Currently a teen librarian with the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA.She is passionate about technology, making, and learning. See what I'm up to at https://about.me/jamischwarzwalder

Online Classes

As society progresses towards a more technically advanced work environment, you can guarantee that you will encounter an online class whether for professional development, or for completing classes towards a Masters or PHD degree.

Online classes allow participants to connect with people that generally share similar interests, responsibilities, and even sometimes time in life.
When you register for an online class you are choosing a subject that for some reason interested you, and many of the other participants will have done the same. Remember this when you are nervous and apprehensive, and even overwhelmed.

You get out of an online class what you put in to it.
The same can be said of a face to face class. The only difference between an Online class and a face to face class is the technology and the participants.

Here are some strategies for getting the most out of an online class

  1. Communicate-Don’t wait until you have read all of the assignments to start conversing with your classmates. Post your reactions, questions, and connections when they happen so that you can share with your classmates. Remember if you stay silent you are cheating your classmates out of hearing a different perspective, and experiences
  2. Plan Ahead-Set aside a time when you will focus on your class. Treat it as if you were sitting in a face to face class. Don’t schedule anything during this time, and even consider going somewhere like the library to escape the duties of home
  3. Don’t procrastinate-It is so easy in an online class to wait until the end of the week or the day before an assignment is due to start working. As I hope you can remember from your face to face classes this doesn’t result in your best work.
  4. Have Fun-Unless this class is part of a required curriculum you signed up for a reason. That reason may be that you were interested in the subject, or you are going to make a program and needed more information. Either way you owe it to yourself to enjoy your time immersed in this topic. Feel free to share any connections you make with this topic to your encounters. We ask young students to share connections made when reading a book, why wouldn’t we want that from adults.
  5. Participate– The amazing part of online classes is that it really is the students that make the class successful. Boring Face to Face classes generally involved a lecturer standing for an hour re-stating what you read in your textbook, with no real acknowledgement that there are people in the room. The lively fun classes were ones that the teacher had students talk to one another about what they had read, or thought about a certain subject. Each group would most certainly go on many tangents, but when they were drawn back together the students would respond on topic about what they had discussed. Going off topic is part of discussions, so don’t be afraid that you don’t fit the mold. An online class is similar to your group discussion only you have a longer time to discuss, and more people in your group.

Online classes are great opportunities, and if you do more than just read you will have a chance to learn more. The teacher and the other classmates will respond to you. You will be able to have some of your questions answered, and most likely be comforted that you are not the only one who has those questions.

Lastly, Remember you will be interacting in the same way that teens interact with their peers. Teens use IM and in-game chat (chat), Forums(Discussion Boards), Blogs, and podcasts to communicate ideas. The topics they discuss range from political to pleasure, depending on the person. Being a digital native does not mean that these technologies are only for you, it means that technology doesn’t intimidate you. In online classes there will be glitches, but if the participants are flexible you can move past the glitches and into learning.

posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

Importance of Conferences

Its the beginning of March, and even though I’m in college I’m not looking forward to my Spring Break. I’m looking forward to going to Boston for PLA.

Why, you may ask. Well its because at PLA I have the opportunity to meet with other librarians, see new places, and absorb a wealth of information from professionals all over the United States. The presenters are not paid to attend these conferences, but rather come to share what they have learned so that others may experience similar positive results. For me PLA is a breeding ground for great ideas, and who wouldn’t be excited about being involved in that.

I am halfway through my Library Science program, and attended both National and local conferences. The difference is astounding. At the national conference I was able to attend sessions of librarians who wrote articles, books, and blog; I was surrounded by dozens of authors of books I had read; and was able to leave with my suitcase full of ARCs, 5 bags full of “goodies”, and a head full of ideas.

I would recommend attending a national conference to everyone, but especially current Library Science students, and new librarians. While a student, ALA offers an excellent benefit of discounted conference admission and membership fees. If interested in working in a library you can not afford to pass this up.

Working with young adults requires a library that stays on the cutting edge of librarianship, which can still be two to three years behind the lives of the young adults. Attending conferences, participating in online classes, pushing yourself and your library to try new things, and sharing ideas with colleagues will keep our young adult departments meeting the needs of these important patrons long into the future.

posted by Jami Schwarzwalder