The Greatest Leap

From the first primitive flints and spears, civilization has moved
forward by creating tools to improve the quality of life, and on using
these tools to create still better tools. Every modern miracle, from
antibiotics to the international space station, owes its existence to
our having successfully built upon the achievements and discoveries
of our predecessors.

via acceleratingfuture.com

Just how much have you lived this transformation? I’m  amazed to say I will have gone from this
http://www.rosiehippo.com/%5Cimages%5Cproduct%5Cicon%5CS233_slate-board-set.jpg
to something like this in 2010!

Just as the rumors of a pricey Apple tablet computer have reached a high-water mark, Freescale Semiconductor on Monday showcased reference designs of an affordable, lightweight tablet computer, which is set to hit the market later this year.

Love the vision ~ future travel

It’s holiday time for me “downunder” so I have time to play, dream, and generally relax.

Imagine my amazement when I came across the AutoMotto’s post about the VW Breathe private delivery commuter (forget car)!

Well I want one – if I’m still around :-)

breathe


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British Library sound archive

The Guardian reports that the British Library revealed it has made its vast archive of world and traditional music available to everyone, free of charge, online.

That amounts to roughly 28,000 recordings and, although no one has yet sat down and formally timed it, about 2,000 hours of singing, speaking, yelling, chanting, blowing, banging, tinkling and many other verbs associated with what is a uniquely rich sound archive.

The recordings go back more than 100 years, with the earliest recordings being the wax cylinders on which British anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon recorded Aboriginal singing on his trip to the Torres Strait islands off Australia in 1898.

What an extraordinary record and resource for current and future generations. Amazingly, much of the British archive was obtained by the library in 2000-01 in a lottery-funded project!!

Videos on paper – the next thing!

Extraordinary!

The report at BBC news Video Appears in Paper Magazines tells me that the  first-ever video advertisement will be published in a traditional paper magazine in September.

The video-in-print ads will appear in select copies of the US show business title Entertainment Weekly. The slim-line screens – around the size of a mobile phone display – also have rechargeable batteries.

The chip technology used to store the video – described as similar to that used in singing greeting cards – is activated when the page is turned. Each chip can hold up to 40 minutes of video.

Embedded videos in books next perhaps? Imagine Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman – how much easier to read that new combined format without having to jump onto Youtube.  A whole new picturebook format could emerge too!

I like that I read about all this on the same day that I discovered that TED.com released its 500th TEDTalk.

There’s a kind of synergy in that for me.

Who we are; what we do

What types of media, access, and support do cutting-edge media centers and school libraries offer students? How are teacher librarians and library media specialists leading the charge to help students master 21st century literacies?

Issue 22 Volume 4 of ASCD Express “The Transformational Media Centre” looks at ways teacher librarians and library media specialists can collaborate with teachers and other staff to enhance student learning.

A good read overall – and I’m excited to say also includes a piece by me -  Content Used to be King – as the New Voices feature.

Future Learning in a Digital Age

I encourage you to read this report from the MacArthur foundation, published by MIT Press The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (.pdf).

The project began as a draft document posted on a collaborative Web site developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book (http://www.futureofthebook.org) in January of 2007. The draft remained on the Institute’s site for over a year (and still remains there) inviting comments by anyone registered to the site. This recent Report is a redaction of the argument in what is a  book-in-progress, currently titled The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, which is to be published in 2010, after the culmination of extensive research and collaboration face to face and virtually.

Quotes that attracted my attention which have immediate relevance to our planning in schools – both formal and informal:

Since the current generation of  student has no memory of the historical moment before the advent of the Internet, we are suggesting that participatory learning as a practice is no longer exotic or new but a commonplace way of socializing and learning.

This puts education and educators in the position of bringing up the rearguard, of holding desperately to the fragments of an educational system which, in its form, content, and assessments, is deeply rooted in an antiquated mode of learning.

Most fundamental to such a change is the understanding that participatory learning is about a process and not always a final product.

According to the report, there are ten principles which are foundational to rethinking the future of learning institutions.

  1. Self-learning
  2. Horizontal structures
  3. From presumed authority to collective credibility
  4. A de-centred pedagogy
  5. Networked learning
  6. Open source education
  7. Learning as connectivity and interactivity
  8. Lifelong learning
  9. Learning institutions as mobilizing networks
  10. Flexible scalability and simulation

Some wonderful reading and professional discussion could ensue if you can get your school’s leadership team to consider these ten Pillars of Institutional Pedagogy.

I am particularly interested in the focus on virtual learning. For example, Quest to Learn: New York, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009. Quest to Learn, a school using game-inspired methods to teach traditional and multimedia literacies, is a joint venture between the Transformative Media at Parsons The New School for Design in collaboration with the nonprofit organization New Visions for Public Schools (See http://www.q2l.org/).

I know that while it is difficult for schools and education authorities to fast-track their thinking and to be strategic in changing cultures and educational practices, this report, and the book that will follow should provide an opportunity to mandate future developments.

School libraries in the 21st century

21clibrarywordle

Today more information is stored digitally than in all the libraries in the world combined. We simply don’t need to ‘remember’ everything. The output of our digital mediums exceeds the wildest dreams of nineteenth century industrialists, and alters our view of memory; forgetfulness; creativity and originality.

Thats why schools need to extend their vision of learning beyond ‘memory-arts’. We are in a hyper-dynamic world of connections, relationships, and adaptive tools that help us make sense of the information flooding about us. We are standing at the entry of an age of infinite recall, where the lines between original works and derivatives are blurred because duplication is simple and storage cheap.

Our students need to  develop insights into how to navigate and select a pathway in their learning world, how to juxtapose text, sound, media, and social connections in real time,  and how to mix and match what they see, hear and experience to build personal knowledge and understandings.

For that they need help from 21st century teacher librarians – by managing better school-wide library services; by creating better learning resources; by using better tools; and by developing better information literacy frameworks.

Rethinking our structures and learning frameworks is central to meeting the demands of 21st century learning. Along with the information revolution, we have the social revolution of new media which has created new relationships and new forms of discourse.

This new media environment can be enormously disruptive to our current teaching methods and philosophies. As we increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyse, share, discuss, critique, and create information. They need to move from being simply knowledgeable to being knowledge-able (Wesch, 2009)

It is an exciting and challenging time for education.  Now students have the ability to search, work or publish at will using text, audio, and video, or any combination of these. They have unprecedented access to technologies and online tools that are instantly available and often free to use.  Learning and teaching has become a multimodal, multi-literacy conversation – where participation is an everyday reality for students, teachers, teacher librarians, and school administrators.

My thanks to Buffy Hamilton (the Unquiet Librarian)  for this fabulous presentation on information streams,  research and new media.

Fix education now please!

I have a feeling that people have been trying to ‘fix’ education, one way or another for a long time, and perhaps that desire to ‘fix’ has become  even more urgent with the digital technology revolution. Whatever your take on the changes that need to happen, it is always a good thing to see organisations such as schools, education departments, and governments take that challenge seriously (rather than as yet another opportunity for political mileage).

I’m no politician that’s for sure – not at school, not anywhere. I tend to say what I think which can get me into trouble at times. The problem is, when passion drives your concerns, it means that it is not always possible to wait and wait and wait….

ICT in Learning Symposium

So I must say, I was delighted to take part in some small way in the activities of the Strategic ICT Advisory Service activites of Education AU.

The primary purpose of SICTAS is to undertake a series of studies in a broad range of areas to investigate the current and future impacts of emerging technologies and to provide strategic advice to assist policy makers to address the implications of implementation of new technologies in education and training. The target audience for this research will be senior policy advisors in the Australian Government as well as State and Territory government departments. The schools sector, vocational education and training and higher education sectors will benefit from the advice provided.

The key investigations are:

While I had to turn down my invitiation to take part in the  Think Tank activities last year, I was there in Sydney for the National ICT Symposium. The opportunity to workshop intensively with leading educators and administrators from around Australia was an outstanding way to start of Term 2. This sort of conversation is rare in my daily work and reminds me of the vital need we have to create a culture of conversation at the school level to help focus our ICT developments in order to empower 21st century learning.

Dean & Al

The discussions were intense, and challenging. The key summary points can be found at ICT Symposium wiki. While the key points are captured, the real telling of the story can be found in the pictures of the day and the new connections/alliances formed to further our common goals.  I met up with my favourite two men – Al Upton (primary teacher  from SA, and virtual worlds designer)  and Dean Groom (all round smart guy, co-conspirator in our upcoming publications and Head of Learning Design at Maquarie Uni) . Jo Kay (Jokaydia owner and design consultant) and Bronwyn Stuckey (Quest Atlantis) completed the Jokaydian “get real” team!

I also loved the chance to talk with Moodleman (aka Julian Ridden IT Knowledge Services Manager at Riverview College).  Just imagine if Moodleman and I worked in the same school??  The world would maybe change :-) I was also delighted to meet up with Tomas Lasic, the other Moodle and e-learning guru who hales from WA. Wow Tomas, you are tall in real like as well as online!

Raju Varanasi

Many participants came to Sydney from around the country. A small group of us had some really interesting professional conversations with Raju Varanasi, General Manager, Centre for Learning Innovation within the NSW Department of Education and Training. Raju has the opportunity to provide seriously important opportuities for learning initiatives in our State, and as such he is pretty much abreast of what is possible, what the challenges are, and what processes we should adopt to facilitate innovation and change. It was delightful to work with him – and he came up smiling even after the Jokaydians threw every possible challenge at him to consider.  Raju returned for another dose of  discussion with the most exitable group of all (you are always excited when you are full of ideas and challenges!) and as a result Raju has invited us to spend time with his team to provide input into his planning programs. Cool!  The power of networking and the opportunity for conversation and robust discussion at such events is critical and so very helpful for moving things along.

Gary Putland

The work of EducationAU in this field is always vital in Australia. For me it was again a good chance to catch up with Gary Putland (General Manager, and the gentleman who HAS to fix his newbie icon in Twitter!)  and Kerry Johnson (fellow Jokaydian). These people and all the Edna Team – some more of whom I was able to meet – play a vital role on our behalf!  Though many teachers don’t realise it, we are lucky that they are passionate about the future of ICT in education on our behalf.

My summary?  It’s a long way before these  conversations happening ‘at the top’ reach the leaders in our schools, our middle managmenet, and our classrooms. But to be realistic, things have progressed since 2006 when I started in this whole Web 2.0 thing. Now we are having national conversations that understand that the digital agenda is not only about hardware and infrastructure, it is also about the digital connectedness of students and teachers. How we move forward will depend on how we connect through our social media, as connectedness (more and more) becomes our curriculum and our professional learning construct.

Kerry Johnson

As money pours into connection infrastructures, computers in schools, wireless networks, 3G device connectivity, the days for discussing the pros and cons of one-to-one computing are over.  Every school should have a myriad devices connected to the intrawebs – psp, itouch, netbook, laptop, whatever!  What is now needed is ubiquitous connectivity – not locked down access.  Through these myriad devices we can transform the frameworks for learning – catch up with the kids in their technology timeline, and at last deliver learning and teaching in ways that are relevant to their furture.

The issues and challenges in all this, and the debates that must be had to ‘win the day’, are the topics for another blogging day.

It was great to get a group of people together in one room, from around Australia, who actually understand the complexities and imperatives. Well done and thank you EdnaAU for the chance to participate in your day.

By the way – take note!  The words Web 2.0 were not mentioned all day!  Roll on the future.

Read the book AND watch the video

Why do we need school libraries? Well of course I have lots of reasons why we need school libraries – but the reasons are wrapped up with why we need to change school libraries!!

I am not going to go into that in this post – because I will be talking about this topic and 21st century learning on Wednesday next week, up in Cairns, to a gathering of people involved in spending some government money on school facilities ( I will probably have something to share after that day).

Hopefully they will see the importance of fantastic 21st century learning facilities – school libraries have a significant role to play in facilitating good learning.

The merging of technologies, new media, social networking, interactivity, gaming, virtual learning, web 2.0…all reasons why school libraries are needed and why they have a vital role to play – if we change them.

One of our key roles is promoting literacy and an innovative use of creative spaces and places (real and virtual) that empower reading and writing.

Check these out!