Reflection Paper Outline

November 28, 2007



I.  Introduction:


            A.  Service learning:  General Definition/Broad Concepts

                         Many types of service learning; particular to academic objectives and local context

                                Definition/objectives particular to Digital Citizenship

            B.  Statement of problem/question: Analyzing subjective experience

            C.  Summary of (introducing) findings


II. Background/Setting:


            Library/PC Center: (East Liberty community?)

III. Preparation and expectations (four types of involvement: what they are/ how they relate to objective)

            A. Open Work Time

            B. Classes

            C. SeniorNet

            D. Flyer


IV. Outcomes (the reality):

             A. Response           

             B. Participation           

             C. Successes?/Failures? 

V.  Explanation of findings relative to theory, initial objectives, and assumptions/expectations


VI. Conclusion



Battistoni, Richard M. “Service Learning and Democratic Citizenship.”  Theory Into Practice, Vol. 36, No. 3.  1997. (150-156).

Campbell, David E.  “Social Capital and Service Learning.”  PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 33, No. 3. (Sept., 2000), (641-645).

Ferrari, Joseph R. and Laurie Worrall.  “Assessments by Community Agencies: How the ‘Other Side’ Sees Service-Learning.”  Michigan   Journal of Community Service Learning.  vol. 7.  Ann Arbor: OCSL Press, 2000.


Hunter, Susan and Richard A. Brisbin, Jr.  “The Impact of Service Learning on Democratic and Civic Values.”  PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 33, No. 3.  (623-626).

Kirlin, Mary.  “Civic Skill Building: The Missing Component in Service Programs?”  PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 35, No. 3. 571-575.

Maybach, Carol Wiechman.  “Investigating Urban Community Needs: Service Learning from a Social Justice Perspective.” Education and Urban Society, Vol. 28, No. 2.  February 1996. (224-236).

Riddle, John S.  “Where’s the Library in Service Learning?: Models for Engaged Library Instruction.”  The Journal of Academic Librarianship.  Vol. 29, No. 2.  (71-81).


Shopping the WWW

November 22, 2007

Shopping the World Wide Web is the final “class” that I can attend.  Luckily it was not canceled from a lack of interest as the only attendees were two older gentlemen.   I guess I was a little disappointed by the subject matter although I don’t know what it was that I expected the class to cover.  Like Learning the WWW, I guess I expected a little more advanced class and not one that was so “practical.”  The only issues the instructor presented involved security and safety in making exchanges, as well as informative consumer websites.  I guess I expected something to remind me of what we have covered in class; however, for the students attending, this seemed the logical subject matter. 

There was not much opportunity to help, despite the fact that there were only two students, and so, one would expect, an opportunity for more in depth instruction.  However, the class was mainly lecture and a walk thru of various sites — which seemed to focus on eBay, the apparent feature of the class.  Perhaps it was an interest of the librarian but we spent an extraordinary amount of time on eBay.  We also visited, Macy’s, the Steelers website, as well as various smaller “mom and pop” sites — and PayPal.  The students were shown how to navigate these sites, their special features, security features, etiquette, and how to enter their information to create wishlists as well as to make purchases.

As most of the class was lecture, there was not much “hands on” time, and so not much opportunity to help in the basics that were lacking in one of the two students.  This student sometimes had trouble trying to scroll to the top of a page by clicking on the down arrow.  He also struck me with something he said.  The night before he was trying to locate a person he had known  about twenty years ago and spent forty bucks on the online service to get in touch. 

Sitting in on Open Work Time

November 21, 2007

I’ve been sitting in on Open Work Time every Tuesday at the EL PC Center hoping someone would ask me a simple question; one that I could answer — a simple confidence booster. But it never seems to happen. I began using computers and the Internet in January when I started the MLIS program and while I have been learning a lot, it still is not natural to me. So much is new that I have been trying not to drown in all of the jargon, trends, new applications — what they mean, what they are, what they do, etc., etc., that seem to demand my attention and participation.

The users at the PC Center, just from a quick scan of the room, vary in age, ability and interest. Some older folks are obviously more fluent than some of the younger patrons, but these older folks have become recognizable as regular users of the free time in the library. One older gentleman watches YouTube videos every week for the entire time I am there. Many of the younger patrons are on MySpace. Today, one woman, who seemed to be in her twenties, wanted to scan some baby pictures and post them to MySpace. She had never used a scanner, never been on MySpace (someone, a friend?, had created an account for her), and had never uploaded an attachment.

After the librarian had shown her how to scan her images (eight of them), she left the patron until she was ready to upload them to her account. The librarian had never used MySpace before (so that made three of us) and when it came time to upload the scanned images there was one problem after another. The problem was probably the computer which kept freezing up. The librarian said it was probably the website, too many people probably trying to access it at the same time. (?) The woman kept getting phone calls all this time and was apparently supposed to be somewhere soon. Eventually, the librarian went out to the circulation desk to grab an employee who was familiar with MySpace. He looked at the problem and said the computer froze up and needs to be restarted. We restarted the computer, etc. and the same thing happened. The librarian told her the best thing was to email them to herself and then try again at another time. And so, after all the trouble and waiting for unsuccessful attempts to upload the images to MySpace, it was abandoned for email.

The attempt to upload the images to an email took an extremely long time but the patron was patient despite the continuous phone calls. When the eighth photo had finally been added, she tried to send the message but was told the message was too large. We removed one image and hit send — the same result. We deleted another picture; again, the message was too large. After the third deleted image and “too large” message, the woman gave up. She canceled the message and left quickly. The images left on the desktop were deleted by the librarian who said to me: “Some people who have never used these things before think they can come in and do things quickly . . . it takes time.” Seemed to me a big waste . . . all the effort and she left with nothing. After that experience, I would not be surprised if she has given up.

Learning the WWW (oh, well)

November 14, 2007

Once students have taken and (ideally) practiced and mastered the skills involved in Intro. to Computers and Intro. to Windows, they are then ready to take on one of two courses.  Introduction to Word is the first of many classes by which students begin to learn the productivity software available through Microsoft Office.  Intermediate Word follows the introduction, followed by a number of choices.  One can choose to learn Intro. to Excel, File Management, Intro. to PowerPoint, Publisher or Advanced Word — or one can take them all.

Students can also follow another path after Intro. to Windows beginning with Learning the WWW.  From here, students can learn more information-based, Internet related classes such as Hotmail, Shopping on the WWW, Intro. to Library Services and Information Literacy.  Sadly, only Shopping the WWW will be taught before the end of the year — classes end at Thanksgiving due to low turn out during the holiday season.

In Learning the WWW there were eight people in the class.  Taught by a different librarian, a part-time librarian, I knew this class would give me an opportunity to observe another teaching style — and I wondered immediately why she was speaking directly to one lady in particular when there were six other people in the class.  I soon accepted it as something of a public speaking technique.  By picking out one person among eight, perhaps this made the experience more of a one on one encounter.  However, as she explained to me after the class, three students in the back row, a mother (I am assuming) with two daughters on either side of her, were expecting a more advanced class; four others were attending the class for the second time.  This left the one student the librarian was lecturing directly.

The lecture began with the history and development of the Internet and an explanation of networks generally.  It struck me particularly when she said the Internet is not regulable and then, at another time, something to the effect that Internet access is ubiquitous thanks to satellites.  This opening part was followed by a lecture on the WWW.  URLs were discussed and their component parts were dissected.

When I attend these classes, I stand in the back of the room and monitor the students’ monitors, making sure they don’t get caught up at any moment and fall behind.  Through the first half of the class, however, since there was only lecture and nothing hands on, I just sat in the back of the room and listened.  

About half an hour into the lecture there was a slight disruption when the eighth student finally arrived.  She was a little old woman with a very large coat and purse.   As there is slight room between each computer station, this little woman’s struggle in pulling out her chair was perhaps not unlike a drunken bell ringer tugging at his rope as the clapper redounded off the seats of the students to either side.  When she had fitted herself between her chair and table,  and set down her purse, she began to remove her large overcoat and scarf. 

But she settled in finally, after pulling out a sheet of notepaper and clearing the keyboard and mouse from her writing space (whether the keyboard and mouse were her own or the student’s on the one side of her) and squinting and observing from the far side of the monitor, then readjusting to look around the other side (and clearing away the mouse of the other student), until about half an hour later, she went through the whole process again in reverse order, taking everything with her to the restroom.  The students on either side of her exchanged looks, but nothing violent ensued.

By the time the hands on portion of the class took place, the students had imbibed the librarian’s lecture and learned the title bar, the toolbox, and the browser, and were now being shown Yahoo’s subject directory and search engines, specifically Google.  There was some obvious trouble on my side of the room with typing in particular, as well as understanding the difference between entering search terms into the browser and entering them into a search box.

One lady entered her search terms into the search box then would click on the Go button next to the browser.  She couldn’t understand why nothing happened.  I think this was the first time I began to wonder about the patience one must have to teach these classes regularly.  The difficulty of typing in the right box, the difficulty clicking in the right place, the difficulty in using the backspace button to correct mistakes in typing, the difficulty in typing, the difficulty in highlighting a mistake to delete it, the difficulty in understanding what went wrong in what you wanted to do . . .

Introduction to Windows

November 14, 2007

Since the PC Center was closed this past Tuesday, I did not have an opportunity to sit on Open Work Time. And so I am taking the opportunity of this “off week” to relate what I learned last term when I sat in and observed a library instruction session called Introduction to Windows.

The classes offered at the PC Center are arranged in an ascending scale of difficulty. New users begin with the classes which teach the most basic elements of computer use and know-how. Students can then take the next class in order to build on and further improve their abilities with computers, the Internet, etc. Introduction to Computers is the first introductory class, followed by Intro. to Windows. In this latter class, students are shown the various utilities of Microsoft Windows.

As I remember, the class moved very slowly and we were in the second hour when the subject was the scroll bar: what it does, how to click on it and how to use it. The class was full and the librarian had to try to watch over everyone and keep them up with the lesson — all the while trying to keep on schedule.

As the librarian has explained to me more recently, students don’t practice what they have learned. So they come back for a new class after weeks, perhaps a month, to learn something else when the old skills have not yet been perfected.  In this class it fell to me to play babysitter when one woman sat her granddaughters next to me because the only open seats were in the back of the room while the only available computer was in the front.

As the librarian was very busy with many of the students, I decided to try to help out where I could.  One older (60ish?) lady in the back row, whose screen was directly in front of me, was continually having trouble with the mouse. Her trouble struck me the most about this class and the memory was my first thought when I learned I needed to do service learning. She, like a few others in the class, displayed a sense of irreversible disaster with every potential mistake: opening a window accidentally, for instance. — As though something awful had happened or could happen.

A sense of helplessness was prevalent in their practice but nothing was like the trouble this woman was having trying to move the mouse pointer from one side of the screen all the way across to the other side. It was as if the pointer was stranded in the upper right corner of the screen and when the librarian instructed the class to click on the start button at the other corner, the mouse pad was simply not large enough to allow her to move the mouse in a direct line from one corner to its opposite. She kept running off the mouse pad. She would express her frustration then start over, but she couldn’t get the pointer any further than perhaps mid-way to her destination. As the one librarian had to spread out her time among all the students of the group, I decided to try to help out. I showed the lady she could pick up the mouse and set it down on another part of the pad, then she could keep moving the pointer across the screen. This helped the first time, then the next time the same trouble was apparent, I explained it to her again. This helped the second time. After the third time, I began to wonder if my explanation would help for the fourth time.

It seems difficult to imagine people who have not used computers or the Internet, and so have not needed to develop these abilities, to turn around and look for a need for them and therefore a reason to put in the effort to learn them. Perhaps we never remember, or use, what may be valuable if it does not serve some function or interest in the motive(s) of our lives.

Introduction to Computers

November 4, 2007

The PC Center at the Carnegie Library’s East Liberty branch offers basic computer classes for those who may not have had the opportunity to learn how to use computers.  After realizing I would never get anywhere with my service learning by simply sitting in on Open Work Time, I decided to try to sit in on as many of these classes as possible and to help the librarian(s) instruct their students in these computer basics. 

So far I have attended Intro. to Computers and Intro. to Windows, two very basic classes in which I was able to help, for the most part, with the use of the mouse.  Intro. to Computers begins with the parts of a computer: “this is the monitor, this is the mouse.”  As the librarian explained to me before class began, the hardest part of this class is the proper use of the mouse — particularly double-clicking.

The class was attended by seven ladies, perhaps 50+ in age.  They varied in computer skill and knowledge, but all appeared to be able to do everything covered by the end of the class.   However, I’m convinced two ladies at the front were far too advanced to get anything from the lessons.  One of them quickly explained that she was not taking the class (she’s been working with computers for years) but was “sitting in” to help and support her friend, the lady next to her.  However, her friend (apparently) was not pleased about being made out to be the one in need of help or in need of such a rudimentary class, and so the “supportive” lady jokingly conditioned almost every statement with the “fear” that anything she said to me might bring down upon her an act of violence.  Joking (and violence) aside, her friend was much farther along than the other students. 

I had gone over to them because I had been giving all of my attention to a student behind them who was trying to get familiar with holding the mouse properly and using it to click, double-click, and click and drag — all while learning to play Solitaire.  When I went up to the two ladies in the front row they were not doing the Solitaire exercise.  After the “supportive” friend had quickly assured me she was not “taking” the class, just sitting in, she started telling me how hard it is for some to use the mouse, like her two year-old granddaughter, who finds it difficult to grip the mouse because her hands are so small — but she is “getting it.”  The apparent relation seemed to bother her friend who (understandably) didn’t seem to like any connection with the difficulties of a two year-old.

However, as I was talking to the “supportive” friend, the other had opened Solitaire.  As I was turning to go back to the back of the room, she was already at the point of winning the game.  She was manipulating the mouse like she’d been doing it all her life and must have been disappointed at the basic level of the class. 

There was a reason she was sitting in the front row and I remember she had asked the librarian if she could take the class again if she did not get it the first time (this was before her “supportive” friend came in late).  In the end, I doubt she could have learned much that was new to her.  But this doesn’t change the fact of her feelings as both ladies made them apparent to me.  The ability to use a computer doesn’t make one intelligent, yet she seemed to feel what seems a popular opinion: the perceived inability might make one feel inferior.

what am I doing here?

October 30, 2007

After two weeks of service learning, I have found (quite unexpectedly) that I am useless.  Not that many people have come in requiring help during my visits but when the opportunity arises I go over to the patron and immediately call over the librarian.  Granted, many of the questions are particular to the PC Center, library policy or just the normal workings and uses of the resources, but some of these at least I feel I could learn over the course of the next month.  But what if someone actually wants to learn something other than where to find the restroom?

Periodically, I look over the people working at their stations to see if any require my expertise.  Various activities go on: one patron watches a Michael Jackson video with the Yahoo! symbol in the corner (Yahoo! videos?) — not that I’m spying, I’m only trying to help.  Others have been working on Excel projects.  Yesterday, one patron wanted to know how to convert his spreadsheet into a graph.  I didn’t even bother.  But my observation of the librarian’s adept rendering of the patron’s request was wonderfully astute.   Maybe next time I’ll fuddle around awhile.

Someone couldn’t get the @ sign into his email address.  He showed me the shift key wasn’t working.  From past experience I know that there are two! shift keys and said that we could try another! shift key at the other side of the keyboard!  That one didn’t work either.  I couldn’t find the third shift key and so, after the librarian explained that the keys are just worn out and one has to hit them a number of times in order to get them to work, she called someone on the phone about a broken keyboard — no doubt to make me feel better.

no progress yet

October 16, 2007

I was supposed to begin my service learning last Tuesday but I received an email that morning from my contact saying she was sick and would not be in that day.  So tomorrow I looks to be my first day. 

Service Learning

September 4, 2007

 . . . couldn’t put off the pleasure of blogging any longer . . .

Yesterday I met with the teacher-librarian at Carnegie Library – EL’s PC Center to discuss options for service learning.  We had been emailing each other for the past week about possibilities but I wanted to meet with her face to face.  We agreed on a set schedule so she could let her students know when I would be available to provide personal assistance with computer use, to practice or reenforce a lesson, help with individual projects, general interests, etc.  

I will also be providing a hand-out with my contact information, advertising the services I am attempting to provide.   I start next Tuesday during Open Work Time which will give me some exposure to the environment, introduce myself and get some idea of the type of assistance that is often needed.  According to the librarian, help is often required to open an email account, format a resume, etc. — plus a variety of other needs (I asked the librarian to send me the addresses of the websites I should know).  Feels like I am starting a new job, undertaking this responsibility, and so I’ll need to spend time familiarizing myself with this new environment if I am to be of help and not a hindrance.