How about a 16 yr. old Technology Expert for your school or public library?

Some librarians (school or public) have been keeping up to date with the changing landscape for technology over the last 12 – 18 months. The concepts labeled Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 have some meaning. For those folks, names like Skype, Meebo, Twitter, I.M. reference, social networking, wikis, podcasts also have some meaning (OK most of the terms do). 

For other librarians (school or public) who have just been so busy trying to keep up with the increased demands of their jobs due to budget and staff cuts, many of the above terms are like a foreign language.

I read two posts with similar, great ideas from two Stephens on how to get more librarians up to speed with some of these ideas. 

Stephen Abram at Stephen’s Lighthouse had a post called Technology Petting Zoo. The Petting Zoo is a meeting where the public library staff bring in an assortment of tech tools: digital phones, MP3 players, gaming consoles or digital cameras. They also bring in the user guides and have the staff take turns offering demos and giving everyone a chance to “play” and feel more comfortable with these gadgets. His post outlines how there could be several of these types of themed meetings.

Stephen Heppell, a leading online educator in Europe, on his blog has a post called Ten Top Tips, aimed primarily for schools. Here is one of his tips:

 “arrange a staff development day that introduces colleagues to Facebook, Flickr, SecondLife, Bebo, Big Brain Academy, explains why “poking” isn’t rude any more, has a clinic to clarify predictive txt (!), explains why children have stopped emailing, and so on. Ask them to give it a purpose, not just another sterile “how to” workshop, and ask if it can be fun please – the last one I visited somehow had an 007 theme worked into it! Great fun, great insights…  “

I would add….why not have one or a group of your top students or Y.A. customers, preferably in the 15-17 yr. old range, prepare and lead the meetings? These kids (termed “digital natives”) live and breathe this stuff. These tools are part of their everyday world. Obviously they would have to be coached on “going slow” for us old geezers. It is also recommended that they have a real meeting agenda and rehearse their presentation. This could even be a “for credit” project for school. I think most of us would be amazed at how easily these tools have become a part of their everyday life with their friends. When was the last time you saw a teenager who wasn’t in the middle of text messaging with their friends???

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