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Thursday, February 8 • 10:30am - 12:00pm
Session 5.3 Juried Panel: Expanding LIS Youth Services Curriculum to Embed Computational Thinking.

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Decades of formal computer science (CS) education have failed to produce qualified computer scientists and software engineers that the world needs (Google & Gallup, 2016). Approximately 40% of K-12 schools in the US offer CS courses with programming/coding elements and 9% offer Advancement Placement (AP) CS courses. Black students in the US are 23% less likely to have taken CS classes in schools than their White counterparts (Google & Gallup, 2016). A lack of qualified teachers, mentors, and resources continues to be the root of this lingering problem (Code.org, 2017). Other regions in the world also report similar figures (OECD, 2014).  Libraries hold tremendous potential to offer informal CS learning opportunities to underserved youth, thus having the potential to overcome these shortcomings. Libraries can provide mentors and social learning spaces that encourage underserved youth to geek out and tinker with technology (Bertot et al., 2014; Braun, et al., 2014; Hoffman et al., 2016).
Libraries worldwide have implemented steps to create and offer such resources, programming, and spaces (Braun & Visser, 2017; Library Planet, 2017), but admittedly librarian preparation programs need to transform their courses to produce librarians who are prepared to flourish in these roles and responsibilities. A report from the University of Maryland (Re-envisioning the MLS) describes findings of the value and future of a Master’s in Library Science degree and specifically addresses “the opportunities of focusing youth learning and education...working with youth in schools [through school libraries]...facilitating learning in libraries through making, STEAM (STREAM), coding, and a range of other activities.” (Bertot, Sarin & Percell, 2015, p. 10). Libraries Ready to Code (RtC), an initiative led by the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy, released a report that indicates librarians lack of knowledge and understanding of computational thinking, their struggle with facilitating learning in new ways, such as through the use of connected learning frameworks, their inability to connect with community partners and experts that may have the expertise in coding and computational thinking programs, and their failure to build on or augment coding activities occurring in classrooms (Braun & Visser, 2017).
The Phase I RtC report recommended focusing action on librarian preparation programs for youth and school librarians by creating and expanding curricula that will allow librarians to help youth develop computational thinking. The RtC report suggested creating opportunities for librarians to develop deeper facilitation and teaching skills grounded in computational thinking design as a critical area for additional work. Through creation of such opportunities in LIS curriculum, librarians will be better equipped to provide coding activities for youth that 1) increase exposure to and interest in coding, 2) change perceptions of who codes and increase affinity to coding activities among non-dominant youth, 3) build foundational computational thinking skills, and 4) help youth connect coding to non-computer science specific domains (Braun & Visser, 2017).
In early 2016, a cohort of six RtC LIS faculty members were selected to redesign and pilot pre-service courses for youth librarians that they will teach in Fall 2017. These revised courses will result in strategies to address the above-mentioned objectives (see press release at: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2017/04/ala-announces-libraries-ready-code-faculty-fellows). These “RtC Faculty Fellows” teach at graduate schools of LIS that are ALA-accredited (includes iSchools and LIS schools) and graduate schools providing school library certification programs in the United States. Each course differs - target student populations include solely school librarians or both school and public youth services librarians; delivery modes include online or in-person, with both asynchronous and synchronous meetings; the level of redesign varies from a dispersion of RtC concepts to a complete overhaul; and some are tied to state standards and some are not. Thus, this redesign will result in a wide range of courses serving as models and examples to other LIS institutions worldwide, including courses targeted for school and youth services librarians as well as technical courses targeted for all other library types.
The panel will be moderated by Mega Subramaniam (Co-PI of this project), and all RtC Faculty Fellows (listed as authors above) will serve as panelists. The panel will begin with a brief of panelists and an overview of the Libraries RtC project (7 minutes). This will be followed by brief presentations by the panelists who will share overviews of their pre- and post-RtC syllabi, how they re-designed their courses, changes they made, and their personal reflections on the process (i.e. what was rewarding and what was challenging) (8 minutes each = 48 minutes). The next 30 minutes will be dedicated to small group audience engagement with RtC faculty Fellow or Fellows of their choice. Attendees will spend five minutes at each RtC Fellow table (attendees are welcome to continue to engage at a single table, if they would like to have a longer discussion with a host). The concluding five minutes will be spent sharing parting thoughts by each Faculty Fellow, highlighting what was discussed at their table.
Each panelist has redesigned their course by embedding computational thinking and RtC concepts into course content and activities and will have finished teaching these courses in December 2017. They have collaborated as a cohort during the redesign, and they will be able to convey the redesigning process, including opportunities and challenges that they have encountered. The panelists’ backgrounds differ, as do their student body characteristics, allowing them to relate to the differing backgrounds of LIS educators. This session will offer techniques and approaches for integrating computational thinking - allowing attendees to blend syllabi and strategies to meet the needs of their respective schools.
The authors wish to thank Google K-12 Education Outreach for their leadership and support of the Libraries RtC project. We would also like to thank the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) for their support of this project, especially to Marijke Visser (co-PI for Phase II of this project), Linda Braun (the researcher for this project), and Caitlin Martin (project evaluator).

Thursday February 8, 2018 10:30am - 12:00pm MST
Standley I

Attendees (7)