Today I’m excited to share a program that just wrapped up its second year at Madison Public Library. Camp Mad Media is a quick-and-dirty workshop series that introduces educators, including teachers and librarians, to different digital literacy tools and concepts, while also providing hands-on play time ideas that they can easily incorporate into their classrooms during the school year.

Camp Mad Media is a collaboration between Madison Public Library, We Think Big, Inc., and a number of community partners.

Camp Mad Media quick facts

  • Workshops take place in either the Media Lab or the Bubbler Room at Madison Public Library’s Central Library.
  • Attendees are capped for each workshop at 20; typical registration/attendance is anywhere from 10-20.
  • Workshop presenters are recruited from a variety of organizations, including Madison Public Library; game companies like Filament Games; Madison Metropolitan School District; the Department of Public Instruction; and more.
  • External (non-library staff) presenters were paid $100 honorariums for their workshops.
  • Topics for 2017 included:

Camp Mad Media attendees work with the Maker Kits at Madison Public Library.

Attendees try out stop-motion animation at Camp Mad Media 2016.

What the program looks like

The outline for each two-hour workshop is pretty straightforward: 

  • 15 minutes to mix and mingle; workshop presenters may have general questions to pose to the group during this time to get a sense of who’s in the room.
  • 90 minutes of instruction and hands-on “play” time; presenters are asked to keep the “demo” portion short and sweet, with lots of time built in for the attendees to experiment and play on their own.
  • 15 minutes at the end for ideas for classroom / curricular application.

Lessons learned

  • As for many libraries, programming over the summer is always a little tricky since our space tends to be in high demand. Figuring out dates and booking space early is key. In a large building, there is the constant challenge of keeping staff at all desks informed about the program so that they are knowledgeable when attendees call or walk in with questions. 
  • In year one, we learned that we really needed to emphasize HANDS-ON with the presenters so that they had tangible goals for educators to work toward and enough time for them to play! This year was very successful in that regard.
  • A minimum signup (at least 10 attendees in our case) was utilized to make sure that we knew there was enough interest in a topic to hold the workshop. Only one workshop did not make the minimum signup requirement (out of six workshops total) in 2017.
  • We wanted to make sure that teachers could get CEUs for participating in these workshops, so ensuring that each workshop aligned with continuing education standards was vital.

Ideas for hosting your own digital literacy camp

  • Partnerships are key for this program–We Think Big, Inc. is an organization whose mission is to promote professional development, creativity, skill-building, and collaboration among educators, businesses, and organizations, so they were a natural partner on Camp Mad Media. Is there a partner in your community or region that’s charged with something similar?
  • Barring a partner like WTB, ask your school district if they’d be willing to partner on this with you, or at least help you plan and promote it to their teachers and librarians–and they can help ensure that you’re not duplicating work they’re already doing. If you’re a school librarian and think this is a great idea, talk with your public library’s youth librarian or even another programming librarian (for example, I work in adult services, although I collaborate with the youth services department to advertise Camp Mad Media through them).
  • Where to find presenters? Your own library (or system/consortium) staff may be a good resource–put the word out that you’re looking for people to share know-how related to digital media tools and projects. Local colleges and universities may have more flexibility in the summer, too. 
  • We relied heavily on apps and web-based tools in our camp this year, so we did not have a need for any high-tech or expensive equipment. Attendees could bring in their own devices or work on library machines (and sometimes we had them double up–working together can be fun too!). And low-tech ideas like a Board Game Jam can still promote ideas like Game Theory without ANY electronic devices at all.
  • For more inspiration, I recommend taking a look at Brooklyn Public Library’s amazing TeacherLab program. 

I’m happy to answer questions about this program; shoot me an email at libraryasincubatorproject@gmail.com with ATTN Laura in the subject line, and thanks for reading! Do you offer similar professional development opportunities for educators at your library? We’d love to hear about it–weigh in in the comment section!

Pin It