Sakai-Miller, Sharon “Sam.” Innovation Age Learning: Empowering Students by Empowering Teachers. International Society for Technology in Education, 2016. 186p. $24.95. ISBN 978-1-56484-355-5.
Although this was written for classroom teachers, youth services librarians will find a great deal of useful information on using technology with children and teens. The writing style is encouraging and conversational while still being professional. The reader will take away tips on using technology when offering library tours, orientations on using the internet, and other times librarians model appropriate use of online resources.
The main thesis is that students need to use technology for innovation, not just information. For example, students can use technology to make exciting presentations, not just to research the information needed for those presentations. Or, older students can use technology to develop products and services and be entrepreneurs. Since most young people play videogames, they are accustomed to trying and failing (“game over”) and trying again before they learn something. We need to allow them to do that when they are learning to use technology.
Another aspect promoted by Sakai-Miller is for the teacher to be the “guide on the side,” facilitating the use of technology to reach a goal. Many librarians will be familiar with this concept, as we often assist students in using technology as a means to find information and format it into exciting presentations. We are less likely to teach how to use technology in a vacuum; usually, librarians assist a student in the use of technology because they need it to make something or find information. We don’t often teach the use of technology as something one needs to use in the future; they need to use it right now.
A simple example is the use of the online catalog; librarians often demonstrate how to use it with examples of the topics or books that a student is seeking. Because of the immediate practical application of the technology, students are more likely to remember how to use the online catalog – they are exposed to it, engaged with it, and empowered to continue to use it. This book offers many examples of how the use of technology can be taught when it has personal relevance, which is something librarians have been doing for years.
The book is organized into easy-to-follow chapters on collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Although most children’s librarians at public libraries do not offer technology training in a formal classroom, we often demonstrate the use of technology one-on-one or with classes visiting the library for tours. So much of what is covered in this book is very practical. There are even a few sample exercises, such as make a word cloud or other use of technology to meet a goal.
Librarians often teach the ethical use of online resources, which is also covered in this book. Many of us will assist a student and help them realize that they need to cite their sources. Plagiarism is a real issue with a wide age range of students, due to the convenience of the internet, so librarians often are the first line of defense in preventing intellectual theft.
The final chapters are especially relevant to those in the public library sector – the focus on ending digital isolation. Many of our users can only access technology and online resources for learning by visiting our libraries. Sakai-Miller describes the efforts of many school districts to make devices such as tablets available to students who do not have computers at home and discounts on WiFi. Until all students can access the internet 24 hours a day from home, the library is a needed resource for them.
If your library has books for teachers, this will be a very popular book and will circulate well if displayed. But youth services librarians will also find it useful when designing our “teachable moments” regarding children and technology.
Penny Peck, SJSU iSchool