Infotention

It’s worth noting – I’m fascinated by the work of Howard Rheingold.  If I could capture just a small portion of his capacity to work with tertiary students I would be thrilled.

I really liked his small posterous ‘mini-course’ on infotention – what a cool way to share information.  I need to explore more….

Howard explains:

Infotention is a word I came up with to describe a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills and computer-powered information filters. The inside and outside of infotention work best together with a third element ‹ sociality.

Watch  the video below – and learn how to manage your own ‘infotention’. Then visit Howard’s Mini-course on Infotention.

Thanks very much Howard for acknowledging that the need for librarians is greater than ever :-)

Our scissors are now digital

School of Information Studies

Week One in my new full-time job at Charles Sturt Uni, and I have discovered the challenges that a few years of change ‘in the cloud’ have wrought!   The ‘work’ challenges are being met thanks to the welcoming support from all my new colleagues. They are an amazing team, spread around the world, and in my online environment this is a wonderful extension of my already robust PLN.

However, as I settle into my preparation for working with students in courses online through Charles Sturt Uni, I also have to set up a whole swag of new equipment. Am I lucky?  You think about it…

What do you do when you have to prepare a new lot of equipment for your online interactions.  It should be easy – right?  It used to be dead easy – load up a few software applications, add a couple of browsers (maybe) and then you’re away.

Well, if you are really working in an online 21st century kind of way (I’m sure you know what I mean), you’d find that you  have to set aside loads of time, and would have to keep tinkering constantly for a week or two to re-establish your online tools, and favourite ways of managing your work productivley, collaboratively, creatively, and uber efficiently. I haven’t got the systems down pat yet – and am using this opportunity to review some things, so am keen to get some feedback if you have favourite tips and tricks that I’ve not listed.

I’ve been keeping a list as I chug along setting things up. I’ll remember more of them when I get back home from Wagga Wagga (loved seeing the kangaroos on campus!).  Interestingly I find that I do different setups on different computers depending on how I ‘bend’ that particular tool to my needs.  But without going into specifics, here’s what the list is looking like after one week…and I’m not finished yet.  I found it incredibly frustrating initially to have a browser window that did just that – browse!!  There are many tools/options, and some that I choose not to use, though I realise that they just might be amongst your favourites.  Of course, it’s also about tools that synchronise, or work in partnernship with my iPhone and iPad.

I wonder how I ever used to work without the additional speed and flexibility that these tools provide me.

I wonder how YOU manage, if you don’t have a similar looking list?

Here’s my running list of core tools  so far:

Can’t wait to see how the list ends up!  Tell me what I have missed too please  …

Rethinking Education

You will remember that video  that had us all agog back in 2007.  The Machine is Us?ing Us was a revelation for many.

Back in 2007 The Digital Ethnography working group at Kansas State University, led by Dr Michael Wesch in Cultural Anthropology, produced the video  in response to studies  on the impacts of digital technology on human interaction.

At the time the idea that online environments would be all pervasive was still novel, and pre-dated the rather solid expansion of environments like twitter and Facebook.  Now fast-forward a few years, and the newest video Rethinking Education from Michael Wesch presents ideas and discussion points about in relation to the future of higher education – and schools too!

Learning to Learn – a new start for 2011

Thanks to Dean Shareski for this timely video, especially for educators in the southern hemisphere!  Next week our schools in Australia will begin the new academic year – many with staff meetings, and professional activities to motivate, and in many cases to talk about technology. What a perfect video to include.

Instead of going the way of the textbook I would go the way of technology. It’s almost like I have to unteach everything they’ve been taught. And then  I don’t even feel we’ve reach the spot where we’ve done that. You have to de-program and then start all over again. If we started teaching this earlier, this would be so natural to them, that there wouldn’t be all those barriers. They would know how to communicate. They would know how to talk to each other. They would know how to learn. They would know how to co-operate and give feedback. But I find that they do not even know how to do that.

Crystal ball gazing 2011 for Heyjude

This time of year there are so many articles and comments with predictions for the year, so I am not going to add to the collection – well not in general terms anyway :-)

If I could crystal ball gaze what 2011 will bring in my own professional work and learning experiences, I’d be happy. Really I would.

A few challenges that are staring me in the face will require my undivided attention, starting with this blog, my online tools, and my daily organisation of networked discussions.

What should my focus be, as I transition into the working world of a university academic?

Here is a bit of crystal-gazing:~

  • Be sure not to allow my head, thoughts, ideas ricochet endlessly like balls in a pinball machine.  Put time limits on myself, and set realistic goals!
  • Tidy up my online places, repositories, tools and then undertake a review of what I do and how I do it.
  • Work out what I want to share, and why?
  • Work out how I want to share!
  • Commit to solid professional reading, and participate in professional exchange.
  • Communicate with and work with people in my PLN to add value to my own work, and to stretch my own ideas beyond my current capabilities.
  • Share whatever knowledge and experience I can  through workshops, seminars, presentations, school-based work etc so that we continue to grow in our knowledge connections.
  • Push back into my professional community through collaborating, writing and presenting.

Sounds easy really!

Not so … it all takes time and grunt.

Currently my head really does feel like a pinball machine, with too many thoughts,worries, ideas, and work requirements competing for my attention. I’ve just completed some research assistant work for a colleague in the School of Educational Leadership at ACU, which I’m dovetailing with some course revision (before my official start at CSU) for one of the courses I will be teaching. I’m heading off for a day-long Committee meeting related to the  ASLA XXII Biennial Conference 2011.  I’m hoping to find time to get my head into Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011, with Stephen Downes and George Seimens.  I’m looking at my list of articles that I have promised to write. I’m totting up the upcoming presentations that I’ve also committed to for 2011.  I’m checking out the courses I’ll be teaching – all new to me, and nothing like my work in schools. I’m groaning … and wondering what to attack next, and how to improve things. Don’t get me wrong – it’s exciting but it’s also mind-bogglingly different.

I KNOW there are plenty of people who achieve more than I can ever hope to manage – so at least I want to figure out how to help learning within my PLN.

But at the end of the day I’m a  creature of habit, and it takes self-imposed changes to keep that focus. Like Jenny, I’ve done some blog renovation – though this year I did not change the banner.  When I started this blog back in 2006, it looked and felt different! I added some social buttons – to streamline the ‘look’ somewhat. Imagine that – we didn’t have all these tools back in 2006!

So what will I use this blog for in 2011?

  • I think that I will continue to do information dissemination – though not in the way I did back in 2006. I regularly share information via Twitter, Facebook,  Diigo, Delicious, with other tools sneaking in at times too – something that wasn’t possible back in 2006. What this means is that  my blog focus is adapting from the original 2006 focus.
  • In addition to writing about things that grab my interest, I think that I will also communicate with ‘new’ education and library professionals – some who may be taking my courses, or who may just needing a helping hand into the networked learning world.
  • Perhaps I will reflect on what I find in my new role, and the broader issues from a perspective beyond schools.
  • I’m not a clever reporter, so I think I will leave that to others.

Have I forgotten anything?

I’m looking for really new ways of looking at all this.  Like the tiny apartment that transforms into 24 rooms – I want to find out how to be more efficient with my work world in 2011.

Free web stuff for your library

I couldn’t resist sharing this presentation from Sarah Houghton-Jan. You know – you really don’t have to have megabucks to squeeze the best out of interactive web spaces – just a co-operative and flexible IT manager!

Don’t be afraid ~ give me Google Apps

It was really fun to read Head in the Clouds from friend and ICT integrator Michael, who works in a large secondary school here in Sydney. I always enjoyed visitng Michael, and admired the sensible way that he adopts Web 2.0 and cloud computing in great ways to support the learning of the students at his school.

Michael says:

Over the past few days, it’s been very hard to contain my excitement over Google’s recent moves to add all the applications from standard Google accounts to Google Apps for Education. While the core suite of applications – Mail, Docs and Calendar – are extremely useful and have put my school on the Web 2.0 map, I’ve been so disappointed that other Google apps like Reader, Picasa and Blogger have been off-limits for so long.

Sure, students can create their own Google accounts, you say? Having worked with frustrated teachers and students who all-too-easily forget usernames and passwords, I’ve really come to appreciate the ability to control accounts as the school administrator and have kids quickly online and using the tools they need to get ahead.

Now when all of my students log in, they get immediate access to an incredibly powerful set of Web 2.0 applications without the need to enter a single name or additional password! Exploring these is going to take some time, but it’s great to know they’re there for anyone to use.

As a technology expert/administrator, Michael  see this the use of these Web 2.0 Google tools as providing a level playing field for all teachers and students.

I also use Google Apps to power my own learning and my work with my PLN (though not at school).  Just last evening the invincible Teacherman79, popped up in my Gtalk, to chat briefly about some stuff he is preparing for a College class he is teaching in Virtual WorldsJeff is a middle school gifted and talented teacher in Montana, and he just wanted someone to run a ‘critical friend’s’ eye over  a handout he was preparing to facilitate kids  choosing  their  OWN way of learning pathway.

You guessed it – he shared his Google Doc with me, and within minutes we were editing that document together ~ and enjoying working! Realtime collaboration is very powerful.

Just one tiny example from me!

In case you didn’t know, here are some of the most interesting features of the new version of Google documents:

  • Real time collaboration: See updates from other collaborators as they edit the document.
  • Higher-quality imports: More consistent imports from your desktop into Google Docs.
  • Chat with other collaborators: As you make your edits, you can chat with other document editors about the changes, from within the document.
  • Ruler: Google documents have a ruler for setting margins, indentations, and tab stops.

There is  so much that teachers and students can do using Google tools these days to collaborate within their classrooms, and beyond their classrooms.

Too easy!

Now, if only more technology experts/adminstrators would take the view that Michael does ~ adapting to  and adopting cloud computing ~  instead of locking down machines and networks to proprietory systems and software within a walled garden.

Learning in a changing world series is out!

It’s been rather slow in the making, but finally the new series commissioned by ALIA and ASLA is available to order from the ACER shop online.

The Learning in a Changing World series addresses how the process of learning is evolving – including the array of resources available in the digital age, changing curriculum, and the different teaching strategies needed in order to use new media and technologies.

The Learning in a Changing World series presents the core areas for teacher librarians and school leaders to consider for 21st century learning: the digital world, virtual worlds, curriculum integration, resourcing, and the physical environment. All are essential elements to enable and empower our students to be lifelong learners and active participants in our society.

I was lucky to work on the first two books in the series with my good friend Dean Groom.  Books like the two we worked on can never stay completely current – but then they are not ‘how to’ guides so much as ‘why you should’  and ‘why you can’ guides. There is enough thought provoking information for readers to leverage and  help innovation and change in their own schools.

Connect, Communicate, Collaborate

Our students are involved in an ‘architecture of participation’ – creating, adapting and sharing content. While for them this learning is a comfortable multimodal conversation, for us this change is revolutionary. Schools and school libraries have many challenges to address to create a renewal of pedagogy and technology work practices. As we begin to understand the importance of these seismic shifts, we come to the realisation that we are being challenged to un-learn and re-learn in order to grant students access to 21st century learning.

Connect, Communicate, Collaborate is written to provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get you started.

Many thanks go to  Michael Stephens for generously  contributing the Forward to this work.

Virtual Worlds

Each year there are more and more avatars in rich virtual environments. These immersive worlds – where the world within the screen becomes both the object and the site of interaction – are on the increase, matching the promise of technology with the creative minds of our students. Educators, keen to incorporate the evolving literacy and information needs of 21st century learners, will want to understand the opportunities provided by MUVEs, MMORPGs and 3D immersive worlds, so as to be able to create more interactive library, educational and cultural projects. The challenge is to accept that these interactive environments are here to stay and that schools can, and should, embrace learning in virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds will provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get you started.

Many thanks to Peggy Sheehy for generously contributing the Forward to this work.

Join us in the Second Classroom: Educators Learning in Virtual Worlds and share your virtual learning journey!

Others in the series

Other volumes in the series include Curriculum Integration , Resourcing for Curriculum Innovation, and Designing the Learning Environment.

Enjoy!

Hybrid synergy – the future of school libraries

The Resources Centre

School has been busy – and so have I. Not many blog posts – but nevertheless  I’ve been busy mulling over the future of school libraries and how they should best be integrated into the education setting that we call “schools”.

Those of us who have been in ‘schools’ for many years remember when schools had no libraries!  Now it seems that some forward thinking people prefer to return to elements of schooling that were regarded as outmoded.  Get rid of libraries? Forget the role of libraries and teacher librarians? We don’t try and go backwards in other areas of education – so what’s the deal with this myopic view?

I have been busy watching the twitter stream #iwbnet10 where three of my colleagues are listening to some of Australia’s brightest talk about schools, schooling and the digital revolution at the Seventh National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference.

By all accounts the conference has been brim full of ideas. But what strikes me about this and other conferences, such as ISTE2010 (that I very much enjoyed in Denver earlier this year) is the decided lack of discussion of what I see as an urgent need for a ‘new’ hybrid synergy between learning and libraries.  According to Designing for the Future of Learning

the school library remains one of them most symbolic, protected, and expensive ’spaces’ on any campus. But will future designers of school libraries be recreating sacred book spaces of the past or will technology and the ‘consumer’ inspire new design strategies for the future? For many, the library is the literal information bridge to the future.

It is very discouraging indeed to have conference attendees excited by one-eyed presentations of future learning needs.  Focussing on the digital revolution and ignoring the pivotal role that a good school library can play is to achieve only a percentage of what is possible – regardless of how good it seems , it’s just not good enough!

When I focus on my role as a teacher librarian, I ask myself a few leading questions:

Should we be immersed in new media and technology in our hyperlinked library?  Definitely.

Should we be working tirelessly to identify what is needed to think in ‘future tense’ and embrace the challenge of keeping ahead?  Most certainly.

Should we be leading the  conversation about social networking and digital identities? And how!

Should we be discussing the assessment problem in these media environments?  But of course!

I have the joy (and tears) of managing a school library that is open each week day from 8 am – 10 pm.

It’s a central hub for collaboration, technology, reading and writing.  It’s a place for change and about change. But with all that, it still has a long way to go  to achieve a hybrid synergy in our school. No different from most – we are evolving and responding to change!

This is important because  in an era of fast facts and short cuts kids have to become VERY literate in multimodal forms.

There are NO short cuts to literacy, and there is no replacement for the love of reading! No amount of gaming, movie making, sport, social networking etc can replace the cognitive gains to be made by allowing our students to become deep readers and deep researchers.  Technology has so much to offer in this thirst for deep knowledge and engagement with the ebook [r]evolution! However, technology is not a replacement for reading, researching, and the value that school libraries and school librarians can bring to our multimodal digital century.

Can you read this?

So while you get excited about technology rich schools, and while you focus on immersive and multimodal technology, don’t forget to focus on reading, literacy, information fluency and deep understanding.  What we need is a hybrid synergy between teaching, learning, technology, pedagogy, and the services of a school library/information services centre of learning and innovation.

Everything is a matter of degree. We do need to redesign our learning environments to address, leverage and harness the new media technology environment of our schools. We need to start redesigning our school libraries and the work of teacher librarians for these learning environments. We need to adopt learner centred e-teaching. We need to share, co-operate and collaborate because we now have an information ecology that can be open, self-managed, fostered and conducive to knowledge flow between content and connections.

As Michael Wesch explains,

Students need to move from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able

Please look for ways to create a hybrid synergy in your school or academic institution. In terms of modern information and media skills, our practice demonstrates small, uneven pockets of best practice. We have no textbook for what 21st-century school library practice looks like.

Today I found a school that has grasped the need for hybrid synergy!  Not only do they have a school library that is the centre of learning and innovation – they will have in 2011 the perfect vehicle for synergy in 21st century learning by formalising the lead structures within their school.

Check out St Ignatius College, Riverview here in Sydney. They have realigned their library services to create a new hybrid synergy under the direction of the  Head of Digital Learning and Information Services, supported by several  Digital Learning Facilitators who will teach a subject, work with a faculty, as well as support students reading, learning, and research needs in the library.  Of course, with such a commitment to empowering student learning, there are other important roles such as a Library Manager, and library and media technicians.

Oh, but we can’t afford that at our school!

Maybe not – but you cannot afford to do without a library, nor can you afford not to adopt a hybrid synergy that will allow your teacher librarian to take charge of the digital revolution -  that is in danger of disenfranchising our students.

Let your students become ‘knowledge-able’ through literacy, reading and information fluency driven by teacher librarian experts embedded in your multimodal learning environments.