New visions, past interactions – listserv to social media

The School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University is a national leader in the design and delivery of a comprehensive suite of courses in library and information studies. We face many challenges, and amongst these the latest one has been to respond to new media environments by expanding the scope of our services to the vitally important information professionals we know as Teacher Librarians.

Time for social networking to hit the scene!

Teacher Librarians represent an important sector in library and information education. Alongside it’s degree program for Teacher Librarians, CSU has also been supporting the Australian Teacher Librarian Network  (OZTL_NET) listserv as a professional service  to the school library sector.  Now we also recognize the growing importance of utilizing web-based and mobile-device-enabled tools for communication, interaction and information dissemination through text, images, or sound. So it really was time to re-work and expand the potential of OZTL_NET.

OZTL_NET was originally created as a discussion list for information professionals working in Australian schools by the teacher librarianship academic staff. Since then it has grown to a community of more than 3,000 teacher librarians and information professionals.

This email-based service, run as a listserv using Mailman,  though quite old in the style of service it represents, is still very much a current tool and sometimes a lifesaver for many.  This service needed to stay for now – albeit at a new URL, and with some improved functionality.  My most  favourite bit of improvement is the fact that I can now look at a digest (a way of receiving all the emails in one bundle) on my ipad or iphone! Another neat new feature is how it handles the inevitable images that automatic signature files insert in a message – they can now get through!  This will save hours in bounced messages, and emails to remind people that a listerv is lean and mean in function :-)

But the obvious thing to do was to evolve the potential of this very stable listserv in a number of social media ways. While I am not sure which of these will be the favourites, the idea looks something like this:

  • share a link on the listserv and store it for easy retrieval any time in the Diigo group!
  • share your library images in Flickr, because we need to collect the ideas from around Australia
  • Like us on Facebook – and include us in your News Feed. Share things you find, and get into the conversation.
  • Perhaps 140 characters on Twitter will be just the thing for you – just another way to stay in touch and build the teacher librarian community.

To make all this possible, and still provide access to the vital information for the OZTL_NET Listserv, we now have a fantastic new web portal at http://oztlnet.com/. The next step is for the many members of the listerv to jump on in and begin to realise the power of the social media tools at their disposal for increasing our information flow between us all at a national level. Don’t just share with people in your suburb, state, or sector. Share with us all!

It’s early days yet – as the new services were only launched recently.  Do join one or other of the services, and connect, communicate and collaborate with each other across Australia. Social media can provide new avenues for thought leadership and innovation. providing a proactive and positive contribution to the strategic futures of school libraries.

Special thanks to Jo Kay, who always manages to work magic with web based products and services,  and who managed to help so many people through the migration from the old to the new (oh yes, it does help to read instructions!). OZTL_NET was lucky to have you!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by fensterbme

Hybrid synergy – more on the future of school libraries

It’s always exciting to read or discover more ideas to support an emerging view – particularly if it is being expressed globally. Following on from my post Hybrid Synergy – the Future of School Libraries, I was pleased to see two things this week that provided me with much food for thought.

Joyce Valenza has an (updated) Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians published in Voya. In her roundup of indicators of what a 21st century librarian is involved in, she covers

  • reading
  • the information landscape
  • communication, publishing and storytelling
  • collection development
  • facilities and physical space
  • access, equity, advocacy
  • audience and collaboration
  • copyright, copyleft, and information ethics
  • new technology tools
  • professional development and professionalism
  • teaching and learning, and reference
  • into the future (acknowledging the best of the past)

This article is a must-read – and a wonderful ready-made tool for anyone planning directions within their school.  Use this article as a springboard for developing an innovative vision and creative response to the learning needs of our students.

If that was not enough, an amazing presentation has also hit the intrawebs – from Lyn Hay at the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University. In her presenation you will find a huge amount of information and ideas to stimulate your thinking.

My favourite is the iCentre!

Lyn explains the core business of the  iCentre:

  • inquiry learning, immersive learning
  • information fluency > transliteracy
  • explicit instruction
  • pedagogical fusion – integrating and aligning information, technology, people, instruction
  • customised ‘i’ support for students, teachers, school administrators and parents
  • learning innovation
  • information leadership
  • development of students as independent, informed digital citizens

I recommend taking time to look through the presentation Converging the Parrallels!

Digital literacy across the curriculum

Digital Literacy across the Curriculum (pdf), from FutureLab, UK, is a 63-page handbook aimed at educational practitioners and school leaders in both primary and secondary schools who are interested in creative and critical uses of technology in the classroom. The handbook is supported by case studies (pdf) of digital literacy in practice and video case studies.

The handbook aims to introduce educational practitioners to the concepts and contexts of digital literacy and to support them in developing their own practice aimed at fostering the components of digital literacy in classroom subject teaching and in real school settings.

Developing digital literacy is important  because it supports young people to be confident and competent in their use of technology in a way that will enable them to develop their subject knowledge by encouraging their curiosity, supporting their creativity, giving them a critical framing for their emerging understandings and allowing them to make discerning use of the increasing number of digital resources available to them. p.10

Developing digital literacy in the classroom can allow students to apply their existing knowledge of creating with digital technology to learning in school and in the process be supported to think more critically and creatively about what it is they are doing. p.24

Fostering creativity in the classroom involves applying elements of creativity to subject knowledge. This can be done in all subjects across the school curriculum. p.25

This is an outstanding document that can be used as an information primer for helping schools develop a whole-school approach – particularly relevant in the current 1:1 laptop scenario in Australia.

The future of digital diversity

Think digital – it’s  a ‘doing’ technology.  Trends from PewInternet Research Centre indicate that teens are digital denizens.

While the research is not Australia, it points the way to the behaviours or our own teens, and signals a need for some major shifts in thinking about learning and teaching contexts.   The interactivity of the web allows students to move very quickly from one application to another – remixing, remaking and montaging ‘content’.  Learning is promoted most effectively when students are making, creating, building, simulating, hypothesizing – all desirable higher-order thinking activities.

So, give these figures some thought!

Augmented Reality – it’s literacy!

While I’m really interested in all sorts of technology possibilities, as a person responsible for a huge library facility and resource centre I passionately believe that the first and most important ‘augmented reality’ option for children and youth are found in books, magazine, graphic novels and more.

Good books. Good literature. Good augmented reality!!  Through books you can experience so many possibilities, so many  passions and emotions, so much history, exciting mystery, and more.

This week has been a big one for us on the ‘augmented reality’ front!

As our visiting speaker Paul MacDonald from The Children’s Bookshop said to our Year 7 students: “A good book should leave you slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it”.

Paul challenged the boys for an hour with many exciting ideas, and reasons to get into ‘what’s hot’!  He even got into quiz mode to capture every single boy – the prize?  A Cherub beanie!  You’ve never seen such a sea of hands desperate to answer a question about books and authors!  Heaps of boys charged over to the library after getting out of the dining room at lunch time – and queued to grab or reserve the books that Paul had been enticing them with.

Patrick Ness

We also had a fabulous visit from Patrick Ness, who spoke to Year 9.  Talk about mischievous but exciting! He also sat down for a literary lunch discussion with our Extension English students. Patrick was just fantastic at pitching the literacy message to active adolescents.

Oh, and don’t forget the magic of buying your own signed copy of an author’s book!

For me – the first and best form of augmented reality – guaranteed to impact on every aspect of a students learning future – is reading and more reading.  More important than any other technology tool in the whole world!

Tsunami – in the classroom?

I wonder how many classrooms in Australia will spend time this week talking about, reviewing and learning about the impact of earthquakes and tsunami  on countries and people?

This weekend saw the earthquake in Chile and the tsunami it created affecting many parts of the world.  The Chilean president declared a state of catastrophe after a deadly quake of magnitude 8.8. Subsequently warnings of tidal waves were issued in 53 other countries.

In the Guardian’s Report Chile Earthquake: Pacific nations brace for Tsunami we have a good lead article to set the scene for discussion.

The Tsunami raced across the Pacific and threatened Hawaii as it rushed toward the U.S. West Coast and hundreds of islands from the bottom of the planet to the top. Sirens blared in Hawaii to alert residents to the potential waves. As the waves expected arrival drew near, roads into tourist-heavy Waikiki were closed off.  Police patrolled main roads, telling tourists to get off the streets.

It’s not new – social media has a well established co-reporting global events!

But do your teachers know this?  Do they know powerful social media is in providing information and synchronous coverage of event?

Did they pick up the links they need via Twitter? of Facebook? or other social networking site?

Perhaps they already have the Associated News App on their iPhone (find it in the App store)  and were aware of events that way? or via another mobile App?  or heard it on the news?

Did they send out a message (text? IM?) to their geography students to alert them to the CBS News Stream via Ustream so they could experience live some of these events – even if only for a few minutes?

Not only were the media doing live reports online, as well as on TV, but people in the streets were contributing picture and live phone feeds and images to contribute to the pooling of information.

Twitter was buzzing.

Don’t forget to check out Diigo and Delicious during the week to find more links from other  ‘connected’ teachers.  

From a student’s point of view – social media tools allow them to experience these  incidents live and hear the authentic experiences of people observing the event.

By Monday there will be plenty of online media sites that will have stories, videos, etc to use for class review. But none of that is as good as experiencing a live report! How many teachers will be ready to immerse their students in learning with the very tools that students love to use?

Here’s someone ready to incorporate this type of learning into their uni classes - Magnitude vs Intensity in Chile. Learning can be amazing.

Larry Ferlazzo provides The Best Sites to Learn about the Earthquake in Chile (& possible Tsunami).

Go on teachers – give it a try!!  Here’s a great map of Estimated Tsunami arrival times to get you talking.

The picture below shows the live CBS News UStream.

Flat Classroom Project: Fresh start in a new world

The brilliant work by Julie Lindsay (Beijing, China) and Vicki Davis (Westwood Schools, Georgia, USA) continues in The Flat Classroom Project 2010-1 which is now is well under way for 2010.

The Flat Classroom™ Project is a global collaborative project that joins together middle and senior high school students. This project is part of the emerging tend in internationally-aware schools to embrace a holistic and constructivist educational approach to work collaboratively with others around the world.

One of the main goals of the project is to ‘flatten’ or lower the classroom walls so that instead of each class working isolated and alone, 2 or more classes are joined virtually to become one large classroom. This is done through the Internet using Web 2.0 tools such as Wikispaces and Ning.

The Project uses Web 2.0 tools to make communication and interaction between students and teachers from all participating classrooms easier. The topics studied and discussed are real-world scenarios based on ‘The World is Flat‘ by Thomas Friedman.

I was honoured to be invited to present the Keynote, ‘Pandora’s Box: Fresh Start in a New World’ for FCP10-1. This time there are  over 200 students from 10 classrooms across 6 different countries.

Here are some guiding questions to get them thinking about how to respond and start a discussion or foster an existing discussion:

  1. Is global collaboration using emerging technologies a pandora’s box? Why?
  2. How can we best prepare the ’17 year old Internet/connected world’ to mature and grow into ‘adulthood’?
  3. How has the flat world impacted on you as a teenager? as a teacher?
  4. What place do immersive worlds and virtual realities have in education?