Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays such an important role in education today that it is highlighted as a General Capability in the Australian Curriculum. The organising elements of this capability are: ‘Applying social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT, Investigating with ICT, Creating with ICT, Communicating with ICT and Managing and operating ICT’ (ACARA 2016). In 2014 I undertook the elective unit of ETL411 ICT for Innovative Practice. In this unit I came to more fully appreciate the important role that the teacher librarian (TL) plays in embedding ICT in school teaching and learning practices. This role is highlighted in NSW Department of Education’s School Policy – Library. It explicates that teacher librarians should ‘collaborate with teachers in the planning, implementing and evaluating of teaching and learning programs, including the integration of Information Communications Technology and literacy’ (NSW DoE 2016a). The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) also expands that excellent teacher librarians ‘comprehensively understand the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in lifelong learning’, ‘appreciate the dynamic nature of ICTs and their role in education’ and ‘teach the appropriate and relevant use of ICTs and information resources’ (ASLA 2016).
With changes to the information landscape, school libraries now play a crucial role in promoting the integration of ICT in the curriculum (Coombes & Valli 2007). Many innovative TLs have seized the opportunities offered by the advent of the digital age and have transformed their school libraries into vibrant 21st century learning hubs or icentres (Hough 2011; Purcell 2010; Zmuda & Harada 2008). Indeed, well before it became a buzz word in Canberra, Moyle predicted that ‘innovation may well be the most important educational issue of the day’ (2010). Libraries provide access to a range of ICT hardware, software and Web 2.0 tools. Moreover, TLs play a crucial role in helping to leverage technology to promote ‘futures learning’. (Alliance for Excellent Education 2016; NSW DoE 2016b; Godfrey 2015;). As TLs, we can position ourselves as ICT leaders in the school as we provide both formal and informal ICT training to students and staff. (Coombes & Valli 2007; Hay & Foley 2009 ; O’Connell 2012). In my library I have been able to make some modest changes with the aim of remodelling the library as an icentre. I have designed flexible spaces, purchased flexible furniture and iPads, and set up charging docks for students to charge devices (Hay & Todd 2010; Johnson 2010′ O’Connell 2012). In addition, I have recently been successful in lobbying for school funds to build a maker space in our library to help plan for ‘futures learning’ (NSW DoE 2016b; Provenzano 2015). Furthermore, I was successful in advocating to be included on the school Technology Team. Thus far in this role, I have helped to put together a Professional Training workshop on the use of Google Apps in the classroom. I have, likewise, provided staff training on the teaching and learning applications of Oliver LMS at various faculty meetings (Costello 2017b).
In my ETL411 reflection blog I related how I perceived myself to be fairly tech savvy and, therefore, quite competent with ICT (Costello 2014a; Lamb 2011). I was to find out later in the unit that there was so much more to learn. I am still on that learning journey, continually adding more knowledge and skills to my repertoire as the technological landscape evolves (O’Connell 2012; Moyle 2010). One of the professional learning ICT tools I have been utilising is DoE’s Yammer. Yammer is an online professional learning network (PLN). Online PLNs are a fantastic way to share ideas with a community of other educational professionals. I am an active member and have learned many valuable tech tips and ideas to improve classroom practices. I have also set up a new Yammer group for secondary school librarians for school TLs to share their expertise pertaining to specifically secondary school teaching and learning. As a corollary, the use of PLNs, models lifelong learning and collaborative ICT practices for students and colleagues (O’Connell 2012; Pegrum, Oakley& Faulkner 2013).
I also made reference in my 2014 ETL411 blog to an assessment on using Web 2.0 tools such as bubbl.us, Socrative, Weebly and Delicious (Costello 2014a; Costello 2014b). I continue to make good use of these web 2.0 tools both in the library and in the classroom. I have used Weebly website builder, in particular, quite extensively as it hosts my Virtual Library website (Costello 2017a). It was interesting to note that in my ETL523 blog I exhorted the need to ‘integrate technology to support our students in developing the high order skills they will need to participate in the 21st century’ (Costello 2014c). In the ETL411 blog later in the year, however, I conceded that I had not fully mastered the art of integrating ICT into the curriculum in student-centre approaches (Costello 2014a).
The integration of ICT into the curriculum requires careful planning so that programs are designed to provide authentic learning experiences (Gurung & Rutledge 2014). ICT should not be included as ‘technlology for technology’s sake’ (Borsheim, Merritt & Reed, 2008). Rather, ICT learning experiences should: be inquiry-based, include collaborative practices, explore real world issues and promote deeper learning (ISTE 2008; Moyle 2010; Partnership for 21st Century Skills 2011). One framework that has been designed to help teachers design meaningful learning experiences with technology is the SAMR model (Braxton 2016; Kharbach 2015; Puentedura 2014). SAMR has four enhancement levels: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. When aligned with Bloom’s taxonomy, the lower enhancement levels of Substitution and Augmentation equate with Bloom’s Remember, Understand and Apply lower order thinking skills. The higher enhancement levels of SAMR’s Modification and Redefinition equate with Bloom’s higher order thinking levels of Analyse, Evaluate and Create (Costello 2017c; Puentedura 2014). To illustrate, an example of a Substitution level might be substituting a physical textbook with an ebook. An example of a Redefinition level, on the other hand, might be an activity where students connect online with another class to collaboratively write a narrative that is then created into a stop-motion animation (Kharbach 2015; Puentedura 2014).
In my classroom practices I have integrated ICT into learning programs where students collaboratively create end-products using tools such as Wikispaces, Powtoon, GoAnimate, Xtranormal and Weebly. After recently learning about the SAMR model, and conducting an appraisal of my ICT integration practices, I determined that further improvement was needed in this area. This self-evaluation revealed that ICT use in my lessons had merely reached the SAMR Modification enhancement level. To rectify this, I plan to design more ‘creating with ICT’ tasks in future programs with the aim of attaining the ultimate Redefinition level (ACARA 2016; Puentedura 2014).
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