the great mooc experiment

Over the past few months, our Parkgate branch library has introduced the concept of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and a ‘pilot MOOC’, using MIT’s massive open online adaptation of its Introduction to Philosophy. So far, it’s been a fabulous first experiment in hosting a MOOC for our community. And for me, the coolest part is that the idea to launch a pilot MOOC came from our patrons. (See Libraries Build Communities for the back story.)

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libraries build communities

Until recently, my father could have been considered the inspiration for Jonas Jonasson’s bestselling novel, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

Like the fictional centenarian, my father had only a very few years of formal education, yet he relied on a keen intellect, fierce independence, risk-filled adventures and luck-filled opportunities to make a remarkable life. He survived Nazi-occupied Holland by living in hiding, spent time in the Dutch army during the Indonesian National Revolution and then indentured himself to a farmer for a year to start a new life in Canada. He enjoyed seeing new places; well into his late eighties, my father regularly traveled from Ontario to the west coast, Europe and even Russia. Physically active, he walked and swam several times a week, gardened, chatted with neighbours and kept up an active social life.

Ten months ago, just a few months shy of his ninetieth birthday, he decided to sell the house where he had lived for more than 40 years, and move to an apartment. And that’s when his life altered its course. Suddenly cut off from his familiar surroundings and caring neighbours, he began a rapid physical and cognitive decline.
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a true champion of our freedom to read

It’s been a while since I last blogged in this space, but this past week’s honouring of our Freedom to Read has inspired me to write.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, a freedom that is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Like most libraries, we celebrated with banned book displays and conversations, as champions of free expression. With “create your own ebook” workshops and thoughtful collection development, we’re doing our bit to ensure new voices are heard and available, that access is preserved.

And so it seems only fitting that a cherished friend and mentor is acknowledged this week too. Brian Campbell, a passionate and committed individual who championed intellectual freedom and information access issues every day of his career and continues to do so in retirement, was honoured by the Canadian Library Association. Brian is the winner of the 2015 Award for the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada, for his tireless championship of librarianship’s core values of intellectual freedom and information access.

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on the cutting edge

Kathy Sanford is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Victoria. Her research fields are teacher education, literacy, video games and learning.

What that basic bio doesn’t tell you is that Kathy is a leading thinker of 21st century teaching and learning. That she is intensely focused and passionate about the larger context of learning – the natural environment of the digital generation and the community partners that surround the formal education system. That her enthusiasm for learning, combined with her depth of experience in facilitating learning, dazzles and inspires. That she is spearheading a progressive and collaborative teacher training program that draws together experienced teachers, keen student-teachers and teens in a collaborative learning environment.

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collective capacity

It’s been three months since I started my new job as a chief librarian. The work environment is obviously very different from the government setting where I previously worked as the provincial librarian. But the vision for community-connected modern library service is the same – with the refreshing position of having more influence in one local setting!

People have been asking me how it’s going and I enthusiastically tell them about the supportive and bold-thinking library board, the strategic planning process that we are embarking on, and the 50th anniversary that is coming up.

But what inspires me every day are the people I work with and their enthusiasm for the work we do to support our community.

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