School libraries in the 21st century


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!

Connect and inspire – oh yeah!

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend an ACEL conference held at the University of Wollongong (a hour and half drive from Sydney). This conference, around the theme of Tech-savvy Leadership and Learning, drew a good crowd. It was impressive to see a large number of attendees from the Department of Education Schools, who attended as part of an exercise in creating knowledge networks who could continue learning about innovation with ICT during the year.

The keynote speakers included key researchers from the University of Wollongong, who shared their work and their perspectives on learning in a digital age. I always appreciate hearing about research, as this adds significant value to our more anecdotal reflections on day-to-day classroom happenings. We test, experiment, play, get creative with pedagogy and researchers help us prove we are on the right track!

However, a number of us chatted between sessions, the more digitally savvy, social network connected attendees, and we were a little troubled by some statements made about social networking and digital learning. Some of the ‘push’ of the conference was ICT, PD, and the horrors of cyberbullying. For those coming new to new media, they needed to hear about the power of personal learning networks – but I’m afraid I might have been the only one to mention this.

One keynote speaker actually stated that ‘you can’t make friends via social networks like Facebook’. I shook my head, and wondered about all the wonderful professional contacts I have made via social networks – and the excitement in meeting them eventually F2F – building on professional respect, collaboration, sharing of resources and more.

This is not a new outcome at conferences – we are starting to see a digital divide emerging in that some people believe they can talk about and research digital learning environments and social networking without actually being active participants in that world!  I like to see keynote speakers who can share their online digital identities with us, and prove to me that they really do understand the architecture of participation that is learning in our new century.

Nevertheless, it was a fabulous day. The attendees were very enthusiastic as far as I could tell. Thank you to Julie Reynolds, Principal of Cedars Christian College, who invited me to present a session at this ACEL conference.  Julie’s enthusiasm, and that of her staff, was so wonderful. They are really working hard to make their school 21C friendly!

I guess what I tried to say in my presentation is to remind people that passion as to drive our connections – and that we cannot operate effectively in working with technology without social networking. I believe that PD is NOT the single answer – creating connections and promoting a shift in our mindsets is even more important. In fact, without flexibility, experimentation, collaboration, and innovation driven by our dialogue ‘with the crowd in the cloud’ it must might all be for nothing.

There is not much you can say in an hour – not really!  So it was very nice to have people take the time to come and chat afterwards and say that they felt inspired to try! That’s the key thing – try – and the rest will take care of its self.

Here are my slides!

For those who visited earlier, thanks to @slideshare for fixing the embed problem. Twitter teams are the frontline of service!

Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education — Publications — Center for Social Media at American University.

This document is a code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Download the full report from the Centre for Social Media.

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.

more about “The Code of Best Practices in Fair Us…“, posted with vodpod

Plastic Logic E-Reader

This thin, lightweight and flexible e-Reader is one of the many newly emerging  interface tools that will change the way we ‘do business’. The Plastic Logic device won’t be available until next year but is built on E Ink’s screen technology, which is also behind the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader.The reader is one third the weight of a MacBook Air, is readable in broad daylight, and has a battery life of several days.

more about “Plastic Logic E-Reader“, posted with vodpod

Wiimote in my classrooms?

Nintendo Wii Remote, sometimes nicknamed “Wiimote”, is the primary controller for Nintendo’s Wii console. A main feature of the Wii Remote is its motion sensing capability, which allows the user to interact with and manipulate items on screen via movement and pointing. A familiar ‘toy’ in many families, the wii has now entered the classrooms at St Josephs College!

Building sophisticated educational tools out of cheap parts, Johnny Lee demonstrated his cool Wii Remote hacks at the prestigious TED Talks – the key global innovation forum in the world.  In this he demonstrates how to turn a cheap video game controller into a digital whiteboard, a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer.  Teachers and students around the world have downloaded Johnny’s free software to create interactive tools for their classroom.

Recently Anthony, our e-learning integrator,  took this idea and made an interface out of a simple IR pen and a Wiimote that is capable of turning any data projector into an interactive whiteboard irrespective of the surface that is used. Anthony claims that this simple setup costing less than $100 installed coupled with the free Smoothboard software has the potential to be one of the most exciting innovations for some time.
A number of staff have been trialling the Smoothboard with early results being very promising.

Students in Gary’s science classes have been running interactive lessons using learning objects developed by the Learning Federation.  When Fergus, our Head of Social Sciences, saw the demo in Gary’s class, he requested a pen and wiimote immediately and now eagerly awaits delivery!

After hearing that we would be demonstrating this technology in the staff room,  said

I’d better get mine organised quickly, before a rush from other staff. The flexibility makes this the perfect solution for my classrooms.

My mission is to keep an eye on this exciting experimentation – we’re grabbing video clips of the action. Meanwhile watch the TED talk about this Wiimote revolution.

Google images – or bust!

I’m constantly amazed at the lack of direction provided to students about the use, value, purpose and function  images into their work – including the notion of authentic creativity (i.e. ripping off other people’s work and presenting it as your own is not mashup – its trampling on someone’s work).

Well I won’t preach – no point. I see teachers constantly falling for presentation as if it somehow has translated into quality higher order thinking in the heads of students. Doing a google search for images, and dropping it into a powerpoint, and essay, an animoto, a machinima or anything, without some purpose behind it all teaches very little…AND it doesn’t even address visual literacy or creativity either.

So yes, there are places to find images..if that’s all you need.  See Find Free Images Online!

Doing a Google image search is also valid if the image found is demonstrating cognitive understanding in a visual way, and is also referenced back to the source.  For example, a good image from NASA, credited as such, adds value to a student’s compilation of knowledge and understanding of the topic being considered.

Unfortunately, what  I see too often is a pretty picture found, dropped into a title page or text, to ‘make it look good, miss’, not chosen to enhance and support the content being discussed and explored, and certainly not referenced back to the source.

So I suggest some of the following uses for Google image search – ways that support the cognitive engagement with topic and text:

  • If you want to know if a person is a man or a woman and the name doesn’t help, do a search for the name.
  • If you don’t know the meaning of a word, the pictures may help you.
  • Find what’s interesting about a site, by looking at the pictures included. For example:
  • Type the name of a painter and turn your search into a randomized art class!
  • Discuss how images have been used in sites for key historical characters, and the message that they portray. e.g. try ‘Hitler’
  • Have some ‘keyword’ fun with Google Image Labeler. See how you go in two minutes, and what keywords you come up with to name your image!
  • Play with Montage-a-Google and focus on visual literacy!

Truth is nothing will stop teachers and students using Google Image Search. It’s easy.It’s here to stay.

Comes back to pedagogy doesn’t it.  Do you want pretty pictures? or do you want to help teach kids creativity, discernment, visual literacy – oh and ethics around the creative arts :-)

Those Wacky Kids – Mark Pesce – Symposium in Sydney

We’re living in a time of incredibly accelerated change. We can communicate freely using video – Youtube and BitTorrent! and more. Wikipedia is the most significant advance of the 21st century for knowledge sharing. The key difference is the way it keeps developing – and its perfectly normal for “wacky kids”!

Mobile phone and gaming technology such as the Wii is ‘co-prescence’ – human beings live to communicate. What we have done is given these ‘wacky kids’ the tools to accelerate communicate – and all of it is perfectly natural to them – the only world they know.

The unintended consequence of this hyper-connectivity is the emergence of totally new and unexpected changes. Kids walk to the school door and get stripped of their hyper-connectivity. They are learning that collaboration and communication are not important – the hidden curriculum is denying the value of the learned experience from their life of ‘co-presence. There is a subtle and invisible argument between school and life. Students are losing respect for the clasroom. School is losing the connection with the way that the rest of life works.

The classroom is becoming an antique, but we don’t necessarily know what to do about it. Getting computers into classrooms is not enough. What do we need to use these fore once they arrive in schools. Watch the kids to see how the kids are hyperconnected. Then work it out! Connect around the globe – kids in one classroom with kids in another. [while this is not new to some of us, seems to be a key message to deliver to those attending the symposium today]

The computer is a window – NOT a destination.

The classroom is the disruption – the outside world is clamoring to get in to make the classroom relevant. The schools need a window that is opening into the real world. That technology, however, offers a profound change, making people afraid – then postpone change because the decisions are difficult.

We cannot afford to be frozen into inaction! We are the mutants. If we can’t change education in the next few years, the tide of change is going to whip right past us. But education won’t fade away – there is too much pressure from too many directions. So the pressure will continue to rise, and unexpected things will continue to happen.

Mark reflected on the amazing transformation of various technologies – Twitter being the most recent revoltuion in news connections and services. The greatest news feed about the earthquakes in China was Twitter.

“The street finds its own use for things” that the makers never intended.

At the end of the day, WE are the change agents. All we need to do is to start to share. We need to connect with each other. We need to use the tools of hyperconnectivity. We need to use the relationships to exchange knowledge. We need to pool our expertise.

Just ONE of those ideas can change the ideas in your school! Follow Mark on Twitter to find out more about the good ideas that happen at this Symposium.

When we learn how to use these tools we can then work out how to transform education!

Mark Pesce