Mature Matrix: Library Services for Seniors was a 3-week course offered by ALIA in partnership with Sydney TAFE. It was provided completely online, through Moodle, a commonly used learning management system in educational institutions. The course aimed to help participants understand the characteristics and needs of older people, the services that are available to them in the community, and how to develop and implement targeted library programs, services and collections for older people. The course was aimed at people working in public libraries.
I don’t work in a public library, so I thought that I might have some difficulty completing the course. I have recently completed a 2-week placement in a public library, however, which I found extremely beneficial to my ability to participate effectively in the course. The course content was more meaningful for me having had experiences of adult programming in my library placement; e.g. the home delivery service, the community technology classes, and the lively knitters. Having said that, the strength of the learning materials and resources with which we were provided was such that I am sure a person who was not working in a public library would still have been able to participate effectively.
The course content consisted of three topics, released weekly, and participants worked through the material and tasks at their own pace. There were frequent reassurances from the facilitators to let people know that the material would be accessible after the official end-date of the course, as many joined the course late. I found that I fell behind during the course because we had house guests for 2 consecutive weekends which took away my time to work on the course; so it was a relief to know that the materials would still be available post-end date. It was wonderful that the course was so flexible; important for adult learners with jobs, families and other commitments.
Course requirements were clear from the outset, and participants knew what was required of them to achieve a certificate upon completion. In order to ensure that participants were engaging with the learning materials, tasks were set and participant submissions were uploaded to the relevant forum on Moodle. It was made clear that submissions would not be graded; participation (as evidenced by submissions to Moodle) was the key requirement. The fact that the submissions were not graded was a great relief to me. I find it difficult to get started on something if I know it is going to be graded. I tend to procrastinate and spend too much time worrying if my submission is good enough. As a result, I found this experience quite liberating – I could just get in and start (which I did).
I thought this course was excellent, and I got a lot out of it. I feel like I learned a lot, and have come away with many practical ideas and resources to assist me in future work with older people in a public library. I will do more ALIA professional development activities in the future.