RDL Week 3: Leaving a Legacy

Our first assignment this week was to watch a TEDx by Alan November, a teacher from the Northeast:

We were then asked to consider the following questions:

What resources can we use to duplicate what November describes (e.g., transforming an existing space into a space that becomes a launching point for community-changing endeavors grounded in strong digital literacy skills)?

What are we (and can we) be doing to encourage our learners to use digital literacy skills in ways that “leave a legacy” (i.e., something that the learners can continue to own and share long after the formal learning opportunities conclude)?

What can we do in defining and fostering digital literacy to support work that has an identifiable purpose that is meaningful to our colleagues and our learners?

Let’s start with question 1: What resources can we use to transform existing spaces into a launching point for community-changing endeavors grounded in strong digital literacy skills?

In our case, the obvious answer is the library website. There are countless options for producing content that doesn’t take advanced skills, but that can also be linked to other spaces. This space is already available to our staff, but many are hesitant to use it beyond the simplest features. One-on-one and group learning opportunities, alongside the go-ahead to do what they want could probably go a long way towards bringing more of our staff to an advanced point of digital literacy.

One of the issues with formal learning as a whole is that it is done in limited space and time with limited staff. One thing that we try to do, but don’t always successfully complete, is having staff walk away with something complete that they learned how to create in that session. I can once again use the example of teaching staff to use the library website: when showing them content creation, is there time for them to make a list or review a book? If so, great! But if we’ve run out of time, that falls to the wayside. The best part of formal training and guided learning is the part where everyone in the room makes it through a search or a creation and walks away ready to do more. We need to be able to provide them with that part of the formal learning structure, even if it means taking out something in the guided, demo part of the instruction.

There are other ways we can ensure our learners “leave a legacy”, or feel they have purpose: make them the teachers. Give them projects that involve those digital literacy skills. Give them spaces that allow them to share and grow at the same time, and the time to learn and use them. Sure, we might have “train the trainer” models set in place for certain skills that need to be learned, but how often do we follow up on that learning?

As November says, peer exchange is really important. While it might be a little different with library staff than with sixth graders, the idea that people will give time to be sure their peers understand something is crucial. How do we foster this within my system, without it becoming yet again about who sits at the table alone vs. who has a mess of peers to consult? That’s a project to figure out right there. But one place to start is to be that peer, and to provide opportunities for those without more digitially literate peers to help them grow, whether synchronously or asynchronously.

In this course alone, the best thing to do is retain. Use what we have, and make it grow to the best of our abilities. Those of us working outside of the ecourses site already have spaces that can be used to exchange thoughts and ideas after this course is done; maybe we need a central space to continue the discussion.

There are a lot of great ideas that have come out. What do we do with them and how do we get them moving within the groups we’re most hoping to affect? Sadly, there are no one dollar barber shops in my future, but the web is open wide with possibilities.


RDL Week 1: Diving Into the Digital Literacy Pool

In my other life, I am a living, breathing librarian. I’m taking an ALA eCourse called Rethinking Digital Literacy to Serve Library Staff and Users. Here is where I will post a few responses and other “extended learning” assignments over the next month.


A condition, not a threshold.

On this particular day of the year, one can’t help but think of Doug Belshaw’s consideration of cultural literacy as it comes to digital literacies. “May the Fourth be with you” is definitely a meme that some understand and some don’t. Are those people “digitally illiterate”? Of course not. But they are conditionally out of the know for a particularly large moment in time.

It had been a while since I looked at the American Library Association’s official definition of Digital Literacy: “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” On the other hand, Belshaw is more into the idea of digital literacies: plural, context dependent, and socially negotiated. These two ideas don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as the former definition is more of a lofty pedagogy-style learning goal while the latter idea has more of a basis in action/reaction. Taking the idea that “those who will be most successful are those who embrace new ideas and adapt fluidly to new situations”, it’s good to think about how to get people to that openness, or at least thinking about finding it.

The most important thing to know is that digital literacies change over time. And we have to keep up with them, and change with them if necessary.

At my library, I am directly involved in developing an effective learning culture within the organization as well as building core technology competencies and the learning/training/staff development opportunities that go with those competencies. These things are all related, and can be supported by the ideas presented in this first week of digital literacy understanding. Belshaw’s concept of taking a person’s interests, and using them to guide their intrinsic motivation to become whatever version of digitally literate we consider to be the best one can definitely be utilized in those situations. But at the end of the day, our hope is that those interests are simply to learn more, as a learning organization, so that we can adapt as our customers do.

There’s lots to think upon here, including the vocabulary that can be used, definitions to latch to, and practices to consider taking up. As we move forward, I hope to come to a clearer understanding of how that might look for my library’s staff and our customers.  

RDL Week 2: What Others Have Developed

In my other life, I am a living, breathing librarian. I’m taking an ALA eCourse called Rethinking Digital Literacy to Serve Library Staff and Users. Here is where I will post a few responses and other “extended learning” assignments over the next month.

This week, we began by watching this video:

Upon finishing, we were asked to reflect on the following question:

What specific, identifiable digital skills and tools are they developing and using?

Here are a few that I can come up with after an initial viewing of the video and reflection:


  • web design
  • video design
  • wiki design
  • newspaper layout
  • broadcast recording
  • internet searching
  • web 2.0 media
  • social media


  • video conferencing
  • video recording
  • SMART boards
  • video design software
  • layout and publishing software and hardware

These are just initial reflections on one viewing. Do you see any others?

EDIT: I was looking through some work-related presentations and realized that there were key skills I neglected to mention, which are also part of digital literacy: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, project planning, creativity, curiosity, and initiative.