An amplified learning idea to try out – connecting over books & reading

SLJ1301_GoodReads

I was inspired whilst looking at Shannon McKlintock Miller’s blog post describing the way she facilitates opportunities for  authors to connect with her readers to continue integrating technology into our Library program at my school workplace. Shannon has worked with illustrators and authors.

I have been planning on introducing Book Clubs for both Middle and Senior school students. I want to spend time engaging with high quality  and exciting new literature with these students. Tristan Banck’s novel “Two Wolves” is book that has been nominated for this years CBCA Book of the Year Awards. It has had excellent reviews and I think both girls and boys would enjoy it. I do know Tristan Bancks following several visits he has made to our school – I have to ask him first if he’s keen to participate in this idea. I am planning on using this book as our first Middle School Book Club book. After we read and discuss it together I thought we could meet up via Skype or Google Hangout with Tristan and discuss the book. I have a great screen in the Library that we could all sit around, connect and share knowledge. I look forward to trying this out.

I am also  really looking forward to hearing Shannon McKlintock Miller speak at EduTECH next week. Exciting times!

Reflections on the evolution of a learning space.

I recently sat down with the Network Engineer from the school I work at to discuss the case study for Assignment 6. For five years now we have worked as part of the same team; we have shared ideas, helped solve problems (he usually solves more problems for me than I do for him), encouraged each other, provided feedback, learned new things and had fun together along the way. It has become evident too to surround ourselves with other like minded and entrepreneurial  members of our schools community (mainly teaching staff). The Leadership team have also begun to recognise the value of collaboration in the design process.We don’t often though put time aside just to reflect on the development of our learning spaces; we did for an hour a few days ago and it was ‘gold’.

The school’s digital learning environment has been developing for over ten years now. I have worked at the school for five years but the Network Engineer has been there right from the beginning of this evolution. He has an IT background and qualifications, but after working in an educational environment for so long he has a very good insight into learning, learning environments, the integration of technology and  it’s users.

The  following are my notes from our discussion. The names of the LMS have been changed for the purpose of this case study.

It seems that we have done a  a bit of a full cycle in the development of our Learning Management System (LMS).  Back in 2003 the school’s first digital environment was just a static website that the IT team developed.  A need was identified by the Network Engineer (together with the Leadership team) in 2004 to develop a digital platform to deliver information to the school community. The Network Engineer (along with the IT team) wanted to spread the workload of uploading information onto the site and also more staff wanted to use the environment. A number  of options were considered for this first intranet. The educational organisation that directs the school’s operations had no input into the choices that was made for the original LMS.

The first edition of ‘Remodel’ was considered in 2004, but it was evaluated as being too hard to use and cumbersome. Eventually the IT and Leadership teams choose ‘CommonPlace’ because was manageable, stable, easy to maintain, cheap and effective in delivering information. ‘CommonPlace’ also suited the growth factors of the school: the developers wanted to be able to add subject tabs and work-spaces.  ‘CommonPlace’  does include Web 2.0 tools like Blogs, Wikis and Threaded Discussion Forums but these are not easy to set up. When I joined the staff of this team( 2010) I had been using Web 2.0 tools successfully in online study,saw value in them and wanted to integrate them into the teaching and learning of the school community. A couple of staff were already doing this but most had not and were hesitant to do so.  The Network Engineer made a surprising comment that he doesn’t really like Web 2.0 tools (maybe as ‘CommonPlace presented them) – that they are messy : is this the nature of learning  and knowledge construction though, a little chaotic?

The Library team and I developed our Library webpage and linked it on to the LMS; this is an ongoing project where I feel we have not met our potential and it is a future goal to improve the Library digital space.

Over 2012 and 2013 a need for a more online classroom environment has been identified.  Some alternative LMS ‘Alive’ and ‘iSpace’ were added as links on ‘CommonPlace’. ‘Alive’ was mandated by the educational organisation. After discussion amongst the IT team, leadership and ICLT committee it was decided that we didn’t want to use ‘Alive’ because it was hard to use, the organisation of the site wasn’t satisfactory and it was better suited to Primary schools. The educational organisation have also ceased to encourage ‘Alive’s’ use, but it remains as a  unused link on the LMS as mandated by the educational organisation.  ‘iSpace’ too was mandated with the direction of the educational organisation, but it has had limited use too. So currently on ‘CommonPlace’  there sits a number of links and choices of alternative LMS that aren’t really being used. The past practice was to add the links early in the prototyping process and then train people to use them (access was sometimes limited to certain staff teams and students); this practice did not prove successful with ‘Alive’ and ‘iSpace’ learning spaces.

A lack of time for training, testing, and  a common language have been identified as barriers to the development of this learning environment. There is a huge variance too amongst staff (and students’) skills, attitudes and motivation.

However,this year motivations have become  more consistency high and attitudes are positive  in our school community to make our own choice and develop a online learning environment that works in with, directs and compliments the high quality teaching and learning that is happening in the classrooms.  We have come back to the LMS ‘Remodel’ which itself has been through developments and numerous editions. A link to ‘Remodel’ has not been placed on ‘CommonPlace’; instead select teachers have approached the IT team or been approached to use  ‘Remodel’ as a digital learning environment to complement and facilitate their good teaching and learning pedagogy and practice. Leadership teams have also been a positive driver in this focus and process.  ‘Remodel’ has been trialed and tested in a controlled but inclusive and participatory manner. This design process has been a very good example of ‘participatory design’ as it has been human-centred (Sanders, E., 2007).

Many positive aspects of this latest edition of ‘Remodel’ have been identified, like the opportunities and ease to allow for; personalisation, feedback, sequencing of learning activities, multimedia, engagement of students. These positive aspects of ‘Remodel’ match John Hattie’s principles of learning (2013).

The Network and Engineer and I also spent some time discussing the nature of  the ‘Status Quo’  approach versus ‘Experimental Spaces’.  ‘CommomPlace’ was initially chosen because it fitted with the way that the school was organised; departmentalised and structured. Attempts to use technology differently or organise learning environments in transdisciplinary ways is prevented by roadblocks like assessment strategies, timetabling,  pragmatic attitudes. It is through the efforts of the Network Engineer, the IT team and leading teachers that we are slowing challenging some of these ‘Status Quo’ assumptions.

At the end of this discussion we concluded that technology is not necessarily making our life easier as educators.We are a one to one laptop school and both the network Engineer and I had witnessed a culture where the students expect to use their laptop every day and nearly every lesson. Parents expect that the laptop is used too. Teachers feel an obligation to use the laptops  too; sometimes it seems that they are used too much. A need for more  handwriting and reading physical books is being noticed. Technology and digital learning environments can however greatly enhance and facilitate good teaching practice. We have valued being able to customise our digital learning spaces and have tried to match them to our user needs. The current design process of creating a better learning environment with ‘Remodel’ has benefited from the current trialing and testing phase and practice.

We have come  to appreciate the value of a participatory approach and team work in designing new spaces at our school and I look forward to seeing it continue and improve.

References

  • Hattie, J & Yates G. C. R. (2013). Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Routledge.

 

 

 

 

Blog Task 4

In my first blog entry of this subject (and course) I identified the next step in my career and learning journey was to “ lead a community of learners into the digital world, enjoying opportunities to collaborate, create, find, organise and produce informative texts using new media and particularly (social media)”. I feel that I have begun to do this. I had heard of and done some reading in many of the concepts covered in this subject but the breadth of new technologies, writers, speakers and resources  I have been exposed to through the different modules has really been an eye opener.

There has been a few themes that have I consistently focused on because they really interest me; creativity, innovation, learning futures, collaboration and connectivity. These are obviously major themes in this subject and hence I have enjoyed all the modules.

My workplace is becoming more multi-modal. We are trying to mesh together the digital and physical learning spaces. We will be there I believe in about 5 years like described in Microsoft’s Future Vision – Live, Work Play. Currently we are designing new Year 7 buildings. It is exciting to start with a blank canvas. Our Principal is leading us in the process of including spaces where students can work collaboratively sharing their learning’s publically in the physical and digital environments. I feel that I have been able to make valuable contributions to these conversations because of the new knowledge and ideas I am currently being exposed to through my study.

In a recent book I read Change Your Mind -52 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Self there was a section on controlling technology. Rod Judkins (Chapter 14, 2013) commented that “to live creatively, you have to be at the forefront of new developments, not lagging behind” and to “embrace technology because it brings new ideas”.  I think being creative is fun, beautiful and clever. I am learning more about technology and am using it more; I don’t expect to always be in control of it though. I look forward to continuing this journey with a creative flair.

So, over the next couple of weeks I will compose my digital essay about Makerspaces (a great finale for the subject) and then I look forward to next semester participating in the subject “Designing Spaces for Learning” whilst we construct our year 7 buildings and develop plans for our Library renovations.

Attributions:

Microsoft’s Future Vision -Live, work, play. (2013). Retrieved May 2014, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd_BbzNhkp0

Judkins, R. (2013). Change your mind: 57 ways to unlock your creative self. London: Hardy Grant Books.

Digital Essay Proposal

Digital Essay Topic Proposal

Topic: Makerspaces – environments that facilitate creativity in Secondary schools

Digital Tools and Spaces to be used:

I will create an additional page in my Thinkspace Blog. I am optimistic in my expectation that familiarity will lead to creativity and innovation with the construction of an interactive digital essay.

I plan to use a variety of tools including, YouTube, Flickr, podcasts, Vimeo, TED talks and constructed images.

Rationale:

A Makerspace (or hackerspace) “… is an environment where creative, legal, technical and other interested people join together to work on, think about and talk over a wide variety of subjects. “Some of these projects are really practical, others are more “because we can”. What is always the same is our goal to gather knowledge, work together and share our knowledge”, thus, founder of Hackerspace Frack, Jildou Gerritsma (as cited by Hackerspaces/ Flux, 2014)

A common problem in Secondary schools is disengaged students. Another challenge is being able to allow students to truly be creative and let their innovative thoughts shine- they often share these thoughts in out of school learning communities but not in the school space where teachers can observe. Makerspaces are designed to engage students’ curiosity, make them the centre of learning and provide time and space for collaborative creation and innovation.

This digital essay will allow myself as an educational professional and teacher-librarian, the opportunity to share knowledge and considered judgements about an innovative movement that encourages participatory and creative learning and can be integrated into my workspace.

In this digital essay I intend to describe:

1.       What is a Makerspace?

2.       The concepts and theories behind this movement of Makerspaces (And Hackerspaces -mentioning the influence)

3.       Examples of Hackerspaces and Makerspaces around the world and evaluate how well they are facilitating creativity.

4.       How Makerspaces can be incorporated into the Secondary Library environment and digital learning culture.

5.       The anticipated benefits/learning outcomes of Makerspaces.

Reference:

Hackerspace/Open. (2014, March). Retrieved May 2014, from Hackerspce/Flux: http://blog.hackerspaces.org/

Finding Treasure in ‘Trove’

The most common reason I have use Trove for in my work is when I have an uncommon resource to catalogue that My aide can find on SCIS or any of our other references for cataloging.

The width of open content on this site is fantastic. Even though catalogue  records are protected under copyright, one can obtain an indication of an appropriate Dewey number, subjects and new subjects that are evolving. Trove is my first point of contact for adding metadata to our school library catalogue.

I haven’t used the other tools like the newspapers, but I now know about them and will share this information with others. There are also so many more opportunities to contribute. Talk about a collective knowledge network.

The Next Step …. Reflective Blog Task 1

It’s been over three years now since I graduated with my Masters in Teacher-Librarianship. About eighteen months ago I started asking myself and other like-minded people “What’s next for a teacher-librarian like me? “  The next step, I’ve decided  is to lead a community of learners into the digital world, enjoying opportunities to collaborate, create, find, organise and produce informative texts using new media and particularly (social media). It is my aim during this new course, a Masters of Education in Digital Innovation and Knowledge Networks to continue my learning and professional journey as a teacher-librarian, developing knowledge and skills about digital contexts and cultures.

In a presentation titled “Rethinking the Role of a teacher-librarian in a post literate society” Mark-Shane Scale from the ISAL described three new roles that teacher-librarians should take on

“Role One: Teach Collaboration in writing and creating information…

Role Two: Locating and gathering current awareness information…

Role Three: Teaching students how to summarise and make notes, social bookmarking, tagging and micro blogging…” (Scale, 2011)

I am on the way to integrating these roles into my position as a teacher-librarian.  I can see links from these suggested roles in the comments by Tim Berners-Lee (2009) about making information, demanding it and how the information landscape is affecting how we produce and consume information.

My last experience of online study forced me to tinker and produce content in a variety of digital contexts. It was a big game-changing moment in my career and a refresh button.  My personal aim in this course of study is to lift the bar in regards to how I can organise, create and lead in a digital environment. I need to overcome my feelings of ‘information anxiety’ and develop effective skills in managing the information. Luckily my copy of David Weinberger’s Too Big To Know’ is in the mail so I can start feeling comfortable about living and managing the sea of information out there. I am also preparing to be amazed by ‘Who Owns The Future?’  from “the prophet of the digital age”, Jaron Lanier. I want to firstly learn how to use Evernote and other tools like Flipboard and Diigo effectively, and then teach others. I have started to play with Pearltrees too to guide students and teachers in designing digital pathways.  In my work environments others have offered me opportunities to share my ideas about teaching and creating in digital libraries and learning environments.  I want to be seen as a leader in this area and to continue to be valued as information and education professional.

My challenge for myself is to firstly make it through two semesters of exciting, complicated and thought provoking study and assessment whilst sharing valuable and creative ideas. I then want to be able to synthesise these learnings into my school’s learning environments. I will make attempts at being a content creator, then lead and encourage my school community to collaborate and do the same.  I will in turn challenge my colleagues to tinker with new ways and new resources and enjoy the benefits of a global participatory culture of learning. (Jenkins, 2013)

Attributions

Berners-Lee, T. (2009, March 13). The next web of open, linked data. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from TEDtalks YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM6XIICm_qo

Jenkins, H. (2013). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture:Media Education for the Twenty-First Century.

Lanier, J. (2013). Who owns the future? Penguin.

Scale, M.-S. (2011, August). Rethinking the Role of the teacher-librarian in a post literate society. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/IASLonline/rethinking-the-role-of-the-teacherlibrarian-in-a-post-literate-society