Creating Lesson Plans for Teaching the Public
In 2001 the Hibbing Public Library was selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to receive 11 computers, software, and a server. This grant was used to set up a computer lab in the lower level of the Library. When not in use for training the computer lab is open to the general public. With the desire to do more, the Hibbing Public Library applied and received a grant from the IRRRA Community Technology Awareness Program to develop 50 computer lesson plans. The lesson plans were theme-related and were to be used by the library staff to teach computer skills to the public.
Located on the Mesabi Iron Range of northern Minnesota, Hibbing is the largest city area-wise, in Minnesota, encompassing 186 square miles. Hibbing Public Library primarily serves the 17,000 residents of Hibbing. Despite the loss of one staff member and budget cuts in 2003 and more in 2004, the library continues to present computer training to the public. The public continues to support the library through various fundraising activities.
The first challenge in creating lessons plans was selecting a licensed educator to develop the lessons. After much back and forth with a teacher who was going to create lessons during her summer off, we finally contracted with Debra Johnson and Peg Gaasland to write lesson plans.
In December 2002 I created a project timeline. I then met with Johnson and Gaasland and asked them how many lesson plans they could complete by May 2003. After realizing that we could not meet our deadline without extra help, we approached Hibbing library staff. Three members of the library staff stepped forward and volunteered to write lesson plans. Nancy Riesgraf, reference librarian, wrote the lesson plans for Internet Searching for Beginners and Advanced Internet Searching. Chris Magnusson oversees the City of Hibbing's website and used her skills in computers and things she learned in her previous job at a travel agency to create lesson plans on computer maintenance and traveling. Cheryl Gillis, library cataloger, created several lesson plans based on her research in an investment club, and on her interests and hobbies. As I have an education degree (elementary education and special education), I reviewed each of the lessons and enhanced many of them.
Another challenge was fine-tuning the lesson plans. As the lesson plans were presented to the public we discovered things that worked and things that did not work. The lesson plans were changed. Sometimes this meant scaling back on what was taught; other times it meant visiting different websites. For example, I teach a class on using e-mail, and when “Learn the Net” incorporated a component on e-mail, I made visiting the site part of the class.
Yet another challenge was keeping up with the changes on the Internet. For example, during the one week I was editing a lesson plan on finding recipes on the Internet, the Betty Crocker web address changed. After completing a lesson plan and holding a class on quilting, we discovered a wonderful website on American quilt design had been cancelled. We did expect these things, which is a why we created the lesson plans and saved them on a disk. This allows us to quickly modify handouts and lesson plans. This also allows us to share the lesson plans with others.
Writers hand their work over to publishers who edit, illustrate and enhance the document. Each of the lesson plans went through editing by Terry Moore, director of the Hibbing Public Library, and myself.
Each lesson plan conforms to a similar format. This allows us to know where to find needed information quickly no matter what the topic. A list of computer websites used in the lesson are listed on the front page. Handouts are placed in the back. The same colors, fonts and outline are used in each lesson.
After each person completed a lesson plan, I began editing and checking the plan. First, I checked if the lesson conformed to the format, font and style. Then I checked content and presentation of information. I looked at copyright issues, the PowerPoint slides, double checked the information and made sure that the website conformed to our guidelines of reliability and accuracy. I also determined if the lesson flowed well or if a mini-lesson on using the headphones or how to download a video clip was needed. Then I looked at the handouts, checked the layout and modified the handout if it could not be photocopied. After the lesson was checked and double checked, the lesson plan was printed (including PowerPoint presentation, homepages of websites cited in the lesson, and two copies of the handouts). The lesson was placed in a plastic notebook with a copy of the lesson on a disk. The lesson plan was given to Terry Moore, Library Director. Moore has excellent editing skills and also has a good eye for layout design. After he completed his review, the lesson plan with handouts and notes were printed on acid free paper and placed on the shelf ready for use by staff.
The outcome of this project was a collection of lesson plans, which are being used by library staff to present computer training classes. The lesson plans have been sent to other library systems, including Viking Library System and Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO), and Hibbing Catholic School and Hibbing Community College.
For the community of Hibbing there were several outcomes. The most consistent outcome is that people are willing to use computers and are feeling confident using them on their own. We hear less the comments "I am so computer illiterate" and we see people who were taught in class using the computers to access e-mail and to search for information.
An unplanned and unexpected success is that the library staff is more computer savvy. We have learned some tricks on how to teach people to use computers and have become increasingly more comfortable teaching computer skills. We are viewed by the public as knowledgeable in technology. We have developed more community support.
The following Hibbing Public Library lessons are documents attached to this page:
How to Write a Resume
Searching the Internet for Beginners
Searching the Internet for Advanced Users
Internet for Beginners
Troubleshooting: Oops! Now What?
Working with Word Part 2
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