J3T – Judy and Tara talk tech

What happens when two friends get together, and pretty much impromptu, create 10 videos  in a few hours on 10 tech topics?

Tara Brabazon, Professor of Education and Head of the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University,  Bathurst invited me (Courses Director, School of Information Studies in the Faculty of Education, Charles Sturt University , Wagga Wagga) to test this question.

The result was the J3T Judy and Tara Talk Tech series of 10.  Here we now have ten pebbles in a big digital pond – let the ripples begin…..  We introduce the J3T series here for you.

You will find the full series under the following topics:

J3T1 Email and the digital glut
Judy and Tara reveal strategies to manage the information glut. How do we control email? How do we stop email controlling us?

J3T2 Information Organization
Judy and Tara talk about how to manage information. How do students avoid plagiarism? How can software help to organize our ideas and sources?

J3T3 Managing Digital Lives
Judy and Tara explore how to differentiate our digital lives. How do we separate private and professional roles, on and offline? How is our understanding of privacy transforming?

J3T4 Creating rich learning management systems
Judy and Tara probe the problems and strengths of learning management systems. They explore how to create rich, imaginative and powerful environments to enable student learning.

J3T5 Open Access Resources
Judy and Tara explore the changing nature of publishing, research and the resources available for teaching and learning. They probe open access journals and the open access ‘movement.’

J3T6 Fast Media
Judy and Tara explore the challenges of fast media, like Twitter and other microblogging services. While valuable, how do we control the speed of such applications to enable interpretation, analysis and reflection?

J3T7 Sound and Vision
Judy and Tara explore the nature of sonic and visual media. When are sound-only resources best deployed? How do we create reflection and interpretation on visual sources?

J3T8 The Google Effect
Judy and Tara probe the impact of the read-write web and the ‘flattening’ of expertise and the discrediting of experts such as teachers and librarians. Judy also demonstrates the great value of meta-tagging.

J3T9 Are books dead
Judy and Tara asks the provocative question: Are books dead? They explore the role of platforms – analogue and digital – in carrying information to specific audiences.

J3T10 The future? Mobility
Judy and Tara discuss the future of educational technology. Particularly, they focus on mobility, through mobile phones and m-learning.

PS  I did not get my mowing man to text me at the right moment in ‘Managing Digital Lives’ – what a hoot!

Image: Blue Water cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Louise Docker

Your information flow might be so last century

It’s Monday morning, and as I sit down for my morning cup of tea and toast, I open my iPhone to see what’s in my email, and what items in my calendar will need my attention. I can take a little time over this, as I don’t have a long commute to work ahead of me, though I will ‘commute’ across the country (online) while I collaborate with my colleagues on curriculum standards and content alignment in the work we are doing for the new degree.

Next, as I flicked through Twitter (because I like to do that, and because it’s an important information tool) I stopped – and sighed at the struggle still before us of convincing teachers in K-12 schooling that they have to keep up! Well, there are lots of things they need to keep up with, and their own knowledge discipline is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about information flow – the stuff of our knowledge networks, and the fabric of our connected lives.

In just a couple of minutes of my twitter feed (never mind all the hours I was asleep) I found:

I suspect that I don’t take my information flow nearly as seriously as I should. But at least I try! You should try too! We know that there is a lot happening, and that there are various ways of responding to the speed of info-change. Putting your head under a rock is not one of them!

As Stacey explains in her post Extreme Curation:

I’ll admit it! Sometimes I’m a bit slack and while I endeavour to manage my information well sometimes I just can’t be bothered. So now I think I have the answer “extreme curation for slackers”.

Our Edublogger guru Sue Waters provides us with the brilliant Flip-aholic’s Ultimate Guide to subscribing and sharing.

Just to add to the mix, Darcey Moore explores his own new workflow in Writing and Worflow: Scrivener and Simplenote, explaining:

Workflow, for a whole range of professional needs and personal pleasures, is constantly being disrupted lately as tools and processes morph daily or my understanding deepens of what is possible.

Enough said!

If you are involved in education in some way and you’ve still got people who believe that email, google searching, and journal subscriptions are ‘the go’, then you’d better scramble into your Tardis and get to a timezone that’s relevant to the needs of students today.

Image: Dr Who cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by aussiegall

Suit in the clouds

Let’s face it -  the cloud is here!  Does your educational institution or management understand this? Luckily for me I work in a ‘cloud’ environment on a daily basis, whether it is managing my professional data files online, working and communicating in the cloud,  or engaging with students and colleagues in some social media platform or another.

All well and good – but not too innovative if it’s just ‘me, myself and I’!

We need suits in the cloud too – real suits who share information and put a personal face to a media environment. My latest favourite suit is Andrew Vann. Professor Andrew Vann is the new Vice-Chancellor and President of Charles Sturt University (CSU), and unlike the usual new suits, he has already attracted much interest within the ranks. Here is a suit who has moved right into the cloud, and leads the way in adopting social media. Andrew runs a lively update stream at Twitter @drpievann and launched an official blog to engage with the broader CSU community.

 I want to use this blog to facilitate a collegial and hopefully innovative process to establish a clearer sense of where and what we want CSU to be in the future, and later what we need to do to get there.

I suppose there is nothing new about a senior suit launching a blog – but it IS a bit innovative for higher education. If CSU is to live up to being  Australia’s leading online and distance education provider, it strikes me as critical that not only Andrew, but many more of the HE leadership need to hang their suits in the cloud in order to further advance online education and the student experience.  That’s   #justsayin in Twitter-speak!

It’s the same with our subjects and degree programs – they also need to incorporate digital environments not only to improve learning opportunities, but also to make the learning experience relevant to the workplace.

Once again I have found that some of the subjects I have been teaching do connect directly with the student professional experience. These subjects were developed to respond to the digital environment – even allowing some of our students to get their own suits in the cloud :-)

Today, I was offered an amazing job as Social Media Officer where I will spend my days immersed in social networking! My interest in it through study of this social media subject was noticed by those at the top.

This is the kind of outcome we strive for in the degree programs in the School of Information Studies. This is what postgraduate study should be about! As another student said after completing a subject I have been teaching:

This is the first subject where I’ve actually seen direct relevance to my work.

This is the challenge for ‘suits’! Will you be moving into the cloud some time soon?

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by -= Hobo =-

Stepping into school librarianship…



Back to base in Wagga Wagga, and the beginning of another academic year for me! While here at Charles Sturt University we have three sessions, rather than two semesters, and students may be starting off a graduate or post-graduate course at any one of these three sessions, there is still something ‘magical’ about starting a new program of study with a new year!

So for a whole bunch of students, around about now things are starting to get exciting. In my case, my subject outlines have gone ‘live’ – but the really juicy stuff is yet to come. Meanwhile, we have been spending a lot of time working on learning materials and beginning a process of renewal in assessment strategies. The scene above was taken from the balcony of the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at CSU which was the venue for our ‘thinktank’. We had no wine (unfortunately!), but we did have a fabulous view for breaks…not to mention loads of fresh air (which I really notice each time I come from Sydney to visit the Wagga campus).

I’m looking forward to ‘meeting’ my newest group of students, who come from Australia and around the world. Those starting the MEdTL for the first time will find themselves engaged in a range of activities, some of which may well be new to their scholarly toolkit. But the very first thing is THE BLOG! When they start blogging they’ll discover that it’s as easy as ‘one, two, three’ once they’ve mastered the basics. It’s also an opportunity to be part of the global conversation, with other teacher librarians – and that is, perhaps, the most powerful thing of all!

I’ve been writing this blog since 2006, and along the way have learnt as much as I have shared. Our new students will ‘meet’ many excellent TL bloggers along the way, and will also discover how to develop or expand their own personal learning network.

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a group of people you count on to:

  • guide you in your learning
  • be your source of advice and resources
  • make you aware of learning opportunities
  • share their best practices
  • point you to answers and support

Blogging friend, Darcy Moore, explains why teacher librarians need to build a great personal learning network. Great words of advice from this innovative Deputy Principal!

Professional people must be the change that they want to see in others and model behaviour that assists students and colleagues to become powerfully multiliterate and critical thinkers!

Teacher-librarians have the important role of assisting students to become culturally literate citizens. They need to be digitally savvy and enthusiastic about the widest possible world around them…

Developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is essential for teacher-librarians to be engaged with professional learning and continually updating knowledge and skills.

Blogging is a great place to start. How else can you learn from your colleagues across the country and around the globe?

Uplifting school libraries


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by visualpanic

This week I picked up an interesting post from Doug Johnson ~ Not your mother’s school library. If your mother’s school library captured your passion, then it served a great purpose for the times  – but that’s a whole different story. My interest was piqued because of the (expensive) Workshops for School Library Teachers  being offered by Simmon’s graduate school. That title stumped me a little as it seems particularly out-of-date (school library teacher?), but the professional development courses seem to be quite current.  Interestingly, they are exactly the sort of courses that we offer free or at low cost via our professional associations here in Australia.We also learn a lot from our personal learning networks, with twitter and local lists always busy sharing the sort of information we need to keep our libraries current and vibrant places of 21st century literacy and learning.

Perhaps we are lucky! The Australian library scene is a vibrant one, as evidenced by the report tabled in the Federal Parliament that highlights the importance of teacher librarians and school libraries in education. The purpose of the Inquiry that led to the release of the report  was to look into and report on the role, adequacy and resourcing of school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia’s public and private schools.  So we are being noticed.

I like to think that we are also working hard to promote quality education for those who aspire to be a teacher librarian, as well as those who want to undertake further postgraduate study. It’s great to know that our CSU Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) aims to remain current.  We introduce teachers to the world of teacher librarianship, and we use the most current technologies as part of the course. Think blogs, wikis and social bookmarking, and you’re at the starting line. I’m pleased with the extension opportunities that we offer as well, and next session I am keen to get stuck into some new subjects.

For those ‘in the know’ I’ll be teaching ETL501 Information Environment which is supported by the work of international leader James Herring who keenly promotes improved web use as an element of 21st century information literacy.

I’m also looking forward to INF443 Creating and Preserving Digital Content, and INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals.

Throughout our courses at School Library courses at CSU  we explore foundational and ground-breaking issues and technologies for school libraries and teacher librarians. I will be using Facebook, blogs, wikis, Diigo, Flickr, Slideshare, Zipcasts etc – in fact, a swag of online tools that helps makes learning relevant and vibrant for those in the courses – allowing them to learn about them and then integrate them into their own school and personal learning needs.

Our students have to be involved in their own architecture of participation if they are to help their schools and school libraries embrace the challenges  to create a renewal of pedagogy and technology work practices.

So I think that we are certainly addressing the passion that our our mother’s school library inspired, and the focus and vibrant 21st century literacy and learning that our grand-children’s school library will need!

Don’t believe me? Here’s what a few students said at the end of my first session of teaching at CSU.

Thank you for a most stimulating, informative and challenging course. I have already adopted some new ways of thinking and learning into my classroom practice and I know that there is a long list that I look forward to reflecting upon and enacting as time allows.

What a pleasure it was to do this subject with you at the helm. What it has taught me is invaluable.

Thank you so much for all the wonderful resources and support throughout the course. You’ve taken me from someone who really had no idea what she was doing to someone who has some idea with a thirst for more. It’s very transformational, challenging and definitely lifelong learning.

Our scissors are now digital

School of Information Studies

Week One in my new full-time job at Charles Sturt Uni, and I have discovered the challenges that a few years of change ‘in the cloud’ have wrought!   The ‘work’ challenges are being met thanks to the welcoming support from all my new colleagues. They are an amazing team, spread around the world, and in my online environment this is a wonderful extension of my already robust PLN.

However, as I settle into my preparation for working with students in courses online through Charles Sturt Uni, I also have to set up a whole swag of new equipment. Am I lucky?  You think about it…

What do you do when you have to prepare a new lot of equipment for your online interactions.  It should be easy – right?  It used to be dead easy – load up a few software applications, add a couple of browsers (maybe) and then you’re away.

Well, if you are really working in an online 21st century kind of way (I’m sure you know what I mean), you’d find that you  have to set aside loads of time, and would have to keep tinkering constantly for a week or two to re-establish your online tools, and favourite ways of managing your work productivley, collaboratively, creatively, and uber efficiently. I haven’t got the systems down pat yet – and am using this opportunity to review some things, so am keen to get some feedback if you have favourite tips and tricks that I’ve not listed.

I’ve been keeping a list as I chug along setting things up. I’ll remember more of them when I get back home from Wagga Wagga (loved seeing the kangaroos on campus!).  Interestingly I find that I do different setups on different computers depending on how I ‘bend’ that particular tool to my needs.  But without going into specifics, here’s what the list is looking like after one week…and I’m not finished yet.  I found it incredibly frustrating initially to have a browser window that did just that – browse!!  There are many tools/options, and some that I choose not to use, though I realise that they just might be amongst your favourites.  Of course, it’s also about tools that synchronise, or work in partnernship with my iPhone and iPad.

I wonder how I ever used to work without the additional speed and flexibility that these tools provide me.

I wonder how YOU manage, if you don’t have a similar looking list?

Here’s my running list of core tools  so far:

Can’t wait to see how the list ends up!  Tell me what I have missed too please  …

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!

2010 Horizon Report ~ read it!

2010-Horizon-Cover-320The annual Horizon Report has been released, and should be on the reading list of all teachers and librarians around the nation. The Horizon Report is a global effort ~ reflecting the essential global dimensions and impacts on learning of emerging technologies.

For those who are new to the Horizon Report, since March 2002, under the banner of the Horizon Project, the New Media Consortium has held an ongoing series of conversations and dialogs with hundreds of technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, and representatives of leading corporations from more than two dozen countries. In each of the past six years, these conversations have resulted in the publication each January of a report focused on emerging technologies relevant to higher education.

Each time a report is undertaken, the NMC uses qualitative research methods to identify the technologies selected for inclusion in that report, beginning with a survey of the work of other organizations and a review of the literature with an eye to spotting interesting emerging technologies.

What’s on the Horizon?

Technologies to Watch
One Year or Less: Mobile Computing
One Year or Less: Open Content
Two to Three Years: Electronic Books
Two to Three Years: Simple Augmented Reality
Four to Five Years: Gesture-Based Computing
Four to Five Years: Visual Data Analysis Methodology

Download the 2010 Horizon Report (316k PDF)

Scaffolding information pathways – easy as?

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference,  Bridging the Gap, was held in Stockholm, Sweden, June 29th – July 3rd 2009. the conference  focused on the best available evidence to improve library and information practice in all types of libraries.

Papers and Poster Sessions are available for download.

I was particularly interested in the presentation by JoAnne Witt (Australia) - Scaffolding students to an academic standard of information literacy. Download presentation

Questions looked at included:

  • What effect did the library training have on student selection and referencing of sources?
    Were students using “library sources”?
  • Did the mode of delivery matter?
  • Which changes to the program resulted in improvements?
  • Were students using ‘library sources’?

The research covers issues related to use of Google vs Databases -of great interest to schools. This research shows what they did to scaffold learning and improve learning outcomes.

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!