Thursday, October 25, 2007

AASL Reno, Part II

After a fairly long morning the conference began with a surprise at the First Timers Orientation. The first two hundred in line were provided with a free box lunch. It came in handy because, although I had a fairly late breakfast, I knew it would be a late dinner as well. The session was sponsored by Abdo Press, a children's imprint, and included tips from various members of the AASL Board and committees. They were all very good ant timely but I think the best one was "Wear comfortable shoes." This proved to be very true when the Exploratorium opened after the lunch and later after the exhibit hall opening following the keynote speaker. The picture shows folks waiting (productively) for the general session to begin.

The keynoter, as I mentioned in my previous post was Dan Pink, and even though I had listened to him on a DVD I purchased for the library, he was even better in person. Dan believes, and backs it up with evidence, that the world of work is changing and the best metaphor to explain the change is the right-brain/left-brain model. Because we are losing routine tasks to outsourcing and off-shoring (Asia), our ever-expanding need for novel consumer goods (Abundance), and the growth of automated processes (Automation) the skills and processes of the right-brain are becoming more important than the skills and processes mediated by the left-brain. Our educational institutions have traditionally emphasized left-brain (logical, analytical, sequential) skills to the neglect of right-brain (empathetic, integral, holistic) skills. Dan believes that since those skills tend to be ones which cannot be outsourced, provide the designs needed to continue producing novel and interesting goods and processes, and are not susceptible to automation, those are the skills which we should be developing in our students. He quoted approvingly an administrator from a school district in New Jersey who said: "We should be educating students for their future, and not our past."

Following the keynote address the attendees got the first copies of the new "Standards for the 21st Century Learner" which will replace the current Information Power standards adopted almost ten years ago. These new standards, which provide a framework for library media teaching and learning, will be discussed and implemented over the next months and years.

The exhibit hall opening was at 5:30 following the general session and Dan Pink was available to sign his book so I had him sign the copy I brought to the students and staff of Redwood High School. I visited the exhibits until almost 7:30 talking to folks who might be willing to exhibit next summer at the IASL Conference in Berkeley and I also talked with the vendor of a library automation program I had not heard of called Atriuum.

Tomorrow should also prove to be a long and productive day of concurrent sessions and exhibit visits.

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