Fall 2016 Course Offerings — Highlights in Youth Services

iStudent Blog

Published: March 9, 2016

When the iSchool course schedules come out, I feel like a gypsy looking into a crystal ball—tell me, oh spirits of the future what my next semester will look like!  The course schedule for the fall 2016 semester is out and it’s got some great classes to offer in both Regular and Special sessions in a variety of focuses. 

Enrollment appointments for Regular Session begin May 31, and you can check out how exactly to view those appointments here. MARA and Special Session enrollment starts June 7.  Both of these sessions’ enrollments end August 21, 2016.
I’ll be highlighting a couple of classes that focus on the Youth Services Career Pathway in this post and then follow up next week with a post on some courses in Digital Curation and Information Technology.  For more details on courses, including deadlines and the latest news about the iSchool curriculum, check out Dr. Main’s Curriculum Center blog. For more about the enrollment process, be sure to check out the Enrollment page on the School of Information’s website.

Apps for the Future: Scratch
Dr. Debbie Weissmann is passionate about the subject of computer literacy, and in an effert to make coding accessible to all, she’s bringing a new 2-unit course in Scratch to the iSchool in the fall.  Scratch? You may ask.  Like mosquito bites and poison ivy?  No, Scratch—the amazingly easy to use programming app created by education and tech geniuses at MIT.  With Scratch, both kids and adults can learn basic coding in a straightforward animated form, use simple and advanced graphics, and share with their friends in as part of a safe and nurturing community.

Both the next generation and current adult learners need basic coding knowledge to succeed.  “We are becoming a computational society as our lives are becoming organized by and around technology; and coding will the singular most important skill for advancement in a computational society,” says Weissmann

Scratch provides an easy to grasp coding platform for students to learn on, even for those who don’t intuitively process information mathematically or computationally.  Dr. Weissmann’s approach is to explore basic coding principles through stories rather than logic sequences. 

The Info 287 Seminar in Information Science class, focuses on Scratch because the platform offers a simplified coding experience in that the coding syntax is built into its coding blocks (no brackets or indentations needed).  It was designed with kids in mind to be fun and easy, and unlike some other apps for kids, it’s online (no downloading necessary) it’s easy for librarians to learn right along with their patrons, and best of all—it’s free! 

As students learn and become familiar with Scratch, then when they are librarians they will be able to guide patrons young and old through the basics of computer programming. Scratch fits well into a K-12 education curriculum, Weissmann emphasizes, supplementing math and logic curriculums and teaching computer programming.  “In this way, libraries gain relevance as a resource for beginning coders.”  After all, aren’t we all striving to prove unequivocal evidence of the relevance of libraries in the 21st century? 

If it turns out that you’re a genius at Scratch and you’d like to try more advanced programming, then you might want to try Steve Perry’s Info 246 1-unit Fundamentals of Programming class offered this summer or Raymond Dean’s Info 240 Information Technology Tools and Applications which is being offered in the summer and both Regular and Special sessions of the fall 2016 semester.

Skills from the past: Storytelling
Another great iSchool class for those who want to focus on Youth Services is being offered for the fall 2016 semester— Info 281 Seminar in Contemporary Issues: Storytelling.  This class is based on centuries-old traditions of oral storytelling that can be used in today’s story times, enhancing the experience for all ages and bringing a rich culture to library programming.  Instructor Beth Wrenn-Estes’ popular class gives students the chance to learn about storytelling techniques and traditions and create their own storytelling videos. 

SJSU iSchool Alumna Elena Rivera '14, performing 'How Bees Got Their Sting.' Elena works as a Children's Librarian in the Brooklyn Public Library System.

Students research stories and choose the ones they want to tell, building their own unique style and niche as they go, and learning how to articulate their choice of specialization.  “I have had both school and public librarians take the class,” says Wrenn-Estes, “and each has brought their own particular environment to how they develop and choose stories to tell.”

SJSU iSchool Alumna Elena Rivera ‘14 (pictured here) performing ‘How Bees Got Their Sting.’  Elena now works as a Children’s Librarian in the Brooklyn Public Library System.

If you think storytelling sounds intimidating and scary, not to worry.  Wrenn-Estes is an encouraging instructor, ready to bring out the storyteller in everyone.  “I am a firm believer that everyone has a storyteller inside of them,” says Wrenn-Estes, “and this class encourages that storytelling to come out. I enjoy seeing students come into class with doubts about how they will do, and after the first story they tell to the class they eagerly look forward to their second performance.”

If variety is the spice of life, then the iSchool is rich in flavor—featuring classes that range from the latest educational programming apps like Scratch to the ancient global tradition of storytelling.  Pick your class and spice up your fall schedule of courses.

For further reading, check out:
Community Profile: Sylvia Aguinaga Brings Digital Media to the Masses

Want Funds for Your Education? Flex Your Grad School Skills and Apply for a Scholarship

Info 285 Research Methods– A Required Course with a Wealth of Opportunities

image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS


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