Designing Connected Learning Services

Goals for this module:

  • Use backwards design to create connected learning services
  • Create a logic model to connect inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes
  • Run a participatory design session at your library

Connected learning directly supports library staff’s role as public servants. As described in Library Staff as Public Servants, in the role of public servant library staff:

  • Focus on community needs and assets rather than library interests or what they think communities need.
  • Focus on solutions and not problems by resisting the temptation to get stuck in challenges, instead consider how solutions can be co-created with the community to result in measurable outcomes.
  • Realize that equitable services go beyond access to physical materials and the library building.
  • Have flexible library policies and structures in place.
  • Let go of legacy programs and services by reflecting on the programs and services they should keep, what they should leave behind, and what should be added.

Framing each of the above ideas within the context of connected learning:

  • Focusing on community needs and assets over library interests requires building relationships with community stakeholders, including teens, and results in the ability to leverage those relationships to support teen interests and opportunities.
  • Looking at solutions over problems means that library staff have the chance to focus on outcomes - what needs to be achieved with the community - and through that focus determine what are the most effective methods to achieve them.
  • Valuing what truly equitable services look like requires library staff to connect with and support voices that are not regularly heard. As a result, youth and community stakeholders have new and expanded opportunities to build relationships, explore their interests, and connect to opportunities.
  • When libraries have flexible policies and structures, barriers that can exist to connected learning services - such as staffing models and on-desk requirements - enable library staff to connect with community stakeholders, including teens, at times and locations that reflect how the community works, not how the library works.
  • Moving away from how things have always been done to respond to the strengths and challenges of the local community enables library staff to build new relationships, explore changing and varied community interests - particularly with community members whose voices are not regularly heard - and investigate and build opportunities for and with teens.

This section of the ConnectedLib Toolkit builds off of the ideas of Library Staff as Public Servants and provides a framework for designing connected learning services with community stakeholders, including teens. It incorporates ideas found throughout this Toolkit including:

  • Knowing your desired outcomes and working to achieve those through connected learning services
  • Recognizing and leveraging your specific communities’ assets
  • Building and expanding community relationships
  • Using a participatory design process to develop services that are just right for the community you work with and for

As you design connected learning services you will gain a better understanding of your community, work towards valuable outcomes, and ultimately create impact for and with teens and the community at large.

Worksheet #1: Designing Connected Learning Services K-W-L

Before moving forward in the module, spend some time thinking about what you already know about designing connected learning services, and what you hope to learn from this module. The first worksheet in your Designing Connected Learning Services Workbook is a “KWL” — that stands for Know, Want to learn, and Learned.

Complete this worksheet by first describing your experience (if any) with thinking about or designing connected learning services. Then create a list of what you already know (the K in KWL) about designing connected learning services. In the second column, write down what you want (W) to learn in this module. You’ll fill out the last column, what you learned (L), when you have completed this module.

Worksheet #2: Assess Your Current Teen Services

How do your current teen offerings illustrate the principles of connected learning? If they don’t, what are some ways you could integrate them into your existing programs? If you want, you can focus on a single program, project, or initiative. If you are not currently working in a library, choose a library you are familiar with and learn about their youth programs.

  • Are services and programs aligned with teens’ goals, motivations and interests?
  • Do teens learn through relationships, with other teens as well as adults?
  • Is there an orientation towards academic, civic, or economic opportunities?
  • Do services and programs offer production centered learning through creation?
  • Does the library provide teens with guidance and a variety of resources to build pathways to success?
  • Is there sponsorship of teens’ interests, validating them through mentorship and other support?
  • Are you instilling a sense of shared purpose among teens or between teens and other community members?

The icon for this module is ‘Design’ by monkik from