ALA Annual 2019

At #alaac19, ALSC Leadership Champions Media Literacy, Computational Thinking and Connected Family Learning

Media Literacy. Computational Thinking. Connected Family Learning. These are the buzzwords that Kathleen Campana, Elizabeth Mills, Marianne Martens and Claudia Haines emphasized at yesterday’s Leadership and ALSC meeting, a gathering of ALSC committee chairs and other leaders. Their presentation, “Positioning New Media across the Evolving Landscape of Children’s Services,” made powerful and lucid arguments for why these approaches are essential for children’s library services.

Media Literacy

Advocacy for media literacy in libraries has been around since the release of the first iPad in 2010. Since then, librarians have worked to develop best practices, including ALSC’s well-known Media Mentorship white paper. However, not all children’s librarians are comfortable sharing screens with kids. So why bother? “Screens are ubiquitous,” Campana argued. Throughout her portion of the presentation, a live text message poll gauged librarian interest and comfort in media mentorship. Despite some uncertainty, there was strong support in the room for prioritizing media literacy in libraries.

Computational Thinking (CT)

CT is a creative way of thinking that empowers children to be systematic problem solvers. If kids devise a step-by-step solution that can be followed by a human or a robot, that’s CT. Being able to think this way is a precursor to being able to code. Just like being able to hear the sounds in language is a precursor to being able to read. CT is important for children’s library professionals because kids should understand how the tech they use actually works. Even though they won’t right away, they’ll be better equipped for the long haul. Activities that support CT don’t need to be digital. For more information, see ALSC’s 2018 webinar with Claudia Haines and Paula Langsam, Thinking Sideways: Computational Thinking & Early Literacy.

Connected Family Learning

Connected family learning takes the above concepts one step further. Librarians need to advocate for media literacy and provide CT opportunities. They also need to engage the whole family in the process while modeling best practices. Family learning is a museums approach that emphasizes togetherness and intention. Caregivers, allowing children to direct the media experience are co-learners who can help by asking questions and discussing what the child is experiencing to scaffold the experience.

ALSC has so many great digital resources for its members to develop their skills and programs in a constantly shifting field. After this meeting, it’s clear to me that as an ALSC committee co-chair, I also need to champion new media in early literacy.

How will you champion new media at your library?

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