During ALA’s recent Annual Conference in Chicago, Libraries Ready to Code (RtC) Faculty Fellows and Phase II project team met in person for the first time and for a full day and a half workshop during ALA’s Annual Conference in June. The purpose: to get deep into defining computational thinking in a way that resonates with the library community, parsing out RtC concepts and deconstructing faculty syllabi with these things in mind.
ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) launched Phase II of the RtC project along with our partner, Google, Inc., in January 2017. Phase II focuses on Library and Information Science graduate programs and consists of a faculty cohort of six RtC Fellows that will redesign one of their current technology/media courses based on RtC concepts (i.e., increasing access and exposure to CS, changing perceptions of who does CS, and connecting CS to youth interests or CS+X). Faculty will pilot the redesigned courses at their institutions this fall.
RtC Faculty Fellows are: Dr. Colette Drouillard, Valdosta State University (GA); Dr. Melissa Johnston, University of West Georgia; Dr. Rachel Magee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Jennifer Moore, Texas Woman’s University; Dr. Joe Sanchez, City University of New York; and Dr. Natalie Taylor, University of South Florida. Phase II RtC project team members are: Marijke Visser (OITP), Linda Braun (Librarians & Educators Online), Mega Subramaniam (University of Maryland) and Caitlin Martin (Stanford University).
RtC Faculty Fellow Rachel Magee describes the workshop this way:
Attending the Ready to Code Workshop at this year’s ALA Annual Meeting was a unique opportunity to collaborate with other faculty who teach “pre-service librarians,” or students currently completing library school. Our group included professors from all over the country, and we were able to work together to develop our understandings of computational thinking and brainstorm ways to incorporate it into classes for students specifically focused on youth services.
Our classes range from in-person courses to online classes that meet both asynchronously and synchronously. We’re all focused on youth services broadly, but each class has its own flavor. My course is built on service learning and requires students to volunteer in an organization that serves or supports youth. Bringing Ready to Code concepts into this course will include in-depth discussions of ways these organizations engage with computational thinking, and give students the opportunity to plan these kinds of programs themselves.
At the end of the workshop, Fellows not only left with a framework and timeline for redesigning their syllabi, they left with a strong level of commitment to the importance of their work as RtC Fellows. Throughout the summer, the Fellows will continue to connect with their cohort colleagues as they fine tune the approaches they will take in embedding RtC into their courses.
While the end of the fall semester seems like a ways off, Phase II will culminate in graduate level course models that equip MLIS students to deliver coding programs through public and school libraries that foster computational thinking skills among the nation’s youth. Well-trained MLIS graduates will enable libraries around the country to broaden and diversify access to computer science education. Faculty Fellows will share revised syllabi and course models with colleagues across the LIS community and serve as ambassadors to encourage other faculty to embed RtC concepts in curriculum.
Additional information is available on the Libraries Ready to Code website.