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

Thinking about teaching & Graduate Standards

Judy, Kathleen Morris, Anne Mirtschin

Last Friday  I flew to Melbourne to join a group of excellent ICT innovators, to take part in Teaching Teachers for the Future focus group - A project funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations through the ICT Innovation Fund.

The purpose of our full day meeting was to provide  input and feedback to the 22 draft elaborations of the Graduate standards required for proficiency in the National Professional Standards for Teachers and to  assist in the exemplification of the elaborations of these Graduate Standards. We’ve established a group of ‘critical friends’ who can provide input and feedback to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) – Component 1 of the Teaching Teachers for the Future project during 2011.

According to the media statement, the National Professional Standards for Teachers, which were validated throughout 2010 by almost 6,000 teachers, school leaders and parents, make explicit what teachers should know and be able to do across 4 career stages: graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead.  In truth, the elaborations are still very much in development, and there will be many steps yet before the standards are finalised.

So the project that had us gathered together in Melbourne  specifically targets systematic change in the Information and Communication Technology in Education (ICTE) proficiency of graduate teachers across Australia. The project team is led by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), and includes the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE), the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), Education Services Australia (ESA), the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE), and Australian universities/institutions with pre-service teacher education programs as partners.

We had an epic day deliberating, changing, making recommendations.  My thanks to Tony Brandenburg (President of the Australian Council for Computers in Education, ISTE Ambassador 2011, Member of the ISTE International Committee), Dr Margaret Lloyd (Faculty of Education at Queensland Uni) and others in  ACCE for extending an invitation to me, and making the day such an outstanding success. We will continue to work as a critical group by providing feedback and response to the ICT elaborations as they continue work on them in 2011.

However, my take-away is that we are not going to achieve in Australia anything like the flexibility and innovation that we would have liked to see.

We are not heading for a Finland phenomenon.  I wish we were.

Slipping into change

Here we are in 2011, and as usual a new year brings with it surprises and the opportunities for change. I have been very busy one way or another preparing for some personal change as I get myself ready for  full-time work as Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Charles Sturt University.

You know it’s really happening when you receive a proof of your business card – which will be ready for me to collect when I travel down to Wagga Wagga in February (though I will be based in Sydney most of the time).

I am a little nervous, but also excited about this change. I know I will really enjoy the opportunity to spend more time engaging at a professional level with people involved in the information profession in education, school, community and service sectors.

I have some outstanding colleagues in the field, both within Charles Sturt University, and at other universities here in Australia and worldwide.  I can’t wait to interact with them, and learn from their wisdom and experience.

I want to mention four of them (there ARE many others!), as they have been involved in key stages  towards this new venture of mine.

Michael Stephens at Tame the Web has been an inspiration  for many years (he also wrote the Forward for Connect, Communicate, Collaborate), and an awesome role model for a new lecturer in this discipline :-)  Thanks Michael!

Some time along the way, I met James Herring from Dunbar Scotland who  now teaches  at  CSU. He got me involved in some adjunct work in Teacher Librarianship.

I have also been encouraged by Lyn Hay, especially in exploration of teaching to library students in virtual worlds and uses of social networking for learning.

Of course, Kathryn Greenhill never stops inspiring me!  No sooner had I started blogging, than she was there to encourage. Her work continues to drive the future directions of information knowledge work, and since she is also now working as an Associate Lecturer in Information Studies  at  Curtin University there’ll be virtually nothing to stop us!  (well, she is in Western Australia, and I’m in Sydney)

So there it is!  New directions, and new challenges for 2011.  I have travelled such a journey in my own career – from typing catalogue cards in the Rare Book Library at the University of Sydney (my first ever library job- see the gorgeous Book of Hours that came into the collection when I was there )  – to teaching and learning with new and evolving information professionals.

From a world of books to a world transmedia and transliteracy  – who could ask for more?

I’ll be teaching the following subjects:  Services to Children and Young Adults;  Digital Citizenship in Schools;  and  Teacher Librarianship.

I’m also going to be  involved in a number of workshops, conference presentations, and more.  It is a great opportunity to be able to share ideas, knowledge, experience, and be involved in planning and development of knowledge services and information curation in real and virtual/online environments.  It’s just awesome to have these bookings in my professional calendar already!

What can I say??  It’s astounding how much change has taken place – and I love every minute of it!!

Greetings to all!

It’s been an amazing year – so much to say, and so little time to say it …

Thank you for a great year everyone. Without you all contributing, sharing, and collaborating as part of the great professional learning community that we have all become – 2010 would have been just another year.

But things are never boring – and there’s hardly enough time to reflect and learn. Lucky that 2011 is just around the corner!

Best wishes to you all…..

 

Well, that’s done!

Yesterday I came to the end of a rather hectic 3 years at St Joseph’s College, having filled the role of Head of Library and Information Services.

At my farewell the Headmaster, Ross Tarlinton,  explained to all the  major brief  he had gave me in coming to the position.  He looked for the renewal of the College library as a Centre of Learning – and this required pedagogical and physical changes.

He acknowledged that the journey was not easy! But he was delighted that we had made it and that recently he was pleased to be interviewed about our developments at the College.

While it was certainly an exciting challenge, and one that I am proud to have been able to undertake, it’s also an era of my life that I am very glad to see come to an end.  I have many stories to tell (happy ones and sad ones)  and many experiences to share.

But all that will have to wait for another time, another cup of coffee.

In 2011 I am off to my new role as Lecturer in the Faculty of Education with Charles Sturt University. I’ll be joining a wonderful team of educators in the School of Information Studies, and am really looking forward to working with teachers and teacher librarians in schools, helping them bring the best out of the learning environments that they find themselves in.

Until I have my  image portfolio better organised, here are some before and after photos of our makeover to share!!

THE PICTURE STORY

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can always find the full set at HeyjudeGallery.

Australian School Library Review – wow!

Australian Teacher Librarians and school libraries,  received some good (awesome!)  news today from Australian House of Representatives Liaison & Projects Office.

The media alert outlines the preliminary details:

School libraries review relaunched

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment has been asked by the Federal Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, the Hon. Peter Garrett AM MP, to complete an inquiry into the role, adequacy and resourcing of school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia’s public and private schools, that was begun in the previous Parliament.

The Terms of Reference require that the Committee specifically focus on:

  • the impact of recent policies and investments on school libraries and their activities;
  • the future potential of school libraries and librarians to contribute to improved educational and community outcomes, especially literacy;
  • the factors influencing recruitment and development of school librarians;
  • the role of different levels of government and local communities and other institutions in partnering with and supporting school librarians; and
  • the impact and potential of digital technologies to enhance and support the roles of school libraries and librarians

Announcing the inquiry, Committee Chair Ms Amanda Rishworth, MP, said, “The Committee is very pleased that this matter will be revisited by the new Education Committee. Teacher librarians make a significant contribution in our schools and we look forward to sharing our findings on how to enhance this valuable community resource. ”

The Committee will have reference to all the written submissions and evidence gathered at public hearings conducted by the former Education Committee in the previous Parliament.

Learning in a changing world series is out!

It’s been rather slow in the making, but finally the new series commissioned by ALIA and ASLA is available to order from the ACER shop online.

The Learning in a Changing World series addresses how the process of learning is evolving – including the array of resources available in the digital age, changing curriculum, and the different teaching strategies needed in order to use new media and technologies.

The Learning in a Changing World series presents the core areas for teacher librarians and school leaders to consider for 21st century learning: the digital world, virtual worlds, curriculum integration, resourcing, and the physical environment. All are essential elements to enable and empower our students to be lifelong learners and active participants in our society.

I was lucky to work on the first two books in the series with my good friend Dean Groom.  Books like the two we worked on can never stay completely current – but then they are not ‘how to’ guides so much as ‘why you should’  and ‘why you can’ guides. There is enough thought provoking information for readers to leverage and  help innovation and change in their own schools.

Connect, Communicate, Collaborate

Our students are involved in an ‘architecture of participation’ – creating, adapting and sharing content. While for them this learning is a comfortable multimodal conversation, for us this change is revolutionary. Schools and school libraries have many challenges to address to create a renewal of pedagogy and technology work practices. As we begin to understand the importance of these seismic shifts, we come to the realisation that we are being challenged to un-learn and re-learn in order to grant students access to 21st century learning.

Connect, Communicate, Collaborate is written to provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get you started.

Many thanks go to  Michael Stephens for generously  contributing the Forward to this work.

Virtual Worlds

Each year there are more and more avatars in rich virtual environments. These immersive worlds – where the world within the screen becomes both the object and the site of interaction – are on the increase, matching the promise of technology with the creative minds of our students. Educators, keen to incorporate the evolving literacy and information needs of 21st century learners, will want to understand the opportunities provided by MUVEs, MMORPGs and 3D immersive worlds, so as to be able to create more interactive library, educational and cultural projects. The challenge is to accept that these interactive environments are here to stay and that schools can, and should, embrace learning in virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds will provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get you started.

Many thanks to Peggy Sheehy for generously contributing the Forward to this work.

Join us in the Second Classroom: Educators Learning in Virtual Worlds and share your virtual learning journey!

Others in the series

Other volumes in the series include Curriculum Integration , Resourcing for Curriculum Innovation, and Designing the Learning Environment.

Enjoy!

The book is dead – long live the book

So much is said and written about the ‘demise’ of the book these days. However, amongst the media hype and one-eyed negativism that sometimes abounds – there are also rational evangelists who focus on knowledge, culture and the role of digitised text in extending the possibilities for humanity.

At a recent conference hosted by the Association of Independent Schools, I encountered just such an evangelist. Sherman Young, who writes The Book is Dead blog as a companion to his book by the same title (download the first chapter), tantalized the audience with his presentation ‘The Book is Dead’.

Sherman kept the BOOK right in perspective – both past forms and future possibilities were discussed.

Book culture is too often confused with reading culture  – and it is this reading culture that Sherman explained as ‘long-form’ text. A book is a process – it requires time  to write and time to read. A book makes premium  demands of authors and readers: a writer can reflect and dig deeper into ideas, subtly constructing reality, thereby encouraging analysis, thought, reflection. In fact,  in a book the creation of a new reality is delegated to the reader.

Sherman reminded us that in fact BOOKS HAVE BEEN DIGITAL FOR ABOUT 20 YEARS!!

Eureka!  Of course books have been digital – once we got rid of hot metal presses, and moved to typesetting then desktop publishing, all books were digital first, then adapted to be printed.

Now the digital books are getting sophisticated and devices have emerged that make them easy to read. In addition, books are being digitised the world over to share, and to facilitate learning and research. Take a look at the Rare Book Room, and think about the value of this type of easy access to our literary and knowledge heritage.

In an online world we can and have to ensure that books remain – it’s about what books have done that counts. Even Google books are a way of ensuring that books survive.

Of course we also have text that is about communication in short form and speed. Text is everywhere online.

According to Sherman,

books are people thinking; online text, like Twitter, are people talking.

We need books. Even in the 21st century we need places and spaces to slow down, and books to read as ‘long text’.

I wound up the conference with my presentation. It was great to conclude an exciting day that, incidentally, kicked off with a fantastic skyed presentation from Will Richardson on transforming learning in education. Will’s a bit of a star at getting people sitting on the edge of their seats, and so people were pretty much buzzing making  it  easy for me to do a wrap that followed his vision, and also bounced off the exciting ideas that Sherman shared.

As ‘one of their own’ it was my job to try and challenge all the teacher-librarians to go on back to school and work hard at ‘keeping up with every(E)thing.  Oh, and my view is that the book is not dead – it’s just adapting!