Educators as content curators


Just this weekend I’ve finished writing a lead article for my SLANZA friends in NZ for their Collected Magazine. School librarians everywhere are interested in the same things, so I was pleasee to be able to contribute to an issue focused on Content Curation.

This is such a topical area of relevance to teachers and school librarians alike. What is critical for us, however, is that we cast our ‘information literacy’ lens over the whole activity of ‘curation’.

There is a great deal of  rich content available for students and teachers that is collaboratively built and shared, including blogs, wikis, images, videos, places, events, music, books and more. Searching for content requires wise information literacy strategies and tools (embedded in the curriculum learning processes) to avoid being lost in the information labyrinth. Content curation is also  about  organizing, filtering and “making sense of” information on the web and sharing the very best pieces of content that has been selected for a specific purpose or need. It comes down to organizing your sources, knowing which of them are  trust worthy, and seeing patterns. So for teachers and librarians it comes down to  keeping up the pace in adopting these strategies and using tools to publish curated content in the sense of ‘reporting’ what is happening or what is relevant and new on a topic of research or interest.

Right on time to match the thinking time were  two very different but interesting items which arrived in my Facebook and RSS feeds. You’ll want to visit both!

There’s a great set three sketchs about Curators and the Curated from the FueledbyCoffee blog, as a result of a recent conference. So many ideas juxtaposed in the sketches.

There’s also a different but interesting set of ideas presented in this slideshare presentation about Re-Envisioning Pedagogy:Educators as Curators.

Clearly content curation is a topical issue!

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Claudio.Ar

Learning without frontiers – social media and beyond

I am really enjoying participating in the ASLA National Conference in Sydney. We have had the most amazing presentations and workshops, which together show the way forward for teacher librarians keen to participate in 21st century learning and library services.

The keynote presentations will be available as a video as well as slideshare presentations, and I will post about these when they have been completed.

Today I started the day off for the crowd with some ideas and provocative thoughts to set the scene for the second full day at the conference. I really want school librarians to embrace social media, and become  builders of knowledge in new media environments by drawing on their passion and their love of culture and learning.

Ultimately we should be Learning without Frontiers!

It isn’t about learning how to use a particular digital tool.
It isn’t about social media.
It isn’t about new media, augmented reality, immersive story-telling.
It is about our ability to understand when and how we move across the everexpanding
meta-literacy environments.

Leaders can make magic happen too

Often we focus on what it is that students can bring to learning, but we shouldn’t forget the leaders in our schools and their responsibility in helping change the teaching culture to remain strong and resilient in the face of technology and 21st century participative environments. Each step on that journey is different for each teacher and each school. What is important to me is that there IS a journey, and that the champions of innovation and change are at last acknowledged for their passion rather than than being dismissed as geeky. Good teaching these days HAS to be about good use of technology in seamless ways.

We use technology to think and learn.  We don’t use technology because it’s a cool tech tool, and because our syllabus says we need a certain percentage of technology in the curriculum.

We have moved on from teaching teachers how to use technology to nurturing teachers how to think with and because of technology. When technology is finally recognized as the foundation for learning our job as technology educators will be done.

My conversations with staff at Tara Anglican School were about that, and the presentation provided an overview, and was designed to kick off the workshop discussions about new learning needs. The supporting material used in the workshops provided them with the chance to explore in grade and faculty groups, and enjoy the process.  As I said – change IS as good as a holiday!

By starting at the very beginning the presentation allowed all teachers to ‘buy into’ the conversation.  But the champions were there, and later in the day at the roundup session were able to showcase their already rich understanding of flexibility in 1:1 learning environments. Those teachers are ready for everything that 1:1 learning will bring.

The 21st century beckons and thanks to the support of Principal Susan Middlebrook, Tara teachers are championed for being flexible and innovative – just as soon as they dare.

Paint your own horizons


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Werner Kunz

What will you do in your school library this year?

While we are always looking for opportunities to encourage growth and development in our school library services, and new ways to promote what we do, there are some ‘tried and trustworthy’ options for advocacy and promotion that should not be missed. The Horizon Report 2011 K-12 edition  points out how important it is for school library professionals  to keep technology in the forefront of our thinking.  The National Australian Library Associations ALIA and ASLA have provided a site to help us tell our community What a Difference a School Library Makes.

I really want to share with you Buffy Hamilton’s Annual Report.  She shows us three key things:

  • what you can and should be aiming for in your school library each year (even if you start small)
  • strategies for promotion beyond the school through media promotion
  • how to ‘package’ a professional annual report (even if you start small)

Congratulation to the Creekview High School library  team for another great year. Thanks for the inspiration :-)

Essential tools: Using Easy Bib

Stacey Taylor,  Information Services Manager, at Monte Sant’Angelo Mercy College, writes this  guest post to share her experiences in promoting quality referencing at her school.  In this post she explains her application of  EasyBib in her International Baccalaureate secondary girls school in Sydney.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Kirstea

Using Easybib – a rationale for choosing a referencing tool

Our school recently changed our school-wide referencing tool.

We have had a school wide referencing system in place for the past 6 or 7 years, we like many other Australian schools were a “Harvard referencing” school and we used a program called citation which was loaded on all the schools computers.

Our change to Easybib came about because of a culmination of many factors;

  • Firstly we became a 1:1 Mac school and our citation program wouldn’t work on a Mac
  • Most of our online databases only provide citations in APA, MLA and Chicago/Turabian
  • We were undertaking IB Diploma Extended Essays and IB MYP Personal Projects, both of which demand a high standard of referencing

We shopped around for a few online referencing tools, looking at BibMe, Noodle Tools and EasyBib. We decided on Easybib and although it is a free product we opted to pay a small fee so that we could get APA referencing as an option for our students, which is similar to our previous Harvard system.

EasyBib is web based and requires a coupon code for students to get the APA option.

We explicitly teach students from Year 7-12  how to use EasyBib to create bibliographies and to create “parentheticals” to use for intext references. We have a universal system across the school in an attempt to standardise and improve the schools overall performance in referencing. In some IB tasks referencing and bibliographies are given marks. As these assessments are marked externally there is  a need to get this aspect of the assessment right. Students are given instruction both face to face and via a Jing movie that they can access anytime they need to via Moodle.  Teachers are also familarised with the tool via a Jing movie.

Some teachers have not actively practiced creating bibliographies since their own university days.

EasyBib have provided a great trouble shooting service and using Easybib has been simple.

Shortly after our school wide introduction SLAV developed a citation tool that did cater to Harvard referencing, however we where already committed. The flexibility of using a web based system allows flexibility for students using a variety of computers. We have now been using EasyBib for more than a year and are happy with it’s selection.

Our students referencing is improving because of a school wide push to improve.

Read more from Stacey at Librarians are Go.