Experiential Learning Preconference @ #ala2016

Courtesy Flickr user clarkmaxwell https://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkmaxwell/4958612436/ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I have the honor of co-facilitating a pre-conference on Experiential Learning at ALA this summer. My co-facilitator is the supremely talented Dr. Sharon Morris, Director of Library Development and Innovation at the Colorado State Library. May it be of any interest, we’d love to see you there! Here are the deets:

Designing and Facilitating Learning Experiences that Make a Difference: The Power of Active Experiential Learning

When: ALA Preconference, Friday, June 24, 8:30am – 12:00pm
Where: Orlando, Florida (Convention Center, room TBD)
Speakers: Peter Bromberg & Sharon Morris

Description

Are you tired of “Sage on the Stage” presentations and trainings? Have you been to presentation after presentation that didn’t result in anyone –including you –actually doing something different?

That’s because the kind of deep learning that leads to real change happens when we make meaning from our own experience and then design a plan to apply our new understanding to real life situations. Come to this highly engaging program and experience for yourself the power — and fun — of active, experiential learning.

Ticket Prices:

  • LearnRT Member: $120
  • ALA Member: $150
  • Non Member: $200

Not currently a LearnRT member? Join now to save on this event.

Key Links

 

Image Credit: Courtesy Flickr user clarkmaxwell https://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkmaxwell/4958612436/ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Want to be healthier, smarter, more creative? Get some sleep!

Sleeping Cat

Courtesy Flickr User thejbird (CC BY 2.0)

I’ve written about the importance of sleep before.  The research suggesting that sleep is vital to our health — physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional health — could reach from here to the moon and back if you started piling it up.

Here is the latest in a long series of articles that I routinely bookmark: Why You Should Sleep Your Way to the Top.  In the article, Dr. Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley (where he runs a sleep research lab) talks about the relationship between sleep and memory, learning, and emotions.

The whole article, which is in easily-readable interview format, is worth a read. Here are some key excerpts:

I would argue that, if you look at the other main biological drives—things like eating and drinking—it’s fairly clear that the lack of one night of sleep causes detriments to your brain and body that far exceed anything you would see from a lack of food over the same duration of time.  In fact, studies on animals in the 1980’s demonstrated that rats will die as quickly of sleep deprivation as they will from food deprivation. Sleep is that essential.

When you are sleep deprived, the frontal lobe and the amygdala become disconnected, and so you become all emotional gas pedal, without sufficient brake.

Socially appropriate responses and controlled emotional reactions are quintessential for cooperation and interactions with others, so sleep loss has the potential to impact such processes.

[R]esearch has clearly demonstrated that if you restore and normalize sleep in different severe mental health conditions, you can see very significant clinical improvements.

Many of the emotional benefits that sleep provides involve taking the painful sting out of difficult emotional experiences from the day before, or balancing our reactivity to next-day emotional challenges. Sleep even improves our capacity to recognize different and specific types of emotions in people’s faces more accurately.

Sleep before learning is critical; but you also need to sleep after learning, and to take that new information and essentially cement it into the neural architecture of the brain.  More recently, we’ve realized there’s an additional benefit for learning. Sleep is much more intelligent than we have previously considered. It not only takes individual pieces of information and saves them and protects them, but sleep can intelligently cross-link new pieces of information together. As a result, you can start to extract commonalities and develop novel insights into problems that you were having the day before.

We’ve found that sleep will  more than triple  the probability that you’ll figure out [a] hidden rule. Sleep seems to inspire a creative insight into previous problems and challenges we’ve faced.

Sleep seems to support such a remarkable and broad constellation of different functions. Not just the brain; your body also benefits dramatically, your immune health, your metabolic system, your cardiovascular health. Indeed, there is not one major tissue or organ in the brain or body that is not benefited by sleep. 

Simply put, the single most important thing you can do each and every day to reset your brain and body health is to sleep. Once you start to get anything less than about 7 hours of sleep, we can start to measure biological and behavioral changes quite clearly.  People will say, “I can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep.” But your subjective opinion of how you’re doing with insufficient sleep is a miserable predictor of objectively how you’re doing with insufficient sleep. Essentially it’s like the drunk driver at the bar picking up his keys after a couple of drinks and saying, “No, no. I think I’m fine; I’m perfectly fine to drive.”

 

Learn More, do Nothing: The Importance of rest and renewal

Would you like to be more creative?  Learn faster?  Super, all you need to do is… Nothing.

Interested?  Read the complete post over at ALA Learning
(also archived below on 3/27/13)

October 9, 2010 update:  Check out Bobbi Newman’s post on the connection between innovation and working less


The New York Times reported this week that researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have found that rats don’t learn from experience until they take a break from the experience.  The break gives them time to process and create persistent memories.  Furthermore, the researchers believe that their findings almost certainly apply to the way humans learn. Uh oh…

Why uh oh?  Because many humans are increasingly connected to our ipads, blackberrys, smartphones, and laptops, keeping our brains engaged continually throughout the day.  And while all of that ubiquitous connectivity offers us the possibility of reaching heretofore unreachable levels of efficiency and productivity it seems that it might come at a price:  The Times reports that “when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas. ”

Having recently started a new job, I can attest to the fact that there’s nothing like a silent drive or a brief nap to process and organize a great deal of new information.  My 45 minute commute home might be the most productive part of my day, as that’s where all of the sense-making is happening.  Strange as it may seem, sleeping has also been incredibly productive as I awake many mornings with a number of ideas synthesized from the previous day’s conversations, observations, and readings.

So as we come to the end of another summer and start getting geared up for the busier days of Fall let’s take a moment to remember:  There might be no better way to learn than by stopping, unplugging, and doing absolutely nothing.

Photo Credit: Simone Ramella via Compfight cc

Continuing Education: What We Want v. What We Need

In my day job, one of my core responsibilities is to provide continuing education opportunities to the staff of all 630 libraries (of all types) in South Jersey. My goal is to provide a slate of classes and workshops that will help library staff develop the skills they need to provide excellent library service to their customers. But what skills do they need? There’s the rub.

One of trickiest parts of my job is doing needs assessment. I use the basic tools: evaluation forms, online surveys, etc., but I’ve found that what people tell me they want/need is not always what they sign up for. And more interestingly, I’ve found that classes/workshops that NO ONE asked for are often the ones that fill up immediately and demand repeated encores for the next year or two.

That’s where the fun comes in! The Dylan lyric, “Your debutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want” comes to mind, but in my case it’s the reverse: Library staff tell me what they want (and I schedule it), but sometimes I also give them what they need (even though no one asked for it.)

A perfect example of this is a recent class I scheduled on Web 2.0. I hadn’t heard Web 2.0 mentioned in any of many interactions with library staff, nor on any of the hundreds of workshop evaluation forms I’ve collected where I ask students for future class suggestions. But I had seen Web 2.0 (and Library 2.0) being discussed in many blogs, and the principles seemed highly relevant to the current and future health of library services. So I found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor (oops, Dylan on the brain) a super competent instructor (Sophie Brookover, PopMeister and recent LJ Mover and Shaker) and scheduled a class. It immediately filled up, and we’ve just about filled the encore class scheduled for June from the waiting list alone. Score!

I’ve seen this phenomena before, generally with semi cutting-edge topics. No one asked for blogging classes, but they filled immediately. No one asked for RSS classes. Again, filled. The same with classes on wireless a year or two back. What’s next? (um, that’s not a rhetorical question… someone please tell me what’s next.)

Blog reading, and the ability to track headlines through RSS has given me a keener eye for what’s coming down the pike, and helped me to broaden the scope of classes that I offer. Ever since I started following a few blogs through RSS (Firefox toolbar did it for me) I’ve been better informed and my knowledge and awareness of trends, tools, and timely tips is broader and deeper than ever before. I love the way RSS has made it simple, simple, simple to stay on top of an immense amount of information, not to mention the exponential serendipity of finding one great blog and being led (through blogroll or post) to other great blogs.

Getting back to the question, “What’s next?” I’d like to put that out there to you. What classes or workshops do you want? What do you need? What cutting-edge trend or tool do we need to know about today to give great service to our customers the day after tomorrow? I’d love to hear your thoughts.