Learning 2.0: An Archetype Planning Model for Participatory Service!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about one of the most globally successful programs developed so far in the Library 2.0 era, and marvel at how it took the world by storm. Usually you never see a local action research library program act like an Internet meme in its popularity, spreading to the four corners of the world — especially one that requires so much work and effort by everyone on a library team, both administration and staff, to make it a success. The program I am referring to, of course, is Learning 2.0, otherwise known as 23 Things, mentioned by Stephens in an article discussing inclusive learning (Stephens, 2008).

The Learning 2.0 idea was daring and capitalized on something known as self-directed learning. Helen Blowers and Lori Reed at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County created the program 23 Things from a hodge-podge of common Web 2.0 social computing tools, such as blogs, wikis and RSS (Blowers & Reed, 2007). Using weekly modules, 23 Things trained library workers and staff on how to use Web 2.0 technologies. Many of the users never had exposure to them before, and some never even knew what these technologies were. But after the course of the 9-week program, they developed skills in these tools that could be used to help develop their library services. The elegance of the program was not only in its execution as an open-source platform that other libraries could use, change, enhance and share (all Library 2.0 ideals), but also that the users were voluntary and self-directed.

In Stephens’ article “Technoplans vs. Technolust” (Stephens, 2004), Everett Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve is discussed, where adoption of a new program or technology is divided into categories of Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Learning 2.0’s dual strategy of volunteered self-directed learning combined with periodic rebooting of the 23 Things program helped turn Innovators and Early Adoptors of the first rounds of learning into mentors for the Early Majority and Late Majority learners in later rounds (Gross & Leslie, 2009).

But the big power of the design of Learning 2.0 is that is averts the dreaded Techno-problems discussed in Stephens’ white paper (2011).  Learning 2.0 relieves techno-lust because its focus on the library, its mission and staff means that new technologies will not roll out until the staff becomes proficient in it. Learning 2.0 relieves the step-triplets of techno-stress, techno-shame and techno-phobia due to its very design: it builds confidence in staff through self-directed learning.  The negative aversions of techno-divorce are avoided because staff becomes not only users of the Web 2.0 computing tools, but also evangelists (they create new blogs and wikis in droves!). So no “ghost-town” blogs! Finally, techno-hesitation and techno-banality are relieved because it creates a environment of curiosity and play regarding new technologies within library staff that never existed before, resulting in constant interest and techno-trendspotting. How did the folks behind Learning 2.0 get so many staff on-board to volunteer in 23 Things? Why not hear it straight from Helene Blowers herself in the video below! (Your jaw will drop at their participation numbers.)

Furthermore, the strategy of Learning 2.0 can be used on a smaller scale to implement new technologies. Perhaps a library is interested in developing Twitter reference or the use of some new and exciting web technology, but not sure how to go about it. Learning 2.0 is a successful archetype and proven action-research model that can create success in any Library 2.0 planning.

Blowers, H., & Reed, L. (2007). The c’s of our sea of change: Plans for training staff, from core competencies to learning 2.0. Computers in Libraries, 27(2), 10-15.

Gross, J., & Leslie, L. (2009). Learning 2.0: a catalyst for library organizational change. The Electronic Library, 28(5), 657-668. doi: 10.1108/02640471011081942

Stephens, M. (2004, November). Technoplans vs. technolust. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA474999.html

Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 47(4), 314-317. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0-world-full-text/

Stephens, M. (2011). The hyperlinked library. Retrieved from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/StephensHyperlinkedLibrary2011.pdf




Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.


  1. Jan Oliver

    October 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    How interesting that you should bring up the “23 Things” program as Michael’s other class LIBR281 (of which I am a member) have been developing these programs for an assigned library this semester (and previous ones as well). Most are scheduled to launch today! It’s been a great learning experience to develop this program and review previous program sites. If you’re interested in see what my team created for the Boroondara Libraries in Australia, here’s a link to the site. http://bplplayground.wordpress.com/

    • Pamela Hawks

      October 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      What a beautiful site, Jan! I bookmarked that one for future reference. I had heard about the “23 Things” program through previous courses, but had not investigated in in-depth. It is now on the top 5 things I want to achieve at work if I can get the support!

    • Mickel Paris

      October 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Yes, please do keep us updated on #hyperlib, I’d like to see how your site goes and what the results are! I’ve always been fascinated by Learning 2.0 in LIS School and it seems like something you can really sink your teeth into that people will have fun with.

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