Teacher librarians are important

Web 2.0 revolutionized the means at our disposal to filter and share information. Whether by managing information by social bookmarking or RSS reads and feeds, or communicating with our school community via blogs, wikis, podcasts, YouTube, or Facebook, students, teachers and school librarians have entered into digital conversations. Widgets, portals, Apps, Feeds and Aggregators and more now provide us with our ‘tools of trade’ for information curation.

The importance of the teacher librarian is intrinsically linked to effective and responsive information curation and dissemination in distributed environments within and beyond the school. Use of Web 2.0 tools has become embedded in good practice, and information curation has extended beyond the library catalogue to library and school information management systems for bibliographic and media resources, and various organizational tools that reside beyond the school in web environments, such as Libguides, Diigo, Live Binders, wiki, Delicious, Google tools, RSS, media tools, netvibes, iGoogle, and many more.

But when a technology focus subverts students’ conversation and development of critical thinking skills (and their ability to evaluate and analyze the information at hand), the mental processes that change knowledge from information to concept are not learned (Bomar, 2010). With the maturation of Web 2.0 tools the importance of nurturing information literacy skills and strategies has shifted to become a meta-literate approach to engagement with information.

This is exactly why teacher librarians are re-thinking what ‘collection’ of information means, thereby supporting personalized and collaborative information seeking and knowledge conversations. The new core information research tools available for students, teachers and school librarians adopting information literacy in a networked environment includes:

  • Microblogging tools for information sharing by teachers, students, classes and the school community in primary and secondary schools.e.g. Edmodo, yammer, Google+, or Twitter
  • Social Bookmarking and tagged collections e.g. Diigo, Delicious, PearlTrees, Flickr, Vodpod
  • Collaborative writing, editing, mindmapping and presentation tools e.g. Google docs, Exploratree, Voicethread, Mindmeister, Wikispaces
  • Research tools for online information management, writing and collaboration e.g. Zotero, Endnote, EasyBib, Bibme, Mendeley, Refworks,
  • Information capture in multiple platforms and on multiple devices .e.g. Evernote, Scrible
  • Library catalogues, databases, and open-access repositories – all used for information collection, RSS topic and journal alerts, and compatible with research organization tools
  • Aggregators, news readers, and start pages e.g. iGoogle, Netvibes, Symbaloo, Feedly
  • Online storage, file sharing and content management, across multiple platforms and computers e.g. Dropbox, Box.net, Skydrive

These tools have allowed us to re-frame information collection as highly flexible and collaborative information and knowledge conversations, while also facilitating information organization.

Technology and online integration can facilitate critical thinking and knowledgeable actions, rather than merely permitting the access and transformation of information as part of the information literacy skills set. The point is to engage our students in multiple conversations and research pathways that reflect the changing nature of scholarship in multimodal environments. As Lankes (2011) explains, at last we have a departure from information, access and artifacts as the focus.

In the lens of conversation, artifacts and digital access are only useful in that they are used to build knowledge through active learning.

Content exploration and learning demands a mix-and-match approach:

  • Search strategies
  • Evaluation strategies
  • Critical thinking & problem solving
  • Networked conversation & collaboration
  • Cloud computing environments
  • Ethical use and production of information
  • Information curation of personal and distributed knowledge.

Be sure you are understand online learning environments and the extra-ordinary potential of the social-media mind. Be sure you are involved with and present new ways and new information strategies to your teachers when  working within the curriculum and the full knowledge dimension of learning. Be sure you bring with you a full understanding of information literacy and information fluency as the underpinning of all that you do.

Bomar, S. (2010). A School-Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources.Knowledge Quest, 38(3), 72-75.
Lankes, D.R. (2011). The Atlas of New Librarianship. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Image cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photoshared by mikefisher821

Talking with the Ed Tech Crew

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by hebedesign

These guys are amazing!

Ed Tech Crew 166 – Searching the Web with Judy O’Connell

It was such a blast to chat with Tony Richards and Darrel Branson.  These guys have been filling the ears of anyone interested in technology in education with wonderful podcasts from people around the world. I was lucky to be in podcast 166!

I’m in Sydney, and on one cold evening in July,  Tony (Melbourne) and Darrel (in the cold shed in the back yard in Ballarat) had a lively chat with me.

If you haven’t been following the Ed Tech Crew, then do add them to your must do list.

Google+ plus Deeper Web

Google Lego 50th Anniversary Inspiration

I have a feeling that there is still so much I have to learn about the ‘ins and outs’ of Google, Google+, whatever! What annoys me is how easy it is for me to miss or forget something important about the world of online search.

Here’s the thing –  I had completely forgotten that Google filtered my search results if I was logged into Google. My test run on a complex search showed me that Google cannot predict the information I need. Message to self – “log out of Google if you want to embark on some serious searching”.

So a comment from @hamishcurry today at the ScreenFutures conference  reminded me to share a ‘new’ enhancement of my Google experiences with Deeper Web – an innovative search engine plugin and an essential Firefox addon for Google. By my reckoning this is ‘old’ technology – a Youtube video pegs it at 2009, as does a bookmark in my Delicious collection from the same year.

Here is a Google+ experience of a different kind!  Who knew?

With Google Wonder Wheel retired (for a while anyway) I have installed this Google Search engine extension for a test run on my old MacBook.

Deeper Web results appear in the right hand of my search screen – though there are other options to choose from. Suddenly I have a way of filtering my searches on the fly – from sources and by tags, phrases, sites and zones. I can delete tags or phrases and the search results are automatically resorted.

I am also supplied with a series of window boxes below the tag window providing search results from a range of sources. I can hide those sources I don’t want to see e.g. Wikipedia, or Answers.  However, I do like the other collection options of ‘metrics search‘, ‘news search‘, ‘resources search‘ and ‘blog search‘. So I can see this needs further investigation – and perhaps I really should add this functionality to all my Firefox browsers on all my devices. I’m not sure what I am missing – but I must be missing something if this isn’t known or used more widely.

So while this is no direct replacement to Wonder Wheel, it seems a definite enhancement of my Google Search experience. Rather stupidly I am now  wondering what other tools or enhancements of my web search experience using Google I have forgotten or missed out on.

Please tell me if you know about something else that is pretty good. Tweet me, Facebook me, or Google+ me.  While the social networks go through a period of shakedown, I seem to have acquired another place to keep an eye on!

Too easy – with EasyBib

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Reeding Lessons
Here’s another tool that I have decided to make my own. After the post  by Stacey on Using EasyBib  I’ve given their EasyBib App a go. When it comes to collecting and storing information about resources I think this App has got to be considered cool!

With this App you can create accurate MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations in seconds by scanning a book bar code or by typing the name of a book. Once done, you can email your citations. You could also export your citations to EasyBib.com’s popular bibliography management service.

It’s also interesting to read that OCLC and ImagineEasy Solutions, LLC are collaboratingto create a customizable library version of the EasyBib.com service. The EasyBib Library Edition service has been rolled out with select OCLC member libraries. This is one to watch for schools too.  The Library Edition will offer a variety of features designed to extend library reach and usage, such as:

  • Library-branded interface
  • Links to library home page and catalog
  • Search box for easy discovery of additional resources at your library and beyond
  • Integration with virtual reference services
  • IP redirects to your library’s customized version
  • Deep links into a library’s OPAC
  • Integration with the OpenURL Gateway.

But in the meantime, I think my EasyBib app is a great way for me to keep a record of resources or create a reading list!

Have you tried the EasyBib App on your mobile device?

Stop turning a blind eye! Media literacy in action.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Cayusa

I’d like to think that all teachers and librarians are clever enough to know how to work well with images to promote creativity in learning. My post-grad students working on Digital Citizenship in Schools  have just completed a phase of their learning that included an investigation of how to find and use images in their work using free images online, and even using Greasemonkey and Flickr to speed up their image attribution. Media literacy is an important part of digital learning environments.

Media literacy education helps people of all ages to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens. Media literacy is the capacity to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms. This expanded conceptualization of literacy responds to the demands of cultural participation in the twenty-first century. Like literacy in general, media literacy includes both receptive and productive dimensions, encompassing critical analysis and communication skills, particularly in relationship to mass media, popular culture, and digital media. Like literacy in general, media literacy is applied in a wide variety of contexts—when watching television or reading newspapers, for example, or when posting commentary to a blog. Indeed, media literacy is implicated everywhere one encounters information and entertainment content. And like literacy in general, media literacy can be taught and learned. Using images is just one aspect of media literacy educaiton – but none-the-less a vital one. Media literacy education can flourish only with a robust understanding of fair use.

Fair use in education means that educators and learners often make use of copyrighted materials that stand ‘outside’ the general use e.g. in the classroom, at a conference or within a school-wide setting. When this takes place within school fair use indicates flexibility.  Each country has it’s own specific rules and regulations that apply to copyright. But for teachers, the aim should be not to teach or bend rigid rules, but rather to promote media literacy in action and help students learn HOW to use media to empower their work, and promote a creative commons approach to sharing and mashup works.

For this reason I was excited AND disappointed with the newest enhancement to Google Images, mainly because in my experience teachers have continued to turn a blind eye in this area of media literacy action. Google has announced you can now sort Google Images by subject.

To see this in action, go to Google Images, conduct a search and look on the left hand side for the search option. Directly under the “More” link, you will find the default sort option set to “by relevance,” click on the “Sort by subject.” The results will then shift and group images by subject topic.

Decorating print and digital material with google images is pretty standard amongst kids – no attribution, no use of creative commons materials etc. Your students may be different – but I’m considering the general norm that I have seen, and now the job just got easier!

What interested me most though was watching the video about this new feature.  Notice how they’ve cleverly ‘covered’ the value of this new feature?  You’d use this feature to help you understand a topic better? pick a better dog! and perhaps add a nice image to presentation at school?

Sorting just made searching a lot more visual.  Yes.  No mention of copyright, creative commons, fair use. No mention of th Advanced Image Search, and the option to filter by license. So there are rules…and they did not promote breaking them. But they did leave the rest of the job up to us!

OK – so I guess it’s up to teachers and teacher librarians to get the fair use message across, as part of our media literacy education.

Will you stop turning a blind eye now?


Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media LIteracy Education

Copyright Livebinder

Via search engine land