Strategic directions for school libraries

Perhaps one of the most challenging conversations to have in libraries and learning communities as we move towards 2013 is the arrival of RDA.  Yes, here is a new acronym that needs to be embedded in our thinking. 2013 will be a year of living dangerously when RDA arrives. Don’t know about RDA yet?  Then it’s time to get excited, and up-to-date!

As we  close off 2012  many school librarians are busy with their annual stocktake (at least those who haven’t adopted a rolling model of collection maintenance). These same librarians and their staff are perhaps oblivious of the exciting developments that are taking place that will impact on how we manage collections and how we support curriculum in the years to come.

For my money, this is where the rubber hits the ground.  Its where the need for proper professionals in schools becomes more important than ever.   Here we have innovation happening under our very (information professional) noses – yet we have staff in school library senior positions who have no qualifications in the field or who have not done any further academic training to keep up with the changes needed to manage collections in the digital world that is the 21st century.  The next few years are going to be very exciting and challenging making it doubly vital that school leadership understand the importance of having  well-qualified teacher librarians and school librarians leading information services in schools.

These very issues were highlighted at the recent SCIS ASKS Forum held in Melbourne recently. How will education libraries best serve their communities in 2015? Support for the new Australian curriculum makes it imperative that we include emerging technologies and global understanding of information organization in the knowledge matrix that we support. It’s no longer about organizing those container of information that’s important – it’s the connections and access pathways and interpersonal learning experiences that a good school library can facilitate.  It is a teacher librarian’s job to empower students and teachers information access needs, and to manage systems that support this.   We are very lucky in Australia that  Education Services Australia, and the Schools Catalogue Information Service have their eye on this for us.

School library systems, media systems, LMS systems etc need to become the 24/7 structured access point for meaning connections. Here we have the key issue in that our multiple systems need to draw on as well as contribute to a knowledge matrix – one that connects to the various information repositories beyond our schools as well.

Old Questions: New Answers

How can this be done? Is there a vision for this? Enter the search and access power that is driven by Web 3.0 developments and the semantic web.  What’s different about school libraries now is that collections are really no longer about Dewey, or silo catalogue systems. In a world of API and open data, libraries ( particularly school libraries) are faced with a significant conceptual challenge.  Tim Berners-Lee introduced linked data in 2006 and unleashed the future! In 2007 the joint steering committee for Resource Description and Access said that RDA

would be a new standard for resource description for the digital world.

The point of it all is to provide a consistent, flexible and extensible framework for both the technical and content description of all types of resources and all types of content – everywhere, anywhere, always!  When search engine collaboration in 2011 added schema.org, we knew that the future was here. Traditional library data has had its day – and this century we are all about linked data ontologies that facilitate computer communications and  interaction for the benefit of human knowledge.

There is so much to learn, and so much to deploy. Essentially we need to create a new roadmap of open access and interoperability, to allow RDA new standards in schools to take us out of the confines of traditional library services, and to engage with the Semantic web.

Metadata has been changing everything, and information professionals have been leading these developments, mindful of  the semantic web and linked data.  There is a lot to discover and learn about.  If you are a teacher librarian, please make this part of your professional learning agenda for 2013. We are on the web and of the web, and our opportunities to improve the information and knowledge matrix in schools is fantastic – if we know how!

Visit SCIS Asks Forum, and check out the information from the Forum –   even add to the discussion via the survey forms.

Thanks to SCIS for allowing me to kick-start the day with some provocative ideas about Strategic Directions for School Libraries.

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Serge Melki

Hands on the future – spotting Web 3.0.

I recently returned from an outstanding conference in our region, hosted in Singapore by the International School Library Network. I have not had the opportunity to previously attend this conference, but with nearly 300 delegates  and 46 workshop presenters the Hands on Literacy  2012 conference was certainly a success. I was there to present the Keynote to round up the conference day, and I hope that Preparing our Students for Web 3.0 Learning did that in some small way.

But first we started with school library tours the day before, visiting all the various libraries at  Tanglin Trust School, the Singapore American School, and the United World College of South East Asia. What wonderful ideas and new design ideas were captured in each of these schools! Sofa seats with bookend designs, book-swap bowl,  painted designs on chairs, the most gorgeous story corners, the cleverest display and promotion ideas, and so much more. If you ever have the time to join a conference in the future, and take the tour you won’t regret it!

My favourite was the huge sign outside the entrance to SAS – asking for contributions to the annual year book.  Cool huh? Particularly since I hear that some students spend a lot of time on Instagram, even in preference to Facebook.

Learn and learn and then learn some more – I think that was perhaps the underlying message throughout the conference. Hands on literacy took many shapes and forms, and the challenges were equally met by enthusiasm and a willingness to share. Joyce Valenza set the day perfectly with a bucket-load of challenges, so even before anyone hit the workshops their heads were spinning.

My message is really that today’s novelty is tomorrows norm, whether we like it or not. And tomorrows norm is going to take a shape and direction that many have not even considered, even thought the shift is already taking place before our very eyes.

Our personal information age may well have been launched in 1993  when the Mosaic 1.0 browser made the World Wide Web available for contribution and participation by anyone with access to the Internet.  It was a revolution. The future possibilities are likely to be just as different to those initial experiences – so are we ready prepared? Now in the “Internet of Things” anything imaginable is capable of being connected to the network, be come intelligent offering almost endless possibilities in human/technology interaction. Information and learning are at another cross-roads, and I like to think that teachers and teacher librarians are going to meet these developments with their eyes wide open.

Today we are surrounded by interfaces for discovery.  What do we want from technology? How can we create better experiences?  Our new networked society is going to fundamentally change the way we innovate, collaborate, produce, govern and sustain. Come with me on the journey. Now!

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

Tagging my Technology and Teaching Practice

This week sees me concluding a year of academic activities by participating in graduation, and other professional events at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. It is always a pleasure to celebrate the big graduation day with a new batch of happy graduates!

Meanwhile, much of the discussions back in the ‘academic halls’  hinge around technology and teaching practice, one way or another. Much planning for 2012 as a result!

As educators we are always looking for yet another way to bend an online tool to our purpose. Thursday will see me contributing to the Technology and Teaching Practice Research Group 2011 Symposium. The focus is on the communicative affordances of online tools. My spin is really just a futuristic focus on the changing context of the web, and the deepening issues for educators around search strategies and information retrieval.

Just a 20 minute discussion starter – so what could I do that introduces something new?

You can see the presentation slidedeck for From Web 1.0 to Web 3.0: A wolf in sheep’s clothing or a new culture of learning. You’ll notice a QR code on the front slide. This QRcode created at TagMyDoc points to a supporting document – and this code will download that too directly from TagMyDoc to your e-device!

The presentations throughout the day will have a series of papers included in a print document,  to provide supporting information and material for the presentations.  While I thought that this was useful, I also thought it would be interesting to show how to provide access to the electronic file directly from within  that printed document – or from where it is attached to the front of the slideshare presentation (that I have embedded in this post).

Now, it’s available to all ~ either at the Symposium, or anywhere else on the planet!  I do like this way of enhancing a slideshare presentation, and the ease of being able to share an electronic file.

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

Metaweb adds Semantic search value!

Google has  acquired Metaweb, which indexes things or “entities” in the world.

In a video explaining what they do, Metaweb talks about how the internet is not just words and for search to be the most relevant, it should be able to determine the context of the search term.

Last year PC World authors even called Google’s approach to search “aging” and talked about the search giant’s strategic moves to revamp its algorithms using semantic search.

via Perfect Search

Web of knowledge: the Semantic Web

Last week many Australian teachers & tech  educators travelled to Melbourne to participate in the ACEC 2010 Conference Digital Diversity, an Australian biennial national ICT education conference. Much has been written since then about the challenges we encountered, the message of the keynote presentations, and the interesting experiences and conversations we all enjoyed.

What struck me was the continued conversation about the same things – even the Keynote sessions offered no new insights into the future directions of learning, though there were some challenging messages thrown out to the participants as ‘take-aways’.  For me the absolute  highlight was the  Keynote by Oscar award-winning Australian  Adam Elliot. So refreshing to hear something beyond the usual Gary Stager message of gloom and doom which offered little in constructive strategies for the listeners.  Thanks to Chris Betcher for his Keynote and reflections on Gary’s presentation too. I liked Chris’ presentation much  more than I liked Gary’s – despite Gary’s apparent claim to  fame.

BUT where were the discussions about the future directions of the web?  No keynotes that explored the synergy between virtual worlds, augmented reality, or the Semantic Web.  Nothing that offered hands -on grass-roots understanding about information fluency and knowledge work in a globally connected semantic web.

We have to stop working/thinking in silos!!  It was the same at the Apple  ITSC2010 conference, held over the last two days in Sydney.  Nice stuff covered for sure, and fun hands-on workshops. But nothing that points the way forward. Nothing that deals with reading and  literacy (our inescapable way of cognitive engagement with multimodal texts) on a variety of devices from paper to e-devices. Nothing that acknowledges the virtual, augmented, semantic mashup of connection with the world.

You know, the journey is  just  become interesting – don’t stop now:-

•1980s – Desktop is the platform
•1990s – Browser/server is the platform
•2000s – Web services are the platform
•2010s – Semantic web is the platform
Humanity is being connected by technology – oh not just in a Web 2.0, connected/conversation way, but in the way that Tim Berner’s Lee actually envisioned.
Web 3.0 – the Semantic Web – will revolutionise knowledge discovery.  And here we are still talking about the same old stuff without so much as a’ doff of the hat’ towards the real future of the web.
Do not for a minute think that you have prepared you students to understand how to learn well if you are integrating a bit of fun  technology- whatever the platform you use!  What are the thinking strategies that are underpinning your work?  What are the information fluency tactics that your are deploying in your classrooms?
I presented a preliminary conversation starter about  Web 3.0 and the Semantic web at ACEC2010 – just because I know that too many teachers are not even now looking at the different search engines, and the strategies that can be applied in the current web. How on earth will we expect our students to query the value of the information flood of knowledge that will be more readily available once the Semantic web takes a hold?
Time to roll your sleeves up my friends, and go beyond current thinking to understand learning and teaching when the web is our personalised federated search engine!  Will our students know more? or will they become more easily swayed through biased popular opinion?
Get beyond  your 21st century learning bubble of Web 2.0 tools and technology integration, and start planning for the actual future of learning.

Working at Web Scale

The Web as “humanity connected by technology”. This is the Semantic Web –  the web of linked data, according to Sir Time Berners Lee vision. Tim Berners-Lee spoke  at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland about the future of the Web and the value of working at “Web Scale”.

The next generation of the Web promises greater opportunity for advancing human intelligence by making us part of the technology system. Social networking is people working together – but they are not using the intelligence of the system. What would it be like if we got the mass of humanity connecting with machines?

(via titticimmino.com )