teens engrossedThe YALSA 2014 President’s Program Task Force has been hard at work over the last several months planning for the 2014 Annual Conference President’s Program program. Connected learning is the theme and one thing the group working on the program has continued to realize and come back to, is the idea that for teens in order for learning to be meaningful and interesting it has to be passion-based.

What does passion-based learning look like? Well, think about the teens who are manga-loving library users. Do they regularly search the web for information on new titles, to learn about Japanese culture, or even to learn Japanese so that they can read manga in its original form? Or, what about the teens who are dedicated minecraft players? Do they scour the web for information on how to make mods or to find forums and other web-based venues for sharing ideas for improving their minecraft play? Those manga and minecraft loving teens are taking part in passion-based learning, which is also connected learning, teaching themselves and learning from others about the topics in which they are most interested.

What does it take to give teens the chance to participate in passion-based/connected learning? Well, that’s some of what will get discussed during the YALSA Annual Conference President’s Program. But, I bet if you start to think about it, you are already providing passion-based learning opportunities for teens. Are you helping teens find those manga or minecraft resources that will help them expand their knowledge? Are you talking with teens and connecting them to others in the community who have a similar interest? Are you sponsoring programs inside and outside the library that connect to teen passions? If so, then you are already providing passion-based learning opportunities.

But, the connection to resources is just one aspect of this type of learning. What about the library as a place where manga loving teens can meet experts in manga publishing (face-to-face or virtually) and who get a chance to learn about the format through conversation with these experts? What about coaches in the library who help teens to learn about how to publish their own manga? Those are just two ways that libraries can extend what they do when it comes to passion-based connected learning.

You might start learning about connected learning and meeting teen passions by checking out YALSA’s recently released white paper on the future of library services for and with teens. Then you might read the connected learning report that includes some great examples of how libraries and other formal and informal learning institutions are supporting teen passion-based learning. And, you can also watch a Google+ Hangout with members of the President’s Program Planning Task Force who talk with others about bringing connected learning to the library.

It’s really exciting to think about how library staff working with teens can support each individual’s interests through library programs and services. Start thinking about how it fits in with what you do in your library and then come join the discussion at Annual Conference 2014. There will be lots and lots of time for asking questions and getting some coaching on how to bring passion-based learning to teens in libraries.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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