good stuff is coming. And thank you again for sharing your stories with us.