On-line learning for our patrons not only provides them with easily assessable learning content, which is available literaly at their fingertips, but also an educational environment which allows for open avenues of personal feedback and a sense of community among learners. Here are some examples of library programs or activites that could be adapted to this kind of format.
Bibliographic Research - At the BPL this kind of activity is generally handled through prearranged student group tours.This is a topic so rich in content that it would be better presented in mini- course form. Of course, there would be some users who would want a shorter more introductory presentation which could be available as a video on our web site. The online course content could be provided by a single librarian or a group of such instructors giving a virtual tour of the library and its resources. Supplementary lectures could be added throughout the presentation in those instances where a more in depth explanation of the proper use of a particular resource tool would be required. Opportunities for questions and feedback could be provided for between students, teachers, and library instructors, as well as homework assignments to facilitate hands on learning. An assessment should be conducted at the end of the course in order to determine how well the students learned the material as well as how effectively it was presented. This on-line program could also be offered in various alternative versions tailored to a learning group's particular age level or subject interests.
Catalog Searching - There are of course help screens available throughout our catalog, but I'm not sure how effective they are. We could offer an on-line course structured similarly to the one above, except the virtual tour would be about the most effective ways to search the on-line catalog. We could also have a shorter, introductory version of this course available for users on the welcome screen of the catalog itself and on our web site as well.
ESL Programs - Our literacy program here at the BPL is currently centered around individual tutoring sessions and conversation groups for interested patrons. Just think of how much more effective and available it would be if students had access to an on-line course instead. Individual lessons could be structured so that one could view them and complete the homework assignments at their own pace. The completed assignments (both written and oral) could be submitted to the instructor via email, podcasting, etc. who would then monitor progress and offer feedback to individual students through these same channels. I learned about how to provide a sense of community among learners through introduction to a software called Blackboard Community System. Conducting conversation groups in an easily assessable videoconferencing format would increase attendance and create a real sense of connection amongst the ESL students from all over the Boston area. Additional avenues of communication could also be provided for and encouraged between all students in our Web 2.0 style ESL program in order to further facilitate this sense of community which I think would be so supportive in a learning environment of this nature.