On the 19th I attended a Melbourne Conversations event called ‘Libraries/Lending Borrowing Digital‘ at the Library at the Dock. When I got there I realised that Melbourne Conversations is a series of talks that happen over the course of the year. So I will be keeping my eye out for these in 2015!

On the night our host was Peter Mares and we listened to three speakers who gave us their opinions and experience with digital and innovative learning.

Prof. Stephen Heppell – Educator, Academic and CEO of Heppell.net, UK
Brad Hammond – Creative Technologist and Director of Ethnographic Tekh
Paula Kelly  – Library Services Manager, City of Melbourne
Host: Peter Mares – Writer, Journalist, Researcher and Academic

Melbourne Conversation Itinerary
Melbourne Conversation Itinerary

Stephen Heppell, I learned is an important figure in enabling the development of new learning methods and building schools specifically tailored to the surrounding community. He walked us through a couple of the projects he has been part of and the overwhelming message I received is – kids know how they want to learn. Simply by giving the kids he has worked with free rein to design their own learning spaces and coursework, their schools and learning become something they are proud of. I believe that is something everyone should strive for!

Another point Stephen stressed is he believes learning, especially lifelong learning, should be in stages and not by age. It has been proven that people learn at different speeds, one person may be ready to move onto university work at the age of 14 instead of 18 as the current model stands. This he said, is where libraries should be coming in. Australian libraries should strive to be leaders in innovative digital learning and encouraging lifelong learning for those ready to move ahead of their peers.

Brad Hammond described himself as lucky, in that he is one of the first of his kind… a digital native. He mentioned his fellowship which will allow him to travel the world and find others like him to ‘play with technology’ trying them out and in ways. Brad’s talk explored the idea that children of the future will grow up in a world where technology reaches adulthood and therefore foster entrepreneurial skills with technology instead of discovery.

Paula Kelly impressed me as she revealed City of Melbourne’s vision for its libraries and the challenges they are set to conquer. She stressed that communities want community spaces when it comes to their libraries and that they still expect a building with a certain amount of books. Like Stephen, Paula also agreed that it was up to libraries to stay ahead of the curve in innovative learning strategies. She also highlight some features of innovative and digital learning that the Library at the Dock currently use:

  • Touch screen tabletops
  • Touch screen walls with learning activities
  • Interactive floor feature

These three speakers made me reflect on traditional learning my own learning strategies on the train ride home. Brad reminded me that my own son will be a digital native, skills that I have spent years becoming used to will be second nature to him. So what type of jobs will be out there for him when he is read for the workforce?

Stephen helped me to realise that by the time my son gets to primary school education, will have taken on a very different format to the ‘traditional’ learning that I have become used to in my own schooling. As a parent will I be ready to support my child in his learning? Will I be able to keep up with the times? I believe libraries can help me in this respect. Especially if, like Paula suggests, libraries continue to push the envelope in terms of finding new ways to bring lifelong learning to their patrons.

Till next time!

DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)