For the past twenty years I have been learning outside of the classroom by following my passions and interests. My passions for travel and photography have resulted in new experiences, skills and a deeper appreciation of the natural world and of cultural differences and similarities. I was learning by doing and by connecting with like-minded people. Experts were mentoring me and I was mentoring others. Blogs, podcasts and social networking gave me access to instructional material and allowed me to connect with people who shared my interests all over the world. One of the reasons I love my job as a teacher librarian is that I am exposed to every subject at the school and have to continually stretch myself to assist my students and teachers. Learning is a lifelong process. (Thomas & Brown, 2011)
Despite this love of learning it was with some trepidation that I made the decision to return to formal study. Would I enjoy formal learning as much as informal learning? (Downes & Bishop, 2012)
I am very aware that the library is no longer the first place students look for information. Ubiquitous access to mobile phones means students carry information around in their pockets. My observations of students made me sceptical of the digital native moniker. I was relieved to read numerous articles disputing Prensky’s generational perspective (Stoerger, 2009). Students may be using technology in a variety of ways but they are not always “net-savvy”. This is evident when students use search engines at a very basic level and when they get into difficult situations using social media. Students need to learn multi-modal skills and competencies so that they are able to adapt to new situations and technologies throughout their lives (O’Connell, 2012). Open, social and participatory media must be embraced for school libraries to remain relevant to our students.
The concept of privacy and how it is changing in a networked world was a theme of the book and it piqued my interest along with algorithms and analytics. The video Generation Like (2014) had me questioning my own activities on Facebook and Twitter. I had never been too concerned about personalisation of advertising by Google but now I am troubled that it may be limiting my search results. Big Data has positive and negative applications and will produce ethical dilemmas. “There are some significant and insightful studies currently being done that involve Big Data, but it is still necessary to ask critical questions about what all this data means, who gets access to what data, how data analysis is deployed, and to what ends” (Boyd & Crawford, 2012, p. 664).
When I started Concepts and practices for a digital age my aim was to broaden my knowledge of theory and to examine practical applications of it in my workplace. I have a solid foundation to build on as I embark on more subjects and so much to think about and investigate further for my professional practice.
Secondary school students in the twenty first century have unprecedented access to an abundance of information. The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies has added complexity to information seeking and understanding. “There is no longer one definitive source of knowledge, no one expert. Learners need to develop strategies for finding and validating appropriate resources” (Conole, 2013, p 48). The vast amount of information and the variety of ways with which to connect to it has produced a network effect (Conole, 2013) with new knowledge flows. School libraries and teacher librarians must adapt and prepare students for the demands of an ever-changing information ecology by providing “reading and information options delivered by all manner of media and digital devices… [and] know how to find, filter, then mix and match what they see, hear and experience” (O’Connell, 2012. p 5). Information fluency is one approach that according to Rader “includes library literacy, media literacy, computer literacy, internet literacy, research literacy, and critical thinking skills” (Harris & Millet, 2006, p 526). School libraries can provide a bridge between available knowledge and knowledge gaps but they are competing with other channels in the digital information ecology (García‐Marco, 2011).
Digital information ecology
Ecosystems contain many populations that coexist and compete in a shared environment thus ecosystem “has become the paradigm to approach the complexity of the modern information world” (García‐Marco, 2011, p. 106) The digital ecosystem of computers, social media, mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools is constantly evolving but it is the social and cultural processes rather than the technological processes that Nardi emphasizes (García‐Marco, 2011). This disruptive shift has consequences for education and libraries and careful thought to the pedagogy behind the technology and tools is essential.
Open, social and participatory technologies have emerged in the last ten years from a static Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 environment. This has made the internet “a more active and distributed network with user-generated content and a much richer, interconnected network of communicative channels” (Conole, 2012, p. 51). Web 2.0 has led to an abundance of information where authority is more difficult to ascertain and information overload can result. As a consequence, “quick access to a wide range of information means that the user needs the ability to critically evaluate the validity and relative value of information accessed” (Starkey, 2011, p. 23). Starkey reiterates the importance of thinking critically by saying that students who can think critically are more likely to become participants, rather than merely consumers in a digital world.
Traditional providers of knowledge, such as teachers and textbooks, have been challenged by the changing information ecology. The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 contends that teachers need to foster curiosity so that students will delve deeper into subject matter because “teachers are no longer the primary source of information and knowledge for students when a quick web search is at their fingertips” (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freeman, 2014, p. 6). Similarly, libraries were once considered the guardians of knowledge but are sometimes considered irrelevant and slow compared to Google, Amazon and Wikipedia. “Libraries should be seizing every opportunity to challenge these perceptions, and to push their genuinely valuable content, services and expertise out to places where people stand to benefit from them” (Miller, 2005, para 10). Teacher librarians are no longer gatekeepers to knowledge; they are capacity builders for students and teachers (Hay, 2009).
“In ecosystems, organisms must adapt to their environment to survive and thrive; otherwise they become extinct” (Cheng, 2000, p. 24). The ubiquity of mobile devices has increased access to the digital world. Studies from the Pew Research Centre found 92% of teenagers go online daily (Lenhart, 2015) and 87% of Americans say the web helps them learn new things (Purcell & Rainie, 2014). Research can happen at anytime and anywhere and “Google is a metaphor for the instant gratification expected in information search and retrieval today” (Conway, 2015, p. 63). With this in mind many libraries and cultural institutions are going where their users are and extending the reach of their services using digital collections and social networking. The National Library of Australia is responding to the changing expectations of users by collaborating with Australian cultural institutions to aggregate digital content using Trove (Holley, 2010). Trove is a search engine to the treasure within Australia’s cultural heritage institutions. Participation and engagement with users is encouraged via social networking, forums and crowdsourcing. Sophisticated scanning and digitisation techniques have made previously unattainable content globally available.
Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/DDOY5gun1mY
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is making governments and institutions aware of the importance of preserving information for present and future generations. There are clear distinctions between digitization for preservation and digital preservation, “digitization for preservation creates valuable new digital product, whereas digital preservation protects the value of those products, regardless of whether the original source is a tangible artefact or data that were born and live digitally.” (Conway, 2015, p. 64). The conversion of books from analogue to digital is being done on a large scale by academic libraries, national libraries and Google Books. The desired outcome is for “improved search and retrieval of the digital content and advances in the delivery of content through the internet” (Conway, 2015, p. 68). Products born digitally are at risk of being rendered unusable through obsolescence of hardware and software. “While clay tablets can survive for several millennia, audiovisual documents will only last decades and digitally-born heritage may not exceed ten years” (“Information preservation”, n.d., para 3). While the initial aim of preservation is to protect, preservation projects often lead to the creation of new digital collections with added value for students, scholars and the general public (Conway, 2015).
Digital repositories, digital libraries, galleries and museums collect and curate authentic resources that can be used for a variety of purposes without having to seek permission from the rights holder. The Getty Museum and Europeana are two outstanding examples. Physical boundaries are being reorganised by networks and information flows and education is not immune to the “power embedded in global networks of capital, goods, services, communication, information, science and technology” (Selwyn, 2012, p. 3). The dominance of Google is one example of a “multinational global digital information system” (García‐Marco, 2010, p. 115) that is shaping information access in multiple ways.
Students need guidance in finding and using these valuable cultural resources. Teacher librarians can curate resources and enable such discoveries. To avoid information overload students require additional skills and competencies.
Thomas and Brown (2011) contend a new culture of learning is required for a digital ecosystem that includes Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and online games. The ubiquity of information, mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools means learning is increasingly happening outside of the classroom in the network age. ‘This new culture of learning can augment learning in nearly every facet of education and every stage of life” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p32) by focusing on the principles of play, questioning and imagination. In the video The Global One Room Schoolhouse, John Seely Brown says students need to be able to adapt to new ways, new resources and new things and become entrepreneurial learners. Entrepreneurial learners are makers and tinkerers who can adapt and apply strategies in a rapidly changing world. In a similar vein, Helen Haste says “competence lies in adaptive responses to the new technology’s options and particularly their impact on social practices” and these responses are vital for twenty-first century life. (Haste, 2009. p. 216). Being able to adapt, apply and transfer strategies to a new situation reduces anxiety and leads to a sense of agency.
School libraries have a vital role to play in cultivating the dispositions of curiosity, questing and connecting. Students need boundaries and support to effectively harness the affordances of technology with only “a minority creating, uploading or posting content or joining participatory communities” (Ito et al., 2013, p. 25). Connected learning “draws on sociocultural learning theory in valuing learning that is embedded within meaningful practices and supportive relationships, and that recognizes diverse pathways and forms of knowledge and expertise.” (Ito et al., 2013, p. 5) School libraries can provide these diverse pathways with a combination of physical and digital resources and tools. In addition to this, a school library can be a supportive and safe place for twenty first century learners to explore, play and fail.
Aspects of connected learning can be seen in the Australian Curriculum’s general capabilities. The Australian Curriculum has responded to the challenges of the twenty-first century and included critical and creative thinking and information and communication technology (ICT) general capabilities throughout the learning areas. Critical and creative thinking “capability is concerned with the encouragement of skills and learning dispositions or tendencies towards particular patterns of intellectual behaviour.” (Austalian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013) The capability for information communication technology stresses the ability for students to transfer knowledge, skills and dispositions across environments and applications. Teacher librarians can work collaboratively with teachers to embed the capabilities into the learning areas and by providing resources for implementation (Toner, 2011). “Twenty-first century learning theories emphasise the importance of supporting authentic and ubiquitous (anywhere, anyhow) learning, and providing students with opportunities, resources and spaces to develop their creative and critical thinking skills” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013). School libraries should be equipped to do the same.
Information literacy, digital literacy and information fluency
School librarians can work collaboratively with teachers to develop the skills and learning dispositions necessary for twenty-first century students using various information seeking models. “The proliferation of digital information makes it increasingly important for every citizen to possess competencies for managing, integrating, creating and communicating information, in addition to finding using, and evaluating it” (Sharkey, 2013, p. 37). Before the internet, information literacy programs focused on the skills required to find, locate, evaluate and use information. The concept of digital literacy followed with Gilster defining it “as an ability to understand and use information from a variety of digital sources” (Bawden, 2008, p. 18). According to Stripling (2007), information fluency is now a replacement term for information literacy, however there are some differences. flickr photo shared by ChrisL_AK under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license
Information fluency acknowledges that there are multiple pathways and users need strategies for the challenges of retrieval. “A fluent searcher knows how digital and print information differs, quickly learns specialized tools for finding digital information, and engages effectively in a digital information environment” (Heine & O’Connor, 2014, p. 4) Regardless of the terminology or the model used, the complex information flows of a networked world require students to interrogate all resources because information is available in many formats and delivered through various channels. Educators “must prepare students to become strategic, critical, divergent, and creative thinkers” (Bush, 2009, p. 446).
Australian students are engaging with digital technologies inside and outside of the classroom. Students have an abundance of information at their fingertips but they need help to develop skills, competencies and dispositions to use it effectively throughout their lives. Information is accessed, shared and communicated using multiple channels and school libraries can support learning in this dynamic landscape. In a twenty-first century world of digital convergence, adaptation is the key to thriving in the evolving digital information ecosystem.
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Va5mo6ik2_M
Verheul, I., Tammaro, A. M., & Witt, S. (Eds.). (2010). Digital library futures: User perspectives and institutional strategies. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur.
García‐Marco, F. J. (2011). Libraries in the digital ecology: reflections and trends. The Electronic Library, 29(1), 105-120. doi:10.1108/02640471111111460
Harris, B. R., & Millet, M. S. (2006). Nothing to lose: “fluency” in information literacy theory and practice. Reference Services Review, 34(4), 520-535. doi:10.1108/00907320610716422
Haste, H. (2009). What is ‘competence’ and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate ‘competent civic agents’. The Curriculum Journal, 20(3), 207-223. doi: 10.1080/09585170903195845
With the advance of technology researchers, scholars, organisations and retailers are able to access Big Data. Big Data is characterised by large data sets that can be searched, aggregated and cross-referenced (Boyd & Crawford).
Will largescale search data help us create better tools, services, and public goods? Or will it usher in a new wave of privacy incursions and invasive marketing? Will data analytics help us understand online communities and political movements? Or will analytics be used to track protesters and suppress speech? Will large quantities of data transform how we study human communication and culture, or narrow the palette of research options and alter what ‘research’ means? (Boyd & Crawford, 2012, p. 663)
The video below explains how Big Data can be used by retailers. Should we be concerned about targeted (pun intended) marketing or can it be beneficial?
Over the past ten years, content curation tools have evolved from social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo, to the more sophisticated and visually oriented sites available today. Most are web based applications that can be used on a computer and many also provide apps so that they can be used on mobile devices.
Teacher librarians have been finding, analysing, selecting, organising and sharing print resources for many years and are well placed to take on the role of content curator. As Valenza says teacher librarians know their community and understand the curriculum “we are used to taming information flow to facilitate discovery and knowledge building” (2012, para 5). Rhondda Powling (2013) also emphasizes the skills of the teacher librarian in selecting the best and most relevant content and adding value to it with annotations. Content curation tools can increase the visibility of online resources and extend the library beyond its physical boundaries. Valenza also points out a content curation tool “can also promote and lead users back to valuable print materials” (2012, para 12).
With businesses in mind, De Rossi and Good (2010) identified the attributes of good curation tools. Flintoff, Mellow & Clark (2014) adapted these attributes for education. Most tools I have experimented with are capable of the first five points but I am yet to find a tool that covers points six and seven also.
A good curation tool allows you to:
Aggregate and gather web pages specific to the topic
Filter content to allow the curator to select the best material
Publish to your collection with ease
Share, syndicate and distribute to your audience and the wider community
Allow the curator to edit and add comments as well as providing a comment stream for the audience to nurture discussion around the article
Analytics so you can track the usage of the site
An export facility or a way to backup the curated work
(Flintoff, Mellow & Clark, 2014, para 7)
My content curation “sandbox” currently consists of: Scoop.it, Pinterest, Educlipper, Pearltrees, Diigo and Flipboard. I have personal accounts for recreational and professional learning. So far, the school library accounts have been experiments in raising the profile of digital resources to support curriculum. Now I want to consolidate my content curation skills and determine which tools are most suited to my school library.
The emergence of social networking technologies has significantly altered the way people communicate and connect with each other. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are online spaces where people with common interests can interact whereas social media sites, such as YouTube and Flickr, allow people to share the content they create (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007). The internet has moved “beyond linking and clicking to creating, sharing and collaborating” (Khosrow-Pour, 2013, p. 975). This social network aspect is commonly referred to as web 2.0.
Ubiquitous access to computers and mobile technology has increased participation in online spaces. Commerce, government, education and libraries are able to harness the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies and the accompanying principles of collaboration, conversation, community and content creation. While some educators and library professionals may be sceptical, “Web 2.0 characteristics support the principles of good teaching and learning – active participation and collaboration” (Berger, 2010, p. 14).
Virtual environments, simulations and laboratories provide opportunities for authentic learning, augmented reality and collaboration. With Second Life, Linden Labs pioneered multi-user virtual environments and “brought graphically rich simulations out of the rarefied realms of defence and aerospace, and made them available to anybody with a moderate level of computer literacy” (Helmer, 2007, p. 13). Although not initially designed for education, the pre-existing environment and commitment to open source makes Second Life appealing for education and training purposes. Studies have found “immersion in a digital environment can enhance education in at least three ways: by enabling multiple perspectives, situated learning, and transfer” (Dede, 2009, p. 66). The sophisticated technological barriers to virtual learning are coming down “thanks to smartphones, immersive gaming software and other rapidly evolving technologies” (Waldrop, 2013, p. 268).
In response to Web 2.0, the concept of Library 2.0 was debated in 2005 but an exact definition was not determined. Despite this uncertainty, it is generally understood that “Library 2.0 requires an LIS professional that is better equipped and [more] broadly educated than one just ten years ago” (Partridge, Lee, & Munro, 2010, p. 316). Casey and Savastinuk assert “Library 2.0 should include three elements: constant change, giving library users control through participatory, user-driven services and implementing these to improve and reach out to both present and potential users” (Anttiroiko & Savolainen, 2011, p. 91). Mobile devices, blogs, curation tools, video sharing sites, photo sharing sites, Twitter and Facebook are significant in many people’s lives so “ideally, libraries will match these evolving options to their user’s technology preferences and information seeking behaviours so they can provide optimal user experience” (Hofschire & Wanucha, 2014, p. 9).
According to the Pew Research Centre, 74% of adults use a social networking site and 71% of teens use more than one social network site (Lenhart, 2015). These statistics confirm that libraries should be exploring, planning and working towards developing policies for social networking and social media. Nevertheless, technology should not be the only driver “when thinking about ways to work toward Library 2.0, consider what services your library already offers that could be improved as well as new things that can be added” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2010, para 22). This mirrors some key advice Meredith Farkas gave in the video, Building Academic Library 2.0 (2007). Farkas says it is important not to focus just on technology or to abandon those that do not use technology. Used in combination; social networking, social media and print can reach different audiences. Existing collections can be highlighted and Web 2.0 “seeks to harness our customer’s knowledge to supplement and improve library services” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2010, para 11). An example of this would be using Flickr and utilising crowd sourcing to tag images for an historical collection. With ongoing evaluation and adaptation, organisations and libraries can leverage these social spaces and tools effectively to extend their reach, to communicate, to connect, to interact and to advertise.
The concepts behind social networking are not new. Seeking out others with shared interests and building communities predates technology. “Social sites do not just have various social features; their essence is social. Their central value is as a platform, their functions are social and they enable personal and group connections at levels never before seen in the history of telecommunications.” (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007, p. 2-2).
Anttiroiko, A., & Savolainen, R. (2011). Towards Library 2.0: The adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in public libraries. Libri, 61(June), 87-99. doi: 10.1515/libr.2011.008
I started Social Networking for Information Professionals as an active user of social networking and social media technologies. As my time working in school libraries progressed, so did the internet. I had never given much thought to how the internet developed and went from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. This subject has given me an historical perspective of the internet and made me aware of significant shifts in technology. I now realise that I have continued to use Facebook because it allows me to connect and share my experiences with my personal network. I can also see the educational possibilities for Facebook through my involvement with the Social Networking for Information group.
Despite some concerns about privacy issues, I have been quite relaxed about providing personal details in order to use social networking and social media sites. The benefits of the sites often outweigh my reservations. I am cognoscente of my position as a teacher librarian and protect my privacy on Facebook and am conservative with my interactions with friends. I believe I have a better understanding of privacy issues and how the concept of privacy is changing, particularly for teenagers, in a networked world.
Social networking and social media are nodes in my professional learning network (PLN). I was initially skeptical of Twitter but have found it to be an extremely valuable tool for finding and sharing resources. My new goal is to start using Twitter to connect and become involved in conversations with other library professionals. For me this step requires a competency using Twitter and I think my confidence has grown in this area.
Prior to undertaking this subject I started a school library Twitter account. On reflection I took an ad hoc approach and did not listen or ask users what they wanted. I was not aware of the importance of having a strategy. This subject has exposed me to practical strategies, plans and policies from a variety of organisations and libraries that I will be able to adapt and implement in my school library. I am now in a much better position to formulate a social networking and social media plan for my school library and I understand that it is imperative to continually evaluate it using tools such as Twitter Analytics.
I have rediscovered and found new ways of using Flickr. Photography is a passion of mine so I use Flickr to showcase my photographs and be inspired by other photographers. Now that I understand the power of creative commons and crowd sourcing, I have started to use Flickr in new ways. I am eager to share this ethically responsible way of sourcing images with my students and colleagues. I will also consider sharing some of my own photographs using Creative Commons licenses.
As a teacher librarian I enjoy using curation tools for personal interests and to gather resources for the library. Visually appealing tools such as Scoop.it and Pinterest stole my attention away from Diigo. I am pleased to say that Diigo has returned to my professional toolkit since my return to formal study and I am finding it very useful. Apart from Feedly, I haven’t used many social new sites. I have added Nuzzle to my toolkit because it recommends articles from friends or people I network with. I still need some more convincing about the value of Reddit but I will not dismiss it until I have explored it further. I have been playing in the “sandbox” with curation tools and trying to see which are of most benefit to my PLN and which can make digital material more visible to my school community.
I have a gap in my knowledge with computer games and simulations so I tentatively stepped into the world of Second Life with Carole Gerts as my guide. I only scratched the surface and barely learned to how to walk during my sessions so I will need to spend more time within this world to become familiar. I am aware that I need to learn more about the educational applications of gaming and virtual learning. It is something that does not come naturally to me so it will require motivation on my part to broaden my knowledge, skills and experience.
School libraries are bound by the policies of the school and/or education departments. This does not preclude school libraries from developing their own policies in relation to social media strategy but I found little evidence of these online. Many school policies are kept within the school and not published so examples of school library social media policies or school social media policies were difficult to find.
This slideshare by Judy O’Connell encourages teacher librarians to become competent social media users. The twenty first century learning environment is constantly changing and teacher librarians must adapt. The internet is now a participatory medium and social networks are integral in our lives. School libraries need to be involved in social media and it begins with teacher librarians being active users within their with personal learning networks and their personal lives. Judy provides advice for teacher librarians on how to get started with policy planning, examples of best practice, tools and strategies for implementation. Specific instructions are provided for using Facebook and Twitter in school libraries.
The National Library of New Zealand provides services to school libraries. This comprehensive guide explains what social media is, how it can enhance school library services, what planning is involved, and the types of tools that can be used. The guide explains that social media for libraries is about building connections and learning communities using web based technologies. Seven steps to planning the library’s social media presence are clearly articulated. There are also links to a detailed planning template, a social media toolkit, examples of social media use in school libraries and further reading that would assist teacher librarians to learn about and plan a social media strategy.
Ellyssa Kroski explains that school libraries have different challenges to face with social media than other types of organisations. Social media policies provide clear guidelines for staff posting on behalf of the library and on their personal accounts and standards for acceptable use by library users. The article outlines what should be included in a social media policy and suggests looking at other organisation’s social media policies for best practice. The importance of revising the policy when technological changes occur is also stressed. Unfortunately some of the links to examples of policies are no longer available.
The social media policy of All Saints Anglican School is one of many of the school’s policies. This is a very detailed policy that outlines appropriate guidelines and procedures for the use of social media by the staff and students. This policy therefore would also encompass the library. The main aim of the policy is not to restrict staff and students from using social media but to protect them by making very clear what is considered appropriate and acceptable use. The following headings provide structure to the policy: purpose, scope, responsibilities, definitions, breach and conclusion.
This document from New South Wales Education & Training provides social media guidelines for the department. The value of social media is noted and employees are made aware of what is required for responsible use of social media for personal and professional use. While this is not a library policy, aspects could be adapted for library use. The guidelines are clearly summarised in large font on a single page and then followed up with more detail.
Second Life is a multi-user virtual environment with user created content facilitated by its open architecture. Second Life is a place where you can anonymously play and try out new or different experiences without the constraints of the real world. Second Life has applications for education and training and is used by many universities. (Helmer, 2007).
I was aware of Second Life but had never used it before. Computer games and simulations are not something I usually partake in so I took the opportunity offered by Carole Gerts to explore Second Life. I think I would have struggled to acclimatise to the virtual world without Carole as a guide. The vast array of options, commands, new terminology and motor skills required to move my avatar was daunting. The places we visited highlighted the advantages of Second Life as a discovery and learning tool. In a one hour session I met fellow classmates and we teleported to different places and were able to view archives and scanned pages of rare books at Stanford University, have fun with science at the Exploratorium and view art at the University of Western Australia. Due to our inexperience we didn’t communicate with each other that much but I can see how collaborative this would be with more experienced users. Information organisations could deliver authentic learning experiences for employees or users who are separated by distance. Collaboration between different information organisations could also occur with virtual conferences, meetings, working groups and training sessions.
There are some barriers to using Second Life. The client software must be downloaded to a computer with sufficient resources to run the sophisticated application and adequate bandwidth to avoid it slowing down. New users need to spend time learning how to navigate the controls, understand the terminology and how to manoeuvre their avatar. To become comfortable using Second Life, its creator Linden Labs, recommends at least four hours of training. This is a substantial time commitment before you even start to use it for educational or training purposes.
The use of Second Life or similar multi-user virtual environments would likely increase if they were able to be used in a web browser. Future development in virtual spaces would also have to take into consideration the ubiquity of mobile devices and the opportunities afforded by cloud computing.
My avatar enjoying the Book Garden at Stanford University
Scanned documents in the archives at Stanford University
My reasons why libraries should be on social media:
Advertise library events and services
Promote the library collection
Report on library events
Extend the reach of the library
Communicate, interact and connect with library users
Educate library users
According to the Pew Research Centre, 74% of adults use a social networking site and 71% of teens use more than one social network site. Social media is a big part of people’s lives now so “ideally, libraries will match these evolving options to their user’s technology preferences and information-seeking behaviors so that they can provide optimal user experience” (Hofschire & Wanucha, 2014, p. 9). The three libraries above are adapting by moving beyond their physical spaces and attempting to connect and communicate with their users using social media. Library news that traditionally would have appeared in a newsletter or on a bulletin board is now communicated widely using these new channels. Melbourne Library service advertised their booksale, Melbourne High School shared a link to their blog that contained a report of a recent library event, The University of Melbourne shared library tips to educate their users. All libraries posed questions to initiate try and discussion and used images to highlight their events, services and collections.
I was a little scared by the idea of computational thinking. I am a comfortable and competent user of technology but I don’t give much thought to how it all happens. I am grateful for all the work the programmers do to make my life easier but I don’t really understand how they do it. I was still afraid when I read the first paragraph of Wing’s Computational thinking and thinking about computing but by the end of the article she had helped alleviate my fear. Wing explains that “computational thinking is taking an approach to solving problems, designing systems and understanding human behaviour that draws on concepts fundamental to computing” (Wing, 2006). At this point I was still scared by the mention of abstractions as the essence of computational thinking with algorithms and programming languages as examples. Things became a little clearer when Wing explained that “abstractions are the mental tools of computing” (Wing, 2008, p3718). In the abstraction process, people have to decide what details are important and what can be left out and then layer abstractions. The real power is in combining human and machine processing abilities to solve problems. Barr, Harrison & Conery believe students should be taught how to identify when and where digital tools can assist with problem solving (2011). The kinds of computational thinking skills they refer to appear in the following video. I still have a lot to learn but I am not scared of computational thinking now.
Wing, J. M. (2008). Computational thinking and thinking about computing. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366(1881), 3717–3725. retrived from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25197357
At times I get frustrated working at a senior campus where all the students are undertaking their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). The VCE is focused on outcomes and involves covering a lot of content in a short space of time. The opportunity for connected learning is severely limited in many subjects. Despite this constraint, some teachers are using some connected learning principles when they have the chance. The opportunity to use connected learning is greater in subjects such as art and media where personal interests are drawn upon and are more product centred.
While the theory of connected learning is new to me, I realise I have been witnessing it in school libraries throughout my career. In the mid 1990s, students who loved playing computer games would devour the library’s magazines and books about computer games. There were students who borrowed fiction books heavily and then spent their lunchtimes writing fan fiction. I can even recall getting a student to write a small computer program for the library so we could randomly draw names for a raffle prize during Children’s Book Week. From my reading these appear to be examples of connected learning.
While connected learning at the VCE level is currently limited, I see that I have a role to play in promoting the principles and supporting teachers and students with the challenges.