Connected Learning: Fandom and Fair Use

fair useWe are only one week away from discussing connected learning at the ALA Annual YALSA President’s Program, A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning. One thing about this event that grabs me is the word “passion”, something I strive to foster in the teens that come to our library. We hope to give them a voice, and a place to share their passions and interests with each other through anime clubs, cosplay groups, book discussions and more.

This summer, we are featuring a series of fandom events for teens. Some programs focus on a specific fandom, some celebrate all fandoms from Doctor Who to photography. If you love it, we want to help you dive deeper into it. As I prepared for these programs I encountered the challenge of at the intersection of fandom and fair use.

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Connected Learning: Education With Style

teen fashion showLast week the Metropolitan Museum of Art’ revealed the renovation work on its fashion galleries, reopening them to the public. Michelle Obama remarked about the important role galleries like this play in the fashion world. Showing everyone that fashion isn’t just for the elite, or only worn on the runway.

Fashion is something we all interact with every day, but many of us overlook the complicated skills needed to work in the industry. Journalism pieces like Planet Money’s T-Shirt Project have shed light on what it involves to take a drawing and turn it into a piece of clothing. Michelle Obama also commented on the variety of tools a designer needs to have at their fingertips. “It’s a career that involves, science, engineering, accounting, marketing and so much more. Maybe they’ll learn about the math behind Charles James’s designs. And they’ll think to themselves, maybe I should pay closer attention in geometry,” she said speaking to students. This’ is another perfect example of connected learning, providing opportunities to learn new skills while diving into a passion for fashion.

Our teen cosplay club printed this crown with our 3D printer to go with a costume.

Our teen cosplay club printed this crown with our 3D printer to go with a costume.

The Johnson County Library has been encouraging teens to show their style since 2008 with our first teen fashion show (pictured above). Since then we have branched into a cosplay club that meets regularly to design, sew, critique and wear costumes from their favorite books, movies and TV shows. The cosplay club is a great example of connected learning’ happening naturally and quietly at the library. Club members are required to make a project plan for each costume, set goals and deadlines, define budgets, and critique designs and help other member learn new skills (like 3D printing). The club has made appearances at local conventions in group costumes (most recently the Sailor ‘ Avengers) and continues to encourage members to grow and improve. Not all of these teens will become fashion designers but the skills they have learned to budget, plan and collaborate will serve them well in whatever career they choose. The Library is happy to provide a place for them to explore their passions.

If you want to find out more about connected learning please start with the wonderful posts’ on the YALSA Blog, starting with’ this one. Don’t forget to mark your calendars to attend the YALSA President’s Program,’ A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning,’ Monday, June 30, ‘ 1-3 pm.

Connected Learning: Connecting with Coaches

energyOver the past two weeks, the YALSA President’s Program task force has been meeting with connected learning coaches who will facilitate discussions in Las Vegas to discuss their experience with and use of connected learning ideas. The diversity of these discussions cemented the feeling that connected learning comes in all shapes and sizes and we can’t wait to hear from you at our program at ALA Annual.

As we dove into discussion with the coaches a few themes kept recurring and we wanted to share them with you. Connected learning is already happening in many libraries, some just don’t have that term in their vocabulary to label what they are already doing. Libraries are poised to be the place where passion-directed learning happens. Already a community hub, we can help connect teens with the resources, mentors and spaces that will help them follow their passions. Now that we know what connected learning is and can see it already happening in our libraries, we can begin to foster it with intention.

As we begin to plan programs, services and classes with connected learning in mind, we have to stay flexible. Self-directed and passion-based learning is difficult to direct without derailing the learners enthusiasm. This is an easier goal for public libraries, who likely do not have to prove the learning happening at their programs, and can let the process take as long as it needs to. Schools face the challenge of identified outcomes to every class or program, but there are some great examples of librarians using the concepts of connected learning to add additional value to their testable outcomes.

Connected learning is happening in all types of libraries, as evidenced by the diversity of our coaches. At A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning‘ they will help participants identify connected learning already happening in their environments, and as a group we will discuss ways to level up what we are already doing. There are small things we can do to bring big rewards to our teens.

If you want to find out more about connected learning please start with the wonderful posts’ on the YALSA Blog, starting with this one. Don’t forget to mark your calendars to attend the YALSA President’s Program,’ A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning, Monday, June 30, ‘ 1-3 pm.

Connected Learning: Chicago Expands YOUmedia

Chicago Public Libraries and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are on board to expand their connected learning project, YOUmedia. A grant from the MacArthur Foundation and a contribution from the mayor will allow the Chicago Public Library to expand the program into five new locations as well as offering pop-up labs for teens at branches around the metro-area.

Projects and spaces like YOUmedia allow teens to learn at their own pace, emphasizing mentors, one-on-one teaching opportunities and self-guided exploration. The library gives them the tools and allows teens to delve deeper into their passions and share what they have learned with their peers. And now with the support of the MacArthur Foundation and the mayor, this program will be able to help even more teens.

Not all of us have 2.5 million dollars to spend on connected learning spaces but we can all incorporate the ideas of passion-directed learning into our libraries. If you are interested in learning more about how people are already using connected learning concepts, or want to share how connected learning plays a role in your library, mark your calendars for the’ YALSA President’s Program,’ A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning, at ALA Annual this summer.

Learn more about YOUmedia in the video below.

Amplified! Connected Learning, Advocacy & the 2014 YALSA President’s Program

June 2014 seems a long long long way away. But, it’s really not so far off. And you know as well as I do that what seems far away has a habit of sneaking up on one. That’s why the YALSA 2014 President’s Program Task Force is hard at work planning for the event at Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

The President’s Program Task Force has gladly taken on YALSA President Shannon Peterson’s charge for a President’s Program on connected learning. The team – made up of myself; Maureen Hartman from the Hennepin County Library (MN); Kate McNair, from the Johnson County Library (KS), Candice Mack, from the Los Angeles Public Library (CA); and Carrie Kausch, from the Fairfax County School System (VA) – read the connected learning report, discussed it, and last week sponsored a Hangout with colleagues to consider what connected learning means to librarians and educators. The video of that conversation is below.


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