Exploring the impact of Learning 2.0

The '23 Things' learning programme has been adopted by libraries around the world. What has been the real impact of these Learning 2.0 initiatives?

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It is a personal change first - institutional change may follow.

Data analysis of 350+ survey respondents and multiple focus groups point to the true impact of the programme: on a personal level staff feel more confident, more willing to explore and encouraged to try new things. When asked to gauge impact on the organisation, survey respondents and focus group participants shared similar responses: organisational change is not as prevalent, but staff feel more comfortable and "in the know." This change, however, leads to a more knowledgeable and empowered staff - thus leading to organisational changes.

 Staff are more confident, curious and want to explore new technologies.

Survey and focus group participants reported an increase in confidence in exploring new technologies. One of the most prevalent themes that came out of the data analysis was staff had confidence to continue exploration. One participant stated: "It's opened my eyes to explore more... it's given me the confidence to explore more."

Libraries are implementing or using the tools to varying degrees of success.

Library staff reported in the survey and via the focus groups an increased use of emerging tools within their institutions. Some initiatives were just starting, others were successful and other implementations were not as successful as originally hoped.  One roadblock: institutional or government IT blocks on tools.  One respondent noted there was very little success because of  "lots of restrictions even for useful content on YouTube."

Non-completion does not imply programme failure.

In the national survey, respondents utilised a Likert scale to answer the question "The programme was a success", with 42.1% strongly agreeing or 30.3% agreeing with the statement.  Even those who reported they did not finish the full programme due to lack of time or institutional blocks on some tools reported a feeling of success:"Just because some people did not finish the whole course doesn't mean that it was not a success as they still did learn something new," noted one.  Another answered: "Any training is a good training in improving everyone's knowledge and often builds up from there."

The 23 Things programme does indeed have a positive impact on participating staff.  Results include an emphasis on personal change, openness to emerging technologies and a willingness to explore.  Library staff report they are more comfortable with emerging technologies and have incorporated the tools into their work.  Continuing the research in other countries, including Europe and North America, will seek to further explore the impact of this transformational programme.

Michael Stephens is 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 programmes. He writes a monthly column in Library Journal exploring issues, ideas and emerging trends in library and information science education. He was the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar, researching the effect of Learning 2.0 programmes in Australian libraries. Michael will be speaking at Internet Librarian International 2011.

Image courtesy of Kirsty Hall via Flickr.

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