17 November, 2016: Learning to Code: The role of Communities of Practice to support Digital Literacies

This webinar, Learning to Code: The role of Communities of Practice to support Digital Literacieswas produced by Digital Literacies ANZ, a community of practice for professionals across Australia and New Zealand to share, learn and have ongoing conversations about digital literacies.  Matthew Davis, from the University of Sydney Library, presented the webinar.

In his presentation, Davis discussed:

  • the background and rationale of teaching library staff to code
  • the establishment of a community of practice as an approach to professional development
  • starting a Community of Practice
  • lessons learned from the experience.

Davis raised interesting points about the way learning programming extends the definition of creation in the ALA definition of digital literacy, and moves people towards being a participant, rather than only a consumer.  This statement reminded me of the philosophy of the current maker movement, which has a creator ethos. Davis discussed advantages of learning to code in providing library staff with an understanding of programming language which can allow conversations to occur between technical staff and library staff.  The intention is not for librarians to create programs, but to assist them with understanding and communicating with technical professionals.  Learning to code can allow library staff to assist with website redesign; i.e. making text more readable on a webpage by adding headings, hyperlinks, or bulleted lists.   Davis talked about how learning to code can help develop computational thinking, providing a different way to solve problems.

Davis’ idea of developing a community of practice (COP) in the library in the form of a coding club was to help meet professional development requirements.  Membership of the community of practice was voluntary. Codecademy, a free website offering coding tutorials, was used as the basis for the coding lessons.  Regular meeting times were established to discuss lessons, with an expectation that members would independently work through lessons.  Davis found that membership of the club waned over time, and the COP needed a leader to continually drive the process.  Upon review of the program, he implemented a virtual discussion group using Yammer, and found that this was a key tool in supporting the development of the community of practice.

I found this webinar really interesting.  I love the idea of being able to write simple code for websites.  I think that this skill would be valuable in any librarian role I have in the future in which I have the ability to do minor webpage editing.  This was a role carried out by a librarian at the Rockhampton Regional Library.  She was able to update the online library catalogue with the library’s new releases and current events.  We were introduced to HTML in IFN616 – Online Information Services, but did not do CSS.  I think continuing to develop skills using HTML, and learning CSS is the next step for me in learning to code.  Davis introduced free tools (codecademy) in his presentation that I had heard of, but not used myself, so my intention is to try out Codecademy, and develop my coding skills.  I can also take away Davis’ lessons learned in developing a community of practice should I attempt to implement one, or participate in one, in any future role I have as a librarian.

Image attribution:

Screen Computer Computer Code Monitor, by Max Pixel FreeGreatPicture.com, CC0 Public Domain.

LIS Professional Media Monitoring: NLS8 blog

I chose to follow and monitor the NLS8 Blog for 3 months to meet the professional media monitoring requirement.  I monitored the blog for the period November 24, 2016 – February 26, 2017.  I had already been following NLS8 on Twitter for a number of months.  I was very interested in monitoring the NLS8 blog because I applied for a student bursary to NLS8 this year, and would love to attend the symposium.

NLS8 is the 8th New Librarians’ Symposium, being held on June 23-25, 2017, at the National Library of Australia, Canberra. The New Librarians’ Symposium is a 3-day event held every 2 years, hosted by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).  ALIA is the national professional association for the library and information services sector. The New Librarians’ Symposium is a popular professional development event, and encourages attendance by new graduates, in this way encouraging information exchange and networking.

NLS8 has a suite of online and social media channels it uses to connect with the LIS community: a Twitter handle and hash tag (#nls8), website, blog, prominent link from the ALIA website, and interested parties can sign up for NLS8 email updates.  During the 3 month period that I monitored the NLS8 blog, 9 new blog posts were uploaded.

A series of 4 blog posts during November and December introduced the key note speakers for NLS8, providing brief bios, and relevant links to their work.

Blogs in February included:

Most posts were written by NLS8 committee members, however, guest posts were also written by LIS professionals such as Ellen O’Herir, ALIA Students and New Graduates Group National Co-convenor, and Kylie Burgess,  MIS(LIP) Student at QUT and blogger for ALIA Students and New Graduates Group.

The key themes of the blog posts were around supporting and encouraging students and new graduates to come to NLS8 to volunteer and network.  NLS8 blog, in association with its sister social media channels, could assist my early professional development in the following ways:

  • It keeps me informed about the New Librarians’ Symposium, a professional development event aimed at students and new graduates.
  • As a student, the content is extremely relevant to me.  Networking and volunteering are great avenues for students to meet other students and professionals in the area, so tips and information about why and how to network and volunteer is valuable.
  • Other blog posts also provide great information and links to other information that is relevant for students and new graduates, e.g. library podcast links.

The exercise of following/monitoring a LIS social media channel allowed me to see how effective a method this can be to assist in maintaining awareness of current happenings, trends, events, research articles, etc, in LIS areas.