#MysterySkype for a global adventure

A promotion arrived in my email today that has to be worth grabbing!  If you are not already hooked into Skype in the Classroom, then here is a great opportunity to get started.

#MysterySkype is a global guessing game, devised by teachers, to be played between two classrooms around the world. The promotion says that it’s suitable for all age groups and can be used for subjects such as history, geography, languages, mathematics and science.

1. Find a class – Join the list and message or tweet teachers you’d like to connect with.

2. Arrange a time – When you’ve found a class you’d like to Mystery Skype with, agree on a date and time for your lesson.

3. Share your story – Share your  Mystery Skype stories, photos and videos. Share them on Twitter by mentioning @SkypeClassroom and using the #MysterySkype hashtag.

More information to tantalize you at this link.

An international school library perspective

Balinese dancerThis week I am delighted to be immersed in international perspectives on school libraries and teacher librarianship as I participate in the 42nd annual conference of the International Association of School Librarianship. IASL conferences provide a gathering point for leaders and practitioners in the field of school libraries, and has allowed me to meet some amazing and inspirational people over the years. This year, the IASL conference “Enhancing Students’ Life Skills through the School Library”  is hosted in Bali, Indonesia by the Indonesia Association of School Library Workers, an independent organization facilitating school library workers to improve competencies and develop school librarianship in Indonesia.

After preparing the conference paper “Building a Vibrant Future for School Librarians through Online Conversations for Professional Development” I was fortunate to be able to present a lively presentation and discussion session (translated into Indonesian) about digital environments and the work of the School of Information Studies to support online conversations as part of the personal learning networks in this context.

Being web savvy includes Twitter

These days the need for educators to be web savvy is a given.  What’s not so much understood is that being web savvy includes being social media literate!

The digital transformation has produced some extraordinary online tools for flexible education, which enhance students’ learning and promise innovative pedagogy for teachers. However, they can also be daunting and challenging for educators. It is clear that teachers cannot ignore these tools, which go far beyond just Facebook and Twitter. Educators are now dealing with Generation Z – students born after 1995 who have hardly known a world without social media and have always lived a life measured in bits and bytes.

Be web savvy to keep up with Generation Z became a case in point.  Recently I was asked to write this small piece for Times Educational Supplement @TES on this very topic. Nice!  I admit that what I submitted is not exactly as it turned up on screen (the print version looks grand), but that is the way of journalism racing to meet deadlines.

If it wasn’t for Twitter and the wonderful help of @TESAustralia I would still be cringing at the formatting errors – because traditional email was not resulting in a ‘fix’!! It’s true – I’m web savvy, but I had to be social media savvy to be connected with the right person to fix this tiny problem.

Being web savvy has many dimensions – and social media savvy is but one of them. My example is a silly little one of course, but it was important to me! Luckily there are many powerful examples of teachers who understand the full concepts and connections inherent in being web savvy, and I knew that when I included a few key friends and colleagues in my article. Thank you to @kathleen_morris, @BiancaH80, @dbatty1, for being my exemplary representative Australians, including Ivanhoe Grammar’s iCyberSafe.com.

Disclaimer:  I didn’t pick the title of the article!  You have to love a subbie’s take on what teachers might want ;-)

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Neal Fowler

What’s with all the conversations?

You know how it is these days – everyone seems to be looking at some kind of an iDevice or another, where-ever you turn. It’s easy to make trivial comments about the iSociety, but let’s face it – the future of technology and information is anything but trivial!

Last year I discovered that I could speak to my mobile phone – literally ask it a  question.  With the power of SIRI (Apple’s iOS information navigator) my mobile phone gave me some answers right there on my screen.  It would seem that soon there will be no need to read an answer to a question with voice responses being the norm, and in another few decades there may not even be a question!

While we grapple with devices, interfaces and screens in our daily lives, the futurists tell us that we will BE our technology and information will be who we are and what it made us.

As we watch the fast-paced changes taking place in technology, the web of data and the social connections between us, the value of information as knowledge remains the core business of librarians and info-nerds. The “Fourth Revolution,” proposed by Floridi (2012)  describes the current information age, an era in which our understanding of both self and world is significantly altered by sudden changes in the information climate and which are directly attributable to the advent of computing machinery from Alan Turing (1912-1954) onwards.  As curators of knowledge and cultural history the burning question in this fourth revolution undoubtedly lies in our ongoing ability to manipulate and manage information flow.

The digital revolution has given us instant communication and easy global connectedness, with mobile technology and its influences in particular growing at warp speed – in 2013, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people in the world. This digital transformation has produced some extraordinary tools for flexible learning, which are exciting for both students and teachers and promise new and innovative methods of teaching. However, these tools can also be incredibly daunting and challenging for educators.

Thomas and Seely Brown (2011), who explored this new culture of learning in our world of constant change, explained how much the Internet has changed the way we think about both technology and information. In this new culture of learning, information technology has become a participatory medium, giving rise to an environment that is constantly being changed and reshaped by the participation within information spaces. They argue that traditional approaches to learning are no longer capable of coping with this constantly changing world. Teachers no longer need to scramble to provide the latest up-to-date information to students because the students themselves are able to take an active role in helping to create and mould it, particularly in areas of social information.

To support and nurture learning in these evolving environments is a challenge, and why using digital mediums to communicate, collaborate, and curate in the management and dissemination of information is important. Library and information science academic and professional development programs should be designed to enhance personal professional networks and personal learning conversations.

I’m pleased to welcome a new group of students into our degree program for Teacher Librarianship. These ‘students’ already have a wealth of professional experience as teachers behind them, but our professional program for them is already challenging them with  new cultures of learning  – and it’s only Week 1!

It’s exciting to see the evolving information ecology that these students are moving into. What’s more exciting is that with such a great new bunch of students, I know that teacher librarianship will be in safe hands in the future.

Floridi, L. (2012). The fourth revolution. The Philosophers’ Magazine, (57), 96-101.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Image: The Family Pile cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Blake Patterson

The mother of all demos

The first computer mouse held by Engelbart sho...

The first computer mouse held by Engelbart showing the wheels that directly contact the working surface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following on from my last post which included mention of the historical turning points created by Douglas Engelbart, who died on July 2 at age 88, I wanted to share a record of some of that.

If Douglas’ name doesn’t ring a bell, then look at your computer mouse and give thanks to this World War II radar technician who came up with the idea in the 1960s. Engelbart also influenced computer use in other ways, such as working on the use of multiple windows, network computing technologies. In addition, his lab helped develop ARPANet, which was the government network that predated the Internet.

A bit of his history is captured and available on YouTube. The Mother of All Demos is a name given retrospectively to Douglas Engelbart’s December 9, 1968, demonstration of experimental computer technologies that are now commonplace. The live demonstration featured the introduction of the computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing, hypermedia, object addressing and dynamic file linking, bootstrapping, and a collaborative real-time editor.

Extraordinary!

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

Our everyday tools for success

REDToday I was genuinely honoured to head up a keynote session for the Rural and Distance Education Symposium NSW, being held in Sydney for two days. Over 100 fantastic teachers gather to share, learn, and re-energize so they can continue to meet the exceptional needs of students who are isolated by geography, health, disability, or other social reasons.

More than any single group I know, these teachers can really benefit from building a strong global PLN to help support their professional needs to grow in digital learning strategies in challenging circumstances.  Let me tell you, these teachers are a complete inspiration. You can visit the website for Rural and Distance Education, as there are some very useful resources availbale there. http://rde.nsw.edu.au/ 

It’s particularly worth checking the ICT tab – there is some gold buried there, particularly if you are passionate about accessibility.

My focus was the teachers themselves. I was on a crusade!

The digital revolution has created a world of global connectedness, information organisation, communication and participatory cultures of learning, giving teachers the opportunity to hone their professional practice through their networked learning community. What do you do to make it so?

Check out the supporting slide-set for Our Everyday Tools for Success.