Building Learning Communities Education Conference 2013 in Boston


Guest post by: Antra Vasiļevska, Koknese, Latvia

I also was one of the lucky librarians who participated in the International Young Librarians Academy (IYLA) in Latvia in 2012 and in this year I used the opportunity to apply for the Travel Fund Contest for Alumni of the IYLA. My application was approved and I went to Boston to the Building Learning Communities (BLC) Education Conference 2013.

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This picture was taken in BLC to show others how many smart people are in this room and how much new technologies we are using. And I am proud that I am somewhere in this picture.

It was an amazing opportunity to participate in such a significant conference as BLC and awesome chance to visit the United States, as I have never been there.

During three days, I heard great and inspiring speeches and presentations from the top professionals who are international leaders in education system and education technologies.

The conference was about improving teaching and learning – how new technologies are changing educational process in school, library, kindergarten, at home.  We were taught and shown how to use new technologies in education process. We can use phones, iPad, computers to make the learning process more interesting and creative for students. Children themselves know very well how to learn – we, adults, must just indicate the direction and even learn from them. A teacher or an adult is no longer a dictator, but a consultant.

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I with Alan November and Kristina Bilinskaite.

Alan November (BLC host) even said he doesn’t respect teachers who teach things that students can find in Google. And I absolutely agree with him. We as information professionals must teach those who don’t know how to find information and filter it in the Internet, how to use applications for discovering the world and make everyday life more interesting and easier. Technologies are under development, and they will not disappear anywhere, even if we deny it – so a good advantage is to use them.

The conference was focused on innovative practices others have used to work with children. And we were gathering and developing new ideas during the sessions.

The most interesting sessions were:

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Everyone there was friendly and they really like fun. I, Kristina and behind us is Tom Barrett.

Concluding, I’d like to highlight some speakers whose work is worth to look at and learn from:

Alan November

Darren Kuropatwa is one of my favourite speakers. I went to two sessions he held. One of them was about storytelling. I know I will use some of his ideas and advice when creating videos with kids in my library.

Tom Barrett seemed to be very interesting because he reminded us to ask questions like kids do. He encouraged us to look for the kid that is in every one of us – try to feel and think like kids and take an example from your own kids.

Amy Burvall: She teaches history in awesome ways – in the Youtube video below you can see how she is talking about it.

During this trip, I changed my thinking about learning and education systems, I got inspiration and motivation for my own work. By using my smartphone, I learned new skills and found out that inside of me there is a creative genius. I also improved my English skills. In a speed networking session, I learned how to introduce myself and my work in 5 minutes and met many interesting people and exchanged contact information. And, of course, I visited the Boston Public Library!

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Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, US.

As in my country the education system is still pretty old and I think for some time it will stay as it is, I can use all these things I learned in BLC for my little readers and students in my library and also with my own kids. I can build my own learning community around me!

Thanks IREX-Ukraine again for this great opportunity!

Also, Kristina Bilinskaite from Lithuania participated in this conference; here you may read her impressions about it!


Antra Vasiļesvka
Librarian at the Koknese Children’s Library
Member of the LAL New Professionals Section

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