Monday, October 24, 2016

"Hack Your Education" - Brainstorming a Library Program for Students

This post is to encourage you to take a quick moment and fill out a survey. But if you don't need that encouragement, feel free to skip past the detail and right to the survey!

Last week I spoke at the annual Washington Library Media Association conference, called "Hack WLMA." The core idea of my keynote talk was that libraries and librarians are, in many cases, the last bastion for helping students to navigate the incredible world of information as a part of pursuing their own independent learning paths--something that, sadly, is often lost sight of today.

In fact, you could argue that students today largely fall in two groups: those that don't see themselves as the "smart ones;" and those that are good at threading their way through the world of adult expectations and don't necessarily see themselves as good learners, but just at being good at the "game" of getting good grades and figuring out what college admissions officers are looking for.

So in my talk I proposed working together to build an "open source" set of resources and ideas that could be used to create a conversation-driven class or club that librarians could convene for students. This class or club would help the students see their formal education within the context of their own personal learning--to take charge, so to speak, of their own learning and to figure out how to make their school classes a part of that individual journey.

A radical idea, I know. Except that I went to a liberal-arts college so many years ago, and this radical idea of self-driven education and learning was actually the mission of the college. It's just an idea that has gotten lost in the standardization model of education, a model which has increasingly overtaken secondary, and now even, higher education.

Later in the day at "Hack WLMA" I held a 90-minute brainstorming activity around this idea of building a "hack your education" program for students. This brainstorming turned into an incredibly rich and exciting discussion, showing that I was not alone in caring about these issues, nor alone in my desire to create some kind of program to help students... and in my belief that the librarian is often uniquely positioned to lead in this effort. (The chalkboards we filled with ideas were a testament to the energy! You can see them at

If you've got a few minutes, we could really use your help. Here's the link to the SHORT survey: In return, we'll share everything back with all those that reply. By calling this effort/class/club idea "Hack Your Education," we're playing on the same use of the word "hack" that WLMA did--in the current vernacular, that is, how to take something apart and rebuild it to make it work for your own purposes. When we share back the answers to this survey, we won't use any names or put anyone in an awkward situation.

Thank you for your time. Here's to building something together to really help students! Feel free to pass this survey link ( along to anyone else you think might have an interest in responding. If you want to talk to other teacher-librarians about this idea, you can do so in the group we created at


Steve Hargadon
The Learning Revolution Project
Classroom 2.0, Library 2.0,
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