Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Conference Craziness: AASL09

Posted by lpearle on 9 December 2009

Better late than never, right? So, what did I think about AASL2009? In a word, not much (I know, that’s two words). Why? Because it just seemed like more of the same. Technology glitches? Got ’em. Big Names cheering on Big Names? Got ’em. Too much tied in to the AASL Standards and too little innovation? Got that too.

The keynote, by danah boyd, was interesting, but not new. Perhaps it was to those who already follow Ms. boyd’s work, or to those not terrified by the Brave New Social Media World, but to those of us that do play in that pool, it wasn’t new. Nor was it challenging, something I’ve come to look for in a good keynote/session. I want to hear from speakers that make me think, either about my practice or about a new way of doing things. I don’t want people to explain what’s going on, nor do I want a “rah rah librarians are incredible and fantastic and YAY YOU!” keynote. There’s more on danah boyd’s thinking here.

I attended sessions that, for the most part, had me thinking about the idea of an Information Commons (a la “Flip this Library“). Alison Ernst asked if the new term was “just semantics”, and there’s a part of me that thinks that might very well be true (sort of like what we call ourselves – librarians, library media specialists, teacher-librarians). The signs that Chelmsford HS have, “ASK… THINK… CREATE…” sound more like reminders to others that the library is no longer a musty book-storage facility but a place of real learning than they do a sign that this is a really new space (because back in the dark ages, when I was in HS, we did those three things in our library; same message, different tools).

Still, it’s always good to hear what people are doing to make these changes happen, to keep the library (or whatever we call it) at the heart of the school. Of course, Buffy always says it best in her Not Just Another Brick in the Wall presentation.

On the vendor/exhibit side of things, I was deeply disappointed in the dearth of ARCs and book vendors. Not just because I love me my free ARCs, but because the vendors are so short sighted. Here you have 3900 dedicated, caring readers to woo and wow with your latest and greatest and, well, Scholastic? HarperCollins? I’m looking at you! Where were you? Why not take this opportunity, in these dark economic times, to really promote your product? If it’s good, we will blog it and share it and shout it from our librarytops: here’s a great book. But if you’re not there? Oh well. Your loss.

So there you have my late, and not particularly thought-provoking, thoughts on AASL2009. My hopes for AASL2011?

  • better internet connections within the conference center
  • a Bloggers Cafe that doesn’t focus on “names” but on ordinary people helping ordinary people learn new stuff
  • no more Cognotes (or whatever they call the handout) – do it on-line
  • easier access to the on-line part (thanks to @AuntyTech for her efforts this time)
  • more innovation in the programs, and less “this meets standard XX”
  • no use of the words “21st century skills” and “web 2.0” in any presentation
  • don’t put the Exploratorium (aka “the place where presenters not good enough to be chosen for a real presentation”) in a basement space where you can’t actually see the presentations
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One Response to “Conference Craziness: AASL09”

  1. Alice in Infoland said

    Perhaps if AASL stopped insisting that all program proposals must be *connected* to the Standards, there would be a wider range of topics to explore!

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