Tag Archives: libraries

THE QUEST FOR DIVERSITY IN LIBRARY STAFFING: FROM AWARENESS TO ACTION

Reviewed By: Erika Contreras, Kelley Presley, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/quest-for-diversity/

Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

The Right to Read: The How and Why of Supporting Intellectual Freedom for Teens

Reviewed By: Sarah Pace, Emily Phillips, David Fournier, Elysse Fink

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2014/the-right-to-read-the-how-and-why-of-supporting-intellectual-freedom-for-teens/

Synopsis
It is not news that teenagers are developing and exploring their world. In her article, The Right to Read: The How and Why of Supporting Intellectual Freedom for Teens (2014), Emily Calkins shares her opinion on what perspective libraries ought to take concerning the intellectual freedom of teenagers:

“It’s not that caregivers should stop being involved in their children’s’ library use and
reading habits when their children reach adolescence. There may be times, however, when a young person wants or needs information to which her guardian might want to restrict access. Because of the developmental needs of adolescence and libraries’ commitment to intellectual freedom, libraries should support the intellectual freedom for teenagers rather than the right of guardians to control their children’s intellectual lives.”

Libraries have intellectual freedom in mind and in their very hearts. This fact is evident based on the ALA’s very own Library Bill of Rights. So it is that teens should be afforded the same rights. During those tumultuous years of adolescence, one is becoming sexually active and should be offered fair and honest information regarding the ins and outs of sex. This is just one example that highlights Calkin’s larger point–that information ought to be free and open to everyone and that a person or entity has no right to censor information. Sure a parent can discourage materials in their own house, but they cross a line by saying that other teens/adolescents cannot have access to this information thus limiting that groups’ intellectual freedom.

Method and Unanswered Questions-
Calkins is concerned in this essay with the ability of librarians to assist young adults in a time of personal growth. Establishing self-sufficiency and independence is a crucial rite of passage for young adults. Challenging and questioning the beliefs of their family and culture is an integral part of this, and is not something that can easily be done at home with parents watching their every move. Even more so, teens’ intellectual freedoms are limited when parents censor their information pursuits, so they must find a place in which they can safely fulfill that need.
Calkins only briefly touched on how “young adult” and “adolescent” are defined, footnoted at the end of the article. A first unanswered question would be to explore that concept more thoroughly from a psychological standpoint, as well as an informational one. Are the information needs of a 12 year old different than an 18 year old? How can the library acknowledge and support this difference?

Second, Calkins discusses library policy in regards to protecting the privacy of adolescents, suggesting several variations of library card policies and how they affect access. Are teen’s accounts private, or do caregivers have access to information about their teen’s check-outs? If so, then how are teens supposed to feel protected? A possible solution to this is an honor system collection by providing access to materials to teens that don’t need to be checked out with a library card. This allows teens to take out what may serve their information wants and needs without intimidation and embarrassment. The legal ramifications of these policies for the library, with regards to a minor being able to be the sole party responsible for an account which may have financial liabilities are not discussed. This is not a deal breaker for being able to offer young adults full privacy, but it is a very real legal reality that the library needs to be able to deal with.

A discussion of how to have conversations with parents regarding the privacy of their teens was also missing. Discussing these issues with the staff was brought up, but many of the suggested policies will greatly anger some parents, especially as these policies directly contradict their parental rights with most other institutions and may come as a surprise. How to approach these conversations in a calm, professional manner, with talking points on how to best support the library’s position, or at least resources on how to prepare for this would have been helpful.

A similar question, how do we talk to adolescents about their privacy rights in ways that are relevant and which connect with the realities of their lives was missing. Young adults will not read a policy brochure that lists their rights, and many of these ideas may be very foreign to some. How do we open this conversation in a meaningful way?

Conclusions
Calkins concludes by acknowledging that the theoretical side of intellectual freedom is often the easiest part; librarians agree not to censor materials and leave the decision-making about who can or can’t read something up to the patron or their guardian. But not wanting to leave it at that, Calkins outlines practical suggestions on how libraries can practically support intellectual freedom for teen patrons, beginning with due diligence: research and familiarize oneself on the library’s policies regarding minors. Next review the collection to see if it includes materials for a variety of patrons. Go a step further and train staff on intellectual freedom. Other creative (albeit not fully researched) suggestions put forth were to develop an “honor system collection” for Teen Self Help titles and to partner with community organizations to promote intellectual freedom and access to information. Relatively simple steps for a librarian that could make a huge difference in a teen’s life.

A critical take on OER practices: Interrogating commercialization, colonialism, and content

Reviewed By: Nichole Bonaventure-Larson, Bryan Duran, Mia Faulk, Ursula Lara, and Carlee Osburn

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2015/a-critical-take-on-oer-practices-interrogating-commercialization-colonialism-and-content/

Article Synopsis and Core Questions
Sarah Crissinger’s 2015 article is concerned with critiquing Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Access (OA) in relation to commercialization, colonialism, content, and the changing landscape of the university when it comes to adjunct versus tenured faculty. In her critique, Crissinger address issues of labor, the corporatization of higher education, oppressive learning formats, imperialism, and technocratic discourse around development and the information poor in the context of OER and OA.
Sarah Crissinger’s 2015 article is concerned with critiquing Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Access (OA) in relation to commercialization, colonialism, content, and the changing landscape of the university when it comes to adjunct versus tenured faculty. In her critique, Crissinger address issues of labor, the corporatization of higher education, oppressive learning formats, imperialism, and technocratic discourse around development and the information poor in the context of OER and OA.
While libraries around the country are pushing for free resources such as OER and OA, Crissinger urges librarians to pay closer attention to contextualizing content rather than just collecting content in what can potentially become an educational “dump”. Crissinger (2015) writes, “A learning object with relevant context, an application that is not culture-specific, and the capacity to be truly localized and understood is more important than a learning object that is simply free.” At the same time, as universities are increasingly relying on part time / adjunct faculty who are urged to contribute to OER, an issue of labor inequality arises. Since unlike tenured faculty, adjuncts are not compensated for their research but instead by the number of classes they teach.

Answering Research Questions
Crissinger uses existing critiques of OER and OA by Drabinski, et al. (2015), Cheney (2015), Shirazi (2015), Winn (2012), Burkett (2000), and Christen (2011), to answer her research questions. She determined it was best to explore OA along with OER considering they both share similarities that allow lessons learned to be applied to both. Crissinger uses critiques to explore the issue of labor, the tenure structure, and the unwillingness of universities to fund projects they are willing to promote. Crissinger analyzes critiques that explore oppressive learning formats, economic and social inequality, the “information poor” and the digital divide. Through these critiques Crissinger can reflect on OER practices.

Findings and Conclusions
Per Crissinger, access to OER is not the be all, end all. Simply increasing one’s access does not make them more knowledgeable or eradicate a digital divide. Social and global inequality cannot be reduced to a simple fix and access to OER. “Free and unrestricted access to OER is just one step in improving education, not the primary solution. Librarians are apt to do the integral work of reframing and complicating the OER movement. Our extensive understanding of copyright, instructional design, and discovery, combined with our interest in social justice, makes us natural leaders for helping others understand why Open Education matters” (24). Increasing the number of adjunct positions results in change to the labor system and the continued commercialization of higher education since adjuncts are paid per the number of classes they teach rather than the research they produce. “We must think critically about whether our open work is doing the social justice, political work we envision it doing. If we fail to ask these questions, we risk endorsing programs that align more with profit than with access” (10). Taking into consideration the goal of many academic libraries is to further the mission of their universities, we must consider how the marketization of OER compromises our ability to do the work we claim to value. “The politics of our campuses or leadership can limit how loudly our voices carry within our institutions (Acccardi, 2015). Still, our critical perspective is needed now more than ever” (Crissinger, 24).

Unaswered Questions and Future Research
Crissinger proposes some interesting further research at the end of her piece, but even these ideas did not touch on the potential for further research raised by her article. One of the considerations she mentions is the consideration of how librarians can better determine if an OER resource is one which provides good information and content, with context, or if it is not. This could be further expounded upon through research into a universal guide or standard set. Additionally, Crissinger discusses encouraging open pedagogy on campus. Crissinger (2015) states, “if faculty on campus are not integrating open pedagogy into their classrooms, it can be more difficult for librarians to do this as well.” Are there ways to combat this besides increased advertising and teaching? Would inclusion of OER in academic goals from an administrative position be possible? Lastly, one of the arguments mentioned, but not touched on, is the inclusion of a broader range of creators in the OER sphere. Crissinger (2015) quotes, “‘content creation…on the Web is currently heavily dominated by the developed and English-speaking world.”. How can librarians help to encourage the development of use of OER that is more inclusive, as well as more contextually focused and not an “information dump”? Is this a librarian’s role, and if so, how could this kind of expansion better serve the purpose of OER and academic research in the long run?

Answering Our Own Questions
Unfortunately, these questions are not easily answered. However, conducting further research on OER and OA would be a good starting point and may help to find the answers to our questions. Incorporating other viewpoints, ideas, and examples of how librarians are creating, sharing, and using OER/OA may help illustrate what their role is in promoting inclusion amongst contributors in the OER/OA sphere. Additionally, we can find the answers to our questions by doing what was suggested earlier; asking those questions aloud and as often as possible. We cannot expect to find answers and meet the challenges of OER/OA if we are not engaging in open and constructive dialogue with our peers and colleagues around the world. It is only after we have asked our questions aloud and engaged in collaborative dialogue that we will be able to give concrete answers, and move forward with making OER/OA accessible to everyone without devaluing information, the work of OER/OA contributors, and its content.

References
Crissinger, S. (2015, October 21). A critical take on OER practices: Interrogating commercialization, colonialism, and content. Retrieved from In the library with the lead pipe: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2015/a-critical-take-on-oer-practices-interrogating-commercialization-colonialism-and-content/

Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling Through Creativity, Narrative and Multimodality

Reviewed By: Grace Song, Avery Campbell, Anna Johnson, Carla Axume, Millie Jones

Link to article: http://seminar.net/index.php/volume-6-issue-2-2010/154-developing-voice-in-digital-storytelling-through-creativity-narrative-and-multimodality

Synopsis / Summary (article’s core research question)
In this study, Monica Nilsson explores how digital storytelling has the potential to significantly alter the way children develop literacy and creativity, communicate experiences, explore new meaning and knowledge, and express themselves. Digital storytelling, in this context, is defined as “a multimodal narrative text comprising pictures, music, speech, sound and script.” Nilsson’s research revolves around a nine-year old boy, Simon, who struggles with reading and writing. When given the opportunity to express himself through digital stories, Simon becomes deeply engaged, which Nilsson argues is because digital storytelling became the trigger for his interest in literacy.
In her research, Nilsson explores this core research question: What impact does digital storytelling have on children’s ability not only to master structural writing techniques, but also “communicate experiences, explore new meaning and knowledge, and perform self-representation and self-expression,” and by so doing develop, “real voice” in their writing?

Research Methods Used
In her research, Nilsson analyzes Simon’s digital stories using multimodality and visual analysis. Machin (2007) defines multimodality as a way to express that “the way we communicate is [not done] by by a single mode…” but rather by a combination of visual, sound, and language (p. x). “Multimedial approaches systematically described the range of choices available and how they are used in context… [and] therefore describes the grammar of visual communication” (ibid. p. ix).
For structure in her analysis, Nilsson uses the three basic requirements of semiotic modes of communication: ideational (“states the affairs of the world” – e.g. yellow stands from sunlight or warmth), interpersonal (“represents and communicates the social and affective relationships towards what is being represented” – e.g. yellow stands for happiness), and textual (“about the coherent whole, genres, and how parts are linked together” – e.g. a color for headings to “show they are of the same order”) (Nilsson, 2010, p. 5).

Findings and Conclusion (of the article)
Digital storytelling provides many opportunities to engage students in different multimodal forms of learning, as in the case of Simon, who was effectively able to learn to read and write through digital storytelling. Although literacy is traditionally understood as learning to read and write, Nilsson describes literacy as “drawing conclusions, making associations, and connecting text to reality.”
From this study, Nilsson found that Simon was learning “interpersonal meta-function,” referring to the interaction between producer and receiver, as well as “textual meta-function,” or the linking of parts and their composition. All of this was possible through digital storytelling. Additionally, Nilsson found that Simon’s digital stories were not “randomly assembled images, music, speech, captions and sound,” but rather “consciously, creatively, well reasoned and well crafted composition(s).” Digital storytelling also furthered Simon’s understanding of literacy as a social and cultural activity.
Nilsson concludes that though digital storytelling is a different process for learning to read and write than traditional methods, expressing, creating meaning, and communication still hold the common value of both and provide a significant way of learning that helps overcome learning challenges.

Questions
As our group considers digital storytelling and the ways it supplements education-related research, we have several questions relating to both the article and digital storytelling in general.
One question regards teaching theory. How can digital storytelling be assimilated into school environments, but not forced upon students? Or should it be assimilated in such a way that students need to complete a graded digital storytelling assignment? In today’s education world, there are many thoughts on the different types of learners and standardization. Should digital storytelling be encouraged for those who are interested and naturally more creative, or should it be used to bring out the creativity of those who may not at first be interested?
Another question for consideration is how can digital storytelling be used in libraries? As libraries are constantly changing and adapting to newer technologies and ideas, librarians will need to provide programs and opportunities for patrons that optimize learning and engagement with library resources. How can digital storytelling be a part of this? As many educational researchers are now putting a great emphasis on early literacy, it is pertinent to consider how technology can be a part of digital storytelling in libraries, too?

Final Thoughts / Conclusion
When considering using digital storytelling in schools, but not forcing it on every student, optional or extra credit assignments may be considered. This option may replace traditional assignments for students who have kinesthetic learning styles, or who are simply interested in exploring a new learning method. Conversely, mandatory digital storytelling assignments are intriguing because they could help students unlock untapped creative potential, unrealized through traditional learning methods. Adding a digital storytelling element to school curriculums would help students think and express themselves in new and creative ways.
Digital storytelling can also help children and youth, like Simon, who attend their local library. The library provides another place, as well as additional resources and materials, for children and youth to effectively learn and become literate. As Nilsson’s argues, libraries promote literacy in children and youth by providing them a place to find their voices and connect to the texts they’re creating.

References
Machin, D. (2016). Introduction to multimodal analysis. London: Hodder Arnold. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mwZfDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=%22Introduction+to+Multimodal+Analysis%22+Machin&ots=84X_VkGPpt&sig=WedPbytmGnWOQJfqxOiZPs8CQZE#v=onepage&q=%22Introduction%20to%20Multimodal%20Analysis%22%20Machin&f=false

Nilsson, M. (2010). Developing voice in digital storytelling through creativity, narrative and multimodality. International Journal of Media, technology & Lifelong Learning 6(2). Retrieved from: https://doaj.org/article/17d2a778143742a78fe9f9d517b92e4d

Welcoming the Homeless into Libraries

Reviewed By: Connie Lin, Haylee Lederer, Maria Haga, Rebecca Heine

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2010/welcoming-the-homeless-into-libraries/

Why should libraries help the homeless, and what efforts have been made to serve the homeless population?

In her article Welcoming the Homeless into Libraries, Kim Leeder addresses issues inherent with library attention to the homeless community. The reality is that aside from providing a warm, dry place with restrooms, libraries are not doing much else for the homeless. Though in 1990 the ALA approved policy #61, Library Services to the Poor, the adoption of the policy’s intent has not been carried out as universally as expected; however, there are some existing services that have proven beneficial. Leeder mentions the partnership between the Free Library of Philadelphia and Project H.O.M.E., as well as the partnership between of the San Jose Public Library and the San Jose State University Library. Both have developed services aimed directly to the homeless, resulting in a more well-rounded representation of the services libraries make available to the general public. As public libraries are designed to provide resources and make information available to the public, the homeless community should be included in their efforts.
Leeder uses qualitative data and secondary sources to explore ALA’s stance towards services for the homeless and positive initiatives libraries are taking towards their homeless patrons. In particular, she focuses on specific articles of case studies that succeeded like the Free Library of Philadelphia’s H.O.M.E. Page Café and the Lawyers in the Library and Social Workers in the Library programs at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose. The article consists mainly of paraphrases or article quotes describing efforts those libraries are making towards supporting the homeless through partnerships with local organizations.
While doing research on homelessness, Leeder realized that homeless populations often appreciate and take advantage of local libraries. Not only do they provide free restrooms, they also offer the homeless a safe and warm place to get off the streets, while allowing them to explore and connect to the world around them. However, despite the homeless being the most vulnerable population of library patrons, they are often the most discriminated against. Leeder found that several U.S. libraries employ policies that can be seen as “anti-homeless”; her examples being policies against: “offensive body odor, bathing, and sleeping.” Not to mention the almost universal library rule of needing an address and an ID or driver’s license to check out books or access library resources, all of which excludes the homeless from utilizing the library. She points out that most libraries simply just tolerate the homeless, when they actually have the power to do so much more.
A question Leeder asks in the article is, “Have I ever helped them or has my library been doing anything to help?” and further research might focus on answering this question in regards to staff attitudes towards the homeless. Research might focus on staff bias towards the homeless and what potential ways can help in shifting attitudes. In addition, Leeder also explores only two different examples and it would be interesting to see further research from libraries across the nation on how many libraries have implemented programs/services directed at the homeless. It would also be interesting to see what effect these programs have had and if there are ways to to refine them to make them more effective.
For me, the ending question is one of balance. We can train librarians to recognize their own bias, implement programs to help those disadvantaged, and be a genuinely good resource, but one topic barely commented on is that this will not change the rest of the public’s perception of the homeless. Thus, how do we balance the needs and rights of the homeless while not alienating the rest of the library patrons?
There are no clear answers to this; anyone who has worked in a public library has likely seen these tensions arise.
Perhaps a possible solution lies in breaking the stigmas that homeless people are the victim of. Because they are dirty or smell, or look “suspicious”, much of the public and even library staff members are automatically programmed to put themselves on the defense. As Leeder discusses when she references the book Breakfast at Sally’s, there are instances where the homeless are very normal people that have come across a period of bad luck in their lives or they have made some bad decisions to lead them where they are in that particular moment in time; however, that does not mean they do not have the potential of doing well. The main character in that story was basically abandoned by his family, which led him to his homelessness. When libraries partner with other community organizations to address the homeless population, I think they have to look for ways to empower the homeless and work to incorporate them back into society. This might mean giving them support in finding housing or job training, and so on. The more that libraries embrace the population and truly provide the services needed, the more the surrounding community will become comfortable with the projects and the reasons they are being put in place.

Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourcing Translation Tool

By Molly Sherman, Jared Fair, Nicole Josephson, Dee Ann Huihui

Link to article: http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/9496

Article synopsis and core research question(s):
One of the main questions Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) described in this article was the need for a cost-effective solution to publish books in local languages and dialects using crowdsourcing. OSULP intends to create a tool that will benefit children ages two to five years old, while still allowing older children to benefit as well. OSULP found that children are taught to read later in their lives and in some cases, such as in Busia, are taught Swahili up until about third grade and then are taught in English from then on. With so many dialects, it is difficult to find a tool allowing for many dialects to be available.

This article discusses how to find or create a tool allowing for users, initially in Africa, to vote on the correct dialect of children’s books in order to make them available. With creating a tool such as this there are many aspects that must be considered such as the tools simplicity of its interface and usability, is there the ability to access it offline, what are the screen limitations, how quick can users vote, can users edit the books’ pages to add a new translation, and also the need for a system that takes the highest voted sections and combines them to create a completely translated text. OSULP created their tool in GitLab in order to keep the tool and its beginnings open only to their staff; hoping to later release it through GitHub for others to tailor it to their own needs.

Methods used to answer research questions:
In addressing how to create a tool that allows multilanguage translation in promotion of literacy for children in Africa, the following methods and applications of practice were used. First a network of libraries called Maria’s Libraries came together with OSULP to discuss technologies for consideration in a resource poor environment. It was decided that the testing methods would be delivered by mobile device interactions through a website using the following open source libraries: Wink Toolkit and Globalize3. Language translations were accessed as multiple database entries into an application called Ruby on Rails.

In creating this crowdsourcing platform the goal was to have a gateway tool for enabling users to translate folk tales and existing children’s books into their own languages and dialects. This practice was implemented with a simple interface offering a choice of languages. A username and password approach for users along with icons symbols and a voting process were part of a simple user setup. In order to support the most accurate translations of single languages and dialects, user abilities were set to allow for new dialect identification.
The following items were also included in the method design:
· Tablet Computers for easy interactivity.
· A simple interface utilizing language choices.
· Display carousel of books marked for translation.
· Easy navigation between book pages.
· A User voting process for each translation.
· A User editing process with original translation comparisons.
As part of the methods used, a voter incentive process based on comparison of translations was set as default. The simultaneously experience for users is to see all translations that have been made and be able to make the most accurate choice.

Findings:
As the article assigned to us; Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourced Translation Tool, was not written within a standard format for academic literature and captured only the first phase of an ongoing project, the findings were less formal and more linear than might be expected.
That said, the project explored in this article found that there were three vital parts that presented significant problems and needed to be addressed: administration; additional crowdsourcing and offline functionality.
The administration woes were two fold: 1) the participants were unable to use the interface to upload stories that contained both images and texts, and, 2) the administrators had no ability to override the participants intentions and this fault left them open to “poisoned” or unreliable records.
Additionally, without further crowdsourcing, many users were unable to recommend new languages and dialects for stories or books to be translated into, rendering some of the work inaccessible.
Finally, authors also suggested that without improved offline capabilities the stories and participants work would be greatly diminished.

Conclusion:
The broad, main intent of this project began as an attempt to help literacy in Africa. They discovered that their tool and research were relevant beyond this intent. Indeed, it held exciting potential to do much more; “We are very excited about the possibilities of the usefulness of the platform as a way of publishing books in lesser-known languages or in regions where dialectic publishing is cost prohibitive.”

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address:
After reading this article, there are a few questions that could be addressed. There is the potential to build a database of sub-dialects with this technology. Will the text be available for export after local translation has taken place? If enough members of a community participate in the translation process and if the texts could be exported into a central database, the potential for published works in each sub-dialect increases.

Will the translations move across the geography in a wave, so each new area has the closest possible translation available from neighboring villages? Or will each linguistic geographical area begin with the same base text? The linguistic preferences of each user will be remembered and set as the default when they log in, but once a book is translated into a specific dialect, will the rest of the tablets in the same geographic area automatically set their defaults to that dialect? Can a mother and child share default settings, while maintaining their own accounts?

What are the consequences of exposing sub-dialect communities to the written text of other areas? Could this tool be used to encourage the building of a shared national language? Are there possible negative consequences of this action, such as the diminishment of local dialects? Are there cultural and ethical questions that must be asked before proceeding? Future research could address the cultural shifts that will take place as a result of introducing written texts for early readers in local dialects to areas that have not previously experienced it.

A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions:
The authors’ stated purpose of fostering early literacy in order to prepare children for school success raises the question of how this tool will actually support students entering classes that are not taught in their local language. One possible solution to investigate may be designing the product as a bilingual tool that displays the stories with text in multiple languages simultaneously — for example, in both the learner’s local language and the official language. In addition, the anticipated use of this product in language studies programs leads to the question of how it may be used to facilitate aural learning. In this respect, further development and enhancement to consider may be the integration of programming that allows contributors to upload audio recordings of translations along with text. And finally, considering the product’s potential as a tool to increase literacy, aid in language learning, and enable wider access to multicultural children’s literature, additional research and development is justifiable. Few things are free, however, and one must ask how future R&D is to be funded. Using the tool itself as an example, perhaps the answer lies in crowdsourced funding.

Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourcing Translation Tool

By Kira Painchaud, Molly Sherman, Jared Fair, Nicole Josephsen, and Dee Ann Huihui

Link to article: http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/9496

Article synopsis and core research question(s):
One of the main questions Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) described in this article was the need for a cost-effective solution to publish books in local languages and dialects using crowdsourcing. OSULP intends to create a tool that will benefit children ages two to five years old, while still allowing older children to benefit as well. OSULP found that children are taught to read later in their lives and in some cases, such as in Busia, are taught Swahili up until about third grade and then are taught in English from then on. With so many dialects, it is difficult to find a tool allowing for many dialects to be available.

This article discusses how to find or create a tool allowing for users, initially in Africa, to vote on the correct dialect of children’s books in order to make them available. With creating a tool such as this there are many aspects that must be considered such as the tools simplicity of its interface and usability, is there the ability to access it offline, what are the screen limitations, how quick can users vote, can users edit the books’ pages to add a new translation, and also the need for a system that takes the highest voted sections and combines them to create a completely translated text. OSULP created their tool in GitLab in order to keep the tool and its beginnings open only to their staff; hoping to later release it through GitHub for others to tailor it to their own needs.

Methods used to answer research questions:
In addressing how to create a tool that allows multilanguage translation in promotion of literacy for children in Africa, the following methods and applications of practice were used. First a network of libraries called Maria’s Libraries came together with OSULP to discuss technologies for consideration in a resource poor environment. It was decided that the testing methods would be delivered by mobile device interactions through a website using the following open source libraries: Wink Toolkit and Globalize3. Language translations were accessed as multiple database entries into an application called Ruby on Rails.

In creating this crowdsourcing platform the goal was to have a gateway tool for enabling users to translate folk tales and existing children’s books into their own languages and dialects. This practice was implemented with a simple interface offering a choice of languages. A username and password approach for users along with icons symbols and a voting process were part of a simple user setup. In order to support the most accurate translations of single languages and dialects, user abilities were set to allow for new dialect identification.
The following items were also included in the method design:
· Tablet Computers for easy interactivity.
· A simple interface utilizing language choices.
· Display carousel of books marked for translation.
· Easy navigation between book pages.
· A User voting process for each translation.
· A User editing process with original translation comparisons.
As part of the methods used, a voter incentive process based on comparison of translations was set as default. The simultaneously experience for users is to see all translations that have been made and be able to make the most accurate choice.

Findings:
As the article assigned to us; Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourced Translation Tool, was not written within a standard format for academic literature and captured only the first phase of an ongoing project, the findings were less formal and more linear than might be expected.
That said, the project explored in this article found that there were three vital parts that presented significant problems and needed to be addressed: administration; additional crowdsourcing and offline functionality.
The administration woes were two fold: 1) the participants were unable to use the interface to upload stories that contained both images and texts, and, 2) the administrators had no ability to override the participants intentions and this fault left them open to “poisoned” or unreliable records.
Additionally, without further crowdsourcing, many users were unable to recommend new languages and dialects for stories or books to be translated into, rendering some of the work inaccessible.
Finally, authors also suggested that without improved offline capabilities the stories and participants work would be greatly diminished.

Conclusion:
The broad, main intent of this project began as an attempt to help literacy in Africa. They discovered that their tool and research were relevant beyond this intent. Indeed, it held exciting potential to do much more; “We are very excited about the possibilities of the usefulness of the platform as a way of publishing books in lesser-known languages or in regions where dialectic publishing is cost prohibitive.”

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address:
After reading this article, there are a few questions that could be addressed. There is the potential to build a database of sub-dialects with this technology. Will the text be available for export after local translation has taken place? If enough members of a community participate in the translation process and if the texts could be exported into a central database, the potential for published works in each sub-dialect increases.

Will the translations move across the geography in a wave, so each new area has the closest possible translation available from neighboring villages? Or will each linguistic geographical area begin with the same base text? The linguistic preferences of each user will be remembered and set as the default when they log in, but once a book is translated into a specific dialect, will the rest of the tablets in the same geographic area automatically set their defaults to that dialect? Can a mother and child share default settings, while maintaining their own accounts?

What are the consequences of exposing sub-dialect communities to the written text of other areas? Could this tool be used to encourage the building of a shared national language? Are there possible negative consequences of this action, such as the diminishment of local dialects? Are there cultural and ethical questions that must be asked before proceeding? Future research could address the cultural shifts that will take place as a result of introducing written texts for early readers in local dialects to areas that have not previously experienced it.

A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions:
The authors’ stated purpose of fostering early literacy in order to prepare children for school success raises the question of how this tool will actually support students entering classes that are not taught in their local language. One possible solution to investigate may be designing the product as a bilingual tool that displays the stories with text in multiple languages simultaneously — for example, in both the learner’s local language and the official language. In addition, the anticipated use of this product in language studies programs leads to the question of how it may be used to facilitate aural learning. In this respect, further development and enhancement to consider may be the integration of programming that allows contributors to upload audio recordings of translations along with text. And finally, considering the product’s potential as a tool to increase literacy, aid in language learning, and enable wider access to multicultural children’s literature, additional research and development is justifiable. Few things are free, however, and one must ask how future R&D is to be funded. Using the tool itself as an example, perhaps the answer lies in crowdsourced funding.

“In Our Own Words”: Creating Videos as Teaching and Learning Tools

https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/2007#.Vip–X6rSHs

Technology has enabled filmmakers to create ‘in-house’ videos, and post them online for the critical mass of viewers who regularly consume videos online – mostly for entertainment, but increasingly for education and learning. In academic settings, few libraries have created their own teaching/learning tools, beyond screen casting videos.
However, in Summer-2010, two York University librarians, Norda Majekodunmi and Kent Murnaghan, created an instructional video series called, “Learning: In Our Own Words.” The goals of these videos are to: (i) trace “real” experience of new students and their literacies skills (research, writing and learning) during their first year of college; and, (ii) create instructional videos for librarians/instructors to engage students in critical thinking/discussion.
This article outlines the authors’ experiences in creating those videos and accompanying teaching guides, and screening them in a classroom setting. They discuss lessons learned, so that more libraries will develop their own teaching/learning videos.
The approach of Majekodunmi and Murnaghan is student-centered. The main project principles focus on the “student voice,” and that the students “should be considered experts in their own right” (p. 3). Students are asked to share about their previous experiences influencing their understanding of how to engage in research.

The authors researched literature on planning and production of teaching videos and methodologies, but found little material relevant to their project. What they did find was Paivi Karppinen’s review of theoretical literature, and as a key part of their methodology, they worked to create videos that embodied his six characteristics of meaningful learning. That is, the videos were: active; constructive and individual; collaborative and conversational; contextual; guided; and, emotionally involving/motivating. They chose these criteria as benchmarks for their end product, and for assurance that they would succeed in creating a successful teaching/learning video.
The authors here discuss technicalities required to produce videos, such as interview timeframes, scheduling and location, as well as post-production team staffing, and budgeting.
The paper’s core research questions are:
1. Can information presented in a stimulating, interesting digital video format lead to in-depth learning?
— According to the authors, citing Karppinen, information presented in a stimulating, interesting digital video format will not automatically lead to in-depth learning. However, Karppinen goes on to state that, based on his review of the theoretical literature, a toolkit of meaningful learning embodies 6 characteristics. (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 3, citing Karppinen, p. 235).

2. Do videos support active learning on their own?
— No. The authors make clear that preparation is key to successfully teaching with videos, which can be used effectively if paired with such relevant learning activities as student self-reflection, one-minute response papers, hands-on searching, and group activities (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 8). It also is essential to contextualize the video: (a) Why are the students are watching the video?, and, (b) What are the expectations that follow — what activities would occur after viewing the video? (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 10).

3. Can student-centered videos, with integrated teaching guides enhance academic learning by speaking to students in their own voices, with students as “experts”?
— Yes. Because the videos are student-centered, viewers are likely to feel a personal connection to their peers in the video — more so than if a librarian or instructor were talking to them. Also, online videos as a medium appeal to most first-year students (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 9).

The authors conclude with a brief summary of findings that closely align with new literacies initiatives in academic settings.
Due to the lengthy filming and video production process, they propose that similar projects in the future include sufficient preparation for each production stage, with flexible timelines occurring during a less busy time of year.
The researchers also conclude that “videos do not support active learning on their own, but they can be used effectively if paired with relevant learning activities” (p. 10).
When surveyed, 78% of participating students reported that they appreciated the exposure to other students’ experiences, and another 78% agreed that the videos were engaging. Student levels of engagement were reported to have increased when the videos were appropriately introduced and contextualized, when expectations and subsequent activities were discussed, and when students were encouraged to decide whether or not they personally agreed with the messages in the videos.
The authors also explain the value of instructors as facilitators instead of traditional lecturers. They conclude that librarians must continue to consider the “academic world” from the unique perspectives of students in order to improve instruction and develop meaningful learning tools. A project such as this one “speaks to students in their own voices, positions the students themselves as “experts,” and works toward transforming the student experience” (p. 11), and they would like to see the videos used in a wider variety of courses and classroom contexts (p. 10).

The central premise of this video project involves “students as experts, instructors as facilitators” (p. 10-11). The article describing Majekodunmi and Murnaghan’s project shows that by creating student-centric videos, instructors are able to design a better learning tool.
In the future, it would be great if incoming students were regularly interviewed with questions similar to those asked in this project, even when filming is not available. Then, instructors would be able to use the interview results as baseline data to update the curriculum from the students’ standpoint.
Using these videos interviews in the classroom allows instructors to engage with students more actively (p. 10). Within teaching guides, the constructive and individual process is a key methodology (p. 8).

In the future, what other kinds of ways can instructors help students construct their academic progress? Instructors should keep an open mind as to emerging literacies because there are always new ways to communicate through technology.

References

Karppinen, Paivi. “Meaningful Learning with Digital and Online Videos: Theoretical Perspectives.” AACE Journal, 13.3 (2005): 233-250. Web. 20 Aug. 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.editlib.org/d/6021
Majekodunmi, Norda and Kent Murnaghan. “Learning: In Our Own Words.” Web. 20 August 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/learning-commons/2011/11/08/learning-video-series/