Uplifting school libraries

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by visualpanic

This week I picked up an interesting post from Doug Johnson ~ Not your mother’s school library. If your mother’s school library captured your passion, then it served a great purpose for the times  – but that’s a whole different story. My interest was piqued because of the (expensive) Workshops for School Library Teachers  being offered by Simmon’s graduate school. That title stumped me a little as it seems particularly out-of-date (school library teacher?), but the professional development courses seem to be quite current.  Interestingly, they are exactly the sort of courses that we offer free or at low cost via our professional associations here in Australia.We also learn a lot from our personal learning networks, with twitter and local lists always busy sharing the sort of information we need to keep our libraries current and vibrant places of 21st century literacy and learning.

Perhaps we are lucky! The Australian library scene is a vibrant one, as evidenced by the report tabled in the Federal Parliament that highlights the importance of teacher librarians and school libraries in education. The purpose of the Inquiry that led to the release of the report  was to look into and report on the role, adequacy and resourcing of school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia’s public and private schools.  So we are being noticed.

I like to think that we are also working hard to promote quality education for those who aspire to be a teacher librarian, as well as those who want to undertake further postgraduate study. It’s great to know that our CSU Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) aims to remain current.  We introduce teachers to the world of teacher librarianship, and we use the most current technologies as part of the course. Think blogs, wikis and social bookmarking, and you’re at the starting line. I’m pleased with the extension opportunities that we offer as well, and next session I am keen to get stuck into some new subjects.

For those ‘in the know’ I’ll be teaching ETL501 Information Environment which is supported by the work of international leader James Herring who keenly promotes improved web use as an element of 21st century information literacy.

I’m also looking forward to INF443 Creating and Preserving Digital Content, and INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals.

Throughout our courses at School Library courses at CSU  we explore foundational and ground-breaking issues and technologies for school libraries and teacher librarians. I will be using Facebook, blogs, wikis, Diigo, Flickr, Slideshare, Zipcasts etc – in fact, a swag of online tools that helps makes learning relevant and vibrant for those in the courses – allowing them to learn about them and then integrate them into their own school and personal learning needs.

Our students have to be involved in their own architecture of participation if they are to help their schools and school libraries embrace the challenges  to create a renewal of pedagogy and technology work practices.

So I think that we are certainly addressing the passion that our our mother’s school library inspired, and the focus and vibrant 21st century literacy and learning that our grand-children’s school library will need!

Don’t believe me? Here’s what a few students said at the end of my first session of teaching at CSU.

Thank you for a most stimulating, informative and challenging course. I have already adopted some new ways of thinking and learning into my classroom practice and I know that there is a long list that I look forward to reflecting upon and enacting as time allows.

What a pleasure it was to do this subject with you at the helm. What it has taught me is invaluable.

Thank you so much for all the wonderful resources and support throughout the course. You’ve taken me from someone who really had no idea what she was doing to someone who has some idea with a thirst for more. It’s very transformational, challenging and definitely lifelong learning.

Our scissors are now digital

School of Information Studies

Week One in my new full-time job at Charles Sturt Uni, and I have discovered the challenges that a few years of change ‘in the cloud’ have wrought!   The ‘work’ challenges are being met thanks to the welcoming support from all my new colleagues. They are an amazing team, spread around the world, and in my online environment this is a wonderful extension of my already robust PLN.

However, as I settle into my preparation for working with students in courses online through Charles Sturt Uni, I also have to set up a whole swag of new equipment. Am I lucky?  You think about it…

What do you do when you have to prepare a new lot of equipment for your online interactions.  It should be easy – right?  It used to be dead easy – load up a few software applications, add a couple of browsers (maybe) and then you’re away.

Well, if you are really working in an online 21st century kind of way (I’m sure you know what I mean), you’d find that you  have to set aside loads of time, and would have to keep tinkering constantly for a week or two to re-establish your online tools, and favourite ways of managing your work productivley, collaboratively, creatively, and uber efficiently. I haven’t got the systems down pat yet – and am using this opportunity to review some things, so am keen to get some feedback if you have favourite tips and tricks that I’ve not listed.

I’ve been keeping a list as I chug along setting things up. I’ll remember more of them when I get back home from Wagga Wagga (loved seeing the kangaroos on campus!).  Interestingly I find that I do different setups on different computers depending on how I ‘bend’ that particular tool to my needs.  But without going into specifics, here’s what the list is looking like after one week…and I’m not finished yet.  I found it incredibly frustrating initially to have a browser window that did just that – browse!!  There are many tools/options, and some that I choose not to use, though I realise that they just might be amongst your favourites.  Of course, it’s also about tools that synchronise, or work in partnernship with my iPhone and iPad.

I wonder how I ever used to work without the additional speed and flexibility that these tools provide me.

I wonder how YOU manage, if you don’t have a similar looking list?

Here’s my running list of core tools  so far:

Can’t wait to see how the list ends up!  Tell me what I have missed too please  …

Learning in a changing world series is out!

It’s been rather slow in the making, but finally the new series commissioned by ALIA and ASLA is available to order from the ACER shop online.

The Learning in a Changing World series addresses how the process of learning is evolving – including the array of resources available in the digital age, changing curriculum, and the different teaching strategies needed in order to use new media and technologies.

The Learning in a Changing World series presents the core areas for teacher librarians and school leaders to consider for 21st century learning: the digital world, virtual worlds, curriculum integration, resourcing, and the physical environment. All are essential elements to enable and empower our students to be lifelong learners and active participants in our society.

I was lucky to work on the first two books in the series with my good friend Dean Groom.  Books like the two we worked on can never stay completely current – but then they are not ‘how to’ guides so much as ‘why you should’  and ‘why you can’ guides. There is enough thought provoking information for readers to leverage and  help innovation and change in their own schools.

Connect, Communicate, Collaborate

Our students are involved in an ‘architecture of participation’ – creating, adapting and sharing content. While for them this learning is a comfortable multimodal conversation, for us this change is revolutionary. Schools and school libraries have many challenges to address to create a renewal of pedagogy and technology work practices. As we begin to understand the importance of these seismic shifts, we come to the realisation that we are being challenged to un-learn and re-learn in order to grant students access to 21st century learning.

Connect, Communicate, Collaborate is written to provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get you started.

Many thanks go to  Michael Stephens for generously  contributing the Forward to this work.

Virtual Worlds

Each year there are more and more avatars in rich virtual environments. These immersive worlds – where the world within the screen becomes both the object and the site of interaction – are on the increase, matching the promise of technology with the creative minds of our students. Educators, keen to incorporate the evolving literacy and information needs of 21st century learners, will want to understand the opportunities provided by MUVEs, MMORPGs and 3D immersive worlds, so as to be able to create more interactive library, educational and cultural projects. The challenge is to accept that these interactive environments are here to stay and that schools can, and should, embrace learning in virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds will provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get you started.

Many thanks to Peggy Sheehy for generously contributing the Forward to this work.

Join us in the Second Classroom: Educators Learning in Virtual Worlds and share your virtual learning journey!

Others in the series

Other volumes in the series include Curriculum Integration , Resourcing for Curriculum Innovation, and Designing the Learning Environment.


2010 Horizon Report ~ read it!

2010-Horizon-Cover-320The annual Horizon Report has been released, and should be on the reading list of all teachers and librarians around the nation. The Horizon Report is a global effort ~ reflecting the essential global dimensions and impacts on learning of emerging technologies.

For those who are new to the Horizon Report, since March 2002, under the banner of the Horizon Project, the New Media Consortium has held an ongoing series of conversations and dialogs with hundreds of technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, and representatives of leading corporations from more than two dozen countries. In each of the past six years, these conversations have resulted in the publication each January of a report focused on emerging technologies relevant to higher education.

Each time a report is undertaken, the NMC uses qualitative research methods to identify the technologies selected for inclusion in that report, beginning with a survey of the work of other organizations and a review of the literature with an eye to spotting interesting emerging technologies.

What’s on the Horizon?

Technologies to Watch
One Year or Less: Mobile Computing
One Year or Less: Open Content
Two to Three Years: Electronic Books
Two to Three Years: Simple Augmented Reality
Four to Five Years: Gesture-Based Computing
Four to Five Years: Visual Data Analysis Methodology

Download the 2010 Horizon Report (316k PDF)

Scaffolding information pathways – easy as?

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference,  Bridging the Gap, was held in Stockholm, Sweden, June 29th – July 3rd 2009. the conference  focused on the best available evidence to improve library and information practice in all types of libraries.

Papers and Poster Sessions are available for download.

I was particularly interested in the presentation by JoAnne Witt (Australia) – Scaffolding students to an academic standard of information literacy. Download presentation

Questions looked at included:

  • What effect did the library training have on student selection and referencing of sources?
    Were students using “library sources”?
  • Did the mode of delivery matter?
  • Which changes to the program resulted in improvements?
  • Were students using ‘library sources’?

The research covers issues related to use of Google vs Databases -of great interest to schools. This research shows what they did to scaffold learning and improve learning outcomes.

Connect and inspire – oh yeah!

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend an ACEL conference held at the University of Wollongong (a hour and half drive from Sydney). This conference, around the theme of Tech-savvy Leadership and Learning, drew a good crowd. It was impressive to see a large number of attendees from the Department of Education Schools, who attended as part of an exercise in creating knowledge networks who could continue learning about innovation with ICT during the year.

The keynote speakers included key researchers from the University of Wollongong, who shared their work and their perspectives on learning in a digital age. I always appreciate hearing about research, as this adds significant value to our more anecdotal reflections on day-to-day classroom happenings. We test, experiment, play, get creative with pedagogy and researchers help us prove we are on the right track!

However, a number of us chatted between sessions, the more digitally savvy, social network connected attendees, and we were a little troubled by some statements made about social networking and digital learning. Some of the ‘push’ of the conference was ICT, PD, and the horrors of cyberbullying. For those coming new to new media, they needed to hear about the power of personal learning networks – but I’m afraid I might have been the only one to mention this.

One keynote speaker actually stated that ‘you can’t make friends via social networks like Facebook’. I shook my head, and wondered about all the wonderful professional contacts I have made via social networks – and the excitement in meeting them eventually F2F – building on professional respect, collaboration, sharing of resources and more.

This is not a new outcome at conferences – we are starting to see a digital divide emerging in that some people believe they can talk about and research digital learning environments and social networking without actually being active participants in that world!  I like to see keynote speakers who can share their online digital identities with us, and prove to me that they really do understand the architecture of participation that is learning in our new century.

Nevertheless, it was a fabulous day. The attendees were very enthusiastic as far as I could tell. Thank you to Julie Reynolds, Principal of Cedars Christian College, who invited me to present a session at this ACEL conference.  Julie’s enthusiasm, and that of her staff, was so wonderful. They are really working hard to make their school 21C friendly!

I guess what I tried to say in my presentation is to remind people that passion as to drive our connections – and that we cannot operate effectively in working with technology without social networking. I believe that PD is NOT the single answer – creating connections and promoting a shift in our mindsets is even more important. In fact, without flexibility, experimentation, collaboration, and innovation driven by our dialogue ‘with the crowd in the cloud’ it must might all be for nothing.

There is not much you can say in an hour – not really!  So it was very nice to have people take the time to come and chat afterwards and say that they felt inspired to try! That’s the key thing – try – and the rest will take care of its self.

Here are my slides!

For those who visited earlier, thanks to @slideshare for fixing the embed problem. Twitter teams are the frontline of service!

We’re living in a conversation

How do you feel about online conversations – in public, during conferences, in the classroom. The recent 2008 The Australian Computers in Education Conference generated quite a bit of discussion about the etiquette of blogging and microblogging (twittering) during conference sessions, which was further fueled by Grahams reflection on Redefining Conference Professional Respect. We talked about it on Twitter, and in other online and virtual spaces.

My fellow traveller on the ACEC study tour to NECC 2008 , Jason Zugami, has jumped in with a Google survey to get a better understanding of what it is that drives educators views on this matter – and interestingly, a comparison to what it is that they believe about the immersive use of online tools in classrooms.

By the way, there is a huge lesson in all of this for the way people run conferences these days. Wifi should be accessible and free. Collaboration and distribution of information and ideas should be considered the norm.

Conference Blogging and Microblogging Ettiquette

Please visit Jason’s online survey, and add your voice to the discussion.

I can’t wait to see the analysis on this! Thanks Jason.

I filled out the survey, and kept a copy of my responses for myself to push me to generate further ideas. Here are my quickly written responses – amazing how different my thinking is compared to a couple of years ago.

Buckle in and read the following if you dare!

How do you feel about the undirected use of laptops during conference presentations?

It is essential to have the freedom to search links, explore ideas and interact with concepts being presented at a conference. I choose my options as to when to listen and stare at a conference presenter, or when to listen and connect with my laptop to check out idea, share ideas with others, or discuss issues being raise. If I am bored I certainly don’t want to be captured with no escape as well..I would rather check my email than waste the time sitting in a presentation that doesn’t demand my attention.

How do you feel about the undirected use of mobile phones for texting/microblogging during conference presentations?

When it comes to professional learning this is absolutely essential for being engaged with the content, expressing opinions and reflections about the presentations, and just plain having fun through interaction. Remove the ‘industrial model’ from conference presentations, and allow them to be interactive and collaborative. Use the tool, don’t abuse the tool.

How do you feel about participants undirected sharing their thoughts on a presentation on a public blog?

If a presentation is worth listening too, it is worth sharing. End of story.

How do you feel about participants undirected sharing their thoughts on a presentation via micro blogging services such as Twitter during the presentation?

If a presentation is worth listening to, it is worth tweeting about. If a presentation is not worth listening to, it is worth tweeting about that too. Twitter is about conversation and reflection too. I particularly like it when questions come in via twitter that can be presented to the speaker for response. I like it even better if there is a twitter stream of the conference on display, so everyone attending the conference can see what is being said and what is being reflected upon.

How do you feel about participants undirected sharing the content of presentations with those not at the presentation?

Share with the world – the more we share the more we grow in our understanding of what is possible. Refusing to share is like writing a book, publishing it and refusing to allow anyone to borrow it from the local library. If you only want us to buy a book, or buy our attendance at a conference presentation then you are not a 21st century learner. Sure, getting the information via shared feed at a conference is not as good as being there – we know that, because we love the F2F interactions. But sharing content is the next best thing! Go for it.

How do you feel about participants taking undirected photographs during a presentation and publishing these?

Fantastic. Just keep the flash off please!

How do you feel about participants taking undirected audio recordings during a presentation and publishing these?

Fantastic! So long as it doesn’t disrupt the streaming bandwidth for the main presentations (assuming the conference organisers are savvy enough to realise the value of streaming!). Standalone audio recordings on the other hand are fine but not as good as a presentation that incorporates image or video. Either way, publish and share at all times.

How do you feel about participants taking undirected video recordings during a presentation and publishing these?

Great! so long as it is not being streamed and using up the bandwidth of the main streaming organised by the conference team. Imagine 20 people streaming!! It’s great to have access to go back to sessions in this format, as good presentations lend themselves to review for further reflection. It’s about deepening our learning and understanding – not limiting it!

How do you feel about participants making undirected live broadcasts (audio or video) of a presentation?

This is a great idea, but the reality is that most venues don’t have the bandwidth to have more than one stream working effectively. Hence it is really smart of conference organisers to incorporate streaming into their program, instead of impacting the audiences opportunity to focus on blogging, microblogging, or using online tools to collect conference notes etc. If we believe in cloud computing and Web 2.0 then we don’t build in restrictions into our conference structures – we capitalize on Web 2.0 to promote and disseminate the ideas and information being generated by the collaborative crowd.

How do you feel about participants making undirected ratings on the quality of presentations via blogs and microblogs?

Frankly, it adds a bit of spice, and keeps presenters and conference organisers honest! The time is over for tolerating boring presentations. However, this should not be seen as a way of attacking the presenter, nor undertaken in such a manner that is offensive. I see this as a golden opportunity if undertaken with a positive aim in mind. After all, we expect students to stand up in class and be assessed as part of their learning!! It’s time for educators to be accountable for their work too!

How do you feel about the undirected use of laptops during your lessons?

Awesome! Now here is a true challenge to teachers. The truth is that unless pedagogy has shifted in the classroom to create authentic and project-based learning, the undirected use of laptops doesn’t work. Teachers who are in control mode can’t cope with this. Teachers who are mentors know that it is essential.

How do you feel about the undirected use of mobile phones for texting / microblogging during your lessons?

Mobiles are just communication tools, organisational tools, and collaboration tools. What are we afraid of? Oh I know! We have to change our classrooms into 21st century learning places 🙂

How do you feel about students undirected sharing their thoughts on your lessons on a public Blog?

A real-life skill to be learned, and one that is essential to 21st century learning. Sure students will waiver at times, but isn’t the idea that we should be supporting students to think and learn in multimodal ways? That is their natural domain – let’s work with it.

How do you feel about students undirected sharing their thoughts on your lessons via micro blogging services such as Twitter during the lesson?

Use the tools to shape thinking – twitter is just one of many ways for teachers to create effective blended learning environments. Microblogging is an ideal way for communicating and reflecting in that immediate MSN style of thinking that comes naturally to kids. Capture the world of opportunities and be amazed at the outcomes.

How do you feel about your students undirected sharing the content of your lessons with those not in your class?

Anyone students can share with works for me. That makes it a 21st century global class, and those that share back become members of my class.

How do you feel about your students taking undirected photographs during your lessons and publishing these?

Of course students should share. The bottom line is the nature of the digital citizenship and digital literacy skills of the students that we need to nurture. The truth is that unless we nurture them, then students will undertake activities that are counter-productive to quality learning. But simply saying ‘don’t do it’ is an abrogation of our role as guides and mentors in this 21st century world that we have stumbled upon. Let’s sort out our thinking and get one with learning.

How do you feel about your students taking undirected audio, video recordings or live broadcasts during your lessons and publishing these?

Please do! As long as it is focused on improving knowledge and understanding and incorporates safe digital citizenship in the production.

How do you feel about your students making undirected ratings on the quality of your lessons via blogs and microblogs?

Students need to learn how to be be authentic in their collaboration and engagement in the learning process. Whether it is reflecting on other students or commenting on the nature of the teacher’s engagement with the multimodal learning of their students, it is an area that is evolving. It is also an area that is highly sensitive for most teachers, but needs to be unpacked and incorporated into the formative processes of learning.

Overall comments.

The world has changed! I am thrilled to be part of the 21st century learning that is now possible at a conference, in my classroom, at home, in fact absolutely anywhere. I want my students to have the best opportunities. I want them to be thrilled too!

UPDATE: These same topics are currently being discussed at ISTE in relation to NECC conferences and more. Read about it or join in the conversation at Fair Use & Digital Citizenship 2009

Photo: Speedmonster 5