A couple of weeks ago I attended the online 23 Things Summit organised by WebJunction, MaintainIT, the State Library of Kansas, and the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. It was held in America so the timezone difference worked out well for me as it meant I was at home in the evening.

For those not aware of 23 Things, it is also sometimes called Learning 2.0 and is a staff development programme designed for library staff. It uses blogging as the main tool for reflective learning and introduces staff to new web tools (the “things”) each week, which they then comment on in their blog. I previously wrote about the programme a while ago, and have been wanting to run a similar programme ever since, which I am now currently planning (more to come on this).

The event was hosted by WebJunction using Wimba classroom and it really was excellent. I could hear (most of) the speakers clearly, the presentation slides were clear to see, and it was great to be able to get involved by using the chat tools. I also tweeted the event (to the annoyance of my Facebook friends so I have now broken the link between Facebook and Twitter!); you can see all tweets tagged with #23smt. There were a number of us tweeting the event and it even became a top trend – at one point I received a message from @twinfo telling me I was the top trendsetter for #23smt. It was a good test of multi-tasking skills but it was made a lot easier by the great software used by WebJunction.

The actual summit was incredibly useful, it started out with Helene Blowers who initially devised the 23 Things programme. She was interviewed by David Lee King, and it was fascinating to hear from her about the problems she encountered and how she would possibly change things if she were to do it again.

We also heard from a number of people across USA who have adapted the programme for their own use. It was interesting to hear how different people have run the programme in different ways and what seems to work (as well as what doesn’t). One of the main plus points of the programme seems to be the sense of achievement the participants feel as well as a sense of community from those doing the same programme at the same time. As the programme is online, this is not limited geographically which is a huge bonus for smaller libraries or single librarians who can connect with others online.

At the end of the presentations there was a question and answer session which addressed many of the questions we had been adding to the chat throughout the presentations. The main questions/concerns seem to be around the amount of time needed to administer the programme (which seemed to vary massively) and how to get management support for the programme. The advice seems to be to ensure that management fully understand the programme and its benefits (mainly that a large number of staff can receive training simultaneously for a very small cost, just staff time).

You can see the documents from the session on WebJunction’s website including the presentation slides, the chatlog, and an audio recording of the event. One of the participants also grouped all web resources mentioned (e.g. different 23 Things programmes and useful websites) on Delicious.

It was a really useful event and came at just the right time; I am currently in the early planning stages of a 23 Things style programme for my place of work and feel much more prepared after the session.

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