Not-so-Little eLit Grant Dungeon

Ok, I’m out of the Big eLit grant dungeon.  We successfully applied for the IMLS Learning Labs grant and we’ll find out in “late fall” if we’re one of the lucky recipients. I had about 3 weeks to pull everything we needed together, locate my resources within a new library system, and figure out what this project would look like if we got the grant ($100,000). I worked my tooshie off, talked the ears off 2 of my new colleagues and hammered out a design for a modular learning lab in a very deserving branch library.  Here is a list of the final documents:

1. grants.gov form
2. abstract (1 page)
3. program information sheet (form)
4. organizational profile (2 pages)
5. narrative (6 pages)
6. detailed budget forms (year 1, year 2, year 3)
7. summary budget form (form)
8. budget justification (2 pages)
9. key project staff (2 pages)
10. resumes (4 key project staff members, 2 pages each)
11.supporting documents (3 letters of support, vendor quote, 2 news articles, 1 census, 1 research study)

Grant writing lessons learned:

1. Register early.  Like, really early. Like, day-before-yesterday early.
2. Talk to people about it.  Even/especially other people applying for the same grant.
3. Double check the numbers.  And then double check the numbers.

Here’s an overview of the project:

Project Goals and Impact
The Lab will provide low income, at-risk, and Latino youth with technology skills they can’t get elsewhere within their community. This means providing them with access to relevant and current technology in addition to mentors and experts who can help them hone their skills.

Goals
1. Develop overview of current research on the following: Serving at-risk, low income and Latino youth in libraries and use of nascent and emergent technologies among youth.
Deliverable: Comprehensive literature review of the demographic and pedagogical/industrial research on nascent and emergent technology to be presented at the ALA and/or PLA conferences; develop professional materials and workshops with Infopeople.

2. Based on the above research, design a curriculum of workshops, programming, and mentorship to support to digital learning needs of the middle school population.
Deliverable:  Curriculum of programming to be developed prototypically 09/2013- 06/2014 and fully implemented 06/2014-12/2015.

3. Design and build prototype of automated checkout kiosk (to be expanded during implementation).
Deliverable: Checkout kiosk within teen area; integration with ILS.

4. Recruit test sample of middle schoolers to participate in focus groups, workshops, and prototype testing.
Deliverable: Report on four focus groups, production of media, and efficacy of kiosk.

Middle schoolers who participate in the Library Learning Lab will learn marketable skills in the following areas:

·      programming languages
·      web design
·      photo, audio, and video editing
·      mobile app development
·      apps for social media

Mentors will work with teens to design portfolios of their work to be displayed online and in the library.  The Washington DC Public Library’s Youth202 and Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia lab both display the work developed by teens.

Prototype Evaluation (05/2013- 08/2013)
The authors will evaluate the use of the physical space, kiosk and the devices. The project team, kiosk vendor, and library staff will submit input on the placement and usability of The Lab’s automated self checkout kiosk.

Testing and Evaluation (09/2013- 06/2014)
The Library will collaborate with the school district to form a group of 10-15 middle schoolers, representing each of the 3 Middle schools, to serve as an Advisory Board for The Lab. The authors will hold four focus groups, weekly workshops, and ongoing surveys of the space, devices, kiosk, and programming. Members of the Advisory Board will submit evaluation surveys on the following factors: number and type of devices, software, workshops, mentoring, and the physical space.

Implementation Evaluation (06/2014- 06/2015)
Once the implementation phase of the project begins the authors will track the following metrics: checkouts of devices, attendance at workshops, mentor/mentee sessions, and products created by the teens.

Short Term Goals

  • Teens will develop specific skill sets: learn to design a website, develop a shortcut for a video game they’re playing, digitally manipulate a photograph etc;
  • They will solve problems creatively and collaboratively with other teens and mentors;
  • They will hang out, mess around and geek out (HOMAGO) in a safe environment, free from the threats and pressures of gang involvement.

Long Term Goals

  • Teens will enter the workforce with sought-after high tech skills;
  • They will attend a college or university;
  • They will believe in themselves.

Project Design
The authors will build the prototype for a modular learning lab which contains six MacBooks and six iPads that license Adobe Creative Cloud Software.  The devices will be housed in an automated checkout kiosk located in the teen section of the library. Teens can check out the devices for use in the library. The primary learning objective of this program is the development of advanced computer skills in areas such as programming languages, game design, web design, app development, and audio, video, and photo manipulation. Many of the teens in this at-risk, low income, predominantly Latino community have limited access to technology and skilled mentors. At the Library Learning Lab they will be able to hang out, mess around and geek out (HOMAGO); but more importantly, they will develop skills that will open doors later in life. The authors note that the teens in this community are almost all completely bilingual in English and Spanish; while there are Spanish speakers are on staff at the library, programming for this project will be conducted in English.

In the 2011 ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 48% of college students reported that they wished they knew how to use programming languages better.  The Library Learning Lab will provide low-income youth with access to technology tools and expertise that will help them succeed in college and/or enter the workforce.

The Library will collaborate with the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Sciences (SLIS) to develop programming which supports the technology learning needs of Latino, at-risk middle schoolers.  Our research will also be used to develop professional development materials with Infopeople.

Phase 1: Research and Curriculum Design (01/2013- 09/2013)
The Library and SLIS will collaborate to develop a comprehensive literature review on working with at-risk, low income, and Latino youth in libraries. In addition to research on this demographic, the authors will also research current and emergent technologies for inclusion in the curriculum. These two deliverables will be valuable resources to youth services librarians as a whole.  The authors will base ALA & PLA conference proposals on the findings and work with Infopeople to develop materials, workshops and other professional development resources to add to the Learning Lab community of practice.

Phase 2:  Prototyping (05/2013- 08/2013)
The Library will build 2 Automated Checkout Kiosks to be installed in the teen area of the Library. The prototype will contain six MacBooks and six iPads and will be integrated with the ILS — allowing for self checkout directly at the kiosk. During implementation the prototype will be expanded to 4 units.

Phase 3: Testing (09/2013- 06/2014)
The Library will establish a testing group for the Lab that will be facilitated by the Project Manager and the Teen Services Librarian. The authors will recruit a group of 10-15 middle school students to participate in the workshops, quarterly focus groups, and ongoing evaluations of the program itself, software, devices, and kiosks. The results of the testing phase will be used to inform the launch of the implementation in June 2014. The testing phase will coincide with the school year and we will work with the School District to facilitate the students’ participation.

Phase 4: Implementation (06/2014- 12/2015)
The Learning Lab will be expanded from its prototypical state to include two additional automated checkout units with 24 additional devices, and programming will be opened up to the entire middle school population.  The launch of this program will coincide with the Teen Summer Reading Club. The authors will continue to partner with SLIS to recruit and train additional mentors and workshop leaders. The authors will propose the findings from the first three phases of the project to be presented at the ALA and/or PLA conferences and Infopeople professional development programs.

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Posted on June 16, 2012, in Libraries, Media Literacy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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