I Can Make a Difference When WE Make a Difference INF 537 Critical Reflection

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INF537 Digital Futures Colloquium has been some of the most challenging learning I have undertaken in recent times.  It has really helped me synthesise my understanding of what our digital futures could look like. I have realised that before we can make a difference in using digital technologies in education we really need to work towards gaining some clarity as to the how and why digital technologies can be used in the reality of schools.  One of the readings that really made an impact on me was Selwyn (2010) when he stated that there needs to be time to reflect on the how and the why of digital technologies?  It can be seen in many schools, investments are made to try and get the most innovative devices, robotics would be a good example here, but how many schools take the time to think: why do our students need these technologies? How are they going to help prepare for their futures? How can we integrate these devices to provide authentic learning opportunities?  If schools keep investing in devices in the name of innovation and no understanding of practice, then the devices just become toys and make no impact on learning at all.

The first colloquium by Simon Welsh who spoke about learning analytics was confrontational and caused me to leave the presentation (via Adobe Connect), with mixed emotions as can be seen in my blog post.  The two issues that I was confronted with were: how can the number of clicks be used to judge a student’s abilities?  Are we starting to depend too much on the machine and leave the human behind?  It all seemed very black and white and it is an area that I definitely need to do more learning in.

The second colloquium by Pip Cleaves was inspirational.  She really walked her talk and it could be seen through her presentation that the school she is working at is truly working towards transforming the culture of learning to be one of connectedness and active participation.  She really walked the talk and it could be seen that she was really making a difference.  Collaboration was a big part of her presentation as she was working to lift those teachers who needed support and use those teachers that were the first adopters.  The two thoughts I took from this colloquium was connectedness and collaboration.

The third colloquium was presented by Rebecca Vivian and was about Computer Science and Education.  This talk really affirmed the need for educators to be aware of the girls and how we can promote STEM so that we can have a lot more females entering computer science courses later in their education.  This is especially true if our digital futures are unknown and connectedness and digital citizenship is about relationships (Lindsay & Davis, 2013) then we truly need a balance of male and female perspective.

The final assignment was a full circle moment for me though as I seized the opportunity to take time to reflect on my local context and considered digital citizenship, connected learning, collaboration and how these three things intersect and could form the basis for building a Community of Practice for using digital technologies.  The idea for my assignment was inspired by the reflection I undertook while reading, Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach and Lani Ritter Hall.  Within this book they had provided a rubric to gauge how connected you were as an educator.  The premise of their book is that until teachers are role models for collaboration and connectedness through active participation online then how can we expect our students to become connected?

Another learning I have made in this subject is the need to engage with research both inside my own local context and outside the school setting.  I no longer see myself as a teacher of a particular school, I see myself as an educator.  An educator who is able to read the research, reflect on the reality and apply the practice to help improve the reality.  The need for schools to transform their settings through research became clear while I was working my way through my assignment and that part of my learning journey can be found here.

By far the most rewarding experience for me throughout this subject has been developing my own PLN through the collegiality and support of the cohort of fellow students along the way.  To read some of their blog posts was both affirming as we shared a likemindedness and challenging when our perspectives may have differed slightly.  I am really grateful for their insight and their generosity in sharing their ideas.  I am excited by all our digital futures and I know that I make a commitment to myself to continue to engage with the research, reflect and share my thoughts through blogging.  When I first started this Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovations) through Charles Sturt University, I had no idea where my learning would lead but one thing I do know for sure is that I finish this subject knowing I still have so much to learn in order to become the connected educator I wish to be.

I finish this course knowing that I can make a difference only when WE make a difference!

 

 

 

References:

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. A. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening classrooms, engaging minds : move to global collaboration one step at a time (pp. 97-125). Boston : Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publis

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter, H. L. (2011). Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (1). Bloomington, US: Solution Tree Press.

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x


Research Using Own Context For Transforming Practices and Innovation in Schools

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Research < > Teachers < > Digital Technologies =

Transformation / Innovation

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/computer-school-work-business-216890/

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/computer-school-work-business-216890/

As I stumble through my case study, one thought is becoming very clear to me – research is needed in order to effect change.  The latest technologies being used in schools and promoted to schools is robotics for coding, robotics for STEM.  Schools are purchasing but what research has been done by the individual schools as to how these technologies are purposeful for learning? Where they fit in the learning for the students?  Is it any wonder that  teachers have the attitude, here we go, another thing to fit into our day?

Before putting these devices in schools it’s important to understand that teachers are the faces of implementing these tools into the classrooms and students’ learning .  By having the newest technologies in a school does not necessarily make that school innovative.  Innovation is the product of trying to improve something and the cycle of innovation never stops.  Innovation then is also the product of using some sort of design thinking process.  If we do not include teachers and students in the implementation through firstly, supporting teachers through professional development of these learning technologies and connecting them to others who have had success in using these technologies then transformative practices in education will not be achieved.

After reading The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter-Hall, I was particularly impressed on their take of transforming professional development. “{Their} model shifts the locus of control to you, the connected learner, rather than vesting it in outsiders, higher-ups, and professional development consultants who may have good content but lack your school context” (p.5).  The idea of transforming learning through the recognition of teachers as learners who need to be effective in their own context first before they will feel confident to move beyond the school gate really resonated with me.  However, it is important to also highlight their efforts to put the responsibility of this learning with teachers as well.

This brings me back to the idea for the need for research using the local context.  While research studies from other spaces, contexts and academics are useful for gathering evidence and support for changing practices, there also needs to be some element of research carried out at the local context to find authentic learning needs of all learners within an educational community.  If firstly teachers, then students, do not see or understand the learning purpose of digital technologies then taking learning beyond the school gate and effective transformation (innovation) will be nothing but ‘just another thing to fit’ into an already overcrowded timetable.

Education is not broken (Zoul, Whittaker & Casas, 2015).  Teachers are still teaching and trying to avail themselves of the tools that are needed for learning and for their students’ futures.  Students are still learning. Education is however, experiencing a moment of disconnect and as the teachers have their own learning needs, they need to understand and to know the purpose behind these digital technologies.  In order to transform, their needs to be research not into the device but rather into how can teacher pedagogy include the device as part of the delivery of learning?  How can participatory learning and citizenship move beyond the gates of the school towards a more global education?

Jackie Gerstein suggests a model for teacher professional development which also places the teacher as learner and suggests that effective PD is only effective when the teachers are active and responsible for their own professional development rather than having their learning imposed.  It makes so much sense that teachers’ own learning should be their responsibility just as we try to promote active, inquiry-based learning for our own students.  When the teacher becomes the learner they model the experience of learning.  They are challenged by the same experiences as a learner and they learn empathy for their students.  When the teacher becomes a connected educator they model the experiences of being a connected citizen committed to learning.  They are challenged by the same experiences as their students when the expectation is to connect and empathy is gained.

The transformation does not happen only with the teacher, or only with the research or only by having the technologies.  The transformation occurs when all three connect.  The transformation and eventually innovation happens when the three connect to create an innovative vision of pedagogy (practice). George Couros recently shared a diagram drawn by his brother, Alex, that shows the teacher at the centre which also inspired my thinking for my case study. It is definitely in the knowledge consumption but also the knowledge creation AND sharing that will transform education for our students’ futures.

The having the digital technologies is part of the steps of how we need to achieve the vision.  The having the teachers is part of the steps of achieving the vision. The having the research to support teachers in their own local context using the digital technologies is how connected education can truly transpire! THEN our local story becomes a global story as teachers become upskilled, research becomes more than observations and talk and digital technologies become the learning tools they are intended to be. We need to reflect inward, knowing what the research says ‘out there’, reflect on our own local context, develop our vision and then design the steps needed to achieve it.

REFERENCES:

Couros, G.  (Sept. 15, 2016) The Arrows Go Back and Forth [Blog post] Retrieved from:  http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6684

Gerstein, J. A Model for Teacher Development: Precursors to Change Retrieved from: https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/a-model-for-teacher-development-precursors-to-change/

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter, H. L. (2011). Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (1). Bloomington, US: Solution Tree Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

Zoul, J., Whittaker, T. & Casas, J. (2015). What Connected Educators Do Differently. : Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

 


Digital Futures – Participatory, Communities of Practice and Peeragogy

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Created by MCook using Canva. Image used retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/teachers-meeting-books-reading-23820/

Created by MCook using Canva. Image used retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/teachers-meeting-books-reading-23820/

To write about digital futures may seem tiresome to some as digital technologies have been researched, discussed, innovated and will continue to change.  The fact is the digital is here but it is the futures that seems to continue the discussion and put the action of utilising these technologies to their fullest potential on hold.  The future is unknown in the field of digital technologies and this is one of the biggest challenges faced by educators as we attempt to prepare students for their future, their work, their chance to be successful, active citizens.

All we can do is look at what we know for now and transform education by embracing the fact that digital technologies are here to stay and that it’s no longer about the device and how it works (Selwyn, 2010).  Now, we need to prepare ourselves and our students for how to become participatory through our interactions, collaborations, creation and connection and forget about online as other worldly but as a means to realising that learning is lifelong because of the phenomenal changes that occur with each new technology that comes to light. We are all learners.  One thing that students have always looked for throughout history is the modelling that their teachers provide – walking the talk so to say.  So, if educators are not modelling concepts of participatory learning and lifelong learning, how can they sell these ideas to their students. If educators are not connecting and becoming models of what connectedness, what being effective in collaborating looks like and participatory citizenship, then in actual fact they may be causing a disconnect from learning in the school environment.  Educators need to be connected (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter, 2011).

Participatory learning then is not just about connecting to the Internet but rather being able to collaborate with a number of people via virtual communities (so yes, there are sometimes strangers) to share knowledge and talents to support each other in the activity of learning(Davidson & Goldberg, 2009). It is a give and take learning where there is an exchange of ideas that is no longer limited by geographical location and information can be accessed from experts in their particular field.  Participatory learning is about the exchange or the process of learning from others to build knowledge to deepen understanding.  It is not just about the interaction, it is developing a connection with a network of people who are also willing to comment, plan, co-create, remix, share.

It is only through participatory learning and networking through establishing PLN’s that individuals of all ages can continue to build and grow knowledge.  Howard Rheingold suggests that educators need to build a peeragogy  whereby they connect and network with their peers and then as they become more connected and realise the possibilities of developing their own Professional Learning Network (PLN) then they can guide their students to do the same.  The teacher is no longer seen as the authority on everything as has been the education system of the 19th and 20th Centuries but rather the power for learning and of learning is put back where it needs to be – in the minds and the fingertips of the students.

The concept that seems to be the glue of all of these ideals though is collaboration.  Nussbaum and Ritter (2011) suggest that there is some confusion between the terms cooperation and collaboration for educators. Cooperation is where the individuals of the group each carry out an individual task to complete a group task.  There is no reliance on any one person to complete the task and if somebody has not contributed to the group’s effort, it makes no difference. Collaboration is where each person shares their particular talents, skills to make a significant difference to the final outcome and there is a reliance on every member to contribute.

This distinction has raised these question for me:  Am I setting purposeful, authentic tasks that encourage students to acquaint themselves with the skills and talents of their peers? Am I providing students with the skills and abilities to connect with experts that have the skills and talents that they may be missing in their group efforts?

Am I as connected as I need to be?  No, but it is something I am definitely striving towards.  Using the different phases outlined by Corneli, Danoff, Pierce et al. (2016), I feel that I am at Phase 4 – Building and shaping my PLN and the one thing I am learning is that it takes patience and time.  I also need to remind myself that so too does transforming my little piece of the education pie.

 

REFERENCES:

Corneli, J., Danoff, C. J., Pierce, C., Ricuarte, P., and Snow MacDonald, L., eds. (2016). The Peeragogy Handbook. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL./Somerville, MA.: PubDomEd/Pierce Press. Retrieved from http://peeragogy.org

Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. The MIT Press

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter, H. L. (2011). Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (1). Bloomington, US: Solution Tree Press.

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x

 

 


From Should Be, Could Be To Data-driven Adaptive Learning

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Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/big-data-data-analysis-information-1084656/

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/big-data-data-analysis-information-1084656/

With the inception of Web 2.0 technologies and all they encompass – active participation through connecting, creating, collaborating is key.  The initial readings by Selwyn (2010) identify the need to reflect on what has been achieved and to identify how it is possible to move from the brink of educational technologies and what they should be, could be to actually using the technologies as they are intended.

The idea of learning analytics and data mining has been introduced via a colloquia given by Simon Welsh. Anyone who participates online via any social media platform would be naive to think that there is not some sort of tracking and data being gathered by every click.  Just as it would be naive to think that those who engage with shops via VIP cards and frequent shopper schemes are not being tracked through the purchases they make.  Data is everywhere and yes, our lives are being scrutinised in the interest of big business.  It is who is analysing the data and how that data is being used is the ‘grey’ area and where many people could and should ask the questions about privacy issues.  Is the offerings made by data analysis something that is really wanted by the consumer or is it being ‘forced’ upon them and is that indeed an ethical space to be?

Now let’s apply this idea of data mining and analysis to education and you have learning analytics.  The purpose of learning analytics is to track a student’s pathway to their learning.  The Society for Learning Analytics (SOLAR) defines learning analytics as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environment in which it occurs.” The questions and thoughts that arose for me when participating in this colloquia was who is considered to be the expert in analysing and deciding how the data is used?  What makes them the expert in determining what is best for that particular student?  Who drives the data and then ultimately takes responsibility when the learning interventions are not what the student wants or needs?  Where does motivation fit into learning analytics?

One way of gauging a students engagement was said to be the number of clicks and interactions in the LMS but there are many educational technologies beyond the LMS that some students use in order to learn.  It just seems very black and white at the moment and seems to be reverting to a pedagogy that is content driven rather than considering success in learning can be determined by a number of factors.  Simon Buckingham Shum, Director of the Connected Intelligence Centre at UTS states that we ‘need to be careful that the learning analytics do not impose a pedagogy or a mindset that is counter to where we are trying to take our schools or universities.”

As a primary school teacher librarian I have experienced the introduction of various ways to track students such as NAPLAN data, data walls, literacy and numeracy continuums and one of the dangers that we are constantly being told is not to teach to the test or the continuum.  Human nature is such though that data about student learning is seen by some as being used against their abilities as a teacher.  The idea of adaptive learning is that the data is used to meet the student at their point of need and differentiate the content to suit that individual student.  While I remain apprehensive and pensive towards this field of learning analytics, particularly in a primary school setting, I can see the idea behind this concept as a further way to evidence student learning.

The nature of learning analytics and data mining remains a concept that I will continue to reflect on and at the moment can honestly say I need a lot more professional development and understanding to develop here.  Learning analytics seems to be offering the ‘secret sauce’ (Sharkey, 2014, http://bluecanarydata.com/your-secret-sauce-is-not-so-secret/) but I agree that the benefits of them can only be determined through the ‘ability to execute.’  The aim of education is always to give our students a boost up to help them move forward to their informational needs but when factors such as skill set – digital, literacy, intra and interpersonal skills, mindset, motivation (just to highlight a few) are considered, do learning analytics meet the students at their humanity or is the focus too much on what the machine is generating?

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/big-data-analytics-data-analytics-1515036/

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/big-data-analytics-data-analytics-1515036/

 

REFERENCES:

Buckingham Shum, S. (2015). CIC: The future of learning. Learning Analytics.  Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Eb4wOdnSI

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x

Selwyn, N. (2014). Education and ‘the digital’. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 155-164. DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2013.856668.

Sharkey, M. (2014).  http://bluecanarydata.com/your-secret-sauce-is-not-so-secret/

 


OLJ / Evaluative Report – INF506 – Social Networking for Information Professionals

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Part 1 – OLJ Summary

Throughout this session of learning, there have been many opportunities to reflect and expand my understanding and knowledge of social networking and how that can occur using Web 2.0 technologies.  These experiences and reflections have been demonstrated through the use of this OLJ – Ah-ha! Clarity! Social media assists workflow!Web 2.0; ASU’s Library website; Social Networking and the Primary School Library; Competencies of Teacher Librarian 2.0;  Reasons Why School Libraries Should Be On Social Media (or at least Social Networking Online; Marketing the School LibraryTwitter – an Educator’s Playground.   The implementation of a practical project in our school library was also a major immersion experience and undertaking transforming our library website from Web 1.0 – users as information consumers to Web 2.0 – users are able to participate and contribute (www.gsfmtools4learning.weebly.com).

Part 2 – Evaluative Report

Part A – Evaluation of the learning process

Libraries have traditionally been the spaces where individuals can connect to the information they need to be informed in their communications. Librarians and teacher librarians have been the professionals that specialise in assisting individuals to connect.  With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, or the read-write web, individuals were able to begin to not only connect and consume information but create, curate, collaborate and communicate the information they discovered.  Social networking, whilst a concept that has existed since human interaction has expanded its definition beyond an immediate, face to face, local community of citizens to a global, online community of citizens.  Individuals are in essence only limited by their own abilities and skills as to how far they can reach other individuals.  They are called to participate and engage in a community where they may not know every person through a face to face connection but an online connection (Monfared, Ajabi-Naeini & Parker, 2013).  Social networking is making the connections and this can include a plethora of platforms such as blogs, wikis and forums to those that are defined as social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In.

While I considered myself to be using these platforms, I found that during this session I was able to push myself even further to improve not only my experience of these platforms personally but also as an information professional.  These experiences are highlighted in the previous posts, Ah-ha! Clarity! Social media assists workflow! and Twitter – an Educator’s Playground.

The use of social networking and social media by librarians and teacher librarians is no longer one of should we? Some would say it is one of we must! The reasons for this belief is, firstly, libraries need to embed social media so that they can establish that they are still relevant in a global society where information can be retrieved at the tap of the screen or a click of the mouse.  A library’s purpose is still in their responsibility to their users in assisting with information flow and providing relevance as a space to connect for informational needs.  Librarians as information professionals therefore need to be abreast of the latest trends, apps and how to connect users to information quickly and effectively but also to advocate their library as a space that can best serve their information needs using a multitude of formats (Vanwynsberghe, Vanderlinde, Georges & Verdegem, 2015).

In analysing ASU’s Library website it was interesting to see the different platforms that were being used to connect and communicate with their users.  They were modelling how various tools such as You Tube can be used to create and communicate information.  They were reaching out to connect not only themselves but also to show the library space as a space that connect the users to each other.  This also started to highlight and clarify my own learning in that I had another moment of clarity in the advantages of creating my own images and the need to use Creative Commons friendly images if I was to be effective in modelling participation, creation and contribution on the web.  I was able to remix and repurpose Creative Commons images through the use of creation tools such as Thinglink and Canva (click links to see evidence of use).  Although it took time to work out how to use these creation tools it has meant for a much more interactive, anywhere, anytime presence for our school library.

As a K-6 teacher librarian, I thought I had created enough of a presence by creating a website with information and links and it was when I read Frederick’s article (2014), ‘ The Inside Out Librarian: Being A Virtual Librarian’ that I realised presence does not equal connection. The words that stood out to me in this article were, ‘take stock of the library site as it exists now.  If it is static, look for ways to pump up the action’ (Fredrick, 2014, p.22).  This became the turning point in my learning for this session and I then proceeded to implement my project by simply adding a blog to the library website and by no means was it as simple as simply. The adding of a blog (www.gsfmtools4learning.weebly.com) became my total immersion experience.  It became apparent to me that not only was the library space undergoing a transformation by undertaking this project but so was I and so was the whole learning community.  I had assumed there were skills our students possessed because the assumption was that students would have been taught how to connect and participate using Web 2.0 technologies.  The whole ‘digital native’ (Prensky, 2001) scenario had shown itself to be present despite me trying to pass myself as an educator who wanted nothing to do with the interpretation of this argument that students just knew.  The implementation of this project then became a redesign of the learning that I had planned through our lessons to be one of explicit teaching of how to respond and interact with other people when online ( http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/anotherbyteofknowledge/2016/04/21/social-networking-and-the-primary-school-library/).  It also became evident that by producing this blog, I needed to check my own digital citizenship skills and competencies and be seen as a role model for participation.  I needed to transform and evolve myself to Teacher Librarian 2.0.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 5.14.48 pm

Image created using http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero

 The one challenge that I kept coming across was trying to find research regarding the use of social networking and social media in primary school (K-6) libraries.  This was documented in my previous post, Reasons Why School Libraries Should Be On Social Media (or at least Social Networking Online. There was very little to draw from in academic research (Grimes & Fields, 2012) and so there needed to be some exploration of experiences and advice online.  If anything, the experience of searching online for K-6 libraries that had a social networking presence was a challenge to say the least.  It made me ask the question, what is the point of having technology in schools if we aren’t using it to create and connect?  How have things changed with Web 2.0 for primary schools if they’re not sharing the work their students do?  What is the difference then to creating with pen and paper and creating with Web 2.0 technologies?  It should be audience but in the big scheme of the worldwide web, evidence was hard to come by.  It was refreshing to connect to information presented by Kristen Wideen and Mrs Yollis’ Class Blog as they provided me with the information and evidence I needed to keep persisting and committing to the task of establishing social networking within our library.

Another article which I found very useful throughout this session was a white paper by Grimes and Fields (2012), entitled, ‘Kids online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums.’  It helped me understand why K-6 schools may find it difficult to offer opportunities for their students to participate and engage with an audience outside their immediate school community.  The point was made that ‘digital divide’ may now need to not be defined in terms of access to digital devices but rather we now speak of a ‘participation divide’ (Grimes & Fields, 2012, p. 15).  This strengthened my resolve that whilst we do need to be certain to protect and keep our children safe online, we also need to offer them the education that prepares them for their future.  Students do not learn to read by not opening a book, they do not learn to cross the road by not being guided through the process, therefore, I can see that indeed the teaching of social networking processes in context and with authenticity in mind, K-6 schools can guide students to the appropriate expectations and etiquette when participating and engaging with Web 2.0 technologies.  They also need to be armed with the strategies of what to do if they experience any discomfort or inappropriate content through their participation.  Digital citizenship (or just plain citizenship) then, is vital when connecting and accessing the web at any time.  It is also an area that needs to be constantly reinforced before, during and after the experience of connecting.  It will be necessary for me to survey our learning community in the near future for example to listen to their experience of using and contributing to our library blog and to listen to what else they need.

Part B – How have I grown as a social networker?

Vanwynsberghe et al. (2015) identifies 4 different social media literacy profiles -“social media workers, social media laggards, social media literates and social media spare-time users” (p. 289).  After reading this article, I feel that I have grown in my confidence and application of social networking and media within my pedagogy and practice as a teacher librarian.  Part of this is because while I have immersed myself in many learning experiences, one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to be literate is to be able to filter when, where and how I participate and engage with social networking.  While I use social networking consistently at home and in work, I can filter my networking according to my audience but I can also switch off.

I am becoming more strategic in what I integrate into the library space and how I introduce it to the students.  It is not an extra thing to do it is a way of improving workflow when used effectively.  I am working towards growing a team of contributors as the vision for our school library social networking needs to be sustainable, relevant and flexible (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2012). Social networking and the use of social media builds community in schools and as the school library is often seen as ‘the heart of learning’ it has been necessary for me to lead from the middle by reaching out not just to students but to the whole learning community. Part of the strategy not yet implemented is to set up a library Twitter account so that options are available as to how parents and wider community can connect not only with what is happening in the library space but also with their children and even each other.

Another aspect I have become more confident in is recognizing the need to continue to develop knowledge about digital citizenship and the ‘new literacies’ not just with students but with parents too. Discussions have already begun with the leadership team about the possibility of running parent workshops about these areas so that we build rather than divide and parents can be supported knowing that we are working with them to prepare their children for their future.

While I feel quite empowered with the learning that I have made during this session of study, I also realise that as a learning community it takes time and commitment for the implementation of social networking in a school community.  At the heart of it, it is about developing relationships that promote learning in an online environment where fear of what we don’t know can challenge us.  We need to listen, make connections, encourage feedback, take advantage of anytime, anywhere learning and extend our reach so we can all our learning community to recognise themselves as part of a global village.

References:

Fredrick, K.  (2014). The inside-out library: Being a virtual librarian. School Library Monthly, 30(6), 22-23.

Grimes, S. & Fields, D. (2012). Kids online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums. New York. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Retrieved from: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jgcc_kidsonline.pdf

Huvila, I., Homberg, K., Kronqvist-Berg, M., Nivakoski, O., & Widén, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0 – New competencies or interactive relations? a library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librariansip and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205. doi: 10.1177/0961000613477122

King, D. L. (2015). Why Use Social Media?. Library Technology Reports51(1), 6-9

Monfared, S. S., Ajabi-Naeini, P., & Parker, D. (2013). Bringing Web 2.0 into the Learning Environment. In E. McKay (Ed.), ePedagogy in Online Learning: New Developments in Web Mediated Human Computer Interaction (pp. 109-118). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-3649-1.ch007

Ramsey, E., & Vecchione, A. (2014). Channeling Passions: Developing a Successful Social Media Strategy. Journal of Library Innovation, 5(2), 71-82. Retrieved from http://www.libraryinnovation.org/article/view/359/594

Vanwynsberghe, H., Vanderlinde, R., Georges, A. & Verdegem, P. (2015). The librarian 2.0: identifying a typology of librarian’s social media literacy. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 47(4), 283-293

 


Twitter – an educator’s professional playground.

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Twitter is an example of a micro-blogging platform.  It is a great space to develop and grow a Professional Learning Network (PLN) and to connect to other like-minded people.  It is limited by the number of characters one can post which can be advantageous and frustrating at the same time.  Advantageous in that one can become quite succinct in what is shared and there is no room for waffle.  Frustrating because some tweets can seem to not say enough.  It promotes conversation and participation through the ability to comment, retweet or add to favourites which is a benefit if you are running short of time to read some articles they can be favourited like a bookmark.

I took it one step further tonight and rather than observe which I usually do, I actually participated in a Twitter chat with #aussieED.  It was short, sharp conversations and sharing of ideas.  It was challenging keeping up as everyone had so much to share.

 

 

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Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 1.30.44 pmThere are definitely people ‘out there’ who think like me, so it was quite affirming and there was more covered in that chat than I think most staff meetings cover in the hour they assign.

Since proposing my project of adding a blog to our school library website I have been reading and rereading various articles about using Twitter in the primary classroom as there are not really many articles about setting up Twitter in the primary school library.  I have set up the account but at the moment it is me tweeting and me trying to build the network.  As mentioned in the earlier post, Marketing the School Library, I need to be strategic but part of me wanted to see the what if before presenting to students.  Kristen Wideen (2014) in her article, ‘Connect, Collaborate and Create with Twitter in the Classroom’ has pushed me to the point where I need to make some time to speak to members of our Leadership team and get the tweets to be the authentic voice of the students as soon as possible.

The more I interact with Twitter, the more I like the features it possesses to be a relevant feature in our school and library.

 


Marketing the school library Module 5

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LePage (2014) suggests 6 steps to creating a social media marketing strategy.  As seen in previous posts, advocacy is an important competence required by teacher librarians and I appreciated this blog post as in my own commitment to transforming our library website to feature more as a Web 2.0 space this is exactly what I need to continue to move our school library forward.  Creating a space that is relevant Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014) and innovative is necessary and social networking through social media provides a transparency to the activities of the library.

One of the biggest hurdles is that social media is often regarded as not belonging in the K-6 environment due to the obvious duty of care schools have towards their students.  This belief could be challenged though in that all K-6 schools are not just serving the students in their care, they are also serve the parents and the wider community who are made up of future parents.  As I am working to promote and create a library blog, I am wanting to promote the blog via Twitter to perhaps connect, communicate and collaborate with other K-6 libraries or classrooms so that our students can see they are part of a much larger educational agenda than what they see contained within the boundaries of the school playground and classrooms.

The first part of taking the blog to the next level and promoting using Twitter then is to clarify in my mind why do we need to use social media to market the library? This then should be part of the marketing strategy.  What is is that using social media to promote the library is going to achieve?  What is the end goal (Solomon, 2013)?  As my ongoing project is adding a blog to the static library website that has existed for a few years, I believe my goal in using Twitter to promote the blog is to expand our readership to a more global audience.  Through doing this, it brings so many teachable moments into the learning that occurs within the information space of the library, especially digital citizenship.  It allows parents to know and to see that their children are receiving a structured learning environment where they can learn to be active participants AND contributors to society.

Another of the challenges faced in a K-6 library is that of sustainability for social networking to market the library.  It takes time and it takes a team (Ramsay & Vecchione, 2014), both of which are in short supply in a K-6 library (as in most classrooms and libraries) but from most of the readings, again, there is very little about marketing the K-6 library using social media.  In an academic library from what I am reading there are a number of people on the library staff/ team that can share and conquer this idea of marketing the library using social media.  In a K-6 library, the Teacher Librarian (or Teacher in the Library) might be it.  This challenge can be overcome but it will take strategy to build the team from leadership, other interested colleagues and the students themselves.  In a way, it builds more community and collegiality by not just keeping it as the domain of the library staff.

After reading Mrs Wideen’s Blog (a primary school teacher) about how to set up Twitter in the classroom some valuable advice was given.  It will take time and collaboration.  Time to lay the groundwork and time to communicate the guidelines to the learning community.  Most of all though it definitely needs to be strategic.  Another example of setting up Twitter in a strategic way is shown in the YouTube clip below, again by another primary school teacher.  Spink (2014) demonstrates the reality of student needs in her classroom and how she strategically taught with Twitter which provided authenticity to the learning her students made.  It can be seen that their learning was not compartmentalised into subjects but rather across the curriculum.

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzNyIuvUoF0

To create a draft marketing strategy using social media in a K-6 library, I believe then that the following need to be addressed.

  1.  What is the goal of using social media to promote the library / school?
  2. Which form of social media would be best to promote the library / school? Awareness of user needs.
  3. Who would be the content creators using the social media?
  4. What guidelines / expectations are in place for participation using the social media?
  5. Who are the expected audience?

 

REFERENCES:

LePage, E. (2014, October 29). How to create a social media marketing plan in 6 steps. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-create-a-social-media-marketing-plan

Ramsey, E. & Vecchione, A. (2014). Channeling passions: Developing a successful social media strategyJournal of Library Innovation, 5(2)

Solomon, L. (2013). Getting started. In The librarian’s nitty-gritty guide to social media, p. 15-24. Chicago: ALA Editions.

 


Reasons Why Libraries Should be on Social Media (or at least Social Networking online)

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In the search for K-6 libraries that are harnessing Web 2.0 technologies and or at the very least online was an interesting exercise.  It has been a struggle to find information and research about social networking in K-6 school libraries.  It brought to mind a few questions from the outset of this task – Why are K-6 school libraries not embracing social networking via digital devices?  Most that I discovered had an online presence via a website but no way to interact or begin conversations between the library and its users and definitely not much scope for the users to interact with each other. This then would be the first reason I would use to persuade school libraries to be on social media or at least starting to expose students to social networking.  Connecting the library with its users and making connections between the users themselves.

This then leads to another reason why school libraries should use social media to build community by encouraging connection.  A big part of learning in primary school is how to get along with a diverse number of people.  It is where students start to realise that they have opinions and they don’t always agree with others.  Through using social networking then school libraries would allow students to read and to write in response to differing comments.

Another question I had was if K-6 school libraries are trying to set foundations for (digital) citizenship and information seeking, then why aren’t K-6 schools able to provide a space for ‘hands-on’ learning?  Social networking does not have to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Instagram, as most people like myself equated social networking to be.  The addition of a blog or wiki in a primary school can allow students safe spaces to contribute and participate in the online space and to utilise the affordances of Web 2.0.  If we are using the apps and the tools such as GAFE to create, then shouldn’t we be providing a space to share with an audience, otherwise, how is it different to making a poster and pinning it to the classroom wall. Preparing students for their future is what education is about and their future is being able to interact, use and share what they can do using digital tools and technologies with a more global audience.  Primary schools need to be aware of keeping students safe but how can we develop global tolerance, knowledge and skills if we don’t allow them to participate.

Another reason, I would suggest that school libraries need to use some form of social networking is that it showcases the value of the library and promotes the school community.  The teacher librarian aligns themselves and what they do with the mission and learning vision of the school.  School libraries are central to the school environment and for some students can be the first contact they have with a library.  It is interesting to note that when our Principal has interviews with prospective Kinder parents one of the comments that is made is about the library and how their child loves books.

Advocacy then is another big reason for school libraries to have an online presence.  Libraries are so much more than books on shelves and what the user sees when they walk into the space.  Primary school libraries have digital collections, makerspaces and quite often are safe havens for students who feel lost in the playground.  Primary school libraries are spaces where students can not only experience the formalised learning of information literacy, reading, digital literacy and whatever other ‘new literacy’ term one can think of but spaces where they can create their own informal learning as well.


Competencies of Teacher Librarian 2.0

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Image created using http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero

One of the main roles of a teacher librarian is to connect the learners in their community to the information in a variety of formats from a variety of devices that their learners seek (Partridge, Lee & Munro, 2010).  As such they have needed to adopt a leadership from the middle mentality so that they can keep their library as relevant as possible in a climate where some may feel that libraries are a luxury rather than a necessity in schools.  Teacher librarians need to be advocates of not only the space but their role as information specialists so that the attitude of ‘why do we need libraries when we have the technology?’ does not become the norm.  In this age of Web 2.0 technologies, teacher librarians need to not only evolve and redesign library spaces, they need to evolve and redesign their own competencies and attitudes to advocate for their profession as information specialists.

The first way that teacher librarian needs to transform to possessing 2.0 capabilities is through the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the way they deliver curriculum and learning.  Pedagogy needs to be not only in the delivery of lessons in the ‘new literacies’ as do this and do that but rather a modelled and seamless integration into an authentic learning experience.  The context of the learning needs to be relevant as well as authentic to the learners’ lives in and beyond the walls of the library, classroom and school gates.  It is imperative then that teacher librarians are aware and informed of the needs of the learners in their learning communities so that what they present as their library space is based on their user needs making the space user friendly (Huvila, Holmberg, Kronqvist-Berg, Nivakoski & Widen, 2013).   Teacher Librarian 2.0 views learning as a lifelong process that is available anywhere, anytime from any device.  Teacher Librarian 2.0 needs to collaborate with colleagues (Bishop, 2011) about their learners’ needs and this may include those of their colleagues who are on their own lifelong learning journey.

Teacher Librarian 2.0 needs to be aware that Digital Citizenship is so much more than cyberbullying and be working to blur the lines between online and offline participation in society.  Teacher Librarian 2.0 models and promotes not just the tool or device that is used for connecting but how the interaction with these devices can affect individuals and the society at large.  The 9 elements of digital citizenship need to be addressed and as Web 2.0 is about participation through connection, creation, collaboration and communication then the expectation needs to be taught as young as possible – What would you do if you were face to face with your mum/dad/trusted adult? What would you do if you were face to face with your friends? What would you do if you wanted to buy something at the supermarket?

An important element of citizenship is the idea of fair use and copyright. Again, just because the information is able to be accessed so readily and available for download, does not make it able to be used as your own.  I like to use the analogy, if I walk into a supermarket and they have a display of chocolates can I just take one? It’s the same with information on the worldwide web, individuals have created works such as written texts, images, videos and to have their efforts taken without acknowledgement is not fair. Students, even in primary school, are very verbal when discussing the fairness of copying from each other and there aren’t many students who like their work being copied without being asked.  Teacher Librarian 2.0 strives to provide students with the knowledge and skills to work with Creative Commons so that they can use the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies as effectively as they can.

Teacher Librarian 2.0 also needs to possess a growth mindset whereby if something does not work the first time when engaging and utilising Web 2.0 technologies, they reflect, evaluate and try another way. They need to be flexible and adaptive to the state of constant change that information can take and will continue to take.  The following YouTube clip created by Laura Cohen provides some great insights into the personal attitudes and capabilities needed by Librarian 2.0.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZblrRs3fkSU&feature=youtu.be

It is only through engaging in and with Web 2.0 technologies that teacher librarians can promote the information services that are now on offer. It is a privileged age we work in with access to print and digital information but the latter does not make school libraries or those that work in school libraries redundant or unnecessary.   There is always going to be a need to connect learners with information and if anything information specialists will be required more than ever.  Teacher Librarian 2.0 can be an invaluable asset to any school when there is a collaboration between leadership, other colleagues and the wider community (O’Connell, 2012).  The position of teacher librarian is one of relationships and technologies and being able to connect the two in both an offline and online environment.

 

REFERENCES:

Bishop,Kay (2011). Connecting Libraries with Classrooms: The Curricular Roles of theMedia Specialist. Retrieved from eblib.com

Cohen, L. (2006) A librarian’s 2.0 manifesto. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZblrRs3fkSU&feature=youtu.be

Huvila, I., Homberg, K., Kronqvist-Berg, M., Nivakoski, O., & Widén, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0 – New competencies or interactive relations? a library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librariansip and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205. doi: 10.1177/0961000613477122

O’Connell,J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: School libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7.

Partridge, H., Lee, J., & Munro, C. (2010). Becoming “Librarian 2.0”: The skills, knowledge, and attributes required by library and information ccience professionals in a Web 2.0 world (and beyond). Library Trends,59(1-2), 315-335.http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/journals/library_trends/v059/59.1-2.partridge.html


Social Networking and the Primary School Library

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Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 3.44.24 pmIt is a privilege and a joy working as a teacher librarian in a primary school library.  Even the challenging days are worth it because you hope that  you are planting the seeds for a lifetime of learning, so now more than ever we need to be proactive in connecting with students not only while they are within the school grounds but also when they go home.  If a major part of our role is connecting students to learning then we need to be accessible and social networking through social media platforms seems more important than ever.  Social media however, can be challenging to incorporate into a primary school library and that is why I have decided to embark on the addition of a blog to our already existent website.

The blog was launched on the 21st March and I found it more challenging than simple.  The first hurdle, I needed to jump was clarifying in my mind the purpose of the blog.  Would it be for parents, teachers, students?  It is developing into a space shared by the learning community to showcase what is happening in the library and to promote it as a space that connects our learners to learning but also to each other.  It is hoped that eventually we may be able to connect with other K-6 libraries around the world building an understanding that participation with a digital device opens up our network of learning to a diverse range of opinions, understandings and learning.

As I spend more time immersing myself in social networking I can see that this is an opportunity to drive the learning and provide a space to learn about and practice citizenship skills required by the students for their future.  Comments are moderated so that students learn to comment in an effective and dialogic way that is appropriate in tone and content.  One of the assumptions that I had made was that students would know how to comment and interact on the blog.  This has proven to be a teachable moment as my assumptions were incorrect.  Emoji and one word reactions were the initial comments that were being posted and this meant that I needed to explicitly teach what makes a comment that can be responded to.  It was necessary for some Blog Commenting Guidelines to be formulated.  First, we harnessed the skills and talents from Mrs Yollis’ Class blog and investigated the learning that classroom of students were doing and how they commented on their blog.  Then we brainstormed and I was able to create a poster of Blog Commenting Guidelines that suited our community of learners based on their ideas.

The other issue that I am trying to overcome is being able to keep the blog sustainable.  If the blog is to be representative of our students then my aim is to try and become more of a facilitator and have students contribute posts about what they are reading, viewing, playing, learning.  This can be challenging in that some teachers and students see this as an extra, so one issue to overcome is how to embed such an activity as part of learning.

I believe this blogging idea is going to require commitment so that it really takes off and the other issue is can I maintain my own blog for my own learning needs?