A while back, I was reading my twitter feed and came across a retweet from a library colleague: Here’s a shot in the dark – Anyone know an Applied Geneticist willing to Skype into a high school biology classroom?

We have one of those right here at UMR. Kelsey is an amazing professor and a delightful, energetic person.  I thought she’d be perfect for something like this, and so I contacted her to see if she’d be interested.  As I suspected, she jumped at the chance and was excited to be part of it.

Jerry’s reaction (via twitter):

My PLN is AMAZING!! Looks like we’ll be able to get that Applied Geneticist to Skype into biology classroom. Never thought it would happen!  (I’m assuming his use of PLN means Public Library Network.)**

I gave both Jerry and Kelsey contact information, and the deal was struck.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, Jerry tweeted this:

Thanks to my PLN, we have booked an expert for an AP Biology class at my school. We’ll be Skyping with a geneticist from U of Minn. Amazing.

So soon, Kelsey will be getting up early and chatting with a classroom full of students in Florida.

There are a few things about this that strike me.  Firstly, how cool is this??  Secondly, it was wholly the use of social media that allowed this to happen.  I don’t know Jerry at all, and frankly am only peripherally connected to the person that retweeted the original request.  However, with the power of social media, a high school teacher in Florida was able to reach out and grab a biologist from Minnesota to guest lecture in his class.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this could portend a new way of delivering education. If a professor at a major research university can guest lecture in a class a thousand miles away, who else can we get to talk to our students? How much more will the subject matter be brought to life if we can chat with experts actually doing the things the students are studying?

Finally, this is a lesson for all educators that are looking for resources, even those that at first blush don’t seem to fall into the purview of the library: Ask. Your. Librarian.  You’d be amazed at the things we can do. We naturally want to help people, and if it’s in our ability to do so, will find the resources you need.  Librarians have a terrific network and have no qualms about using it to find the things our patrons need.  So, ask.  We just may surprise you.

**Update**  Turns out Jerry’s acronym means Personal Learning Network. Leave it to me to assume it had something to do with librarians!



Filed under Academia, Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

4 responses to “Networks

  1. Our students here at Citrus High School in Inverness, FL are so excited to have the opportunity to work with and speak to an Applied Geneticist. Kelsey has been amazing and has some fantastic things planned to enhance the student’s learning. It’s an excellent way to show kids that their learning no longer needs to be confined to the four walls of their classroom or their school. Learning can AND should take place anytime, anywhere. It’s going to be a great experience for me, for our AP Biology teacher, but most importantly, it’s going to be a wonderful experience for our students.

    • I’m glad I could help, if only to help to connect you two. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

      By the way, Jerry, have you thought about alerting the media to what you’re doing? This is the sort of cool, feel-good-about-education story I should think they would love.

  2. Kelsey

    Thanks Mary Beth and Jerry, what a fun experience! We just finished up the first of what may be a series of guest appearances for me with this class. The students were great sports, they were enthusiastic at 8 in the morning, were game to see if they can perceive PTC, a bitter tasting compound to those with the functional olfactory receptor TAS2R38 (tasteless to those with different geno and phenotype), and showed their tech-generation skills in an introduction to genetic databases available from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to look up the gene and protein sequences.
    The students answered questions, and asked some of their own as well! Bravo!!!

  3. Pingback: Follow-up « Impromptu Librarian

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