Standing on stilts – and a new degree!

Sometimes we are too immersed in what is around us, and find it hard to look out beyond the crowd to a place that brings not only excitement, but also the the kind of stimulation that any creative mind seeks. That’s what education aims to be about of course, but we can’t always succeed.  In that sense I am really lucky to be working in an environment that does support standing on stilts – if you are willing to take up the balancing-act challenge!

So on that front I have been lucky to have the support of my Faculty to stand on stilts – big time!.  We’ve now officially launched the website about our newest degree offering, the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation). In this degree will be undertaking to meet the challenges of learning in a connected world, and helping our post-graduate students (who will already be outstanding teaching practitioners)  develop the capacity to be responsive to the challenges that this connected world brings.

In examining the concepts and practices for a digital age, we will of course engage with as many of the recent developments which are influencing learning and teaching in an increasingly digitally-connected world. By examining key features and influences of global connectedness, information organization, communication and participatory cultures of learning, I hope that our students will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on their professional practice in a networked learning community, and engage in dialogue to develop an authentic understanding of concepts and practices for learning and teaching in digital environments.

We will be reviewing and reconstructing understanding. We will be standing on stilts and looking for the contexts for innovation and change in day-to-day professional practice. Overall we will be encouraging professional learning through authentic tasks and activities through collaboration with peers; by immersing ourselves in readings that are thought-provoking; by adopting a stance of inquiry, reflection and analysis, and by engaging with new knowledge in the context of the daily transactions of learning and teaching.

The new degree follows a flexible structure, allowing students to craft a program of study that meets their own (and often diverse) professional needs.  The range of subjects on offer are varied, following the foundation subject “Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age“.  I will be teaching this subject myself to kick-start the degree program, because I want to!  I believe that this new degree program is going to be demanding, exciting, challenging, invigorating, and  will allow us to build professional connections between us and a real excitement for future possibilities.

OK, you say – get off your stilts now!  Stop dreaming!

The fact is that I am totally committed.  As a Courses Director, I am not expected to teach.  But in fact, I will be teaching the foundation subject because I want very much  to engage with our first cohort of students to get a measure of what is possible, and to ensure that our degree program can respond together to the challenges that new knowledge networks bring us.  You, the first cohort, will indeed lay the foundations of the purposes and future learning opportunities for anyone entering the program.  Let’s do it!  Come and join me in the challenge.

I will be holding the first round of online information Webinars about this degree program next week. If you are in the least bit curious, do sign up and join me for a chat. You’ll find the link to sign up for the webinar at the degree program website.

If you haven’t quite caught up with the rapid changes in our connected world – consider this.  Yesterday saw the world scrambling to update their iPhones to the new iOS7 operating system.  I was like a kid in a candy store as I played with my device for hours. I exchanged views and opinions with my global online colleagues via Twitter and Facebook. It was a ball!

I also work online all the time – and talk, plan, dream, sigh in these virtually connected environments. What will it be like when iRobot comes into our working environments?

iRobot was founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists with the vision of making practical robots a reality.  Since then they have produced robots that vacuum and wash floors, clean gutters and pools and patrol war zones.  At InfoComm which was held in Orlando, Florida last month iRobot announced they were partnering with Cisco (videoconference and telepresence solutions company) to bring an enterprise grade iRobot Ava 500 video collaboration robot to market.  iRobot blended their self navigating robot with Cisco’s high definition TelePresence technology (EX60) and wireless access points to allow offsite workers to participate in meetings where movement and the ability to change locations quickly was simple.

Ava 500 gives new meaning to the term mobile videoconferencing.  It’s no longer a case of mobile describing where you can take your equipment but where your equipment can take you!!

AVA 500 telepresence robot in action

Navigation is controlled with an advanced suite of sensors consisting of laser, sonar, 2D and 3D imaging, cliff sensors and contact bumpers.  Ava can move in any direction just like a human and safely transport herself to a meeting (having already mapped out the floor plan of the building).  She can adjust her height to accomodate who she’s meeting with (seated or standing) and can moderate her speed and alter her path if she senses humans in the environment (to get to the meeting on time).  She automatically returns to her charging station after the meeting is over.

Ava comes with a dedicated iPad which is used to schedule and control her attendance at meetings.  You can select Ava’s meeting destination by tapping a location on a map or choosing a room or employee name.  At the scheduled time Ava is activated to take you where you want to go.  You can elect to travel from the charging station to the selected location in either private mode (screen appears blank) or in public mode (screen shows video of you – see above).  If public mode is chosen you can see and be seen by others and can even stop to have a conversation with a colleague on the way.

Ava is targeted for availability in early 2014.  Thanks to the DIT blog at CSU for this eye-popping information.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by John Flinchbaugh

Creating change, creating the future


What a great week for change and development it has been!  In a significant point in history I saw today that one of the world’s innovators, Douglas Englbart died, and there was plenty of commentary reflecting his myriad contributions circulating in the globe’s media.

The Computer History Museum explained:

Engelbart’s most important work began with his 1959 founding of the Augmentation Research Center, where he developed some of the key technologies used in computing today. Engelbart brought the various strands of his research together for his “mother of all demos” in San Francisco on December 8, 1968, an event that presaged many of the technologies and computer-usage paradigms we would use decades later. His system, called NLS, showed actual instances of, or precursors to, hypertext, shared screen collaboration, multiple windows, on-screen video teleconferencing, and the mouse as an input device.

It was interesting to read that Engelbart conceived the computer mouse so early in the evolution of computers that he and his colleagues didn’t profit much from it. The mouse patent had a 17-year life span, allowing the technology to pass into the public domain in 1987. That prevented Engelbart from collecting royalties on the mouse when it was in its widest use. At least a billion have been sold since the mid-1980s.

Meanwhile, as the last century continues to fade, CSU staff are busy this week nurturing the potential future innovators in information studies -  through the Melbourne study visit of libraries and information agencies, and the mid-year residential school for latest new students in the Bachelor of Information Studies.

Melbourne Study Tour

These two activities combined have seen a host of excited students – but the newest recruits were easily the most amazing bunch I’ve seen so far.

If they keep up the level of enthusiasm they have shown this week – watch out world!

I’ll be chatting to them about the social networking subject of course, and they are the first lucky bunch to be introduced to our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SISCSU and Twitter account https://twitter.com/SISCSU.

No fear -  the School of Information Studies staff are a talented bunch.  We even provide our own entertainment for students, lead by Damian Lodge – lecturer, ALIA Director, and classical guitar maker!

Image: 25 Years of Apple Mouse Evolution cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by osaMu

Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation

The time has come to finally put my pen down, metaphorically speaking, and take a moment to reflect – and I’m excited!

Early this year I put forward a proposal (which was accepted) to the Faculty of Education for a new degree – the result of extensive discussions, consultations, and research by my teaching partners, and in consultation with key advisers, around future directions in our academic programs.

Now in May I’ve completed in rapid fast time the extensive work required to develop the bones of a fantastic new degree.  We have it folks – a new internationally available Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) degree, commencing in 2014.

Why it matters?

Technology has significantly impacted the literature and information engagement options for learning. Students are no longer limited to learning materials available within the confines of their school, but are able to draw on almost boundless resources of multiple types and in multiple formats, on digital devices and online. They have become connected learners (Siemens, 2004) who can explore, share and create knowledge with peers in their own classroom and around the world.

Students need guidance from teachers with expertise in navigating diverse information pathways within these personal and creative learning environments, socially connected networks, and globally enriched contexts. The range of literature and information options from books to all manner of media objects, sources and devices means that students need to know how to juxtapose quality text, sound, media and social connections appropriately and in real time;  and how to filter, then mix and match what they see, hear and exchange in order to build personal knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.

We understand that educators are challenged by this 21st century participatory culture and information ecology.

Our response is our new degree for commencement in 2014 that will aim to:

  • provide a critical introduction to the concepts, principles and practices of information and knowledge networks, including systems of information discovery, organisation, dissemination and distribution in digital environments;
  • merge key elements from the two distinctive disciplines of education and information science  to leverage the affordances of digital environments for connected learning
  • use information and communication technologies to research, teach and collaborate;
  • provide detailed knowledge of, and participatory experiences in, the principles and practices of connected learning;
  • provide opportunities to explore a range of innovative learning  frameworks, including physical and virtual environments and resources;
  • develop digital scholarship facilitated by online, networked and open content,

But wait!  There is more, and in the next few months more and more information will become available about this new postgraduate option.

To learn a little more, and stay informed of new updates visit the the Facebook Page for our new degree. Here you’ll find basic subject details, essential announcements and updates about the development processes.

We are offering a global degree – for teachers anywhere in the world to engage with connected learning!

Take a peek at this short slideshare presentation with some content information.  If you like what you see, share in your workplace and with your friends.

Siemens, T N 2004, Connectivism: A learning theory for a digital age, Creative Commons, viewed 2 September 2012, http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Image: Sunday Abstract

So you think they can learn?

Perhaps the answer to that question is obvious to you? Or perhaps you are wondering what exactly it is that you should wish your students  to learn?

I know that teachers are passionate people, who are committed to providing students with rich learning experiences and diverse opportunities to rise to the challenges that our world provides. But this passion needs to be nurtured, and is best nurtured by drawing on the quality experiences of our peer practitioners, and quality research that is being undertaken in schools.

In speaking to a group of new post graduate students this evening, I explained that one of the avenues for supporting your own ‘passion’ is to subscribe to a new online journal for educators called SCAN (which – for my money – has always been one of the best-value journals around in print form).

What does SCAN offer?

Scan is a leading refereed journal that focuses on the interaction between information in a digital age and effective student learning. Scan offers engaging professional support for all educators.

What’s in Scan?

Articles, school stories and resources about:

  • quality learning and connected curriculum
  • teaching ideas for digital age literacies
  • inquiry learning and evidence based practice
  • multimodal resources for exciting learning
  • research and emerging trends
  • extensive e-resource, website and other reviews
  • dynamic school libraries

The new online issue of SCAN carries the article  So you think they can learn? in which I urge SCAN readers to make learning visible by re-envisioning information literacy for today’s learners.

Do take the time to visit SCAN and experience the new interactive capabilities that will surely make this journal a continued leader in the field in the digital era.

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

Content curation is the new black

Content curation crops up over and over again – so a whole issue on the topic from the wonderful school librarians in New Zealand is worth a read! Tossing ideas around, and finding ways to harness tools to our purpose is part of the daily challenge.

So here is the latest issue of their Collected Magazine, free for the taking! It’s all about content curation or “articles to help you add to your collection development bag of tricks!”I I was lucky to be invited to write a lead article title..you guessed it..Content curation is the new black!

You will find articles about the following:

Curating content for creative reuse (Ester Casey)
Content curation as a marketing tool (Peter Murgatroyd)
Exploring Scoop.it (Hillary Greenebaum)
Using LiveBinders (Senga White)
and more…

By the way, what a great use of an online magazine publishing tool – your organisation, school or library can put out good digital publications for information, promotion, or sharing. Your students can get involved too.

Visit ISSUU at http://issuu.com/miriamtuohy/docs/may2012/1 if you want to subscribe to their magazine on a regular basis or to learn more about the product.

Joining Pandora – Australia’s web archive

The National Library of Australia aims to build a comprehensive collection of Australian publications to ensure that Australians have access to their documentary heritage now and in the future.

The National Library is an amazing organisation. The theme promoted on the homepage says it all: Thinkers Wanted  - Take a fresh look at the National Library. Remarkable.

You should stop by and discover Australia’s Collections: Trove; Picture Australia, Pandora, Music Australia, Australia Dancing and Australian Newspapers.

The one that I am excited about today is PANDORA – Australia’s Web Archive.

PANDORA was set up by the Library in 1996 to enable the archiving and provision of long-term access to online Australian publications. Since then they have been identifying and archiving online publications that meet their collecting scope and priorities.

Imagine my excitement to receive a request to include this blog in the  PANDORA Archive. I have now granted permission under the Copyright Act 1968, to copy Heyjude into the Archive and to provide online public access to them via the Internet. This means that the Library has permission to retain the published blog in the Archive and to provide public access  in perpetuity. How cool is that?

Access is then facilitated in two ways:  via the Library’s online catalogue and via subject and title lists maintained on the PANDORA home page .

I am delighted to be added to the collection! I know others have been granted this privilege long before me, but I’m amazed non-the-less.

Now my digital musings are no longer floating free on the internet, and I have one of the best back-up systems in the world.

Image: Laptop Floating on a Digital Sea from Bigstock

United we stand – or do we?

When it comes to school libraries in the 21st century, there are many challenges that need to be addressed by teacher librarians and school administration teams. There is abundant research evidence that good school librarians and good libraries make a difference – a radical difference in the learning  lives of our students.

But the evidence is of little value unless school librarians and/or teacher librarians  also work together to empower their own learning and forge new pathways for integrating into the learning needs of students.

Sadly, in Australia, I would suggest that teacher librarians are their own worst enemies. We do not present a united voice – rather the tensions that abound between various teacher librarian groups who choose  NOT to work together with a national voice is to me particularly alarming. No matter how good your local group or state group is – it is the national voice that influences government and other national organizations. What has your local or state group done to promote the national needs of teacher librarians? Are they supporting the work of ASLA national -  actively, courageously, generously, and relentlessly?  Our own national organization has done so much to ensure the past, present and future of school libraries across the nation.

So how could you not be excited by the upcoming opportunity in October in sunny Sydney? If you have not as yet registered to attend the XXII national bi-biennial conference of the Australian  School Library Association  please do not miss this chance to collaborate with your peers from Australia. Registrations close this week!

It is more important than ever to put regional and sectional interests behind us. Just this week our own national listserv is replete with stories yet again of school principals who are removing teacher librarians from their school library. Others, secure in their own jobs, forget to take a national view on preserving and promoting the profession. It’s not enough to attend local events. It’s not enough to take out membership of a regional or state group – if in doing so you are cut off from national action and do not lend your voice to national collaboration.

I want to personally thank  ASLA national for providing us with national publications, national standards, national events, and for taking national responsibility for our profession.  Let’s never forget – there is no other school library organization that  can do this for us!

Think local and act national – this is the only way to ensure the future of good school libraries across our nation.

Come to the conference!

Report on school libraries and teacher librarians


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Enokson

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment  released a report on school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia’s public and private schools. The report released on Monday 23 2011  investigates the issues of role, adequacy and resourcing of school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia.  The full report is available at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ee/schoollibraries/report.htm

The report focuses on the impact of government policies and investments on school libraries, the potential of school libraries and teacher librarians to contribute to improved educational outcomes, and the recruitment and development of teacher librarians. The 163-page report also looks at partnering and supporting school libraries and teacher librarians with other libraries. It is a positive report in that it is clearly supportive of school libraries and the role of the teacher librarian.

When it comes to school libraries and teacher librarians, we are in a much better position than some countries at the moment!  Our school librarians and our teacher librarians are considered worthy of  national discussion!  Nevertheless, while there are many instances of great school libraries staff with excellent teacher librarians, and adequate levels of professional support staffing, there are also many cases where this is not the case.  This report may go some way to helping to redress the imbalance, and also ensure that continuation of a strong teacher librarian academic programs in Australia.

The report was tabled to coincide with Library and Information Week 2011.

List of 11 recommendations in the report.

Impact of recent Commonwealth Government policies and investments on school libraries

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government partner with all education authorities to fund the provision of a core set
of online database resources, which are made available to all Australian schools.

Recommendation 2
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government work with the states and territories to develop a discrete national policy statement that defines the importance of digital and information literacy for learning in the 21st century, which can be used as a guide by teachers and principals.

Potential of school libraries and librarians to contribute to improved educational and community outcomes

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority include statistical information about the breakdown of all specialist teachers, including teacher librarians, on the My School website.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government support additional initiatives to promote reading, such as a National Year of Reading. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations should collaborate with the Australian School Library Association, Australian Libraries and Information Association and other education stakeholders in developing these initiatives.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government initiate an Australian-based longitudinal study into the links between library programs, literacy (including digital literacy) and student achievement, including their impact on improving outcomes for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government support promotional activities undertaken by ASLA and ALIA that demonstrate to the school community the valuable work that teacher librarians are doing in respect of e-learning in their schools, including those that highlight their leadership capacity.

Recruitment and development of teacher librarians

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends that the rollout of the new national curriculum, which is to be made available online, include a component of training for teacher librarians.

Recommendation 8

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government commission a thorough workforce gap analysis of teacher librarians across Australian schools.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, establish a national dialogue, including with tertiary providers, on the role of teacher librarians today in schools and into the future. The dialogue should include an examination of the adequacy of the pathways into the profession and ongoing training requirements.

Partnering and supporting school libraries and teacher librarians

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood and Youth Affairs, discuss ways to enhance partnerships with state and
territory and local levels of government to support school libraries and teacher librarians.

Recommendation 11

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government partner with ASLA and ALIA to produce a document that showcases some of the successful partnerships and programs between school libraries and other libraries, and joint-use libraries. The document should be made available to government and non-government education authorities and school principals.

The Committee hopes that this report goes some way toward highlighting teacher librarians’ concerns; showcases their valuable contributions to educational outcomes in Australian schools; and starts to examine their evolving role and place in Australia’s education system.


Schools taking responsibility for digital citizenship

One of the new courses in 2011 on which I am working at CSU at the moment is called Digital Citizenship in Schools. The opportunity to work with school educators on this topic is a complete bonus!   I feel this way because having recently left working in schools I am only too aware of how easy it is for schools to skirt the issues, or believe they are ‘doing something’ worthwhile – yet missing the point by miles!

It is important to open our eyes as wide as we can to the possibilities, and the far-reaching changes not only in technology tools ( such as computers, laptops, cameras, multi-purpose phones, ipads and portable devices, and ebook readers) but also in information access, and social communications that our digital world is inspiring.

The media constantly report stories about the shift in digital technology use among children and teenagers. These highlight the fact that ‘the shift’ is not just a topic for educators, but is a topic of interest, and perhaps concern, for all adults. Learning to play Angry Birds before you can tie your shoes is suddenly media news!  More importantly, though, is the need to grow in knowledge of the digital environment, and it’s influential role in learning and teaching.

So what are schools doing about it? Ask yourself.  Look around.  Look at your policies, community communications, and your teaching programs. Look at your teachers and figure out how many actually have a clue about any of this?

Fortunatley, there are some really strong role-models in the education community, who help lead the conversation, and now I have found something that I am VERY excited about!

iCyberSafe.com – Living in a Connected World


This outstanding website provides information, resources, videos, updates and more for the school community on all matters related to Digital Citizenship.  It’s so easy to build a resource like this for a school using WordPress – yet how many schools have done this?  I  could have built Joeys something like this in the wink of an eye – but of course, that’s just not the way it happens in schools. We had other initiatives underway!

But the question is  – what does it take to create a whole-school response to Digital Citizenship?  What it takes is a Principal with vision, and determination to break through traditional structures to get where we need to go.  This is why is was wonderful to read that Darcy Moore has such a Principal.

For the first time in 20 years I do not have English classes to teach. The principal has requested that I am ‘off the timetable’ and work with all students on digital citizenship and creating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or, if you prefer, Personal Learning Network (PLN). This is another small step towards creating an environment at our school where student learning is personalised with the internet in mind.

What Darcy describes as a ‘small step’ would seem to me to be a significant step, given the cost in time and staffing. I would like to find other schools that have taken bold steps to ‘go where no-one has gone before‘.  This is a new frontier  that must be explored, with conections made and tamed,  so that working with digital citizenship it is no longer seen as being groundbreaking.  How long will it take before digital citizenship just becomes citizenship?

final report from the Learning with New Media research group at Monash University’s Faculty of Education was recently released.  This report, called Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites provides an outstanding analysis of  some the issues involved.

The research findings of this project confirm that SNS usage is now playing an important role in the lives of Victorian middle school students, including in socialisation and identity formation. In fact, SNS use has become integrated into the everyday social lives of most Victorian middle school students.

The final words of the report urge:

There is a need for further research directed at understanding young people’s use of SNS and how they can better be empowered to be confident and safer digital citizens. There is also a significant need to further work to be done to assist teachers to be better equipped to understand their rights and responsibilities in the digital communication environment.

We have a  way to go!

Join us in the journey. Become proactive in your use of digital environments, and urge your school to explore and engage in these environments more (rather than shutting them down).

As a result of my work  with our Digital Citizenship course at uni we now have two ongoing resources that readers may like to tap into and help to build.

Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DigitalCitizenshipInSchools

Find us at Diigo http://groups.diigo.com/group/digital-citizenship-in-schools