Image: Japanese Tea Ceremony, Copied by Kanō Osanobu and Kanō Masanobu, Poetry Competition of Artisans, Vol. 2, 1846, [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Patti Doud has always loved to read, but as she explains, she “always gravitated to the same type of books”. When the account representative specializing in non-contracted claims collection at a DaVita dialysis center outside of Philadelphia heard that her workplace was going to offer a different sort of reading experience, she was intrigued. “I was eager to open up my reading to new topics and types of books,” Patti recalled.
She was not disappointed. Over the course of the five month program, Patti and her fellow Books@Work participants met with five professors from five different academic institutions, representing four different disciplines. Together, the group read five different books, only one of which (The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls) was in Patti’s self-described “comfort zone.” The reading list included the graphic novel, Persepolis; Primo Levi’s modern classic, The Periodic Table; the non-fiction examination of the brain, Incognito; and the classic Greek tragedies, The Bacchae and Madea.
For Patti, the highlight of the program was the opportunity to work with professors who brought different perspectives to the texts they taught. Patti initially expected “a mini college experience” in which professors lectured on topics. What she found was entirely different, though. “The teachers were so open and encouraging of discussions,” Patti recalled. “We got to know the professors, to some degree, on a personal level. We learned about their passion for the books each of them chose.”
To certify her learning, Patti completed the requirements for a digital badge, part of Mozilla’s Open Badge system. In short essays that corresponded to the elements of Bloom’s taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation), Patti reflected on both the readings themselves, in isolation and in relation to one another, and her learning experience. In her essays, Patti explained that some books were harder to engage than others, but that all offered unexpected insights – from Incognito’s exploration of the science of amnesia to the enduring power of the themes in Greek tragedies for the present day.
The experience of the learning itself, along with the opportunity to reflect on that learning through the digital badge program was extraordinary for Patti. It not only exposed her to new books, created lasting relationships with colleagues and gave her access to professors with whom she otherwise wouldn’t have interacted; Books@Work changed the way that Patti reads. As Patti puts it, “I have also now wandered away from ‘my normal section’ of the book store and have purchased and read books which I would not have otherwise even taken off of the shelf.”
Patti, thanks for all your hard work and thoughtful reflections. Congratulations on earning the Books@Work digital badge! We hope that you’ll continue your learning in the future, both within and outside Books@Work seminars.