Tag Archives: sharing

Shopping for libraries – Melbourne University libraries and the Library at the Dock

The most dangerous behaviour for librarians of any sort (public, school, technicians, teacher librarians) is to sit in their library and not go anywhere. Actually, I would say the same for teachers in their classrooms. Staying ‘home’  in a time of change in education and economic life can lead to redundancy.  Going out to visit libraries has been on our agenda recently for several reasons – mainly to take a look at innovative spaces and their functions and to enter into discussion about what we have in common with public and tertiary librarians, specifically the support of crucial literacies for young people.

Recently our library team enjoyed visits to several libraries – the very new Library at the Dock (in the Docklands precinct of Melbourne), 3 libraries at the University of Melbourne, and the University College Library (University of Melbourne). Apart from the sheer pleasure of seeing beautifully designed new library and community spaces, we loved the conversations and connection with librarians. Taking a look at how similar institutions do things differently is without doubt the most fantastic way to spark conversation which leads to evaluation and review of the way we currently do things with a view to an improved future.

The Library at the Dock

From the City of Melbourne website:

Library at The Dock is a three-storey building, 55.3 metres long by 18.1 metres wide, and is made from engineered timber and reclaimed hardwood.

Read about the building’s sustainability features (PDF, 600kb).

As well as a traditional library collection, the library and community centre offers an interactive learning environment and a state-of-the-art digital collection, multi-purpose community spaces and a performance venue that holds 120 people. Connections to Docklands’ rich maritime and Aboriginal heritage is embraced and celebrated with facilities to support local historical research and educational experiences.

This is a beautifully designed library in a fantastic location with gorgeous views. From what we observed, people living and working in the precinct happily use the library and its spaces in a variety of ways. I’m surprised that this exemplary project was funded, to be honest.

The Melbourne University libraries

The first library we visited on the Melbourne University campus was the newly refurbished Giblin Eunson Library. The first port of call was the newly redesigned library and IT help desk. Whereas the old desk was a traditional design where the desk formed a barrier between the librarian and the client, with the computer facing away from the student, the new desk was an irregular shape with the person on duty standing beside the student client and working through solutions with both people looking at the computer screen.

 There is so much we can learn from an ongoing relationship with university librarians in terms of library spaces and design for optimal student support, and in particular, in terms of our role in preparing our students for tertiary academic life (search/research skills, independent learning, navigation of online resources, bibliographies/in-text citations and more). This is particularly important for MHS because most of our cohort will end up at university. We have already developed a partnership in terms of shared online content for research – the Melbourne Uni librarians have kindly allowed us to use and modify their excellent Research Libguide.
In turn, we have shared our Libguides resources for ipad apps with the Melb Uni librarians –
libguideapps
The visit confirmed for us the importance of revisiting the integrating research skills into all assignments at MHS – something which is always a struggle with the overcrowded curriculum and emphasis on content delivery within the VCE.
Of course, we have also greatly benefited from our relationship with Carolyn Brown (CJ), who has worked with us in between her job as College Librarian at University College library. CJ has provided a wealth of expertise, a link to tertiary academia, and to the role teacher librarians play in preparing our students for university.
We all agreed that our visit to the Melbourne University libraries (and our visit to The Library at the Docks before that) were an invaluable form of PD for us all – rich, relevant, ongoing and inspiring.
We will be unpacking what we’ve learned throughout the year, and collaboratively informing our practice and our future directions so that we can best support students and teachers at Melbourne High School.
I’ve included photos of our visit to Melbourne University libraries here, and photos of our visit to the Library at the Dock here.

 

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Participatory learning a prerequisite to 21st century teaching?

This is the introductory section of an article I’m writing for Synergy, the publication of the School Library Association of Victoria.  I’m sharing this section before I consolidate the second, more practical, half of the article. Feedback, ideas and opposing viewpoints are welcome in the comments section of this post.

Photo source: Top Design Mag

Twitter and participatory learning – how relevant are they to teachers and students?

New technologies have created opportunities for participatory learning for students and new, connected ways for teachers to access professional development.  Some of these, such as blogs and wikis, are suitable as learning platforms for students of all ages. Twitter is one of the most powerful tools in terms of instant accessibility to huge numbers of people, but it is one of the most challenging to set up to work effectively. I would suggest that Twitter is a tool most suited to teachers and senior secondary or tertiary students.

The internet has changed the learning environment dramatically. As a result we have changed the way we think about information – how we locate it, how we organise it or remix it, and how we share it.  Wherever we are, whenever we want to, we can use our smartphones to find information because the internet has transformed our phones into powerful and mobile information devices. Furthermore, technological tools have changed how we think and how we interact. An example of this is the texting facility on mobile phones which has been adopted by young people as a dominant way of communicating, frequently replacing the speaking option. Technology does not merely add to existing ways of functioning – it changes our social practices.

Through social media we go a step further to connect to others in a new culture of communicating and learning. Our learning environment may be in a constant state of change but one factor is constant – the fact that learning is now participatory.

As educators, we should be constantly evaluating our teaching methods by asking ourselves what constitutes effective learning in the changing environment of our students and their futures – an environment driven by digital technologies and social media. We have the opportunity to think about innovative approaches to learning and teaching especially when our students’ learning can extend beyond the textbook and classroom.

How motivated we are, as educators, to find new and innovative approaches to teaching will depend on a range of factors – one of which is whether we realise and appreciate the potential of digital technologies for relational learning, for example, when we see opportunities in our daily lives for the connective potential of social media.  When we understand the value of social networks in our own lives, we will be able to translate this potential into the educational environment.

In a recent blog post, What’s in a selfie, Tom Whitby (2014) discusses the recent news about Ellen DeGeneres’ massively retweeted photo of a group of actors at the Oscars to highlight the power of social media, and to urge educators to harness this connective potential.

Well, if you watched the Academy Awards last week, you witnessed the global impact that social media has in the world. Ellen DeGeneres was able to take a picture of a group of actors that, in the first half hour of it being posted, was re-tweeted 700,000 times, which temporarily knocked Twitter off the Internet. It has now become the number one tweet of all time.

Whitby identifies the hashtag as a connective device used extensively by the entertainment and news industries. The hashtag is a simple way to connect users online to a person, event or information, providing an interactive experience for hashtag users. Whitby explains that social media affords a new opportunity for actors and fans to connect with each other in real life. He goes on to say that the news and entertainment industries are taking advantage of this new connection with the public by bombarding them with hashtags for interactive involvement. Finally he questions why educators have not realised the potential of social media in the educational context:

What does any of this have to do with education? The idea that social media gives us a platform to send out information and have people interact with it, or just digest it, would seem to be an idea that would be snapped up and embraced by educators. They are the very people who make a living trying to get folks to get information and interact with it, or just digest it.

According to Whitby, educators could potentially blow DeGeneres’ Twitter statistics right out of the water when you consider the wealth of resources they have to share:

Imagine if every teacher shared just one of their best sources with other educators, who in turn could tweet them out to the tune of 700,000 tweets in a half hour. Everyone would benefit. The idea here is to get educators familiar with the concept of connectedness and its possibilities, so that getting comfortable with social media itself becomes less of an obstacle.

Sharing information and resources is second nature to teacher librarians. Perhaps this is the reason why many of us have been early adopters of social bookmarking and social media, since our roles centre on curating and disseminating information in all its forms across the curriculum, and because these tools provide us with effective ways to connect to other educators and extend our networks. The new connective possibilities make collaborative practice amongst teachers easier than ever before.  Whitby is clear about the urgency of educators moving to a culture of sharing information using social media tools:

Social Media is here to stay. Its form may change, and certainly the applications we use will not remain the same, but the idea of openly exchanging information in whatever forms it is produced is not going away. As educators we can use it or lose it. If we don’t start to understand and use this technology soon, we will lose the opportunity to harness it, because we will be irrelevant. We don’t need social media to teach, as much as we need it to learn.

It is concerning when educators who do not use connective technologies in their private or professional lives turn their backs on innovative educational practices made possible using new technologies. We should not determine our professional practice according to our personal preferences; we must remember that we are educating our students for their future, and we owe it to them to be well versed in the participatory culture of social networks.

Examples of new participatory learning environments include social bookmarking tools such as Diigo and Delicious; online communities such as Facebook groups, Google+ groups and wikis; image based platforms such as Pinterest and Tumblr; magazine-like RSS tools such as Feedly and Flipboard; book-based online communities such as Goodreads, and many more. One of the most powerful social networks used in the field of education is Twitter.

Feeling at home in Twitter

Twitter is not the easiest of social media to understand – in fact it takes time and perseverance to reach the stage where you are convinced of its value.

While trawling back through my blog posts to ascertain how long it took me to feel at home in the Twitter network, I was surprised by how long I had indeed been a Twitter user, and realised that, while it was now second nature for me to tweet daily, it was some time before it began to make sense to me. My archived posts have captured my reactions and reflections which may otherwise have been forgotten.

On 7th November 2008 I wrote about my first impressions of Twitter :

Twitter I’ve only recently added to my online life (told you I was a latecomer), and I still feel like an outsider there, posting the odd tweet in the hope of being heard, of being accepted into a conversation. Mobile computing is not part of my diet yet, and that may change in the future if I reinvent my commitment to the latest technology.

Whereas prior to joining Twitter, my main form of communication and self expression was blogging, things were about to change:

I don’t have that mania for a daily post as perhaps I did in the past. I’ve allowed various social networking and microblogging outlets to soak up a range of smaller spontaneous thoughts.

The hardest part, for me, was to connect to a meaningful network, and that always requires initial hard work and staying power. A little like developing readership and comments for blogs. Once you do that, the rewards are apparent. Previously, I subscribed to a teacher librarian network, ‘oztl_net’, and that worked well for a time, but the advantages of Twitter are the global connection, the updated status which connects to the person in real time, the fantastic stream of links, the fluid conversation.

On 22 December 2008 I discovered the immediacy of Twitter for communicating breaking news:

The first thing Mike Wilson did after surviving the Continental Airlines 737 crash when his plane slid off the runway in Denver was use his mobile phone to update his Twitter community.

A dedicated microblogger or …? Whatever he is, he has now made history as the first person to tweet a plane crash directly after an accident. Twitter might be the up and coming way to communicate after trauma. I think psychologists may eventually decide that sharing directly after a traumatic experience decreases shock or at least somehow alleviates stress.

On 6 March 2009 I recorded my discovery of live tweeting:

Earthquake in Melbourne: Twitter beats breaking news

Sitting on the couch earlier this evening, I felt a strange sensation of moving with the couch, as the bookshelf behind me creaked. Melbourne had experienced a light earthquake. Did it happen or did I imagine it? After a while I tweeted it in the form of a question, hoping to ascertain whether it really happened or not. Sure enough, Twitter exploded with tweets registering similar experiences.

Meanwhile, the TV was on, but no news about an earthquake. Look at ABC newsonline – nothing. Channel 7 Breaking News remained unbroken – just a repeat of the stories that had been broadcast several times already this evening.

Gradually, traditional news providers came on board. Channel 7 finally acknowledged the quake at 10.27 pm. Very slow, considering John Connell had already completed a post about the Melbourne quake from Scotland.

Here it is, and he has an image of the first 18 twitterers – I’m there on the right. I would have been quicker but my laptop was doing its usual slow-loading.

So what does all this have to do with education?

Where Twitter sits in education

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008):

supports the focus on digital learning and identifies the creative and productive use of technology as an indicator of a successful learner (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008).

The world of digital learning beckons, with opportunities for teachers and students alike to benefit from the opportunities and capabilities a digital world offers. Embracing digital learning is not a choice for students or teachers to consider and adopt – it is the modus operandi; the way we do business.

I think I learn better using technology than just sitting in the classroom and being told what to do because it gives me more flexibility and responsibility. I’m in control of my own learning which enables me to learn how I best learn and get the most out of my learning experience.

International research shows that integrating digital technology into the learning environment can: improve students’ confidence levels, attitudes towards their own learning, behaviour and attendance, promote improved opportunities for students to learn through collaboration and conversation improve connections with the real world and provide access to global communities with expertise and perspectives that can enrich learning.’

Teachers must keep learning

However, it is not just students that need support in this age of digital learning. Some teachers are comfortable in the digital learning space while others are still working to integrate the use of technology into their daily language and behaviours. In an environment where the digital space moves rapidly, teachers are also learners.

Educators who participate in Twitter networks are well placed to support students in the use of relevant digital technologies because the Twitter community shares knowledge, resources and expert advice. Twitter bios often lead to professional blogs, wikis and other online platforms which openly share ideas and units of work.

Students of all ages can learn how to learn in online learning environments such as blogs and wikis, for example, but Twitter is probably more suited to older students. Alexander’s post (February 9) testifies that Twitter is a powerful tool which can be used by more senior students to create and customise their learning network, and that this tool connects learning to a broad network people, as well as individuals who share specific interests. In a fast changing world, we should be aware of how important it is for our students to learn how to learn, so that they are confident players in a changing world .  Unlike the passive consumption of information in the traditional teacher-centred classroom, students using Twitter become proactive in setting up and interacting with their customised networks.

Helen Haste (2009), visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, ‘claims that new technology tools are altering the ways students interact with the world. In a series of video segments, building on her four decades of research, Haste describes the 21st century student as a collaborative tool user who needs a new brand of competences to thrive within a changing environment.’

Two of the competences described by Haste are agency and responsibility, and finding and sustaining community. She points out that if students are encouraged to function as active agents interacting with their world, they will have to take responsibility for things, thus developing the confidence to deal with whatever comes their way.

She also talks about the competency of finding and sustaining community – managing friends, developing social skills, and managing online communities where they encounter a multiplicity of people, have to deal with strangers, and are involved in the multi-tasking of connecting and interacting. They recognise that they are part of a larger community, beyond their private world.

But how does the idea of students in charge of their learning and learning networks make us feel as educators? Are we also learning how to use social media to connect with a broad community, or do we feel uncomfortable with something which is foreign to us? How should we, as educators, react to evidence that our students are confident players in an arena we may not have stepped into, or in which we feel some uncertainty.

In a time of rapid and constant change, it is my opinion that there is one overriding prerequisite for an educator to thrive, and that is, to possess the mindset of a learner. But do we really need to be connected as educators? Couldn’t we leave that to our students – after all, they have been born into a world where technology is embedded into almost everything they do. Can’t they work it out without us, while we go on with the business of teaching?

I don’t think we can justify ignoring technologies we would rather not engage with. How can we justify turning our backs on the world outside the school walls? As Howard Rheingold (2014)says in his Social Media Literacies Syllabus: High School Level:

There is no doubt that ‘new individual and collaborative skills are emerging’ thanks to new connective technologies. As educators we should practise the use of these and assist students and other teachers to do the same.

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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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Judith Way’s Virtual Aussie Libraries Tour

This has been cross-posted from the Melbourne High School Library blog.

I am privileged to have as a friend Judith Way. Judith makes things happen – I’ve said this before. As soon as I heard she hit on the idea of a virtual library tour I knew it was going to be good. And it is. Take a look here.

Thanks to everyone for sharing photo of your gorgeous libraries – so many ideas for those of us who are thinking about how we can improve our library spaces. And thanks to Judith for going to the effort of putting this project together.  It’s one step towards bridging the distances between all our libraries and sharing library design ideas.

Historypin looks fantastic – have a look at all the different tours.

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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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Neil Gaiman on copyright, piracy and the web

@WackJacq tweeted a link to this video (thanks!)

Neil Gaiman explains his shift in thinking about copyright and web piracy in terms of literary works.

It makes a lot of sense, and I’m happy Neil took the time to give his personal take on the new publishing and sharing/mixing potential on the web. As he says, people were discovering him through his pirated books, and the result was that sales increased a great deal; “you’re not losing sales by having stuff out there.”  We need, as Neil says, a whole new way of looking at copyright. What is shared online raises an awareness and brings people to find things they would normally not have found.

As Neil says, that’s an incredibly good thing.

 

 

 

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How do we learn from people? Do we trust people? What do people know?

Photo courtesy of Okinawa Soba on Flickr

If I’m going to convince others about the whole point of Web 2.0 technologies, not just teach them how to use the technologies (what for? being the pivotal question), then I’m going to have to sort through for myself what it means to learn from and with other people (as opposed to the traditional learning from books, teachers).

Here’s an example. I’ve been reading the photo blogs which are part of a 2010 flickr challenge. Many of the blogs I follow are written by those living in the northern hemisphere. It’s interesting observing opposite weather patterns, for example, of those celebrating Christmas and the new year in snowy winter while I’m experiencing sweltering heat with temperatures in the high 30s in Melbourne today. Not only is the blog reading informative but the conversation is satisfying, and underpins the joy of learning from people who are real, who have a sense of humour and can answer your questions.

I’ve been enjoying sinikka’s blog. Sinikka writes from Finland so, for example, I learned about Finnish Christmas and post-Christmas customs. Not only that, but I could tell her about our Russian customs. Again, learning through conversation. Not static, dynamic learning.

Some blogs are very specialised. The library history buff blog is very impressive in its range and detail of information about the history of American libraries. You’d be surprised how esoteric some blogs are.

Photo from Library History Buff Blog.

Recently I’ve been mesmorised by the Flickr photostream of priest Maxim Massalitin who shares photos and information about Russian Orthodox churches. He’s from Kiev, and currently lives in France. He seems to have done his research about the churches and monasteries he photographs. In this way, writing blogs and posting photos on Flickr becomes a learning experience for the author too; information is retrieved and provided at point of need. It’s a great way to learn for me, like virtual travel. This photostream contains beautiful iconography, and I love the Byzantine tradition. It’s interesting to see so many different churches and monasteries and to read about their history.

Photo courtesy of H.Maxim on Flickr

I think it’s good to think about what learning means. Does it only happen at school? Obviously not. But we may not realise how much of it happens outside of traditional environments. Think back to when you finished school or university – did you think the main part of your learning had been completed? Well, sure you didn’t. But did you realise that you’d barely begun?

Maybe we don’t think that way but kids sure do – at least younger teens. If you don’t give them a written assignment to complete and hand in for correction, they don’t consider themselves working. Spend the lesson having a discussion which peels away at layers of understanding, and you’ll still be the only one considering this work. The kids won’t think they’ve learned much unless it’s on paper and with a percentage or grade.

My elder son has recently discovered a passion for photography. Now that he’s on University holidays, he has been able to spend a lot of time taking photos, learning how to play around with them, and reading books and manuals about photography. He has spent many, many hours of his time voluntarily researching and learning. And he is loving it.  The best example of out-of-school learning. I note that it takes time, and unlimited, but focused learning can be very, very productive. He also commits to daily posts in a blog celebrating his final year as a teenager. Self-initiated and passion-based learning.

Photo courtesy of phillipsandwich on flickr

Every day I learn so much that is interesting from people online – people who share their expertise and special interests, and who are willing to communicate with others. So much more engaging than learning facts from a static page. We can learn a lot from each other.

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