Children and technology. When these two topics are put together mixed opinions abound. Unfortunately, research on this topic has yet to come up with a consensus about benefits and detriments. (1) In the future, I’m sure we will have a better handle on how digital interfaces affect people and society. Right now, the answers about children and technology all seem to start with ‘it depends.’
As a youth services librarian in a public library, I didn’t get a lot of training on how to effectively incorporate technology into programming. One of my first big programming failures was an evening bring-your-own-device (BYOD) storytime that got zero attendance. (It turned out that an evening storytime wasn’t a good fit for the area’s demographics, so I failed forward, repurposing the activities to be used in my regular storytimes instead.)
Since then, I’ve done what librarians do best and searched out better ways to intentionally plan the use of technology in my library programs. Luckily, there’s an entire field of study out there to pilfer this skill from. School librarians and other edtech professionals have been working diligently to identify specific situations in which technology enhances learning, in other words, finding those ‘it depends’ situations.
Try this, do a search for “edtech evaluation rubric” and then limit your results to images. The results will show you multiple examples of tables that can be used for evaluating apps or devices. These rubrics can be used informally, as a list of questions to think about while planning a program, or used formally, to support grant applications or budget requests.
The children and teens in my library aren’t going to be tested for retention, but just like any educator, I want the use of technology in my programs to be intentional and impactful. By setting goals for my programs—such as show how coding can be fun, convince parents to use dialogic reading, or encourage reading in a wide variety of genres—I can re-purpose evaluation tools that are used in lesson planning to help me choose which devices, apps, or other technology will help me improve a library programs, rather than just being a distraction.
Written by Tina Bartholoma, Senior Librarian of Outreach and Programming for the Salt Lake County Library System. TheCountyLibrary.org
1. Ching-Ting Hsin, et al. “The Influence of Young Children’s Use of Technology on Their Learning: A Review.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 17, no. 4, Oct. 2014, pp. 85–99. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=99574660&site=ehost-live.
2. Joyner, Darryl. “So, You Want to Evaluate a Technology Tool?” ISTE Blog, ISTE, 22 Apr. 2019, iste.org/explore/tools-devices-and-apps/so-you-want-evaluate-technology-tool.
This post addresses core competencies I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services, and III. Programming Skills.