ETL 411 Assignment 2 Part B Critical Reflection

Introduction

In today’s society, one is only too comfortable with technology. Technology is no longer an indulgence; it’s a life skill” (Backes, L. 2012). Let’s face it; technology has become a part of our everyday lives. It surrounds us (Backes, L. 2012). So naturally, the education system has also adapted to cater for these changes to society. It has become a way of communicating with the outside world, sourcing information, sharing ideas, accessing media releases and most importantly, accessing teaching and learning content (Dubose, 2011).

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The 21st century student has access to a range of digital technologies that provide an engaging and resourceful way of learning. Teaching and learning programs are enriched by multimodal resources that provide the opportunity to enhance student learning outcomes (Nobles, Dredger & Gerheart, 2012). This is achieved by enabling students to experience first-hand their content and be able to specifically visualise topics that may otherwise be out of reach e.g. before smart boards and computer access in all classrooms, students studying Antarctica could only visualise pictures in printed books. Now students can watch video clips and source both audio and visual media to deepen their understanding of the topic.

Web 2.0 tools are essential in today’s classroom as they support and enhance the teaching and learning experiences as students are engaged and motivated to learn. Their understanding and knowledge is deepened as they are able to access a wide range of resources that require them to select, interpret and evaluate as well as other digital literacy skills (Gokcek & Howard, 2013). The aim here is to create students who are information fluent. That is, they can “subconsciously and intuitively interpret information in all forms and formats in order to extract the essential knowledge, authenticate it, and perceive its significance,” (O’Connell, 2012, p. 7). As teachers, we need to expose students to the digital technologies that are shaping their future. Web 2.0 tools provide various avenues for students to explore multimodal resources. As Boss and Krauss (2008, p.13) assert: “When teachers facilitate well-designed projects that use digital tools, they do much more than create memorable learning experiences. They prepare students to thrive in a world that’s certain to continue changing.”

Integration of ICTs in Curriculum Programs

The role of the teacher librarian is progressively evolving, therefore what is expected of a Teacher Librarian and what they are accountable for is also changing. To shift the common misconception that teacher librarians sit at a desk all day and occasionally scan a barcode, is a slow and challenging task, as it has been this view for so long. However, with the Digital Education Revolution here, teacher librarians as media specialists have an opportunity to significantly change that misconception and lead their school into the 21st century. What is current is only the beginning for what is to come in the future.

The teacher librarian’s information specialist role is now more important than ever. Students need to be educated to become competent, ethical seekers and users of information in a technological world (Mann, 2011). Students need the help of the teacher librarian to confront the challenges of their information needs and develop knowledge and skills they will use for the rest of their lives (Harris, 2011).

In the learning environment of today, students demand access to information and ICT (Hay, 2006). Many authors including Herring (2007), Purcell (2010), Mann (2011), Twomey (2007) and Leppard (2003) agree that we need to be skilled information specialists who are able to select, locate, organise and use a range of information resources and technologies. However, our role as information specialist is more than just being able to locate relevant information for a particular topic or subject area. The knowledge that the teacher librarian can impart in the application of the information skills process has significant benefits in planning, the development of units of work and assessment tasks and strategies (Gibbs, 2003; Lamb & Johnson, 2008). We need to interpret and evaluate the library’s collection on a given topic in the context of the curriculum program, as well as developing information literacy skills (Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2010).  In addition, the teacher librarian must teach students the skill of evaluation (Harris, 2011; Sample job description: School library media specialist, 2009).

A collegial work environment is desired in terms of teacher librarian and school staff working together towards a common goal. By the teacher librarian taking on the role as information/ media specialist, it provides an opportunity for the TL to share their expertise in ICT. Staff development can be led by the TL as they share their knowledge and expertise of web 2.0 tools and ICT integration. Literature reveals that teachers’ attitude and pedagogical beliefs toward technology represent one of the most critical issues (Ertmer, et al., 2012; Richardson, 1996). Therefore, if classroom teachers feel supported in the area of ICT by the teacher librarian, the success rate will be much higher and the students will benefit greatly.

Analysis of Learning
Prior to experiencing ETL411, I thought that I was competent in the use of ICT. It is only now that I realise how limited my knowledge was. I had heard of web 2.0 tools in discussions with other teachers previously, but had never raised an eyebrow or intended to seek more information. Being a classroom teacher of 3 years I am still learning the ropes and obviously still have a lot to learn. It has been through completing this course that I realise how beneficial web 2.0 tools can be in teaching and learning programs.

Image retrieved from http://www.techconnect20.com/image-files/web20wordle.jpg

One of the major benefits of integrating Web 2.0 tools within curriculum is the engagement and motivation it provokes in students (Backes, 2012; Combes, 2014). Not only was I oblivious to the meaning and benefits of web 2.0 tools, but also the range of tools out in the big World Wide Web.

It was only after the first assignment that I became well informed and engrossed in researching the many web 2.0 tools available for a range of different purposes. There is definitely no shortage of what teachers can access to engage and enhance student learning outcomes, it is just a matter of looking for it (which is not hard at all). I found Jeff Dunn’s, ‘The 100 Best Web 2.0 Classroom Tools Chosen by You’ website (2011) extremely useful (it is an annotated bibliography) and it is a resource I have utilised several times now and have also shared with my colleagues.

The Wiki is a tool I have never used before (as well as a blog). I have found it very interesting and can visualise how students could effectively utilise this tool throughout their educational journey. However, i feel as though I would use it in a secondary setting rather than primary. This judgement has been made based on the other tolls students need to become competent in before attempting a Wiki.

Our last assignment enabled us to delve into curriculum design. By critically thinking about how we could integrate a web 2.0 tool into our unit of works, I could visualise how I can (tomorrow) implement in my own classroom. The step by step analysis made me question effectiveness, conflicts, solutions, resources and student outcomes. Assignment 2 was definitely beneficial to my everyday program and I am excited to share my findings with colleagues in attempt to entice them to integrate ICT into their teaching and learning programs more effectively (not just Microsoft Word and PowerPoint).

Conclusion

In conclusion, “the school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society” (International Association of School Libraries, 2006). The Teacher Librarian has a crucial role in the integration of both ICT and information literacy within curriculum programs. By leading teachers and students into the 21st century, teacher librarians are shaping the future of education. Technology is an integral part of teaching and learning today and can effectively enhance student achievement through the many resources it has to offer, in particular the use of web 2.0 tools.

References
Backes, L. (2012). 5 reasons to add technology to your classroom. The Inspired Classroom [blog]. Retrieved http://theinspiredclassroom.com/2012/04/5-reasons-to-add-technology-to-your-classroom/

Boss, S. and Krauss, J. Reinventing project-based learning. This chapter excerpt from the book provides an overview of project-based learning within the Web 2.0 world.
Combes, B. (2014). Integrating ICTs [ETL411 Module 3.1]. Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL411_201460_W_D/page/72d99a18-b38c-44cb-80f6-da2bfe987e7f

Dunn, J. (2011). The 100 Best Web 2.0 Classroom Tools Chosen By You | Edudemic. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/best-web-tools/

Ertmer, P. A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Sadik, Ol, Sendurur, E., & Sendurur, P. (2012). Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship. Computers & Education,59(2), 423-435.

Gibbs, R. (2003). Reframing the role of the teacher-librarian: the case for collaboration and flexibility. Scan, 22(3), 4-7.

Harris, F. J. (2011). The school librarian as information specialist: a vibrant species.Knowledge Quest, 39(5), 28-32.

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories… that’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 19-27.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.), Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2008). School library media specialist 2.0: a dynamic collaborator, teacher, and technologist. Teacher Librarian, 36(2), 74-78.

Leppard, L. (2003). The role of the teacher librarian in essential learning. Access, 17(3), 9-11.
Mann, S. (2011). 21st-century school librarians: envisioning the future. School Library Monthly, 28(2), 29-30.
O’Connell, J. (2012). So you think they can learn? Scan, Vol 31. May, 5-11.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.
Sample Job description: School library media specialist. (2009). Knowledge Quest, 38(2), 80-82.

Twomey, M. (2007). Empowering learners: how the teacher librarian, through enactment of the role, empowers learners to shape and enrich a changing world. Access, 21(4), 33-39.

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