Friday, April 22, 2011

"I'm so glad we had this time together."

Or as they used to say on the airline skit on SNL, "OK, buh-BYE." If you're actually one of the 3 or 4 people who pay any attention at all to this self-indulgent glimpse into the carefully crafted public image I allow to represent what's going on inside my head, you might be wondering what's been happening here. For a few weeks now my co-workers have been in pursuit of self-improvement (oh, and CE credits) by completing a series of "23 Things" designed to help them develop new skills with technology. I'm a little handicapped in this effort since it takes a bit of effort beyond the assignments to feel like I've actually learned something. So, the preceding series of posts is largely my effort to take seriously the challenge of expanding my skills. At the same time, I wanted to try to offer something that might be useful or enlightening to anyone who might inexplicably find themselves here and decide to hang out for longer than it takes to type in the address bar.

So now, having completed the 22 actual "Things" I'm left with Thing 23, reflection on the experience. I have two conclusions.

1. Technology is constantly evolving. Even a service like Flickr that I've been freeloading off of for years (I refuse to pay for it so I live with the 200 picture limit) is continually developing new features and changing the way the site works. So the work of staying caught up with that sort of technology is never finished. I can see why for some people that's not inspiring. In a place like a library that's built on the philosophical foundation that "knowledge is power" no one can really afford to sit still.

2. There's something significant to be said for the effect that shared experience has on people. I've seen the success of the "23 Things" concept first hand now and can attest that it had a positive impact on workplace morale that exceeded what I would have expected. Listening to people talk about their own experiences, they don't necessarily first mention how useful that database is or how handy that newsletter is. Instead, they talk about the people that helped them complete the exercises, the encouragement they got from others, or the courage they found in knowing that everyone was in it together. I don't think you can separate the value of those two experiences--the learning and the bonding. That combination is what makes it so difficult for online learning to measure up to classroom-based education, and it's why we all tend to end up being true to our school.

Congratulations to everyone who completed 23 Things. Thank you to the committee and sub-committee that made it happen. Now what?


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