Parallel information universe

Quite a few things today reminded me of the parallel information universe that I live in. This morning a wonderful meeting with mothers at the school – to introduce myself, my new staff and our new vision for learning 21st century style. We talked a little about the MySpace/MSN world of our boys, and how best to deal with pull of technology – sometimes in the wrong direction.

A good question was about plagiarism – what can a mother do to help her son who is cutting and pasting information for an assignment, and playing with fonts, keywords and more to ‘hide’ this capture. My response is always the same – pick your opportunity! The key thing to remember in mentoring our children is to focus on knowledge creation, the discussion of ideas, the veracity of information, and the value of what is being read in helping to understand the topic under study. This means that a parent can ‘let go’ of the process so often promoted, which I suggest is wrong. I’m sure you have heard this said many times…..”put it into your own words” …..which of course is actually a highly complex action.

Much better to let that go. If a task/assessment has been set that really is about making a student learn some facts – then so be it. No different to giving dictation, or asking a student to copy notes from the board. The thing to do is to engage a student reflecting about the value of the material they are ‘copying’. Once a student begins to question, weigh up, challenge, consider and reconsider information and knowledge – then the matter of plagiarism is half way to being solved.

Some of the mums expressed a keen interest in learning more about the online world – safety, online tools, research and more. I have offered to run sessions, course or whatever parents would like to help them in their own understanding about the possibilities of 21st century learning online. By the way, through it all, I emphasized that literacy and reading (in all forms) must underpin the work of myself and the team in the Resource Centre at Joeys.

That was one parallel universe within my daily work at school!

The next parallel universe was revealed late in the afternoon in the foyer of a hotel in Brisbane. A group of us met with Will Richardson to begin to prepare for the Why 2 of Web 2.0 seminar tomorrow (join the ning to take part in the conversation).

Lots of fun discussion about places, people, and events related to leading in a Web 2.0 world. And there it was – the division. School libraries, or libraries in general and teachers and education in general. This is a particular pet hate of mine. We should all be on the same page – or at least on one of the pages in the same volume :-) It’s rather like my blogroll – many of the people in one group know nothing of the research, publication, blogs or other initiatives of people in the other group.

A good example? Well I suggest that in Australia schools we all need to know of the work of Will Richardson (education) and Ross Todd (library). Both are world leaders in education. I know that you can think of equally good examples!

In schools there can be no excuse for this. My role is to operate effectively and efficiently as a teacher, a leader of e-learning, Web 2.0 online learning, and teacher librarian. Stop and take a look at your professional practice – and add a bit of knowledge from your teacher or librarian friends – then branch out from your own zone of comfort into other sectors or disciplines. Go on. It’s very worthwhile.

What got me started on this idea of this parallel information universe was prompted by an excellent article with the same title by Mike Eisenberg, which has the by-line “What’s out there and what it means for libraries”.

In a way that’s part of my topic at the seminar tomorrow. But the article itself is an excellent look at Web 2.0 tools, providing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a host of tools. This article is a great discussion starter for you.

Journal articles like this remind me of the intensity of change needed – so that parents, teachers, and teacher librarians can actually understand the world of learning as it is becoming, and work together rather than in parallel in forming global blended learning environments.

This is much more than co-operative program planning and teaching by teacher librarians. This is much more than teachers asking the teacher librarians for help and guidance.

What it IS about is creating strong personal professional learning networks that draw information and expertise across sectors, disciplines, and fields of creativity – where Will and Ross know [of] each other, blend their knowledge and research, and can then inspire we teachers and teacher librarians to newer heights :-)

Time to think out of the square everyone, and stop living in parallel universes.

Photos: 3D cubist kites, 無敵大合照啊

3 thoughts on “Parallel information universe

  1. Mmmmm. I’m not so sure the worlds of teachers and teacher librarians are always so divided. A good example of how interrelated the two areas are would be “Scan”, the NSW DET professional journal, in which a considerable number of articles over the last decade have been jointly written by teachers and teacher librarians.

    Similarly, there are some teachers reluctant to dive into Web 2.0 (and never pursue personal projects utilising web resources) just as some teacher librarians are reluctant to dive into Web 2.0 (and also never pursue personal projects utilizing web resources).

  2. Julie, I love the way you have put this! Thank you for your input on this and thanks for the quotable quote “it’s not extra work; it is our work”. This is the shift that we are trying to foster, and a change in mindset that is actually incredibly exciting. But yes, I know, we have to work hard to support people to make the change – but like it is in any good teaching – when the lights turn on the hard work has all been worthwhile.

  3. Great post! Very true. I find getting others to think outside the square is easier said than done. One of the most annoying aspects of change is the reluctance of teachers to see such things as a normal part of their jobs. It is important for them to explore new technologies on their own, keep up-to-date with what’s happening in education and forge links with others in the field. I see such knowledge and skill as essential not optional extras for the tech geeks.

    It’s not extra work; it is our work!

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