Librarians Know How to Find Stuff

Using Innovative Techniques to Promote Information Literacy and Student Buy-in

Matt Upson (formerly of Miller Library, McPherson College) and C. Michael Hall (who couldn’t be present)

Creators of Library of the Living Dead

Guide can be printed from here

Downloaded 1.3 million times. Cited in LJ, SLJ, ALA journals.

This isn’t how to make a comic. It’s more to inspire the audience to do what works for their libraries & inspire creativity. The comic book worked for McPherson College.

Developing the relationships.

Quotes from Education Nation; one by George Lucas in the foreword & George Leonard quote on p21.

“We want students to know how to find information, how to assess the quality of information, and how tto creativiely and effectively use information to accomplish a goal.” –George Lucas, foreword to Education Nation

“We must consider the possibility that students are justified in being bored, that we have been too cautious and unimaginiative….Perhaps the moment has come to show our young people that school [or a library] is where the action is” p21 of Education Nation


Before Matt came to McPherson, the library was pretty deserted; didn’t come into study; didn’t even know the library existed. Handouts in in-class instruction were about as useful as a seatbelt in trying to reach students.

How to get the students in the building?

They published a comic book.

Mike was an illustrator, non-conventional student.

Introduction to the book explains the purpose of the comic book/guide.

Made it attention-grabbing, yet informative. Followed the ACRL standards.

It was a small college–they saw a need and tried to meet it.

In creating a unique guide, break stereotypes, poke fun at yourself.

12 page introduction to the library. Their attention was grabbed. Then the instructional handouts are then incorporated into the comic book.

Goals to do so…

  • Provide an excellent intro to library services
  • Be creative and a little irreverent
  • Save time
  • Encourage familiarity with the library
  • get students involved in the process
  • let the students know that the library cares about their academic success and is actively involved in their education
  • quality product
  • took the talents they had in-house to develop it

Unintended Results

  • Well over 1 million hits — provided great marketing for McPherson College
  • McPherson wants to hand these out at college fairs
  • Unique artifact that no other school has.
  • Advocacy tool. Unique resource that grabs the attention of your school board or board or leaders.
  • Other libraries are now using this tool; didn’t plan for it to be utilitarian.
  • It looks fantastic as a digital version on mobile devices and tablets.
  • Quickly got around library community, as a digital resource, thanks to social media.

Milton Chen comment: This is proving: A lot of the best curriculum can be taught through story.

Back to the comic.

They took cues from the real library, photographs, photos of people to build it. The characters are never named. It’s just a story in a familiar place. Students were transferred over into comic form.

Get your community involved

  • teaser poster of the cover
  • Facebook
  • Signing Party: 40 students showed up
  • QR Codes

He contacted LJ, American Libraries, pestered them to look at his resource. People finally did and wrote about it, and it took off.

He’s connected with many people all over the library community in the US and the world.

Anyone can use it and has, in their libraries.

What can you do?

  • Fun: The OH COOL Factor
  • Different: Make them (students, faculty, parents, admin) see the library in new ways
  • Quality: do something that can be done well
  • Involvement and Buy-in: include reps from all areas of your school. Who are the stakeholders? Can you find a sponsor or collaborator?

Can share your ideas and resources with the entire world, even unexpectedly.

They are working on comic guides for several other libraires.

The Technology Edge: Leading Innovation in Our School from the Olathe East HS Library

Note: Her slides will be posted to slideshare. I’ll embed them here when they’re uploaded.

Lori Franklin, Olathe East HS Library, Olathe KS [Also Ph.D. student, working on dissertation on 21st Century Learning, I believe]

Library Website


  • We know what is availble to us in terms of hw, sw, and experiences
  • What we actually do not know is where we could actually end up on our journey…

The questions…

  • Whose job is it to determine the journey’s end point and success level?
  • The Teacher?
  • The Student?
  • The Team?

Talking to students. Filters are insulting to the students. If they’re filtered on the school computers, they won’t use them. They have their smartphones, that have no filters and are private.

The Box

  • Educators and those who rule education like to say they are thinking outside of the box
  • Most of the time, they are in the box

Carol Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st century, discusses third space, where school & home come together and make learning meaningful.

It’s easier to think inside the box, be in your comfort zone. Change disrupts that.

What’s good about the Box?

  • knowns
  • tangibles
  • baselines
  • comforatble

What’s not so good about the box?

  • Missed opportunities
  • Growth
  • 24/7 ed experiences
  • 21st century student-centered learning
  • Affects desire for lifelong learning
  • if you always do things in the same way you’ve always done them, you’re missing out connecting with the way kids are doing things today: want info instantly, without boundaries, teacher is no longer expert. they want to be the expert. they know experts are out there and want to reach them.

Did you know?

  • In many schools, we still ask students to sit for several hours a day at desks, listening (or not) to a teacher as he or she lectures? Pump and dump, without any meaningful connections to the real world.

Boys physical activity and learning research.

Participatory Learning

  • Chen’s many to many model
  • Leaves the “sage on the stage” model
  • requires group collaboration
  • needs new assessment tools
  • should be frequently evoloving to meet needs
  • Henry Jenkins

Olathe East HS, Lost Boys of Sudan, student Peter, documentary.

2200 students in her building now.

One-to-one Palm initiative: usage varies from word processing to using temp probes attached to the Palms.

Current scenario

  • 500 PCs
  • 250 laptops stored in mobile carts
  • Minimum of one PC in each classroom; some rooms have more; labs typically have 25 PCs
  • Average class size is approaching 30.
  • Gets a little hairy.

Budget effects

  • time/personnel constraints
  • purchasing power
  • reduced spending per student

NCLB effects

  • teaching to test
  • less personal investment in subject matter
  • lack of context across subjects
  • focus on end point, not the learning process

Used Aniomoto to build a video overview of her library. PR piece for teachers who can’t make it to the library and since Lori can’t make it to the whole building.

Teacher/Librarian Immersion Levels

  • Isolation
  • Semi-isolation
  • Semi-immersion (PC lab)
  • Immersion: wants full collaboration; you’ll both cover your standards. Real-world; group collaboration; peer review; evaluation.

Can’t do that with everyone.

Immersion looks like

collaborative planning

multi-standard driven

real-world problem solving…

Example: the “country report”

  • put the focus on building a knowledge base
  • no PowerPoint allowed — used Animoto; images had to be copyright free/Creative Commons-licensed
  • Student collaboration and peer review
  • Made the student the expert
  • Constructive comments expected
  • This project provided frustration, exhilaration, and student learning beyond note memorization of facts
  • Had to stand up and talk about the project and his peers reviewed it.

Thinking outside The Box:

  • College Prep English IV — blogging about the novel Frankenstein with a partner school; wiki creation, meting in person to share results; effects
  • Algebra III, pre-Calculus — all classes podcasted; use of cell phones as “clickers” (Teacher at OEHS who wrote on Numb3rs loves to do this)
  • Edmodo

Some don’t..

  • Used assignments from 5 years ago
  • Isolated teaching
  • Not reaching out with online resources (eBooks, databases, Skype with experts, Edmodo, wikis, pod/vodcasting, Moodle)

Special learners lose out

  • Boys better served by breaking up instruction with physical activity each hour
  • ELL learners left behind
  • SPED students receive modifications, but not necessarily modified teaching, which should include a continual assessment/modification cycle to determine if learning is occurring.

Horizon Report: K-12 Edition

  • The New Media Consorium
  • Updated annually
  • ?

Horizon Report Findings

  1. Technology is: means for empowering students; method for communication & socializing; ubiquitous transparent part of student lives.
  2. Technology has a profound affect on the way we work, collaborate, communicate and succeed. (In her research, she’s seen lots of kids leaning together, socialization)
  3. Increasing interest, in just-in-time, alternative, or non-formal avenues of education: online learning, mentoring, independent study [Topic where you’re immersed, forming opinions, reflective pieces developed, creating interactive product others can learn from]
  4. The way we think of learning environments is changing


  • The Horizon Report outlines several challenges. Especially telling is this statement
  • Stuents are different, but ed practice and the materials that supportit are changing very slowly

Thinking outside the box

  • The horizon report describes how today’s learning and education must happen outside of physical walls and time/distance constraints
  • Students expect to seek out expert opinions other than the teacher who is in the room with them!

Speak Up Study — 2 million informants

  • Students identified as “free agent learners”
  • School buidling, teacher, and textbook no longer have a monopoly on knowledge, content or  the educational process
  • Students seek personalized learning

More from Speak Up

  • Social-based learning
  • untethered learning
  • digitally rich learning

Digital disconnect

  1. Haves/have nots — no connectivity
  2. Proficient to the point they think they know everything, when they don’t. Don’t have searching skills.
  3. Want to mess around with the goodies and then not allowed to go to these sites or take tools home. Turns off students, disengages them.

Speak Up report:

How to be there 24/7

  • LibGuides
  • Databases
  • eBooks
  • eMail
  • Web presence


  • Helps you reach out to everyone, even those who never come into your library
  • always available
  • includes collaborative ability for teamwork
  • multi-functional
  • VERY easy to use


  • Have functionality that meets the needs of lots of students


  • Available 24/7 for varied amounts of check out time
  • Personal assistant example
  • Flexibility for assignments (requirement print and electronic sources)
  • ABC-CLIO eBook Collection
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
  • Not allowed to loan out Kindles to students yet


  • You can help students outside of school hours
  • Gmail student accounts
  • Google Docs and other GOogle tools
  • File transfer from home

Web Presence

  • up to date info available immediately
  • links to other items just discussed — integration
  • Library Thing
  • Podcasts

Questions in [Lori’s] my head (after reading Chen’s book)

  • What do we need to learn about students in order to best meet their needs?
  • How can tap into students’ love of their cell phones in order to help them learn more?
  • Can we mesh cell phones use with classroom instruction?
  • How can I make my own library program into a better fit with student learning processes?

Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in Our Schools

For the next two days, I’m at the 15th annual Education Innovation: 21st Century School Libraries symposium, aka, Summer Institute for School Librarians at Emporia State University in Emporia, KS.

The first speaker this morning is Dr. Milton Chen, Author (Education Nation) and Senior Fellow, The George Lucas Education Foundation (Edutopia). [Follow Edutopia on Twitter]


Edit: I think these are close to the same slides he used:

Early mentioned links

MacArthur Foundation: Digital Media & Learning

YOUMedia at Chicago Public Library

IMLS + MacArthur Foundation grants for Learning Labs

“Imagine an ‘education nation,’ a learning society where education of children and adults is the highest national priority, on par with a strong economy, high employment, and national security. A nation is only good as its educational system.” –Milton Chen

Even more important:

An educational system is only as good as its informational system. 21st Century school librarians are the managers of that system. And school leaders for “deeper, authentic learning.” –Milton Chen

Authentic learning, not artificial learning on projects that don’t exist in the real world.

Importance of universal early childhood education. Policymakers should be leading in this.

The U.S. an Education Nation?

  • of 50 1st grade students behind in reading, 44 still behind in 4th grade
  • A HS student drops out every 26 seconds, 6,000 each day (Tough Choices or Tough TImes, 2006)
  • CA students 1 year behind U.S. average, 2-3 years behind best states (NAEP…)
  • Closing the gap could contribute $2 trillion per year in GDP (McKinsey & Co., 2010)

“The New Australia: Most Advanced Educational System in the World?”

Broadband. 1:1 programs….

Redesigning a New Educational System: Schools Can’t Do It Alone

Chen’s Dream: A “ladder of learning” from pre-K thru “gray” blending formal and informal learning thru schools, universities, media, museums, libraries, companies, churches, youth group,s parks, and more. Schools and universities are only part of this model.

A way of getting adults involved back in the education process. Community school. Kids go out into the community to learn.

National Park Service. When you look at the federal agencies, it’s the most respected agency. It’s becoming more of an educational agency.

Ducks image. Can’t see it, but ducks paddle furiously under the surface, which is what educators are doing through the summer, quietly innovating from the bottom up, professional development on their own, etc.

  • Innovation: The Key to an Education Nation
  • A “Must Do,” Not Just “Nice to Know”
  • Internet Time: Google 13 Years Old, YouTube 6 Years
  • Every Minute, 24 Hours of New YouTube Video

Edutopia website shows how to do projects step by step. Publishes PD ideas. Has discussion groups.

Lots of times we look at people who are accomplished, and think they’re geniuses from early childhood. George Lucas had no idea what he wanted to be/do. Not best student. It shouldn’t take a car accident and a friend suggesting he go to USC for him to figure out what he wanted to do in life, but that’s what happened.He ended up at USC to study photography (which at the time the film school wasn’t what it is today; back then people directly apprenticed with film companies). He loved photography studies, and the rest is history.

Lucas understands kids today, that different things turn them onto learning. One size education doesn’t fit all.

Paul Park Ranger: the Mystery of the MIssing Ducks

Lucas likes to have learning through questions, mysteries, project-based learning, working with other students.

TEDTalks: Short and to the point, better than long and winded.

Opening up, liberating information.

Every medium ever created, we can use for expressing knowledge. Why isn’t education taking advantage of that? Text. Images. Audio, Video. Music. Getting cheaper and cheaper to access and do.

The Key to Educational INnovation? It’s Simple School Life=Real Life

“From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in the school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside the school…within the school itself while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply in daily life what he is learning at school.” John Dewey, The School and Society lecture, University of Chicago, 1899

First Peoples Project video (2002) [related to the iEARN project]

Great resource for globalizing education.

Ability of kids to connect with their peers across the globe is priceless, through videoconferencing and other ways

Can share information so much quicker day than ever before.

Some of the projects mentioned from the Edutopia website:

A lot of the documentation on innovation that Edutopia is tracking, they are also trying to document the research, including that from the US Dept. of Education.

Policymakers. Maine Governor. Started the Maine 1:1 project with. Took a few years to gain traction, but he did — and people were supportive of it because of the results. Great education governor.

Project-Based Learning in Maine

“Laptops are equity tools.” “Oh cool” factor. Sense of wonder — generates questions — leads to new knowledge.


Comments from the video

How to make laptops more than $2,000 pencil? to become transformative tool?

Sense of ownership. Creators. Inventors. Changing the way learning and teaching happens. Teacher does less talking and the students do more finding. They learn more through the finding. “More interesting to find out things yourself than reading it in the book.” Seeing the whole picture.

Just have what the kids do in schools be like real life. Be like scientists in the field, thanks to technology. Kids assembling images and sounds, writing reports, and compiling CDs to show what they’ve learned.

Schools that Work project

The Story of FIlms curriculum

Project Website

Available for free for middle school teachers across the country. Meets core curriculum standards for visual learning.

Films chosen:

  • The day the earth stood still.
  • To Kill a Mockinbird
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washigton.

Chosen before the movies comes from perspective of kids. Different historical periods. Deal with social issues. Shows kids how movies are made. Lighting. Acting. Music. Foreshadowing,

Illusion were difficult for students to grasp in literature. Easier to understand through the screen for them.

Students are coming into classes mentioning these terms watching other films. Owning their learning.

Digital Generation Project


Quotes from video: “Technology should improve our lives, not take away from their lives.” Engage students in them becoming teachers. Presenting. Kids teaching kids. Cross-age tutoring. “Learning how to learn” “Being comfortable about any type of technology”

His Six Leading Edges (skipped over all but #4 will try to when the link is posted.

#1: The Edge of Our Thinking: Ending the Education Wars

#2: Curriculum & Assement

  • Social/Emotional Learning
  • Globalizing the Curriculum
  • Bilingual Education for All
  • Linked Learning/Multiple Pathways: ConnectEd California

#3: Technology

#4: The Time/Place Edge

#5: The Teaching Co-Edge: Co-Teaching

  • Parents as Co-Educators
  • Linking Home & School
  • Experts as Co-Educators: Rangers, Scientists, Historians, Architects, Writers, Artists

#6: The Greatest Edge: Today’s Youth

Wasting money by paying for two systems: paper-based and digital systems.

Fighting a constant battle: Make videos about what you’re doing. Edutopia can share them. Send them links.

What’s your definition of a great school? Make it short & measurable!

Do the kids run in at the same rate they run out

Will finish updating this post after the slides are posted and I can get more information into the notes!