Tag Archives: networking

If I stayed in my library…

Am Fenster, 1922 by Hans Kammerer

In keeping with a limited budget for professional development, the question about relevant choices came up.  The conversation that arose centred on proven relevance for my role as teacher librarian, and in terms of being in line with we’re doing at school. I wanted to go to  Gary Stager’s part in a leadership seminar series. Here is an extract about the seminar –

For school leaders, the immediate challenge is to create productive contexts for learning where there are greater opportunities for inquiry, project-based learning and student leadership, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

The relevance of professional development is an interesting topic for conversation especially for me as a teacher librarian. My role is not subject centred, and I find that I usually have to explain the types of things that I do, and the types of PD which might be useful. I understand that a limited budget forces the question of relevance, and might lead to the opinion that Gary’s talk is not specifically targeted to my role or even what we are doing at our school. It might be reasonable to expect that the chosen professional development session should be specifically targeted at what we do in the library.

Why does this not sit right with me?

As much as I appreciate and enjoy professional development opportunities related to my profession (teacher librarian) – and there is so much variety here since this role has an impressive array of hats – what I love most is an opportunity to be stretched, challenged and even surprised; to be reminded about the basic core of our jobs at school – LEARNING! – and to interact with people from different walks of life.

People who attend Teachmeets will know what I’m talking about. We hear from educators in different roles – primary, secondary, tertiary, from principals, heads of elearning, IT, program coordinators at museums, non-school libraries, and the such. You get what I’m trying to say. There is so much to learn from each and every speaker, regardless of their role, and that’s precisely because of the diversity of experiences. Sometimes a primary teacher will have a unique approach to teaching which a secondary teacher will not have thought of. I know that I have so many connections and ideas while I’m listening to these people. And the conversation following is just as valuable. How sad, how 2-dimensional, to receive professional development which is carefully measured, predictable and safe.

What would I be like if I stayed in my library, if I stayed in my school, my staff room, my neighbourhood?

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First Melbourne TeachMeet 2013 #tmmelb

Well, hello. It’s been so, so long since I’ve spoken in this space, and I’m not even sure I still have an audience.  Nevertheless, I’d like to do a quick post to rave a little about Melbourne’s first TeachMeet for 2013. Given that we’ve only just gone back to school, lamenting the long Summer break behind us, how lovely to meet in casual surrounds at Lt. Markov-Bar in Carlton. Thank you, Roland (@rgesthuizen), for organising ICTEV TeachMeet @[The Pub}. I’m not sure what I enjoy the most – the social part or the exchange of expertise – but fortunately we can have both. Seriously, if people get together in their free time on the weekend in the name of education and learning, I think that says something about the event.

If you take a look at the line-up of 2- and 7-minute presentations, you’ll see a variety of educational foci including Lauren Sayer’s (@lilylauren) project-based learning revolution at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Jenny Ashby’s (@jjash) 24-hour skype fest, Heather Bailie’s (@hbailie) chat about the Red Cross initiative, Disaster Resilience education, and much more. Do take a look, and think about coming to the next TeachMeet. You don’t have to present, and you’ll meet people who are passionate about education and work in different fields. Thank you to all the organisers, and it was good to see friends and familiar faces again, as well as new people.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here is the visual presentation part of my 7-minute talk. It’s about using Pinterest as an awesome image resource, and I show how I’ve used it to curate images for Visual Communication Design. I’m thinking of presenting a longer version at some point with a cross-curricular focus. Hopefully the pictures will make some sense without the spoken part.

(For some reason I can’t seem to embed the Google Presentation doc, so it will have to be a link for now)

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/14Ab22j2yRT4vLkpe_pz61_uQtugYd1z8GwYrf9UW21c/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000

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TeachMeet Melbourne at Quantum Victoria

I’m looking forward to the professional sharing and F2F catching up at tomorrow’s TeachMeet Melbourne at Quantum Victoria. It’s a fantastic (and free!) opportunity to get together and share knowledge and ideas, as well as get the collegial support everyone needs.

As always everyone is invited to give a very short presentation; topics can be viewed in the Google doc. I decided to overcome my aversion to public speaking by offering a 7 minute show-and-tell about what’s valuable and enjoyable on Facebook. You can see the screenshots in the presentation below.

Looking forward to it but not happy about getting my 3rd cold for the term!

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Patterns of behaviour, rather than skill sets, lead to opportunities

Point Lonsdale rockpools – photo by Alexander Sheko

A while ago I was asked to contribute an article to FYI. The brief was – describe your journey to becoming a Google Certified Teacher.

I’ve had a lot of trouble writing this article, and I’ve edited many drafts before finally submitting something with which I am half pleased. It’s frustrating writing a print article for many reasons. You can’t hyperlink which means you have to explain everything in greater detail and include a set of links at the end. You wonder who your readers will be, and you know you won’t get any feedback.

And so, since this is the platform I feel comfortable to use for self-expression and sharing, I’ve copied my article into a post and hope to hear from some of you. Do you feel the same way about social media and networking or do you feel differently? Your feedback is always valuable to me.

How I became a Google Certified Teacher (Journey to becoming a Google Certified Teacher)
“We sat at brightly google-coloured tables and, shortly after breakfast, were treated to Google Educators giving us an overview of the enormous range of Google tools: Search (web, specialised, multimedia, language, custom), Google Apps Education edition, Docs, Sites, Calendar, Blogger,Books, Scholar, News, Blog Search, Alerts, Maps, Earth, Gmail, Chat, Talk,Mobile, and more. Added to these sessions, some of our 55 strong cohort had offered to present Inspiring Ideas. We were treated to Google Spreadsheets (Pat Wagner), Sites for student e-portolios (Joe Donahue), creating an augmented reality school tour (Chris Betcher), e-portfolios using Blogger and Apps (Rob Clarke), using Blogger and Video Chat for minimally invasive education (Tara Taylor-Jorgensen), and an inside view of Google Apps for Education in a school (Dorothy Burt).  At 6pm, in the last session: reflection and review, we shared our ‘Aha’ moments for the day with our group, and at 6.30pm we were treated to a lovely celebratory dinner.”This is how I described in a blog post my experience at the Google Academy in April 2011

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity which connected me not only to experienced Google educators but also to a fantastic cohort of passionate, innovative people who are now part of my learning network.

Opportunities seem to present themselves out of the blue when in fact they don’t. You have to be somewhere in order to see the opportunities. Those who attended the one and a half days of professional development and became Google Certified Teachers had already been connecting and sharing online through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Delicious and other social media. Of course there are many people out there who are doing the same and deserved to join the GCT cohort but weren’t chosen and the reason for this I leave up to the gods.

I look back to see a pattern of behaviour rather than a set of skills which led me to discovering the Google Teacher Academy opportunity – I am a learner, and technology and social media are my enablers.

“Participants were selected based on their professional experience, their passion for teaching and learning, and their successful use of technology in school settings.”

I think when we say ‘teaching and learning’ we should stop and think about the learning part of that dynamic partnership which makes us good educators. Yes, it’s about students’ learning, but more importantly, it’s about our own learning and our continued learning.

We can’t successfully teach our students if we are still the learners we were when we completed our teaching degree. To keep up with the world of our students and the future world of their work we need to immerse ourselves in the technology which enables today’s learning. But not technology for technology’s sake.

Howard Rheingold said (in Robert Heyden’s blog post)
that learning should be learner-centred, social and peer-to-peer and networked. He said that
“students are going to live and work socially and yet the methods and the literature of social learning are not being used.”

We teach most effectively when we experience something for ourselves. It’s not good enough to push aside the technology which makes us feel uncomfortable or decide we have no time to participate in social media. We don’t need to do more, we should just do things differently.

Social media is a great enabler. Once I started blogging I connected to people with similar roles and interests, expanding my ‘friendship’ and ‘colleague’ base, but I also followed people with varied interests and expertise, as well as those who challenged me with diverse viewpoints. Technology allows us to transcend barriers of location, culture, age, class, race, gender, and educational level. How wonderful to connect with and learn from keynoters and change agents like Will Richardson, Howard Rheingold and Joyce Valenza.

Social media is an equalizer. It democratizes people. I admire Howard Rheingold and his writings but I am unlikely to see him in person. I can, however, read what he’s written, see what he’s reading, follow what he’s thinking, discover who he’s talking to – on Twitter, Delicious and Google+.    I have the opportunity to communicate with great minds and forward thinkers. My opinion is heard – it counts; people respond and relationships are formed. If I don’t know how to do something, I ask and receive help. Social media reduces isolation and frustration and quickly answers questions, solves problems.

So, if opportunities such as GTA are a result of specific patterns of behaviour, what does this routine look like?
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Every morning before school I check Facebook (which is blocked at school) and pull out news and resources which come to me once I’ve followed organisations. These include VicPLN, Australia e-series, Facing IT, iCentre, Internet Public Library, Maths TV, National Gallery of Victoria, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Folger Shakespeare Library, Smithsonian Libraries, Tate, The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, Virtual Museum of Canada, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and many more. This works like an RSS feed for me, but it’s only one of many. I also read a wide range of blogs in Google Reader, discover what others are reading in my Diigo and Delicious communities, and interact with my Twitter and Google+ networks. If this seems like too much, it’s worth noting that I have the choice to do these things selectively.

If I were to give advice for building meaningful online networks I would say:
Don’t just find, but also explore for serendipitous encounters;
Start with one type of network (eg Twitter, RSS, etc) and closely follow a few people, engaging in conversation and discovering people in their networks;
Don’t just use Google – search Diigo, Delicious, Vodpod to find expertise in areas that interest you;
Share generously what you find and create, encourage and support, respond to and ask engaging questions;
Revise your networks regularly to keep them relevant and vibrant;
Share what you do as well as your reflections and evaluations;
Be real – even online people can detect superficial or insincere interaction.

Admittedly, the global curricular focus of teacher librarians is one of the reasons that we are amongst the best participators in social media, and the teachers’ focus on content delivery and assessment can be a deterrent. Nevertheless, I make a considerable effort to model and demonstrate the fruits of social networking with the hope of inspiring others.

As Howard Rheingold says of this type of connected learning (which applies to us as well as students)

“It’s the unpredictable synergy that can happen when a group of strangers assembles online to learn together.”

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Scooping means curating

                                                           Photo courtesy of CanadianAEh on Flickr

Time is one of our most precious commodities in a fast paced world. This is particularly true for educators, don’t you think? For teacher librarians, curating information and resources and doing it well is more important than ever. Our information management strategies enable us to control the flood of online information, and to connect with others in order to receive and share information.

Scoop.it (beta), a new way of curating online resources for a topic of choice, has sprung up out of nowhere (somewhere, obviously), and it seems that most of the people in my Twitter, Facebook and other networks are giving it a go. At first I thought – what!? yet another thing to keep up with; do I really need to tie myself down to managing more than my existing blogs and bits? But honestly, Scoop.it is probably one of the most effortless ways not only of curating a topic online. You just create a topic, get the button, then ‘scoop’ websites as you see them. The layout is great, magazine-style page, much easier to skim and select than looking through Diigo or Delicious accounts. Personally, I’m looking forward to the day when all information is enhanced by a visual layout; much more user friendly.

The networking part of Scoop.it works really well. I get email alerts when one of my people creates another topic, and then it’s just a matter of having a look to see if I want to follow it. Looking through someone’s list of followed Scoop.its opens up even more topics, so every day I’m discovering new resources. Since people choose areas of interest, they are often experts in resourcing this topic. Developing a personal learning network has never been so important. Networking is a powerful way of having the best and most relevant resources come to you. You can even suggest resources for somebody else’s Scoop.it topic, and then the creator has the choice of accepting or ignoring this.

There is an option of sharing on Facebook and Twitter, and that is often how I am alerted to new topics and links. Of course, tagging makes locating resources easy.

Today on Facebook Karen Bonanno shared the Library Research Services’ Vimeo Channel featuring videos such as School library characteristics that affect student achievement – an excellent series of videos, quite digestible in video form, and I wanted to share these with my library team so I added a post in my school library blog.

Chapter 4: School Library Characteristics that Affect Student Achievement from LRS on Vimeo.

Currently I’ve only created 2 topics:

Apps for learning and What is a teacher librarian – can’t say I’ve put much effort into these. I think you have to get into the mindset of thinking ‘Scoop.it’ as you read and discover things online. However, I have been looking through others’ resources, and I’m happy to say that Scoop.it has turned out to be more than a new gimmick. I suppose you have to give new things a go in order to decide whether they warrant your time and focus.

The Explore tab at the top of Scoop.it takes you to the latest scoops within the topics you follow. Currently I follow 75, and yes, you can’t keep up with everything all the time. Like the fast flowing Twitter stream, you just dip in when you have time or when you’re looking for specific resources.

If you’re using Scoop.it please leave your Scoop.it identity in the comment box. I would love to see what you’ve been curating. It would also be good to discover your favourite topics. Don’t be shy!

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How much personal information do we give away every day?

                                                             Image: ‘Facebook Wants a New Face
Facebook Wants a New Face

A couple of days ago my son had an unsavoury phonecall in the middle of the night from someone who had taken the trouble to conceal his number and his real voice. The incident prompted a discussion about privacy, about Facebook and ‘Friends’ and led me to notice this video in a blog post within Judy O’Connell’s Scoop.it .

Privacy International – Data Trail from This is Real Art on Vimeo.

I’m all for the positive connections for students (and anyone, really) on social networking sites but I suppose unless something goes wrong, we might be tempted to overlook the reality of things. I think, as much as I enjoy sharing things with ‘friends’ online, I should review what I’m sharing and who I’m sharing it with. As educators we should be addressing issues of privacy and the implications of our digital footprint, and the best way is to model it ourselves.

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Stop telling me I’m wasting my time on Facebook

I’m a little tired of people telling me I’m wasting my time on Facebook.

Yes, I do enjoy keeping an eye on what my friends and colleagues are up to, seeing photos of their weddings, new babies and celebrations, particularly when they don’t live close. But I also use Facebook professionally. I’m a teacher librarian – I resource the curriculum, and that means I need a constant stream of information coming to me. Facebook, my Twitter network, Google Reader, my Diigo and Delicious network, my Vodpod network – all connect me to what I need to do my job. The same goes for what I’m interested in.

Some read the newspaper, others do it differently.

I don’t know what you see on your Facebook page but this is a cross-section of what I see –

You get the idea…

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