Monthly Archives: January 2015

Competency-Based Education

CompBasedEDTraditionally, schools of higher education have used the conventions of the credit hour, semester, or academic year. Time was the central characteristic; put in the time and get a degree. The new idea is to measure learning, not time. Students can set their own learning pace. This is known as “competency-based education” (CBE). It has gotten the attention of federal and state education departments, universities, and colleges. Currently, only about 34 colleges have active CBE programs that offer credit. A “competency” might be a work portfolio or a score on a standardized test. The input of employers may be necessary; they can determine if a student received good training and is job-competent.

CBE is different because it allows student credit for knowledge acquired through life experience. Students can get CBE credit two ways: prior learning assessment and CBE coursework in which students progress at their own pace as they demonstrate knowledge of academic content.

The main argument in favor of CBE programs is the potential to lower college costs. These programs also serve the nontraditional, adult student who wants more learning flexibility. However, it is not conclusive that CBE programs will save money for all students. Currently, financial aid for these nontraditional programs is not available but the federal government is considering offering Pell Grants.

Many questions need to be answered before the wide adoption of this learning model, especially how to define degrees in terms of “competency.” For more details about competency-based education, see the American Enterprise Institute report by Robert Kelchen.

“I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.”                 – Wilson Mizner, playwright

Teen Tech Week 2015

“Libraries are for making…” is the theme of Teen Tech Week this year. Teen Tech Week will officially be held March 8-14, but there’s no reason you can’t adjust the timeline if different dates work better for you. After all, the purpose of Teen Tech Week is to “make the time to showcase all of the great digital resources and services that are available to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and 21st century careers,” and that can happen at any time!

Continue reading

Building Squishy Circuits

Robot wearing sunglasses and holding a ping pong paddle

TOPIO, a ping pong-playing robot, cropped from an image by Humanrobo and used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Squishy Circuits have a little something for everyone–modeling dough, electricity, baking, science, electricity, the playful combination of dough and wire and batteries into cute little puppy dogs with light up noses, and, lest I forget to mention it, electricity.

Squishy circuits are constructed from batches of conductive and insulating dough. This medium provides a fun and accessible way to teach about series and parallel circuits, material properties, the fundamentals of electronics, and the construction of our future robotic overlords.

The concept and curriculum was created at the University of St. Thomas, and you can find all the recipes, instructions, and videos you’ll need to guide you through the process on their site. They also created this excellent classroom guide (PDF).

2015 Debut Authors

7357608430_64f9ea5260_z[1]Do you like to keep up to date with the newest books and authors? Then you’ll want to check out the authors publishing their first books in 2015!

It can be hard to stay on top of what’s coming out, so here are a few resources devoted to 2015 debut authors to help you keep up to date on Young Adult and Middle Grade titles by newly published authors:

If you’re really looking ahead, there’s also The Sweet Sixteens for 2016 YA and MG debut authors.

Did you read any fabulous novels by debut authors in 2014? Maybe one of the finalists for the Morris Award? Share your recommendations in the comments! If you set reading reading goals for the new year, this sounds like a great reading challenge!

What resources do you use to discover new authors? Share your suggestions in the comments!

Comics in the Library

Slogan TextThe theme of the summer reading program this year is “heroes,” and superheroes seems to be one of the most popular ways to express this theme, so comic books are a natural choice for reading material.

In December, a children’s librarian asked me if any North Dakota libraries had comic book clubs because she was thinking of starting one. After an informal survey,  it appears that no North Dakota libraries have comic book clubs.

The closest related programming response was from the Grand Forks Public Library. They have an Animanga (Anime/Manga) club, with meetings the first and third Thursdays of the month that go from 6 to 8:30 PM. Members range from middle school teens to college-age adults. They generally watch one series a month, and occasionally play games or doodle in sketch books while discussing anime and Manga.

I researched comic book clubs in libraries, so I thought I’d share with you what I found, which turned out to be a bit more diverse that just comics. The resources below include comics, as well as graphic novels, anime, and Manga.

Continue reading