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

 


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.


#INF536 – Critical Reflection

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At the beginning of this subject, I need to be honest and note that my understanding of Designing Spaces for Learning was more focused on the layout of the furniture and I thought, considering this Masters is called Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovations, maybe it was going to demonstrate the layout of various digital learning platforms.  How wrong could I be?

I had deemed my efforts in putting the furniture together in a workable configuration as a success and had used a basic understanding of Thornburg’s article (2007) to have a space for explicit teaching – campfire, spaces for collaboration – round tables for the watering hole and breakaway spaces for caves.  My understanding now is that the learning environment is the third teacher, in that it connects the learner to the curriculum, the curriculum to the learner and the learner to the learner (Hughes, Bland, Willis & Burns, 2015).  I had gained an understanding of the challenges in setting up the library space to accommodate the multiple users with their multiple purposes but I had in fact designed the library “to serve the furniture, not the students” (Graboyes, 2011) and their learning.

My understanding grew as I read the various design theories.  It was the exercise of spending half an hour at my local coffee shop, however, that brought the concepts of this literature to some understanding.  The ideas of “need finding”, “immersion” and “putting people first” (Brown & Katz, 2011, p.382)  as a way of developing empathy for the users (customers and staff) provided me with understanding because I was detached but engaged in the space.  I was not invested in this space and all I did was make observations.  The ah-ha moment happened and I began to change my thinking that while I was saying my pedagogy was one of collaboration, active, inquiry-driven learning using the affordances of the technologies available, the space I was the leader of was not reflecting this.

As Deed, Lesko & Lovejoy (2014) state, “architecture can create an impression or be symbolic of the type of learning environment likely to be experienced” (p. 370).  I had taken control of this learning space and when the students walked in they became aware of a teacher-directed learning environment.  It was set up and established what went where.  The infrastructure determined where they could work on their devices.  I also realised that while promoting the library as informal learning space and formal learning space, it seemed I was much more comfortable involving the student voices in designing their informal learning opportunities as evidenced by the first  reflection of my learning in this subject.

This subject has definitely furthered my understanding of space as an important element for learning.  It is not just an incidental happening but a conscious and purposeful decision that needs to be made.  Schools are losing their appeal as learning spaces as I identified last session so it is important now that a reimagining of learning spaces occurs.  To reimagine our learning spaces to be spaces of innovation though, we need to collaborate (Sanders, 2008; Willis, 2014; Hughes et al., 2015), empathise (Brown & Katz, 2011; Seidel & Fixson, 2013; Perrault & Levesque, 2012)  and constantly monitor (Graboyes, 2011; Wilson & Randall, 2012; Kuratko, Goldsworthy & Hornsby, 2012))  so that we can keep these spaces as relevant.  The learning space needs to be flexible, agile and responsive ( Hughes et al., 2015; Sullivan, 2011; Harland, 2011)at all times to the context of the learning and the learners needs.

After all the literature read, the discussions undertaken and the reflection, the final word for learning spaces is that they are never final.  Now, it’s time to apply what has been learned and to continue to learn as I “play, display and watch the replay” (Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby, 2012, pp, 116 – 119).

References:

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383.

Deed, C., Lesko, T. M. & Lovejoy, V. (2014) Teacher adaptation to personalized learning spaces. Teacher Development: An International Journal of Teachers’ Professional Development, 18(3), 369-383.

Graboyes, A. S. (2011). A 21st Century Library in a 20th Century Space. Educational Leadership, 69(4), 74.

Harland, P. (2011). Learning Commons, The : Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com

Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia. http://www.designsociety.org/download-publication/19760/c-k_theory_in_practice_lessons_from_industrial_applications

Hughes, H., Bland, D., Willis, J. & Burns, R. E. (2015) A happy compromise: collaborative approaches to school library designing. The Australian Library Journal http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049670.2015.1033380

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : Transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson. https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf

Perrault, A. M., & Levesque, A. M. (2012). Caring for all students. Knowledge Quest, 40(5), 16-17

Sanders, E. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign, (1), 5-18. http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/CSU:TN_tayfranc10.1080/15710880701875068

Seidel, V., & Fixson, S. (2013). Adopting design thinking in novice multidisciplinary teams: The application and limits of design methods and reflexive practices. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19–33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12061 or http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/doi/10.1111/jpim.12061/pdf

Sullivan, M. (2011). Divine Design. School Library Journal, 57(4), 26-32.

Thornburg, D. (2007). Campfires in cyberspace: Primordial metaphors for learning in the 21st century. Thornburg Center for Professional Development. Retrieved from: http://tcpd.org/Thornburg/Handouts/Campfires.pdf

Willis, J. (2014) Making space to learn: Leading collaborative classroom design [online]. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 29 (1), 3-16

Wilson, G. & Randall, M. (2012) The implementation and evaluation of a new learning space: a pilot study. Research in Learning Technology Vol. 20, 1-17


Research? Purpose? Practice? Blog Task 3 – INF530

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Whilst reading through the many reflections of my partners in learning in INF530 – Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age I am humbled and overwhelmed by the knowledge that exists and the generosity in sharing of knowledge.

After completing my Scholarly Book Review, I was made aware of how easy it can be to get swept up in the writings of others.  Then after reading the blog post, “Says Who?” I realised that those two words have really made me put the brakes on.  I totally agree when Michele Walters speaks of the need of authoritative research and that it is very easy to go to any conference or PD opportunity and get caught up with the how can I use this and make learning more engaging in my learning space?

There are a lot of passionate and well meaning educators trying to bridge the gap between research and practice but it is necessary for teachers to realise that they must be aware of the research.  The research guides the vision (or purpose) for learning and the vision guides the achievement of learning through best practice.  Vaughn & Faircloth (2013) write about their experience of visioning and conclude by saying, “A recommendation for teachers is to think critically about their instructional vision and to articulate it clearly so that it will ultimately develop their students’ skills”(p.10).  The only implication that I would put to this recommendation is that if each individual teacher comes up with their own vision with no consideration to the collective vision of firstly the school, then the system they work within, then doesn’t that just mean adopting an ‘anything goes’ approach?

Whilst they were not referring to the integration of digital technologies or participation within the various online communities, they make a point, at the end of the day, it is the teacher who knows the particular context of learning – the students, the parents, the resources available.

I was then reminded of the AITSL Standards for Teacher Librarian Practice  and realised that within this document Professional Knowledge was to be based on research.  The research though is one aspect, putting it into practice is another and that involves creating a vision (or a purpose) for the learning.  All of these standards are related to 3 words – research (theory), purpose (vision), practice.

I welcomed my learning partner, Michele Walters commentary as it is exactly where I was ‘stuck’.  What is it that is frustrating me with all this talk of ‘new skills’, ‘new pedagogy’ and I believe the obstacle is not the dealing with digital technologies.  Teachers and teacher librarians are well aware that our practice of learning has changed and are using these tools to the best of their ability.  It is not the how.  Teachers and teacher librarians are well aware of the multitude of tools.  Perhaps it is the why that connects the theory with the practice?  Why is this research important to the students in my care? Why should we incorporate this tool into our students’ learning?

Is it that we (educators) are more aware of these ‘new skills’ required in the 21st Century because the certainty or uncertainty of the future requires learning how to learn rather than learning to know.  In his book, Why Do I Need A Teacher When I’ve Got Google? Ian Gilbert states that we still need teachers to ‘democratise learning’  (p.24) so that students can get to where they need to  be in this landscape of digital tools and Infowhelm.

So insofar as concepts and practices for a digital age, I would suggest that research, purpose and practice are interrelated and that we need to focus on not only the students but all involved in our learning communities so that our practices are informed and align to a vision that is related to research. We need to create educational settings that practice what we preach.  We need to realise that the passion for learning needs to be instilled in our teachers and teacher librarians before we can authentically promote passion for learning in our students.

References:

ALIA Schools AITSL Standards for Teacher Librarian Practice.  Retrieved from: https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/AITSL%20Standards%20for%20teacher%20librarian%20practice%202014.pdf

Gilbert, Ian (2010). Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve got Google? : The Essential Guide to the Big Issues for Every 21st Century Teacher. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.co

Vaughn, M., & Faircloth, B. (2013). Teaching With a Purpose in Mind: Cultivating a Vision. Professional Educator, 37(2), 1-12.


Are digital games being ‘overlooked’ in ‘digital education’ reform?

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To reflect on the question, “Are digital games being “overlooked” in “digital education reform?” first led me to try and seek some clarity in my mind as to the difference between the terms video games and digital games.  The initial understanding was that video games are those that are played using a game console such as Playstation, Wii or X-Box.  Digital games then would be those that are played using laptops, iPads or other Android devices.  As I read the article, “Teachers re-evaluate video games,” (Sydney Morning Herald, Nov. 30, 2014) it then became apparent that the terms digital and video game seem to be used synonymously.  It would seem to make more sense to call games digital though as they are neither in the format of a video or indeed use the technology of a video player, so for this purpose I will be using the term digital games as those that use the technology of computers and mobile devices.

How do I see digital games fitting into my practice?  What is the context of my learning? What are some challenges?

Within my own practice as Teacher Librarian at a large primary school I would suggest that I am strongly in favour of using digital games in learning and in the library.  I have used Gamestar Mechanic as a way of discussing the importance of narrative, digital citizenship issues such as providing feedback and looking at how games are created and I would agree that there were no issues surrounding motivation or engagement. It led to a “deeper factual and conceptual understanding,” as identified by Dr Catherine Beavis (SMH, Nov. 30, 2014.)  I also suggest though it was tricky to ‘fit’ into a timetable where each class visits the library for a 50 minute – 1 hour lesson and not necessarily on the same day. This then means that there needs to be an allowance of time to set up the 7 laptops and 2 desktops, moving to a shared computer, (some classes are 30 students between 9 computers!)  Once the learning/collaboration begins in no time at all the time for packing away is upon us. Also, it needs to be mentioned that the cost can be a factor when adopting digital games in the classroom.

Van Eck (2006) suggests that we have overcome the perception that “play” is in fact at the opposite end of the spectrum to “work.” (p.2).  I am unsure if all teachers hold this belief but generally teachers are embracing the idea of games as a learning possibility.The perception from leadership can be that games are frivolous and that they may not have any educational value.  So a challenge here is two-fold: professional development required and budgetary allocations.

Jesse Schell identified one of the “biggest challenges” teachers face is the timetable. Timetables are one of the drivers of a teacher’s and students learning as there is the issue of compliance and ensuring that each subject is allocated the appropriate amount of minutes.  Dr Catherine Beavis identifies that whilst deep understandings can be made using digital games we ““need to find ways to use them that are consistent with the ways teachers teach”(SMH, Nov. 30, 2014.)

 

Minecraft is another game that I have been wanting to include in the library and I can see huge potential for it to be used in so many ways, the only limit being my imagination.  For example, I could easily suggest students create a world that demonstrates the water cycle, create the visualisation of a particular setting that we are escaping to as we read a novel, create a 3-d map of a particular geographical feature and so on.  I question though whether I am forcing the game to fit the learning or am I using the game as it is intended to be a collaborative, creative tool.  In the following clip, some of the questions and challenges are outlined which show that while Minecraft is HUGE at the moment with our students, how can we best fit it into our classrooms?

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI0BN5AWOe8

In the article by Josh Jennings, “Teachers re-evaluate video games,” (SMH, Nov. 30, 2014), Rebecca Martin, a classroom teacher, recognises that schools need to make game choices that are “open-ended and creative, rather than skill and drill or digital worksheets”(SMH, Nov. 30, 2014.)  I welcome this attitude as I observe teachers do use games in their classrooms but mainly as drill and practice, group tasks on iPads that keep students busy whilst the teacher is freed up to do other tasks.  I am not judging this as wrong, as there still needs to be a place where basic facts need to be learnt but I believe we are still at the early stages of adopting digital games into our classrooms as a learning medium and we need to find the balance between open-ended and drill and practice.

I see a great space for games such as Minecraft,  and apart from the challenge of time I wonder how to overcome other challenges of parental expectations, what other colleagues perceive as teaching?,  how do I assess the learning – through acquisition of 21st Century skills or content? how do we make students accountable as there can be many distractions along the way in participating in games?  The question could be, do digital games enhance a students learning?

Here is a clip that explains some of the effects that can happen when students participate in gaming.

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

My personal aims as I continue my professional and personal learning in this area:

*  To become an advocate for digital games and game-based learning throughout our school;

*  To make wise choices in regards to the digital games and to develop a selection criteria just as I would for the choice of printed resources in our school;

*  To ‘have a go’ at some of the ‘popular’ games our students play so they can identify me not as teacher but as a player learning with them – partners in learning.

What challenges am I hoping to meet for myself?

*  To make time to advocate, I need time to collaborate and share the learning that I make.

*  To heed the advice of Dr Catherine Beavis when she says, “there is a tremendous potential for games-based learning, but also the potential for things to go seriously wrong if the current enthusiasm for games-based learning leads to the introduction of games into the classroom without knowing more about how they actually affect learning, values, understandings and how to do this well?”(SMH, Nov. 30, 2014.)  The challenge that I hope to meet here then, is to be discerning, be patient and to avoid being too hasty in applying the learning I hope to make.

To answer the question, are digital games being overlooked in ‘digital education reform?”, I would conclude that teachers are interested and aware that games exist and could benefit their classrooms.  I would also suggest that there needs to be more professional development opportunities and challenges to be overcome to ensure that quality games are integrated into the curriculum for quality learning experiences.  They are not being ‘overlooked’ per se but perhaps the issue is ‘how can we do it well?’

 

REFERENCES:

Jennings, J. (2014). “Teachers re-evaluate value of video games.” Sydney Morning Herald, Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html

Schell, J. (2011). “Playing Games in the Classroom.” Big Think Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA7KuOyH3PQ

Van Eck, R. (2006).  “Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless….” in EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 41, no. 2 (March/April 2006).  Retrieved from:  http://edergbl.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/47991237/digital%20game%20based%20learning%202006.pdf

 

 

 


The Next Learning Chapter Begins

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Geralt (2010) "Shield" Retrieved from: http://pixabay.com/en/shield-transport-panel-board-229112/

Geralt (2010) “Shield” Retrieved from: http://pixabay.com/en/shield-transport-panel-board-229112/

Having just read the subject outline and Introduction to INF530 Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age, there is a definite knowledge that I am on a HUGE learning curve.  I have always thought that I was an active participant in social media and having just signed up, joined and renewed accounts that I have let sit idle for a very long time, I now realise I still have so much to learn and my participation may not be participatory.

Having completed my M. Ed (Teacher Librarianship) in 2013, I was introduced to the work of Joyce Valenza and one article which has always been remembered is “Fully Loaded: Outfitting a teacher librarian for the 21st century. Here’s what it takes”(Valenza, 2011).  Since the completion of the M. Ed (Teacher Librarianship) I was left with a feeling that there was more I needed to do to become ‘fully loaded’ in my role as teacher librarian at a large primary school.  Even, Valenza (2011) acknowledges in her article that the list she provided in 2011 would need to be reviewed regularly.  I have searched to see if she has updated her ‘fully loaded’ inventory and cannot seem to find a review and would love anyone to share if they have been successful in finding said review.

Geralt (2014) , "Street sign, note, direction" Retrieved frm: http://pixabay.com/en/street-sign-note-direction-141361/

Geralt (2014) , “Street sign, note, direction” Retrieved frm: http://pixabay.com/en/street-sign-note-direction-141361/

Another reason why I have embarked on this new chapter is that I am a mum of two curious and avid users of technology.  I am at a stage where I have to question my values as a parent as a ‘tweenager’ challenges my beliefs as he wants to play games such as ‘Call of Duty’ and all the other kids do it.  ‘Minecraft’ is a daily event building amazing worlds and sharing them online.  There are Instagram accounts and discussions about Snapchat.  They are using icloud to message their friends and call it a conversation.  Yes, as a mum, I have come to realise that I need to keep up-to-date and know what I am talking about when discussing the way they engage with their devices.

As I watched Douglas Thomas’, “A New Culture of Learning”, I was struck by his notion that the idea of learning should be “natural and effortless.”  I was equally impressed by the way he has defined the 4 components of learning:

1.  passion

2.  imagination

3.  constraint and

4.  play.

I reflected on these 4 components and pondered are these 4 components present for me in this the beginning of the next learning chapter.

Passion – I am passionate about working with our school learning community and advocating for change in the way educators teach. I am passionate that we need to equip our students with the necessary tools for their learning where technology is evolving so rapidly.

Imagination – The ‘what if?’ (Thomas, 2012) for me is what if all our students could effortlessly and seamlessly move from one app to another?  What if we allowed them to learn from their mistakes rather than making their efforts wrong?  What if we allowed students to design their own learning through their own inquiry rather than teaching them what they already know?

Constraint – The obstacles in my way, time (as for every person on the planet!) My own beliefs in my own technological abilities.

Play – Am I willing to have some FUN on this new journey….absolutely.  Let’s look at this next chapter as play rather than work, something to be enjoyed rather than endured.