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Using a Watch Party to Spur Discussions on Race and Other Topics: Another Opportunity to Communicate with Students

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This post is by Lee Ann Potter, the Director of the Learning and Innovation Office at the Library of Congress.

Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden

Earlier this summer, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch participated in a conversation titled “Cultural Institutions at Times of Social Unrest.”  The conversation was recorded and is available online from the Library.

A few days later, thanks to the excellent suggestion of a colleague, the Learning and Innovation Office—the people responsible for this blog—participated in a watch party.  During our lunchtime gathering, we first connected with each other on a webinar platform, muted ourselves, and turned off our video cameras.  Next, each of us began watching and listening to the recording of the Hayden/Bunch conversation in a separate window of our web browser.

As the conversation between the two cultural institution leaders progressed, so did ours as we typed in the chat box.

We reacted to what we heard. We posed questions of each other. We shared experiences.  We brainstormed ideas. We were engaged in a thoughtful discussion without saying a word.

As teachers continue to consider and practice approaches to online learning with students, and as professional development opportunities continue to take place in virtual spaces, we suspect many of you have or will have experiences with virtual watch parties along these lines.

We hope that program recordings from the Library—conversations with authors, topical discussions with scholars, research seminars, readings from poets laureate as well as other poets and prose writers, concerts, and more—might provide you, your students, and colleagues with many watch-worthy opportunities.  If you have used Library recordings in this way, we would love to hear about your experiences!

This strategy might work well with this year’s National Book festival recordings—for a complete list of the featured authors explore the list on the National Book Festival website.

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