Learning Labs Update #2

Saint Paul Learning Labs Project

What we're doing

Learning Labs Advisory Board
We met with the Learning Labs Advisory Board on April 25.  Board members include: Keith Braaflat, SMM; Kathleen O’Donnell, TPT; Dr. Cassie Scharber, U of MN; Mary Tinucci, SPPS – The Lab; Mike Wassenaar, SPNN.

We value their expertise about teens and technology and will use feedback from the group to help clarify the focus for the Saint Paul Learning Labs project.

We utilized the Saint Paul Public Library’s Customer Service Improvement (CSI) Day to present the Learning Labs project to the entire library staff.  Following the presentation, we invited the library staff to become our first (and largest) focus group.  Library employees at all levels were encouraged to communicate concerns, share excitement and provide suggestions for the Learning Labs project. 
We got a great response from this group, and will continue to reflect on their feedback throughout our planning.  Many library staff reported that cross-trainings with parks and recreation staff would be beneficial, especially in areas regarding youth development and youth work skills.  Saint Paul Parks and Recreation has a successful youth work group (see below), and we hope to learn from their success and create a similar program in the libraries.  There is money in the grant to support staff development. 

St Paul Parks & Rec Youth Work group
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, along with a professor from the Youth Studies department at the University of MN formed a group made up of dedicated youth workers who gather every Wednesday evening to improve their youth work practice, share ideas and support each other.  At their invitation, a few library employees have joined the group.  In early June, we will start to bring a similar model of youth work practice to the Saint Paul Public Libraries. We are starting small now, and intend to grow a core group of staff to feel confident in their ability to youth work.

Inspiring places

Canvas Teen Arts Center
Canvas Teen Arts Center
We met with the youth workers and a couple of teens to learn what they do at the Canvas.  The Canvas at Hancock Recreation Center provides a unique space where teens are encouraged to be creative through various forms of media, visual, and performance arts.  The non-traditional programming component is becoming more and more popular with teens and provides an inviting place to hang out and mess around.

San Fran
San Francisco
The IMLS Learning Labs Grantees convened May 29 - 31 in San Francisco.  We had an energizing and informative three days connecting with other projects, learning about evaluation, solidifying our goals, and hearing from the experts. 

We found our time with Ryan Hill, Director of Digital Learning Programs at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to be especially helpful to our project.  He gave practical advice from the physical space (make sure you have lockers!) to the planning process (develop your project teams as soon as possible).  The Hirschhorn Museum's Learning Lab is called ArtLab+.
art lab plus

What's next

The GLS (Games, Learning, Society) Conference has a commitment to reinvent learning both in and out of school through the promise of games and simulations.  We are attending this conference in Madison, WI June 13 - 15. 

We are getting ready to pilot several components of the learning lab.  From moving a teen collection to a more casual computer lab area in a branch library, to purchasing components for a mobile lab, we are making progress!  Stay tuned for more!

Meet with Us
Want to learn more?  We will be at Groundswell Coffee (1342 Thomas Ave - near Hamline, in St Paul) Thursday, June 21 from 8:30 - 10 a.m. for anyone to stop in and chat with us about the project.