Learning! New approaches, new spaces, new tools

Recently we held a 1-day mini-conference looking at the issue of learning – in new spaces with new tools. Our keynote speaker, Leanne Cameron from the Teacher Education Program Instructional Technology Centre, Macquarie University , presented some thought-provoking ideas about kids learning, and the changes they have made in adapting to the learning modes of digitally native tertiary students. Changing Learning space design, incorporating digital tools, and a 24/7 approach to learning was what it was all about. Of particular interest was the physical changes of classroom environments and resulting assessment tools – e.g. use of chat as an assessment tool.

Even just one example shows the changes possible if we use web 2.0 tools in a blended way to support learning.

For instance, running chat discussions and learning frameworks via the LAMS system, offered innovative opportunities.

..three chat sessions of the prescribed readings accounted for 20% of the total marks (and will be lifted to 25% in 2006); authoring of a LAMS sequence was compulsory, but marked only as pass or fail, with an accompanying analysis and reflection of the pedagogical design worth 35%.over a topic allows remote access, and for the teacher leader, provides a ‘transcript’ of conversations far more powerful than the usual groupwork method – particularly when tied to assessment processes.

Discussion about the changes needed in creating a Library 2.0 environment was the natural extension of these changes being noted in student learning needs.

In the blogosphere these conversations are being had all the time. I recently picked up the Conversation about the Future of Libraries from David Warlick – check out the podcast and circulate it to your colleagues. We need to keep this conversation happening.

Leanne also showed us the future automated system at Macquarie uni library for storage and delivery of books. Remember the old stacks that postgrads used to use? Catch the concept at Sonoma University Automated Retrieval System. The retrieval system provides quick access to an additional 750,000 items housed in a three-story, computer-managed shelving system located within the library building.

So where does that leave us with information management? and access to knowledge repositories? and building wise connections from what we read online or off, and as we engage with others?

On this topic I was much taken by Dave Pollard’s Adding Meaning and Value to Information. Let’s take it from another angle – the real world rather than the school world that educators seem to live in – though not our digitally native kids!

He shows us a great table exploring how we make what is written down more meaningful, more valuable. Whether online or off, this is what it is about isn’t it? He then draws an example of the cognitive and metacognitive pathway of that process.

Finally he says:

The great challenge in this task is enlightening management — the majority of executives still seem to see IT as a means to disintermediate information and get rid of the Information Professional role entirely. It has been my experience that no one in the modern organization is as under-utilized and under-appreciated as the information professional.

OK – can you hear the highly relevant echos of this sentiment in our schools?

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