Librarians are perfectly situated to become media mentors for families seeking help navigating the digital landscape, but not all librarians are comfortable in that realm themselves—yet. Perhaps you are (or know) a children’s librarian who would like to start using apps in the library, but you’re not sure how to get started? I have teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to create a free, self-directed online course called Digital Storytime: Kids, Apps & Libraries that is available to anyone interested in learning more about sharing apps with kids. Although the target audience is librarians, the content will be helpful to anyone wanting to know more about kids, apps and the role librarians can play in the app conversation. The course is a safe and flexible place to start exploring. Learners can learn at their own pace, bit by bit, and directly apply content to their work (e.g. talking with families about screen time or recommending a high quality app), even if they don’t have an iPad themselves.
The course is set up as a game in which users travel through four different “destinations” based on the following questions:
- Why are librarians part of the app conversation?
- How are librarians using apps in libraries? How are they sharing apps with families?
- Which apps are the best to recommend and how do I evaluate apps myself?
- Where can I find new excellent apps to add to my collection?
Each of those destinations has four tasks:
- Read something—often a blog post or online article
- Watch something—usually a short online video
- Explore an app, an iBook or similar resource
- Do a practical assignment that will help you get started using apps in your library.
Once the four tasks are completed for each destination, users will be rewarded with a “souvenir” including a list of trusted app developers, sample program plans, and free printable, professionally designed media tip sheets for parents that can be distributed at your library and more.
The course is very practical and full of concrete suggestions. If you would like to learn more about current research around kids and their new media usage, the course includes a rich list of further resources that users are encouraged to explore independently. We hope that this course will inspire children’s librarians everywhere to make that first step towards becoming the media mentors that our community members need us to be.
Carissa Christner works as a Youth Services Librarian in Madison, Wisconsin which she likes much better than her first job in high school, working at a theme park. She and her two young children love to test out new apps together, read books and go for walks in the woods. She blogs about her library adventures at http://librarymakers.blogspot.com.