Users of Blackboard Collaborate
For the past year the Westport Public Library in Connecticut has been working toward the creation of a Teen Digital Media Center based on some models viewed around the country, including the YouMedia "Youth-powered 21st Century Learning Center" at the Chicago Public Library.
Teens in our community generally have busy schedules after school due to homework and extra-curricular activities. There is also no shortage of technology in many homes. Recently we determined that our digital media center could find an audience and a purpose if it operates under the theme, "Connecting for Good!" The focus of the projects in the media center will be to help others through creating connections, whether it is to support a local small business to develop a better web presence; to connect a local group of 7th graders studying biomes with a group of 7th graders in Cajamarca, Peru in the Andes; or to connect a high school African Studies class with a small school in Adansi-Brofoyedru, Ghana to produce a collaborative video to help them with their efforts to get Internet access in their school. The local Rotary Club and an associate from IBM are both meeting with us to explore how they might support this endeavor.
This project-based media center is to be created in the center of the Great Hall as you enter the Library. The media lab will be modular with half-walls so that it is an open "laboratory" for other patrons to view and join. It will consist of computers, tablets, laptops, video cameras, projection devices, screen or Smartboard, and other devices with the ability to link to portable technologies that people regularly bring to the Public Library.
I have often been a part of an Elluminate experience in a variety of webinars and have been amazed at the power of this tool. Users are instantly a part of a network of learners where location is not an issue, although the points of view, knowledge and experiences of the collected individuals expand the potential for learning. The schools in Westport also successfully use Blackboard as their content management system. Since we had already thought of our project name to be "Connect for Good!" it was amazing to find this opportunity "We Collaborate! Collaborate for Good!" as a potential resource and vehicle to drive the connections made with others.
Through this initiative we can create connections with and between our local schools, organizations and businesses, other universities and schools around the world, and many individuals and organizations who are working to help people grow, learn and share. As a former elementary school library media specialist and coordinator of information and technology literacy for Westport, CT, I am eager to support this project in my new position at the Library as assistant director for innovation and user experience.