Finding Collaborative Points from a Distance

Turning learning on its head.

As much as we all want to return to in-person learning, we are all preparing for a future of at least some distance learning. Many, many teachers still prefer some type of lecture, and this is something that we may need to change when designing online school. Some digital natives tune out the proverbial “sage on the stage.” Children’s attention spans are shorter because of child development. And the current generation prefers visual, interactive, and social media. I gained some useful teaching tips in a Medium marketing article entled “Why Generation Z Loves YouTube.” If you prefer scientific proof about long lectures, an empirical study of MOOC videos from researchers at MIT recommends formats that are most effective for video instruction. Additionally, the study finds that “median engagement time is at most 6 minutes, regardless of total video length.”

distance learning teacher

Collaborating was hard in person, but it is especially hard in the virtual world.

School librarians often lament the lack of collaboration with classroom teachers. And teachers go about doing their curriculum research and teaching students to research because they might not realize the incredible resource of a school librarian. Some colleagues may even see our offers of help as an affront to their own knowledge. How can a librarian help teachers without usurping their autonomy? Colleges and universities have a decade of experience in distance learning. So looking to see how academic librarians help in online courses might be helpful.

Here are some helpful resources from college and university librarians

Taking advice from unusual sources for distance learning.

What works in person may work in distance learning. One relationship at a time, one teacher at a time. One project at a time.

We could think of our distance learning work with teachers and administrators as long-distance relationships. Consider the article “10 Tips to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work” from Psychology Today. I am not suggesting that you date your teachers, but there are tips that may transfer, including “Make sure your goals — and potential endgames — are in the same ballpark.” and “Focus on quality communication.”

Other advice that can come from YouTube collaborators. From the video “6 Tips about Finding Collab Partners YouTuber,” Robert Blake asks, “Who Are My Friends? Who’s In The Same Boat as Me? And What Can This Person Offer My Audience?” These are all great questions that school librarians should be able to ask and answer when reaching out to collaborate with other teachers.

Finally, the big takeaway in the design process for both classroom teachers and school librarians is that this distance education is harder than it looks.

Works Consulted


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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