Teacher librarians are important


Web 2.0 revolutionized the means at our disposal to filter and share information. Whether by managing information by social bookmarking or RSS reads and feeds, or communicating with our school community via blogs, wikis, podcasts, YouTube, or Facebook, students, teachers and school librarians have entered into digital conversations. Widgets, portals, Apps, Feeds and Aggregators and more now provide us with our ‘tools of trade’ for information curation.

The importance of the teacher librarian is intrinsically linked to effective and responsive information curation and dissemination in distributed environments within and beyond the school. Use of Web 2.0 tools has become embedded in good practice, and information curation has extended beyond the library catalogue to library and school information management systems for bibliographic and media resources, and various organizational tools that reside beyond the school in web environments, such as Libguides, Diigo, Live Binders, wiki, Delicious, Google tools, RSS, media tools, netvibes, iGoogle, and many more.

But when a technology focus subverts students’ conversation and development of critical thinking skills (and their ability to evaluate and analyze the information at hand), the mental processes that change knowledge from information to concept are not learned (Bomar, 2010). With the maturation of Web 2.0 tools the importance of nurturing information literacy skills and strategies has shifted to become a meta-literate approach to engagement with information.

This is exactly why teacher librarians are re-thinking what ‘collection’ of information means, thereby supporting personalized and collaborative information seeking and knowledge conversations. The new core information research tools available for students, teachers and school librarians adopting information literacy in a networked environment includes:

  • Microblogging tools for information sharing by teachers, students, classes and the school community in primary and secondary schools.e.g. Edmodo, yammer, Google+, or Twitter
  • Social Bookmarking and tagged collections e.g. Diigo, Delicious, PearlTrees, Flickr, Vodpod
  • Collaborative writing, editing, mindmapping and presentation tools e.g. Google docs, Exploratree, Voicethread, Mindmeister, Wikispaces
  • Research tools for online information management, writing and collaboration e.g. Zotero, Endnote, EasyBib, Bibme, Mendeley, Refworks,
  • Information capture in multiple platforms and on multiple devices .e.g. Evernote, Scrible
  • Library catalogues, databases, and open-access repositories – all used for information collection, RSS topic and journal alerts, and compatible with research organization tools
  • Aggregators, news readers, and start pages e.g. iGoogle, Netvibes, Symbaloo, Feedly
  • Online storage, file sharing and content management, across multiple platforms and computers e.g. Dropbox, Box.net, Skydrive

These tools have allowed us to re-frame information collection as highly flexible and collaborative information and knowledge conversations, while also facilitating information organization.

Technology and online integration can facilitate critical thinking and knowledgeable actions, rather than merely permitting the access and transformation of information as part of the information literacy skills set. The point is to engage our students in multiple conversations and research pathways that reflect the changing nature of scholarship in multimodal environments. As Lankes (2011) explains, at last we have a departure from information, access and artifacts as the focus.

In the lens of conversation, artifacts and digital access are only useful in that they are used to build knowledge through active learning.

Content exploration and learning demands a mix-and-match approach:

  • Search strategies
  • Evaluation strategies
  • Critical thinking & problem solving
  • Networked conversation & collaboration
  • Cloud computing environments
  • Ethical use and production of information
  • Information curation of personal and distributed knowledge.

Be sure you are understand online learning environments and the extra-ordinary potential of the social-media mind. Be sure you are involved with and present new ways and new information strategies to your teachers when  working within the curriculum and the full knowledge dimension of learning. Be sure you bring with you a full understanding of information literacy and information fluency as the underpinning of all that you do.

Bomar, S. (2010). A School-Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources.Knowledge Quest, 38(3), 72-75.
Lankes, D.R. (2011). The Atlas of New Librarianship. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Image cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photoshared by mikefisher821

Stop turning a blind eye! Media literacy in action.


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Cayusa

I’d like to think that all teachers and librarians are clever enough to know how to work well with images to promote creativity in learning. My post-grad students working on Digital Citizenship in Schools  have just completed a phase of their learning that included an investigation of how to find and use images in their work using free images online, and even using Greasemonkey and Flickr to speed up their image attribution. Media literacy is an important part of digital learning environments.

Media literacy education helps people of all ages to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens. Media literacy is the capacity to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms. This expanded conceptualization of literacy responds to the demands of cultural participation in the twenty-first century. Like literacy in general, media literacy includes both receptive and productive dimensions, encompassing critical analysis and communication skills, particularly in relationship to mass media, popular culture, and digital media. Like literacy in general, media literacy is applied in a wide variety of contexts—when watching television or reading newspapers, for example, or when posting commentary to a blog. Indeed, media literacy is implicated everywhere one encounters information and entertainment content. And like literacy in general, media literacy can be taught and learned. Using images is just one aspect of media literacy educaiton – but none-the-less a vital one. Media literacy education can flourish only with a robust understanding of fair use.

Fair use in education means that educators and learners often make use of copyrighted materials that stand ‘outside’ the general use e.g. in the classroom, at a conference or within a school-wide setting. When this takes place within school fair use indicates flexibility.  Each country has it’s own specific rules and regulations that apply to copyright. But for teachers, the aim should be not to teach or bend rigid rules, but rather to promote media literacy in action and help students learn HOW to use media to empower their work, and promote a creative commons approach to sharing and mashup works.

For this reason I was excited AND disappointed with the newest enhancement to Google Images, mainly because in my experience teachers have continued to turn a blind eye in this area of media literacy action. Google has announced you can now sort Google Images by subject.

To see this in action, go to Google Images, conduct a search and look on the left hand side for the search option. Directly under the “More” link, you will find the default sort option set to “by relevance,” click on the “Sort by subject.” The results will then shift and group images by subject topic.

Decorating print and digital material with google images is pretty standard amongst kids – no attribution, no use of creative commons materials etc. Your students may be different – but I’m considering the general norm that I have seen, and now the job just got easier!

What interested me most though was watching the video about this new feature.  Notice how they’ve cleverly ‘covered’ the value of this new feature?  You’d use this feature to help you understand a topic better? pick a better dog! and perhaps add a nice image to presentation at school?

Sorting just made searching a lot more visual.  Yes.  No mention of copyright, creative commons, fair use. No mention of th Advanced Image Search, and the option to filter by license. So there are rules…and they did not promote breaking them. But they did leave the rest of the job up to us!

OK – so I guess it’s up to teachers and teacher librarians to get the fair use message across, as part of our media literacy education.

Will you stop turning a blind eye now?

Bonus:

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media LIteracy Education

Copyright Livebinder

Via search engine land

Digging into digital research

Over the past few weeks, I have been leveraging Zotero heavily in my work and general information curation. With deadlines knocking on my door I know I have to be organised. So while I make extensive use of Diigo and Delicious, as well as Evernote, when it comes to the serious academic stuff Zotero has to come up trumps.

Zotero is a citation management system, which allows for tagging, searching, note taking, collections, and shared libraries.  I admit, I don’t share my libraries with anyone – but I could if I was collaborating on a research paper of some kind.  Our students at CSU are introduced to Endnote, but I much prefer Zotero as it is a Firefox addon that collects, manages, and cites research sources from all my computers. It’s free and easy to use. There are other systems around, but for now Zotero is my workhorse.

More schools should adopt these tools too. In secondary schools it’s  time to move away from Pathfinders created in Publisher  to providing our students with strategies for information curation to support Guided Enquiry, or Project Based Learning or other tactics for deep engagement with information and knowledge.  Another similar tool that supports a school integrated approach is BibMe. An education institution account provides a customised for the school environment.

What do I do with Zotero that is different from social bookmarking or organising information with Evernote?

My most recent project has been to write a chapter for an upcoming IFLA/IASL publication. Right…folder for that!  I already had a few folders  being kept busy for other articles, presentations and course work,  but the book chapter became the priority.

As I researched deeply, in the various databases, in Google Scholar, in blogs, and other information sources, I was able to collect relevant information pertinent to my  topic of investigation. However, my ‘collection’ process was more than just bookmarking, or collecting a  screen capture. Zotero can extract key metadata from Web pages and insert them into citations, so I was also able to grab the citation information (neat metadata trick) directly from each of those sources (automatically) and link it with either  the pdf or  screen capture record of the document I wished, thus keep an authoritative information trail.  In some instances, I also added some notes as highlight or reflection of the content that I was interested in. I can go back to the original source as well, as the URL is also stored.

Then of course, Zotero synchronises with Word. Once I began writing, I was able to  insert the reference in the text in the appropriate manner drawing on my curated list. Finally, I was able to generate the Reference list automatically.

However, whenever I’m researching, I do also find things related to other topics I want to keep a track of. So while I’m busy with my folders, I also take time to use tags – and we’re all used to doing this automatically aren’t we? These tags allow me to filter information that I have collected at a later date for a different focus.  So Zotero allows me to organize my research into collections, and the collections are highly flexible, and better still,  an item can belong to multiple collections simultaneously.

So what’s cool?

  • Zotero is optimized for JSTOR, Flickr, YouTube, Google Scholar, ProQuest, EBSCO, and other online archives/databases. Click the Zotero icon in the URL address field to pull in key metadata.
  • Create citations for offline resources such as books, journal articles, and personal communications.
  • Organize citations by tag or folders; generate reports based on tags or folders.
  • Take notes and attach files (e.g., PDF or Word files) as needed.
  • Capture snapshots of Web sites and online images with metadata (note that there are interesting copyright implications).
  • Zotero supports the OCLC OpenURL Resolver Gateway protocol. Clicking the Locate button within Zotero will direct users to the appropriate database within the Libraries.
  • You can also sync your Zotero library, including all your references, snapshots of the HTML version of all your articles, and all the PDFs using the Zotero servers. This syncs your library to every other computer you’re using.

However, Zotero has a low storage limit – you only get tiny 100MB storage space for free. Never mind – Dropbox to the rescue, as you can also sync your library using your own WebDAV server.

Zotero is an excellent tool for any scholar, researcher, or student to have in their toolbox. Its utility extends well beyond preparing to write a paper, however, as it allows you to grab nearly anything off the web and insert it into the Zotero system.   Yep – that’s it…and my chapter is done!

Jason Puckett at Georgia State U provides an excellent Libguide for Zotero. His  Zotero: A guide for librarians, teachers and researchers  is coming soon from ACRL Publications and will be published in print and several e-editions including DRM-free formats.

There! Now I’ve shared my digital digging strategy. Now it’s your turn to give it a go and become a digital age scholar!

Work and learning

Effective working now requires an employee to recognize what information is required, to know how to seek out that information, evaluate it’s relevance and reliability, and to be able to translate that information into learning and actionable tasks. And this evaluation needs to be done constantly and consistently throughout an individuals career. Employers now have to accept that learning is an essential part of being able to get the job done – learning IS work.

Oh – at last! It’s worth reading perspectives from beyond the hallowed halls of education – after all, that’s where  our students are all heading in some way or another.

The rest of the post also has further gems in it.

via NoddleSoft.

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.