Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cheering from the Sidelines

Those of you who know me are aware that I am on a medical leave right now from my job (due to a nasty torn tendon in my foot/ankle). I am about two weeks post op, pretty much confined to my bed. This is the first time in about 15 years that I have NOT worked, that I have been forced to slow down. It is the first time in 10 years that my mind will actually allow my body to sleep past 5 AM (sleeping til 7:30 AM now). It is the first time in the longest time that I am watching from the sidelines and not actively making things happen. I so needed this time to 'rest my bones' (literally!) and take care of myself; but I am not used to being outside the vortex and to actually having time to reflect on things happening in my profession. That being said, reading Joyce Valenza's blog post, My 2.0 day and the response/rant about our cover argument, (thanks to a heads up from Cathy Nelson), at long last broke through my mindless recuperating lifestyle, where everyday consists of sleeping, eating, and watching Barefoot Contessa, Say Yes to the Dress, House Hunters, The View, and various Judge shows!

I am surprised and not surprised by the responses to Joyce's article and responses Doug Johnson received in his Blue Skunk blog to their SLJ piece: Things That Keep Us Up at Night. I have posted a response to dialogue, which I am reprinting below:

From Beth...
As an example, the fact that these 2.0 tools are so often heralded as "free" is also interesting. To my knowledge, most of them require hardware, software, time to learn, electricity, support, connectivity, time to implement and so on. There is a lot of money and other resources spent before we get to "free." These are resources that many schools don't have right now. This is not always an excuse - in many cases it is a reason. This doesn't even touch issues of filtering, lack of administrative support, overwhelming attention to standardized tests, fixed scheduling and other elements that need to be addressed for learning 2.0 to happen.
My Response:

1. Most of the 2.0 tools do NOT require anything more than a computer with Internet access; in fact, the purpose of most of these tools is to create an even playing field, where users do NOT have to invest in expensive software (such as word processing, photo editing, telephone accounts; web hosting, etc).
2. The hardware required is a computer. Are there still schools without at least a few computers in the year 2009? Are there still librarians who do not have access to a computer to invest their own time in learning and staying current and informed about what is happening in our profession?
3. To bring up "electricity" as a roadblock to learning is ridiculous. No further comment required.
4. Support: never in our profession has there been more ideal time for getting support from your peers.
5. "Time to implement" - OK, where do I begin... we have to make time to implement, no one is going to hand it to us, i.e., "OK today you don't have to teach so you can implement a new learning tool." Ask Joyce, ask Cathy, ask Buffy, ask thousands of us, and we will tell you that we made the time, that we put in the time, that it was at 5 in the morning or at midnight, or all day Saturday, or whatever, we MADE THE TIME - we made the time to try something new, to reach out to others for help, to share what we learned, to network with experts and learners, to read and to write.
6. Getting around fixed schedules, state testing, etc., etc.... Sheesh, we all have to face these problems to some extent. We just have to find ways to make it work, And it can work, if we don't allow ourselves to drown in the negativity.

I agree that money has dried up for going to conferences for almost all of us. But because of Web 2.0, there are many, many FREE online webinars given by leaders in the field - for example, PBS Teachers® and Classroom 2.0. Most leaders in our field share their presentations online, in wikis, in nings, etc., so really, let's stop with the excuses! If you want to learn, if you want to grow, there is nothing to stop you but yourself.

The storycorps idea bothers me. Why do we need another platform for whining and complaining? Let's get with it, people. Put in the time and effort to stay relevant. Start slow, take baby steps, but get in the mix. Start by reading Joyce's blog, join the Teacher-Librarian Ning, read our prof. journals - all of these resources will get you started on your journey to being a 21st C librarian.

The comment, And we do that by not saying "I'm doing it right and you aren't so get out." We do it by asking "How can I help?", bothers me as well. I repeat, never in our profession has there been more help available. Never, to my knowledge, has there been more of us willing to help, to share, to put everything we know out there on the web for others. This is NOT AT ALL about "Look at me..." (and trust me, I despise ''Look at me" type people), it is about "get on the bus" and here is the road map that I want to share with you to guide you on your journey.

OK, enough said. What do you think?