IRDL instructor spotlight: Michael Stephens

Michael StephensWe are pleased to have Michael Stephens as one of the three-person IRDL instruction team. Dr. Michael Stephens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. His research focuses on use of emerging technologies in libraries and technology learning programs. He was the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar in Australia and has consulted and presented for the US Embassies in Germany, Switzerland and Turkey. He currently writes the monthly column “Office Hours” in Library Journal exploring issues, ideas and emerging trends in library and information science education. Stephens has spoken about emerging technologies, innovation, and libraries to national and international audiences. He is fascinated by library buildings and virtual spaces that center around users, participation, creating content, and encouraging the heart. Michael’s Tame the Web blog is here: http://tametheweb.com.

We asked him to answer two questions for us in this spotlight blog post:
1. Why are you participating as an instructor for IRDL?
2. What impact do you hope IRDL has on the library community?

1. I’m excited to be working on this project because it’s an extension of my own research areas and a focus of my teaching. My role in the institute will be to work with the scholars to establish a means to communicate, collaborate and continue to learn online beyond the in person institute. Through my research on Learning 2.0 as well as my work on a large scale online course for librarians this past fall, I have come to believe that librarians can create thriving learning and sharing spaces online that can serve them throughout their professional lives. The potential for these networks is powerful! Richardson and Mancabelli (2011) define learning networks as “the rich set of connections each of us can make to people in both our online and offline worlds who help us with our learning pursuits (p. 21).” Creating a model of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), Rajagopal et al describe it as such: “A personal learning network (PLN) is a network set up by an individual specifically in the context of her professional activities through online platforms to support her professional non–formal learning needs. Therefore, a professional who intentionally builds, maintains and activates her strong, weak and very weak ties with contacts within her personal network for the purpose of improving her learning — and uses technology to support this activity — is creating a personal learning network.”

As librarians and information professionals, the same focus applies: how can we continue to learn and learn to learn throughout our professional lives to make sure our constituents and the profession benefits? I am also excited to explore the concept of “connected learning” with the institute participants and the principles explored by Jenkins (2012) to define the concept: “It’s social. It’s hands-on. It’s active. It’s networked. It’s personal. It’s effective. Through a new vision of learning, it holds out the possibility for productive and broad-based educational change” (para. 24). Connected learning includes three important components: a shared purpose, a production centered approach, and an openly networked environment.

2. I think there is great potential to establish and nurture a community of scholars who through their own queries offer new knowledge to the profession. This is a cyclical process: a solid research question leads to the work participants will do and then report on. Those reports and sharing will in turn inspire others to pursue their own questions and ideas. This is such a unique opportunity for a group to learn together and it maybe become a model for others.

References

Jenkins, H. (2012). Connected Learning: “Reimagining the Experience of Education in the Information Age” at http://henryjenkins.org/2012/03/connected_learning_a_new_parad.html

Rajagopal, Kamakshi, Joosten-ten Brinke, Desirée, Van Bruggen, Jan, And Sloep, Peter. “Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them” First Monday [Online], Volume 17 Number 1 (27 December 2011) http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/3559/3131

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Bio:

Dr. Michael Stephens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. His research focuses on use of emerging technologies in libraries and technology learning programs. He was the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar in Australia and has consulted and presented for the US Embassies in Germany, Switzerland and Turkey. He currently writes the monthly column “Office Hours” in Library Journal exploring issues, ideas and emerging trends in library and information science education. Stephens has spoken about emerging technologies, innovation, and libraries to national and international audiences. He is fascinated by library buildings and virtual spaces that center around users, participation, creating content, and encouraging the heart. Michael’s Tame the Web blog is here: http://tametheweb.com.

Links:

Exemplary Practice for Learning 2.0 – Based on a Cumulative Analysis of the Value and Effect of “23 Things” Programs in Libraries: http://tametheweb.com/2013/12/16/new-article-exemplary-practice-for-learning-2-0-full-text/

MOOCs for Professional Development – Exploring New Transformative Learning Environments and Roles: http://www.ipsonet.org/images/Westphalia_Press/Internet_Learning_Journal_2-2/5.%20Stephens%20-%20MOOCS%20for%20LIS%20Professional%20Development.pdf

Essential Soft Skills: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/02/opinion/michael-stephens/essential-soft-skills/

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