Craving In-Person Teaching and Learning
More than fifteen years ago, as I was choosing a library science graduate school, my number one priority was that the program be an in-person style plan. At the time, many of the library schools had both in-person and online options. I tend to be a kinesthetic learner, and I am an extrovert. These two things in my make-up crave the physical presence of others.
This fall, my school is working through a hybrid of in-person and online learning. For seventy-five percent of our students, we are wearing masks, sometimes face shields, and practicing social distancing—all while teaching, using online video, twenty-five percent of our students who remain at home. The benefits of the rural library are larger spaces and fewer students. The drawbacks of the rural setting are struggles with Internet reliability and other infrastructure concerns related to distance learning. I am so happy to see my students, both in-person and online, but it is a struggle to balance the hybrid model.
Why Do Even Tech-Savvy Librarians Dislike Video Conferences?
It is hard to explain how someone could love educational technology but loathe the constant video conference meetings. However, the loathing is a common sentiment. Articles like Forbes‘ “Here’s My Plan: I Don’t Ever Want to Use Zoom Again” and New York Times‘ “Why Zoom Is Terrible” reveal the very real condition of video meeting fatigue.
Sarah Brennan from ITPro explains the science behind Zoom fatigue. Some of the worries include the lack of non-verbal feedback and the temptation to multitask. There is also the stress of having a video camera on your face. These concerns lead to disengagement, which is an enemy of learning.
Alternatives and Working through the Medium
Unfortunately, until there is a vaccine, our schools and school libraries will have at least some distance learners. Frankly, some of our schools need to progress into the 21st century. Out of necessity, the pandemic has brought us so far in such a short time. It is a concern that once we return to in-person classes, we will abandon the progress we have made.
This crisis has created an opportunity to embed library programming into the school’s learning management system (LMS). The LMS offers an alternative delivery method from constant video instruction. Other ways to vary distance student learning and enhance engagement could include gaming, social media, and group chats.
Here are some other resources that offer ways to enhance distance learning using video conferencing and other tools.
- 50 Distance Learning Icebreakers & Games
- Easy Distance Learning and Remote Teaching Activities to Play
- 10 Virtual Library Activities for Students to Do at Home
- 10 Virtual Maker and STEM Resources for Students
What Day Is It Anyway?
Another struggle with online conferencing is the inexactness of time. There is a distinct need for breaks from screentime and just simply knowing what day of the week it is. Not only are we schooling online, we are worshipping and socializing though the Internet. To mark time we name each day, and because many have been isolated for so long we hope to truly note the seasons this year.
Ways to note the season include celebrations in whatever learning you use. September is both Fall Hat Month and National Library Card Sign-Up Month. September 8 is International Literacy Day. And International Dot Day inspired by the book The Dot by Peter. H. Reynolds is September 15. Finally, September 27-October 3, 2020, we celebrate Banned Books Week.
Also, on the bright side this may be one of the most economical conference seasons ever. School Library Journal has a number of online events like “Picture Books for Fall” and “Fall Graphic Novels for All Levels.” Many of the state chapters have also created virtual events. These include Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Save on travel and perhaps attend more than just one conference.
Author: Hannah Byrd Little
Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.