Dr. Michael Wesch: Rethinking Education (and Libraries,Too)

I somehow missed this video when it was first released in January, but thank you to DML Central and Open Culture for helping me discover the video, “Rethinking Education” from Dr. Michael Wesch . I found myself exclaiming “yes!” several times while watching this video from thought leader and teacher extraordinaire (and inspiration agent for Media 21) Dr. Michael Wesch.  A little background on this video designed to be a “conversation starter”:

This video was produced as a contribution to the EDUCAUSE book, The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing, edited by Richard Katz and available as an e-Book athttp://www.educause.edu/thetowerandthecloud or commercially at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0967285399/ref=kinw_rke_rti_1 Produced in 2007 as a conversation starter in small groups. Released in 2011 as a conversation starter online.

Although targeted toward the world of higher education, this video speaks to the challenges we face in K12 education and consequently, libraries at large as we now realize, “there is no shelf”; the video speaks to the fundamental shifts in how information is distributed and how we are now constructing and sharing knowledge.  While many statements stood out to me, one in particular captures the sense of urgency I feel in my work as a librarian and teacher:

‎”The critical thing that is happening is the public is existing now, is living and breathing, within a much larger sphere of information and knowledge.  That critical openness to knowledge, that is something we had better address, or we are ill-serving our students.”

The possibilities for initiating, inviting, and sustaining conversations for learning about these organic changes in the information landscape are what I find incredibly exciting and what give me hope, in spite of what seem to be insurmountable challenges at times, that we can disrupt and topple the banking system of education that treats students as passive receptacles of knowledge and devalues the potential of participatory learning, critical thinking, and inquiry.

Ushering in the Era of “Validation”: Gaining Authority in the Age of Digital Overload

Curation” is a hot buzzword right now in circles of people interested in information and how it is created, organized, distributed, digested, and self-filtered.  As someone who has been and continues to be interested in the changing nature of authority, social scholarship, and helping people learn how to develop their own “information filters”, I was fascinated by this slidedeck from Steve Rubel and the accompanying article via Mashable (thank you to Steve Rosenbaum for pointing me to these resources).

While the slides and article focus on how companies and their brands can gain authority through transmedia storytelling, I think the principles highlighted in the slides and the Mashable article are more than applicable for libraries and librarians:

1.  Elevate the experts (this SO speaks to the concepts of participatory librarianship and culture!):  “Find your company’s subject-matter experts and empower them to “cultivate new ideas and engage in meaningful conversation around them,” advises Rubel.

2.  Curate to connect:  “Rubel pointed out an unprecedented opportunity for companies and individuals to gain authority and become thought leaders by being the ones who “separate art from junk for people to understand it.” Curation is just as important as creation.”

3.  Dazzle with data:  “The solution is to make data and information more visual and entertaining.”  I’ve talked extensively in the last year about libraries using more than flat statistics and your sole perspective to tell the story of library.  Think multimedia and shared voices of your patrons in giving meaning to the data you are sharing transparently with your community.

4.  Put hubs on hubs:  “Publish your company’s content, such as slideshows and white papers, on hubs like SlideShare and Scribd, so that interested parties can access it and “go deeper” when they want to.” We’re doing this already with SlideShare (but not Scribd–our district’s filter classifies Scribd as “porn”) at The Unquiet Library; I’m now thinking about other mediums for adding hubs that the staff can create in 2011-12 as well as our students, our experts in training (this principle speaks to Henry Jenkins’ identifying the scaffolding of novices in becoming experts as an essential element of participatory culture).

5.  Ask and Answer:  everyone in an organization should be able to field questions via social media, not just a few staff members.  I’m contemplating some interesting possibilities for ways libraries and schools could take this advice to heart to elevate our “brand” and authority in our community.

How do you see your library incorporating these principles of authority building ?  How might these principles help you and your library community create conversations for learning?