SLS_TechRetreat_3From April 8-10, Questar III’s School Library System partnered with the other three school library systems in the area to offer a Technology Retreat for School Librarians. Held at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, the retreat brought 20 librarians together for a weekend of learning about technology.

Questar III’s Director of Model Schools Carolyn Strauch and Union Catalog Librarian Jane Bentley presented a half-day workshop teaching librarians how to use Ozobots – tiny robots – in school libraries. Librarians learned not only what Ozobots are, but what they do and how they can bring the concept of pre-coding, teamwork and creativity to the library through hands-on activities and challenges.

The robots are capable of recognizing codes and sensors from either a mobile device or an analog surface. The company has several games which create patterns that serve as paths for the bot to follow.

Strauch says this was a great collaboration between her department and the School Library System.


Strauch (L) and Bentley (R) at their workshop.

“I have been wanting to pilot Ozobots and their beautiful ability to teach pre-coding skills to younger students and special education students. These little robots are a great way to help students develop problem solving skills, collaborate with others and take the first step into the “if-then” and “how-to” mindset. They can help students realize that there are multiple ways to solve a problem.”

She says the librarians at the retreat loved working with the Ozobots and thought it was a great experience. She says they told her they felt more confident in their understanding of coding, and many found areas in the curricula where the Ozobots would fit.

Strauch believes the library is the hub of the school, and that librarians have a unique opportunity to reach students on a variety of levels – through books, technology or something like a MakerSpace, which gives students opportunities to create a wide range of things. She says staying current with technology will help keep librarians at the heart of the school be being a resource for students and even teachers to find new, creative ways to use technology.

She says by offering training on technology like Ozobots, librarians might just open doors for students that they didn’t even know were possible.

“Maybe by learning how to code, there may be a student that will decide that they would like to be the next app creator or coder. Maybe without that librarian keeping up with technology and showing them all that is possible, they would not have had the experience to show them their future.”

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