Connected learning: boosting ICT training in public libraries

Public libraries in Sweden are enhancing digital literacy by connecting non-users, digital visitors and digital residents.

Traditionally ICT training in Swedish public libraries has mainly been moulded as teaching programmes targeting non-users and shaky users of computers and the internet.  The target groups have usually been defined by age, gender and cultural background.  Today, with the rapid change of web behaviour and online identities, the situation has changed and we need to adapt. We need to redefine digital inclusion. Though it is still important to reach out to the one million Swedes who don't have any Internet experience at all, it is also important to take into consideration the learning needs among those who already are online, no matter if they are only occasional digital visitors on the web or if they live and breathe there as digital residents.

A public library can be an empowering learning environment promoting digital literacy - if we find the right connections between these different groups, and if we connect the library to learning partners and opportunities outside of the library. To a great extent that is what makerspaces in libraries are experimenting with right now. The open and experimental perspective that characterises the thriving maker culture can bring new perspectives to our ICT training programmes. With the maker perspective anyone can be collaborator and co-creator of digital literacy.

In the pedagogical approach called 'Connected learning' the maker perspective is central: all people are seen as potential teachers and learners, depending on the context and the character of the task. Learning is seen as something that is being boosted when it is interest-powered, peer-supported and academically oriented, and the design of a learning environment is seen as most powerful when it has a shared purpose and when it is production centered and openly networked. The Connected learning principles are now being adopted in a growing number of learning environments worldwide, some of which are public libraries. Linked to this global trend is a growing interest for open source methods and tools for teaching the web. In this movement, the Mozilla Foundation plays an important role in facilitiating open, free and easy to use online tools like Thimble, Popcorn Maker and X-Ray Goggles. The underlying idea is learning by making, and the goal is to boost web literacy for everyone.

At Internet Librarian International 2014 I will talk about the possibilities that Connected learning principles and Mozilla tools can give to public libraries that want to boost digital literacy for the 21st Century. Hope to see you there!

Ake will be speaking in Session C202 'Transformational Teaching' on Wednesday 22nd October.  You can find out more about Internet Librarian International here.