The Librarian has left the building

I woke this morning to a grey sky, and many pieces of writing about teacher librarianship that my students have submitted as their first dip into a new profession. The grey sky seems to symbolise the mental consternation that is expressed by those entering the profession, and by those responding to the extraordinary changes and cutbacks discussed by  Buffy Hamilton and others at her post Do I Really have to Leave the Role of School Librarian to Work as a School Librarian?

Carolyn Foote and Judy O'Connell

I’m just recently back in Australia, after a number of visits in the USA related to libraries now and in the future. I was fortunate to attend the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington (CIL2012 – do access some of the presentations), and during the three days of the conference was delighted to spend time with Buffy Hamilton, Carolyn Foote, Sarah Ludwig, Polly Farrington and others involved in services to school libraries. I was struck by the extraordinary passion, the outstanding work happening every day  – and by common complications (in some schools) caused by the ignorance and lack of vision demonstrated by school leaders when it comes to libraries.

The reality is that teacher librarians  can be the best person to have in your school – but only if they have actually learnt how to fill that role well, and have understood and assimilated the principles of embedded librarianship.That’s what undertaking a Masters degree in Teacher Librarianship is all about! It’s an energising and complex profession that you just can’t learn on the job.

As Buffy rightly argues, we do not need to leave the role of librarian to become a better librarian.  What I sincerely believe is that we need school librarians to be recognised for their significant and vital role in the life of a school, and we need for their position to be better staffed and better supported within the school.

The School Library Journal allowed a provocative piece to inadvertantly lead a discussion that is vital to school library futures.  Linda W. Braun interviewed Sarah Ludwig, whose session I enjoyed at CIL2012,  and in showcasing how Sarah Ludwig left the library, became a tech coordinator, and forged a path to the future implied that perhaps this was a good thing.  It was not!

I believe that Next Year’s Model (term used by the school library journal)  is not the school librarian escapee – any more than the classroom escapee was ever the right person to be a school librarian!

I loved Sarah’s presentation at CIL2012, because she was engaging and clearly enjoys working hard to make a difference.  She is achieving some of what is possible as a teacher librarian.

Sarah Ludwig at CIL2012

So it was  nice – it was not innovative! The model adopted by her school was nice – it was not innovative. I’m guessing that Lorri Carroll
Director of Technology and Information Services Hamden Hall Country Day School is in fact not a qualified teacher librarian, though she certainly recongises what it is that makes Sarah’s work relevant to her school. The fact that Sarah said in the interview piece, and at the conference,  now it’s easier to get people to trust my opinion on technology, which enables me to do more than I could as a librarian is a reflection of the challenges in the teacher librarian profession.

It’s so important to look past technology, and to stay with the model that Buffy and other leading teacher librarians espouse in their work  (under circumstances that almost few Australian teacher librarians need to contend with) and to continue to shape a responce to change in the profession. This theme is not unique to school libraries – it is the same tune throughout the LIS sector.

We have had  better solutions taking shape in many Australian schools. In Hybrid Synergy – the Future of School Libraries you can read about a model that would suit Lorri and Sarah to a tee! 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 (who IS a teacher librarian), supported by several  Digital Learning Facilitators who teach a subject as a classroom teacher, work with a faculty, and also 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.

In other words – poor school, rich school, country or city school – we need a great teacher librarian at the helm to lead learning and innovation with and beyond technology!

Good luck to any teacher librarian of quality who becomes a curriculum leader, technology leader, Principal, or who takes on any number of other significant roles in the education sector.  Education is all the richer for it – but don’t leave for the wrong reasons!

Has the librarian left the building?

Ask yourself ~ Who is better off now? What stupid cutbacks by senior administrators has resulted in a move that will impact future generations of kids?  What is it that needs to change in our understanding of Teacher Librarianship so that we can make more of a difference? In times of economic constraint, why are school libraries under threat?  Are teacher librarians committed to keeping up-to-date? What do we need to change to improve?

The time for libraries is now!  .

Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

Australian libraries in action – digitisation of content

Australian libraries are embracing the opportunities that 21st century innovations have made possible. Technology has become the means for libraries in all sectors – public, academic, corporate, specialist, schools – to reach out to their community in ways that are innovative, unexpected, and information rich.

These libraries realise that they have a vital role to play in today’s interactive knowledge environment, where asking a question is synonymous with ‘googling’, and where ‘catching up with the news’ can happen in many formats via small and big devices. Print is no longer king, and content is everywhere on screens of many different sizes. By re-imagining and re-branding their spaces, functions and services, Australian libraries are meeting the new challenges.

Libraries in the community

Libraries throughout Australia have been offering access to books, magazines, tapes, DVDs, newspapers, audio books, and more for information and leisure for a long time. But with the increasing flexibility for information sharing that the internet provides, digital media has become a cornerstone of connected 21st century libraries, changing the way they interact with the community, and providing new ways to record history, society and culture.

Our libraries are ‘shape-shifting’ before our very eyes, bringing with them exciting spaces to visit (outfitted with anything from coffee-shops to e-book readers) and providing virtual opening hours around the clock.

Content for all

Colourbox / Used by Permission So what is this all about? The global popularity of the Internet and the ready access to information via web searches has led people to expect access to almost any kind of cultural material via a web browser. This is where digital content from libraries begins to really count. Starting from the top, the National Library of Australia is leading the way, ensuring that Australians have access to their documentary heritage now and in the future. A virtual visit to discover Australia’s Digital Collections is very worthwhile providing a surprising range of variety with Trove, Picture Australia, Music Australia, Australia Dancing and Australian Newspapers.

Of course we also have Australia’s web archive, PANDORA , which is a growing collection of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and now built in collaboration with nine other Australian libraries and cultural collecting organisations. The name, PANDORA, is an acronym for Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia – showing perfectly how important digitisation of content has become for modern Australian libraries. Another great example is the National film and sound archive, which is also a recognised leader in digitising and preserving our history and culture.

Furthermore, Australian libraries are active in international digital projects such as The Commons on Flickr. Whether it is here, or in various places like Trove’s Australian Newspapers, the magic happens when the community becomes involved. People can not only find, share, research or enjoy resources, but can also contribute to the growing digitised collection of cultural heritage. Do you recognise a person or location in an image? Can you interpret the text? Then go ahead, and participate!

Sharing for all

It is easy to see that the modern library continues to be at the heart of a community because of digitisation.

In addition to providing e-books, digital collections and online resources, libraries are helping keep memories alive. Personal collections and community history projects are all part of digitisation projects around the nation. Libraries are also helping make available images and resources held in government departments, historical societies, museums, galleries, and by individuals. By digitizing them and expanding the collections with resources that have been born digital (originating in digital form) libraries are at the centre of the action.

Colourbox / Used by Permission Our digital memories make our heritage, and our libraries are also helping us care for our personal memories and materials – some of which will eventually be shared as part of our cultural heritage. The services of libraries span from scientific data and born-digital ephemera to video games and web archiving. Whether it’s with help of a Starter Kit for Community Groups or with the help of large organisations like the ABC (which also encompasses archives, libraries and rights managements) digital and digitised content is here to stay.

Making it mobile

Library services are also getting mobile in many unexpected ways. Don’t just think of Twitter, Facebook or Google+ as spaces for teens! Libraries want to capture digital ideas and communicate them quickly.
Colourbox / Used by Permission Libraries are using social media to pass the message around, and make access to resources relevant and up-to-date. After all, access to the photos from events (via Facebook) or receiving a message about what’s on (via Twitter) are all part of the new social media scene. And of course, many libraries make it possible to get great digital e-audio and e-book content for our mobile devices using services like Overdrive and Wheeler’s books.

QR codes are also proving to be a quick digital access point (in libraries and exhibitions) to media of all kinds, and Apps are providing immediate access to digital content anytime, anywhere without needing a computer.

Australian libraries have a bright future in the digital world. Libraries have always been here to help us understand our world and build our communities. Now, they are just doing it better than ever.

This article was commissioned by the Goethe-Institute and first appeared on  as part of Germany-Australia focus on libraries. This article appeared at the following link

Top image: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by DRs Kulturarvsprojekt

Horizon Report 2012 – Higher Education

Trend-spotting is an interesting passtime, much loved by the media and futurists alike. However, there are some publications that provide an annual review of global developments that make essential reading.

The internationally recognized NMC Horizon Reports is one of these publications. These series of reports identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education around the globe. To create each report, an international body of experts in education, technology, and other fields is convened as an advisory board to work on a  set of research questions intended to surface
significant trends and challenges and to identify a wide array of potential technologies for the report.

Each of the three global editions of the NMC Horizon Report — higher education, primary and secondary education, and museum education — highlight six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use with their focus sectors within three adoption horizons over the next five years.

(I am very lucky to have been an advisory board member of the K-12 Edition since its inception – and am currently immersed in the 2012 edition discussions at the moment).

The  2012 Higher Education Edition has recenlty been published, and is available  here.  It makes very interesting reading for me as I work with a new cohort of postgraduate students and see how well student capabilities align with the changing landscape of learning.

Key trends:

  1. People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  2. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
  3. The world of work is increasingly collaborative, driving changes in the way student projects are structured.
  4. The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as
  5. Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models.
  6. There is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based and active learning.

The areas of emerging technology to watch :

Time to adoption: One Year or Less

  • Mobile Apps
  • Tablet Computing

Time to adoption: Two to Three Years

  • Game-based Learning
  • Learning Analytics

Time to adoption: Four to Five Year

  • Gesture-based Computing
  • Internet of Things

NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by paul (dex)

A day in the future – the vision and the story

A Day Made of Glass 2 is Corning’s expanded vision for the future of glass technologies. This video continues the story of how highly engineered glass, with companion technologies, will help shape our world.

A Day Made of Glass 2: Unpacked,  allows us to take a journey with the narrator for details on these technologies, answers to our questions, and to learn about what’s possible — and what’s not — in the near future.

Love the vision and the possibilities for our schools! Meanwhile, great advertising!

Ten meta-trends impacting learning

In a world where libraries are completely reinventing themselves, where
universities and schools are moving away from labs to BYOD, and where the focus of everything seems to be on mobiles —what will be the role of technology in the next decade? What do leading institutions need to be doing now to prepare? What are the strategies that will provide them the most flexibility? The greatest competitive advantage?

These are the overarching questions that recently drove the discussions at 10th anniversary New Media Consortium Horizon Project  special convocation and retreat. Over its decade of work, the Horizon Project has grown to the point that it may very well be producing the single most important body of research into emerging technology within the world of education. With more than one million downloads and 27 translations in the past ten years, the NMC Horizon Report series provides the higher education, K-12, and museum communities across the globe a key strategic technology planning tool that is continuously refreshed and updated.

The NMC and the Horizon Project are best known for its flagship Horizon Reports that focus on higher education and K-12 globally. Now, with 10 years of research that has helped us understand the nature and range of impact of emerging technolgies, the 100 thoughtleaders involved in the retreat have  moved from reflections and metalearnings from the last decade, to notions of renewal and transformation, to ultimately metatrends and action.

Out of the discussion, 28 metatrends were identified. Of these, the ten most significant are
listed here and will be the focus of the upcoming NMC Horizon Project 10th Anniversary Report:

1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative. As more and more companies move to the global marketplace, it is common for work teams to span continents and time zones. Not only are teams geographically diverse, they are also culturally diverse.
2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to. Increasingly, people own more than one device, using a computer, smartphone, tablet, and ereader. People now expect a seamless experience across all their devices.
3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges.
Mobithinking reports there are now more than 6 billion active cell phone accounts. 1.2 billion have mobile broadband as well, and 85% of new devices can access the mobile web.
4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media. Our current expectation is that the network has almost infinite capacity and is nearly free of cost. One hour of video footage is uploaded every second to YouTube; over 250 million photos are sent to Facebook every day.
5. Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world. As authoritative sources lose their importance, there is need for more curation and other forms of validation to generate meaning in information and media.
6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society. In an age where so much of our information, records, and digital content are in the cloud, and often clouds in other legal jurisdictions, the very concept of ownership is blurry.
7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success. Access to learning in any form is a challenge in too many parts of the world, and efficiency in learning systems and institutions is increasingly an expectation of governments — but the need for solutions that scale often trumps them both. Innovations in these areas are increasingly coming from unexpected parts of the world, including India, China, and central Africa.
8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere. In such a world, sense-making and the ability to assess the credibility of information and media are paramount.
9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training. Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia — and worldwide. As a result, credibility, validity, and control are all notions that are no longer givens when so much learning takes place outside school systems.
10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing. Libraries are deeply reimagining their missions; colleges and universities are struggling to reduce costs across the board. The educational ecosystem is shifting, and nowhere more so than in the world of publishing, where efforts to reimagine the book are having profound success, with implications that will touch every aspect of the learning enterprise.

These metatrends are the first of much yet to come in the next year. Watch for news and more throughout the Horizon Project’s 10th Anniversary. To be part of the discussions, follow #NMChz!

Image: BigStock Photo Holding Technology

Information abyss – in the era of global education

The more I look the more certain I am that I stand at the edge of an information abyss, rather than at the dawn of a  golden age of information and life-long learning powered by the digital environments. Perhaps there are two sides to this: The good side encompasses savoring the growth of creative knowledge and nurturing the  understanding for students engaged in the topic of discussion. In this way students can sometimes surprise and delight us with insights and even lead us in new directions taking the teacher mentor along with them. The bad side encompasses that information abyss that exists, but which is misunderstood,  largely unmentioned, and yet which is creating a new form of the digital divide – content and conversation ignorance in an era of mass information. Knowledge and creative/scientific  understanding is always at the heart of the educational endeavour. Teachers gnawing at the syllabus bones of their subject may find juicy marrow, but it’s still the same pile of bones.    The officially mandated parameters of accreditation organizations (think departments of school education or higher education) means that content and process may run parrallel to the natural learning needs of students. Designing any long-term educational action these days (especially in the face of 1:1 computing and mobile devices) involves creating scenarios for acquiring and developing competencies and knowledge in subject domains that are enabled by personalization. Competences are the main element of the learning process and personalization in virtual learning scenarios involve designing and executing learning paths, learning activities within a subject and some kind of analysis that ‘tags’ the success of the particular lifelong learning elements involved.  That’s education, but is that learning? Ah – here it is again, that information abyss. Educators were never information experts, but in the era of ‘industrial schooling’ this did not matter.   Information was organized and made available in structured ways, quietly providing access to tacit and explicit knowledge at point of need. Then technology transformed the information landscape, pushing changes into education. Unfortunately education experts forgot that they were not information experts, and in the age of web-enabled information some educators and educational   leaders, in their enthusiasm and  ‘debunking’ of industrial schooling,  have also advertised their ignorance in how to work with the most precious of all commodities – information!   Did they toss the baby out with the bathwater!  Nope, they actually never did know what information organization was all about, what metadata means, when digital preservation is important, how information access can be facilitated, how information is organized, and what strategies are needed to find, analyze and synthesize information.  Pre the web era , this didn’t matter. There were librarians around to fill the breach and provide the knowledge gap.  Now things are different. Information (and the knowledge it contains) is the underpinning of society, learning, and future developments. Information is what lead to the creation of the web, and which leads to developments in all forms of our web engagement.  Social networks are enabling information sharing. We need to be able to read, and read well, to access information. We need to know how to find and make available to others the information that matters. But while educators “toot” the use of web tools, and play with virtual environments, they seem to remain more ignorant than ever about the impacts of web organization on information access and information retrieval.   Only a fool closes a school library down because information is on the web, and fiction books are sitting in a box in the classroom.

How should we ensure we refresh the mental browser of pre-digital thinking to suit the evolution of the web?

What school leaders need to do is to go out and find the best information and library experts they can find to re-vitalize their school library.  What school leaders need to do is to go and empower an information expert within their school to lead in curriculum design, and ensure that it incorporates the required fluency with information access, use, manipulation, remix, and dissemination.  What school leaders need to recognize is that all the reshaping of classroom spaces, and use of tech tools and mobile devices for   curriculum innovation is nothing more than a hollow shiny bauble  (which may well be crushed in the next iteration of the web)  and really useless . Kids aren’t learning how to be adaptive in complex information environments. Someone HAS to help the teachers of our 21st century kids understand reading, literacy and information seeking in a connected world.  The information abyss is right there at their fingertips, and each day teachers are doing a great job of throwing kids down into that abyss!  (Test your knowledge of the abyss by perusing Knowledge 2) Our students now need help in navigating diverse information pathways within their personal and creative learning environments. They need a range of literature and information options, delivered to them via a variety of physical and virtual means, from books to all manner of media and digital objects, via a plethora of digital devices. They need to know how to juxtapose text, sound, media and social connections in real time, and how to filter, then mix and match what they see, hear and experience in order to build personal knowledge and understandings of the curriculum.

Where once the bibliographic paradigm created text-book learning and school libraries, learning today requires that teachers and school librarians understand reading and information-seeking in a connected world.

Deal with the information abyss.  In the name of education, get a new school library!  This is what I’ve already debated in the post  Why Teacher Librarians are Important.  Essentially though, in this new library we find that the literature, magazines, information, technology, learning and teaching activities are designed to support the needs of the networked learning community, creating a partnership between teachers, students, school, home and the global community.  Moving to a Networked School Community is essential, and is the only way to ensure that a school is dealing with the information abyss.

1. flickr photo shared by heathbrandon under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license heyjudegallery

Tagging my Technology and Teaching Practice

This week sees me concluding a year of academic activities by participating in graduation, and other professional events at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. It is always a pleasure to celebrate the big graduation day with a new batch of happy graduates!

Meanwhile, much of the discussions back in the ‘academic halls’  hinge around technology and teaching practice, one way or another. Much planning for 2012 as a result!

As educators we are always looking for yet another way to bend an online tool to our purpose. Thursday will see me contributing to the Technology and Teaching Practice Research Group 2011 Symposium. The focus is on the communicative affordances of online tools. My spin is really just a futuristic focus on the changing context of the web, and the deepening issues for educators around search strategies and information retrieval.

Just a 20 minute discussion starter – so what could I do that introduces something new?

You can see the presentation slidedeck for From Web 1.0 to Web 3.0: A wolf in sheep’s clothing or a new culture of learning. You’ll notice a QR code on the front slide. This QRcode created at TagMyDoc points to a supporting document – and this code will download that too directly from TagMyDoc to your e-device!

The presentations throughout the day will have a series of papers included in a print document,  to provide supporting information and material for the presentations.  While I thought that this was useful, I also thought it would be interesting to show how to provide access to the electronic file directly from within  that printed document – or from where it is attached to the front of the slideshare presentation (that I have embedded in this post).

Now, it’s available to all ~ either at the Symposium, or anywhere else on the planet!  I do like this way of enhancing a slideshare presentation, and the ease of being able to share an electronic file.

Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by opensourceway