Augmented Reality in the Classroom – Part 3

Continuing on the series….

Here are few ways in which AR can be applied in a school dynamic.


Technology has often been cited as a tool to increase student engagement.  Bonascio (2017) and  Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2019) theorise that AR is able to prolong attention and focus, as when multimodal resources and haptic devices are used, higher levels of enjoyment are experienced.  This gratification is significantly reduced in students that do not comprehend the mechanics of the technology and indicated that whilst utilising AR can improve digital literacy, explicit teaching is required to ensure that all students are able to interact successfully with the technology (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2019). 

               2. INQUIRY LEARNING

Oddone (2019) and Foote (2018) both suggest that greater educational benefits arise from students creating their own interactive images and overlays rather than using supplied ones.  Apps such as Metaverse or Augment can be used by students to construct their own interactive content and would be an ideal cross curricular inquiry task across any discipline, but have curriculum value within the Science, History and Geography inquiry skills section. Examples of inquiry tasks include:









Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2018, p.526) believe that there is a positive effect to using multimodal resources and active learning for science and its related fields. This is because students often need assistance with visualising complex and abstract concepts (Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015; Riva, Banos, Botella, Mantovani & Gaggioli, 2016).  Abstract concepts can be problematic for many students because of the difficulty students can have in visualising theoretical postulations (Furio, Fleck, Bousquet, Guillet, Canioni & Hachet, 2017, p.2-3 ).  This struggle can negatively influence a student’s perception of the content material and lead to adverse learning outcomes (Furio et al., 2017, p.2-3 ).   AR technology allows students to visualise the concept, albeit in animation, and increase comprehension which leads to improved outcomes  (Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015, Wu et al., 2013).  This is because haptic devices allow students to manipulate and utilise their sensory faculties when they are constructing knowledge. Large and small phenomena, as well as anatomical figures, can be visualised using AR technology (Wu et al. 2013). 


High school curriculum linked examples include:









AR books is the largest growing trend in children’s publishing and that many publishers are supplementing traditional texts with AR embedded resources (Levski, 2018; Zak, 2014). This is because AR books are seen as more innovative and able to improve flagging reading rates in children and adolescents (Levski ,2018, Zak, 2014).  Many young readers find the interactivity extremely engaging and the use of technology appeals to digital natives (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2019).


Mayahayuddin & Mamat, (2019) point out that the multimodal nature of AR improves literacy because the audio visual cues assist students in decoding.   Additionally,  AR enables students that have low focus or attention to enhance their learning as it grants access  to language in both formal and informal contexts, which is very useful for students with ADD, ADHD and those with social anxiety (Rafiq & Hashim, 2018, p.31; Mayayuddin & Mamat, 2019.  These benefits are further improved when AR is combined with gaming principles which provides additional interest and intrinsic motivation  (Mayahayuddin & Mamat, 2019; Levski 2018). 



Foote, C. (2018).  Is it real or is it VR? Exploring AR and VR tools. Computers in Libraries. Retrieved from

Furio, D., Fleck, S., Bousquet, B., Guillet, JP., Canioni, L., & Hachet, M. (2017). HOBIT: Hybrid optical bench for innovative teaching. CHI’17 – Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Retrieved from

Levski, Y. (2018). 10 Augmented Reality Books That Will Blow Your Kid’s Mind. AppReal- VR [Blog]. Retrieved from

Mahayuddin, Z., & Mamat, Z. (2019). Implementing augmented reality (AR) on phonics based literacy among children with autism. International Journal on Advanced Science Engineering Information Technology 9 (6). Retrieved from

Oddone, K. (2019). Even better than the real thing? Virtual and augmented reality in the school library. SCIS Connections. (110). Retrieved from

Saidin, N. Abd Halim, N., & Yahaya, N. (2015). A review of research on augmented reality in education: Advantages and applications. International Education Studies, 8(13). Retrieved from

Rafiq, K., & Hashim, H. (2018) Augmented reality game (ARG), 21st century skills and ESL classroom. Journal o fEducational and Learning Studies. 1 (1) pp29-34. Retrieved from

Riva, G., Banos, R., Botella, C., Mantovani, F., & Gaggioli, A. (2016). Transforming experience: The potential of augmented reality and virtual reality for enhancing personal and clinical change. Frontiers in Psychiatry 7. Retrieved from

Wu, H., Lee, S., Chang, H., & Liang, J. (2013). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented reality in education. Computers & Education, 62. Pp41-49. Retrieved from

Zak, E. (2014). Do you believe in magic? Exploring the conceptualisation of augmented reality and its implication for the user in the field of library and information science.  Information Technology and Libraries


The challenge is real – Module 5.3b

EliasSch / Pixabay

There are many challenges to teachers implementing guided inquiry lessons into their teaching and learning. They include among others; a misunderstanding of what inquiry learning is; inability to implement their own teaching activities; inability to collaborate with colleagues, lack of time and fear.

The first reason is that teachers (not teacher librarians who know better!) often confuse guided inquiry learning which is deep in knowledge, rich in skills and meaningful to the student,  with a superficial regurgitation of facts that accompany a traditional research task (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). Students are exasperated, teachers are frustrated, yet the loop of insanity continues from kindergarten to year 12.  Maniotes & Kuhlthau (2014) says STOP this insanity!

 Freedom to implement authentic teaching and learning practices is often hampered by the hierarchy within schools.  Whilst many teachers are given the flexibility to plan their own lessons and thus choose their pedagogical practices, they are often bound by the school and departmental parameters in regards to timelines and assessment (Templeton, 2019).  This is very evident in high schools where there are department heads and year level coordinators that manage assessments and their timelines for historic reasons, often completely unknown to anyone in this century. These obstinate teachers are unwilling to adapt and or modify their teaching practice with the advent of an information society.  The adage, “but we’ve always done it this way”is a common theme (Templeton, 2019 & Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). These parameters translate to an inability to structure longer guided inquiry units of work as teaching hours are crammed with explicit content instruction aimed at superficial tests and mindless research tasks that no one wants to do and even fewer want to mark.

 Lack of collaboration is often blamed for ineffective teaching practices by both teachers and teacher librarians.  These intransigent educators are reluctant to participate in collaborative practice and balk at co-creating teaching and learning activities (Ezard, 2019).  Often these stalwarts of inflexibility are also the ones that struggle to hand over the reins of learning to the students and or willing to practice team teaching.  This loss of controlling the learning is often translated as loss of control of a class, which is a complete contraindication of what a guided inquiry unit is. A vibrant class that is engaging with learning task is going to be noisy as noise usually is entwined with social discourse.  It does not mean that the students are disrespectful, nor does it mean that there is disharmony. Learning is a social construct and students learn better when engaging with their peers (Kools & Stoll, 2016). Teacher librarians need to understand that the resistance to guided inquiry is often due to the unwillingness of collaborative practice and not themselves as individuals (Ezard, 2019).

 As mentioned previously time is an issue in schools.  Teachers lack the time to collaborate with their peers to co-create inquiry tasks, and they often also lack time to allow actually put a guided inquiry into practice.  But what teachers often forget is that guided inquiry does not have to be a long unit of work that ends in a presentation. Guided inquiry can be as long as a term or as short as a week.  Ideally, the practice does require time to build and teach skills, but the flexibility of the framework allows the teacher to guide the lesson as much as the students require.  The true point of a guided inquiry task is to TEACH the skills, not the content.  Learning of these skills is a cumulative effect that requires constant practice across all classes and year levels.

 The last reason that inhibits the implementation of guided inquiry is fear.  Fear of the unknown; fear of rebelling against the system; fear of unemployment due to the previous rebellious behaviour; fear of losing control of a class; fear of failing to meet expectations; fear of not achieving learning outcomes; fear of trying something new; fear of failing.



Ezard, T., (2019) Leading the Buzz in your school. ASLA 50th Conference. Canberra

Kools, M. and Stoll L. (2016), “What Makes a School a Learning Organisation?”, OECD Education Working Papers. No. 137, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Maniotes, L.K, Kuhlthau, C. (2014) Making the shift. Knowledge Quest. 43(2) 8-17

Templeton, T., (2019) Rantings of an emerging teacher librarian. I lost my mind 3 children ago. Retrieved from … lost weblink.

Module 5.3a – Information Literacy

How might the TL help the school move towards integrated information literacy instruction?

The change in societal expectations of students has meant that students need to have strong fluency in information literacy and the inclusion of inquiry learning within the curriculum was the ACARA’s response to this change.  Information literacy is cumulative and needs to be embedded across the curriculum and year levels. Unfortunately, information literacy is not integrated into the curriculum, but rather aspects of it can be found within some subjects and their inquiry strands.  This disjointed learning means that the skills that inquiry promotes are taught in a haphazard manner instead of being practiced in sequential and regular intervals. Information literacy is cumulative and thus requires it to be embedded across the KLAs and year levels rather than in ad hoc stand alone units (Lupton, 2014).  Therefore, IL needs to be part of the content, structure and sequence of learning.

Fitzgerald & Garrison (2017) reinforce that consistency is important and a school wide focus is important.  The central position of the library within a school allows a teacher librarian to have an holistic view of the school’s teaching and learning.  This holistic vision means that a TL is able to liaise and collaborate with their colleagues to implement a framework for inquiry learning within the school so that those essential skills can be practiced at regular intervals (Kuhlthau et al., 2015).  This framework, once designed by the TL, can be then adapted by the classroom teacher and or TL to suit the needs of the subject and or year level. As the keeper of the framework, the TL is also able to differentiate the scaffolding to suit the learning needs of the students in anticipation of the unit of work.

What challenges lie in the way of such instruction?

The biggest challenge for the implementation of inquiry units is time, or the lack of time.  The curriculum is already very crowded and with the prevalence of standardised testing and the emphasis on traditional assessments, there is insufficient time to properly run inquiry units at regular intervals.  Additionally, whilst inquiry units are popular in primary schools and in lower secondary, it is deemed less rigorous in senior years. This is a fallacy, but old habits often die hard. The other challenges for inquiry units are lack of collaboration within the teaching staff and reluctance for students to work in collaborative groups.  As mentioned in other posts, many teachers struggle to work collaboratively with their colleagues for numerous reasons. Teacher librarians are often excluded from curriculum planning and assessment design due to the presence of subject silos within schools. This inability to collaborate often leads to poorly designed and implemented guided inquiry units that fail to engage students and provide lacklustre results.  This inability for teachers to collaborate effectively is then often transferred to their reluctance to let students to work in similar groupings. Inquiry units are best done collaboratively as learning is enhanced when based within social constructs. These groups are often called inquiry circles or focus groups. Unfortunately some teachers are reluctant to have their students working in groups as they differ from the traditional classroom setting and upset their preferred teaching style.

How teacher librarians and teachers might encourage students to transfer information literacy skills and practices from one subject to another?

The library is often a neutral zone and utilised by all subject areas.  Therefore, students are able to view the TL as the ‘inquiry teacher’ regardless of the subject that the task is for.  This means that it is plausible that students would be able to transfer their skills in inquiry learning from one subject to another simply because the teacher teaching the subject has not changed.  Additionally, the TL is already aware of the learning needs of the students and thus can scaffold them appropriately. This scaffolding can be tailored individually to allow all students to participate to varying degrees.  Fitzgerald & Garrison (2017) point out that reflection within an inquiry unit forces students to contemplate their learning and ruminate on the processes they used to achieve their goal. This reflection helps students determine their strengths and weaknesses for future tasks and thus be more conscious of their learning. This cognisance of learning is an essential part of the process and can be used as feedback as well as determining the zone of proximal development (Fitzgerald & Garrison, 2017).

Doyle, A., (2019) The hard skills employers seek. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from

Fitzgerald, L. & Garrison, K. (2017) ‘It Trains Your Brain’: Student Reflections on Using the Guided Inquiry Design Process. Synergy, 15/2

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L., & Caspari, A. (2015) GI: Learning in the 21st Century. 2nd editon, Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Lutheran Education Queensland (n.d.) Approaches to learning. Inquiry based learning. Retrieved from

McLeod, S., (2018) Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Guided Inquiry Design – An analysis

The world is changing before our eyes.  I have previously expounded upon Information society and the literacy that is required in order to engage with this new society, so will not go on about that now.  As teachers we can see the declining literacy ability of our students. We can see their lack of engagement and motivation. We know that this disengagement and apathy leads to poor behaviour within the classroom and consequently, poor life choices externally.  Many students fall through this gap, citing boredom and disconnection to the school paradigm. This is even more true for low achieving students and or students in low socio-economic zones, where education is paramount to break generational cycles of dysfunction.  Some schools focus their teaching and learning to address standardised testing (Kuhlthau et al., 2015). Whilst those schools may test high, their students struggle to translate their learning to an out of school context. As teachers we are frustrated and hamstrung by the politics of school.  

Guided inquiry is a method of teaching and learning that has changed how students learn.  Rather than a behaviourist method with stand alone teacher, GI promotes a constructivist team approach to teaching practices (Garrison & FitzGerald, 2016).  This style of pedagogy promotes students to gain a deep understanding of the curriculum content and learn valuable skills in the process (Kuhlthau et al., 2015).  The benefit is its fluid nature and this allows a flexible approach to learning which can be applied for all abilities and styles, as it seeks to explicitly teach skills rather than content.  This is simply because skills are transferable and therefore of a higher value to both students and teachers. After all, in this information age, everyone can find out anything, provided they have the skills to do so.

A guided inquiry teaching and learning activity is designed to engage students in the content using their own intrinsic motivation (Maniotes, 2019).  By utilising the 3rd space of learning, teachers can challenge students to connect to the curriculum content. This connection, based upon a constructivist ideology, allows students to question, explore and formulate new ideas based upon their own knowledge and perceptions (Kuhlthau et al., 2015, p.4).  The learning itself is involves students finding and using a variety of information, to address an aspect of the content through an inquiry approach.  During this process, students pose questions, make decisions, develop areas of expertise and learn life long skills (Kuhlthau et al., 2015, p4). As an educator there are two steps to GI.  The first step is to apply the GI design framework when creating units of inquiry.  These units incorporate curriculum content, literacy goals and information literacy concepts (Kuhlthau,, 2015) and have specific learning goals as well as skills that will be addressed during the activity.  The second step is to guide students through this learning with interventions, assessments and strategies (Kuhthau et al, 2015).  It is quite common for teachers to explicitly teach ‘just in time’ skills during this process as teaching them any earlier usually has less relevance to them (Maniotes, 2019).

There are seven stages in GID unit.  The stages go from an introduction phase through immersive, gathering, creative and sharing.  As students progress through these stages they develop a whole range of skills and undergo a variety of emotional stress.  It is this emotional stress and achievement over stress that assists with overall competence and self esteem. This figure shows the changing affective stages of an inquiry task.

Inquiry learning has many forms including project based learning; blended learning, International Baccalaureate programs and expeditionary learning.  In Australia there are several IL models including Herring’s 2004 PLUS, NSW information search process, Newman’s 2014 iLEARN and Big6. But the superior form of inquiry learning is Guided inquiry design as it has a research based framework to substantiate its method of practice and the design understands the importance of affect in student behaviour.  This affect is important to understand as it indicates to educators where motivation is and where guiding becomes important.

Whilst students are guided through the project, they get to pose their own question and explore ideas.  This posing of question, is formulated from their own experiences, reflection and understanding. It acknowledges their learning is valid and promotes self esteem and self efficacy.  Guidance can be tailored to individual students needs thus allowing for differentiation. As this process is a collaborative, students work with their peers in creating and investigating together.  This sense of ownership and accomplishment leads to independence, expertise and competence (Kuhthau et al., 2015). Unfortunately, like all skills based learning, regular practice is required to maintain competency. Kong (2014) points out that classroom integration of IL leads to an increase in competency.  Therefore, GI needs to be part of the learning and teaching across all grades and curriculum. It cannot be taught as a single subject in an ad hoc method as information literacy is cumulative (Lupton, 2014).

One of the many positives of Inquiry learning is that it promotes critical thinking skills (CCT).  CCT, as part of the Australian curriculum’s general capabilities, needs to be embedded in teaching and learning practices.  These skills are essential for participation in modern society. Within inquiry learning – CCT assists students in five major components.  Curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills (Kuhlthau and Maniotes, 2010, p.19; Kong, 2014, p.2).  All these skills are interwoven throughout the whole activity and an educator can choose which skill to assess at any given time.

The other interesting aspect of GI design unit is that the task comes halfway into the unit.  Unlike current pedagogical practices where students get given a summative task at the beginning of the unit and then ‘do what is necessary’ and submit it a few weeks later.  Inquiry tasks take students on an exploration of the unit. They are immersed in the unit of work either with field trips or excursions. They browse broadly among the literature, gaining various perspectives BEFORE the question is even posed.  This means that when the question is posed by the student is truly authentic (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). It comes from what they DON’T know about a topic, rather than a regurgitation of facts. This process forces student to engage with the unit of work or they simply become mired in an information overload.  This information overload occurs commonly outside school, where adults of all backgrounds, refuse to participate with something because they do not know or understand it. GI teaches students how to persevere and understand what the information is saying.

Collaboration is key to guided inquiry for both teachers and students.  As the creation and implementation of GI units is multifaceted and complex, a team of teachers is required (Kuhlthau & Maniotes 2010). Ideally, this unit has three teachers co-creating the unit with additional experts involved as required. This team approach has the benefit of collaborative learning, in that many minds are better than one.  It also models to students how collaboration occurs in the workspace. Students use the teaching team as role models for their interactions with their peers. These interpersonal skills are essential.


The genius behind GI is that it is based up the information search process model which compares feelings, thoughts and actions  of students as they progress through the unit. This understanding of student’s behaviour is of great insight to the educator. Teachers can predict when students are suffering from confusion and doubt and assist them in finding their way.  I am musing if Marcia’s work on Erik Erikson’s theory of identity development is related to this process. After all, Erikson’s theory about adolescents facing moments of crisis and their response to the crisis shapes their identity. So theoretically, students who have their moment of crisis during an inquiry task move through to identity achievement, in that they have made a commitment to a value or role (David, 2014).  Then once they have formulated a question or concept, students feel a sense of confidence, a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose and confidence translates to other aspects of learning and thus builds self efficacy.

The problem with the Australian curriculum is that IL is not embedded within and across the curriculum in all KLAs.  Information literacy is cumulative. To have an IL education, sustainable development is required across all years and areas of study.  It is should be part of the content, structure and sequence of learning; and definitely not the outcome of a single subject (Lupton, 2014).    There has been some attempt by Bonanno & Fitgerald (2014) to map the Australian curriculum to the Guided inquiry design by Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2012).  The scope and sequence suggests the introduction of inquiry skills, which could be adapted throughout the curriculum. Lupton (2014) correctly surmised that inquiry strands are only currently within science, history and geography KLAs.  Whereas Bonanno & Fitzgerald (2014) try to extend those skills in different areas of the curriculum. This is definitely possible as these ‘skills’ are transferable and there is no reason why one can pose a question in History that leads to an insightful understanding of the unit, but cannot do the same in math.  

In summary, GI units of work are designed with the student in mind. They are student centred and place the onus of learning upon the student rather than the teacher.  This is a seismic shift in pedagogy from a behaviourist to constructivist perspective. Students will engage with content if it is in their third space.  They will commit to a task if they have a vested interest in the outcomes. They will learn more in collaborative groups. Mostly, they will work at their level of cognition and thus achieve a sense of accomplishment when the task is completed.  We talk a great deal about student centred learning, about making the student the centre of the pedagogy. Well… lets just do it then.


Bonanno, K. with Fitzgerald, L. (2014) F-10 inquiry skills scope and sequence, and F-10 core skills and tools. Eduwebinar Pty Ltd.

David,  L., (2014) “Identity Status Theory (Marcia),” in Learning Theories.  Retrieved from


Garrison, K., and FitzGerald, L., (2016) ‘It’s like stickers in your brain’: Using the guided inquiry process to support lifelong learning skills in an Australian school library.  A school library built for the digital age.


Kuhlthau, C., and Maniotes, L., (2010) Building guided inquiry teams for 21st century learners. ZZ School library monthly.  Volume 26: 5.

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2012) Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhthau, C., Maniotes, L., and Caspari, A., (2015) Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century. 2nd Edition. Libraries unlimited, USA.

Maniotes, L., and Kuhlthau, C., (2014) Making the shift. Volume 43:2.

Lupton, M.(2014)  Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6, Access, November

Maniotes, L., (2019) Guided Inquiry Design: Creating curious inquirers. SYBA Academy workshop. Sydney

Walton, G., Cleland, J., (2016) Information literacy. Empowerment or reproduction in practice? A discourse analysis approach. Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 Issue: 4, pp.582-594,

Curriculum Conundrums – Module 4.3

Curriculum can be broadly defined as the academic content taught within the education system.  In Australia, the National curriculum is three dimensional and covers eight content areas, three cross curriculum priorities and seven skills sectors (ACARA, n.d.).  This national framework is broadly defined and whilst some states have set syllabi that clearly delineate what needs to be taught, others have more freedom in the manner in which the learning outcomes are addressed.  As this method of delivery is diverse, curriculum implementation falls down to state governance and individual schools to develop and create a plan that clearly outlines the teaching and learning, whilst respecting the values and ethics of the school and its community.

 The purpose of schooling is detailed within a curriculum and as a result its strength and veracity will directly affect student learning potential (VCAA, 2015, p.6). Meritorious curricula are cohesive and contain connected units of work that build upon a student learning.  It is not an ad hoc system of disconnected and repetitious units, as that leads to student disengagement and teacher angst. A teacher librarian is a witness to all that occurs within a school and from this centralised position, are able to see the teaching and learning from a whole school approach.

 The role of a TL can affect curriculum planning in a variety of ways but the four main ways are; facilitating multidisciplinary units of work; creating LibGuides for individual classes, year levels and or units of work; embedding information literacy within the curriculum and explicit instruction.  Lastly, ensuring that the school collection supports the teaching and learning practices of the school. In the first place, a TL can facilitate conversations between departments to broach a collaborative unit of work. An example would be, negotiating RE, HASS and Science to address a Sustainability unit from a triple prong approach for a deeper and more holistic learning experience, rather than just superficially addressing aspects in three separate subjects.  Real world scenarios are multidisciplinary and it is frustrating to pigeon hole learning into subject areas and be unable to fully experience the scope the unit. Secondly, a TL can use LibGuides as a method in which to curate and organise resources to specific classes, subjects and topic guides. By being involved in the planning stages, a TL can create these LibGuides in anticipation of the units and thus eliminate late and often disruptive requests for resourcing.

 TL are information experts as well as teaching practitioners.  Their mastery of information seeking behaviour allows them to embed information literacy skills within the curriculum with ease using their knowledge of pedagogy.  With the current information overload, students need to be fluent in information literacy and TL can work with classroom teachers to explicitly teach these essential skills.  Some schools and TL are working collaboratively to construct a ICT and CCT skill progression framework that will allow students to build upon their current knowledge in a logical manner.  Other TL and schools seek methods in which to assess these skills in various formative formats along the inquiry pathway so as to provide useful feedback. The national curriculum is explicit upon the needs to integrate the general capabilities and a TL’s expertise is definitely a benefit in the planning stage.  As practitioners, a TL is able to explicitly teach these skills in discrete lessons in a team teaching scenario and or in a consultant role. Finally, when a TL is involved with planning, they can ensure that the school collection is able to support the teaching and learning. Many school budgets are constrained and a TL present in the planning is aware of what the school has currently available and can suggest or recommend resources that are already part of the collection in order to buttress the curriculum judiciously.  This is even more important in a digital age when subscriptions and licencing becomes an issue should multiple e-book titles be necessary to support a differentiated learning.

 TLs have been emerging as co-creators and designers of inquiry learning within schools for a long time.  The somewhat recent inclusion of guided inquiry into the national curriculum has increased the importance of well designed inquiry units for teaching and learning.  In collaboration with classroom teachers, TL can assist with designing and resourcing these inquiry units across the school. As an essential phase of inquiry learning requires the student to immerse and explore their task.  This immersion and exploration can involved a variety of digital and authentic experiences, which include incursions, excursions, VR and widespread information collation. A TL is often the one that assists with this access to information by providing a few resources as a scaffold or explicitly teaching information literacy skills.  These skills are essential students then seek information to answer their question. Education NSW (2016) is explicit in their policy in that a TL is a member of the “teaching staff and as such is actively involved in collaborative teaching and learning, school curriculum planning and program development”. The policy also is clear that TL are required to assist with planning, implementing and evaluating the curriculum at a school.  Therefore, NSW public schools are required to have their TL part of their planning and programming. In this token, principals should be allocating planning time to teachers so that they can fulfill the parameters of their position. Whether this mandate is applicable across the states and territories is unknown but the NSW policy definitely sets a valid precedent. It now only is up to principals to ensure that planning and curriculum days during professional development week is actually for planning and not filled up with unnecessary meetings and emails.

 Schools that use a collaborative approach with planning have the expertise of an information teacher at the table.   Like other speciality teachers within a school, a TL is an information teacher and that title encompassess a wide scope of knowledge and mastery of information seeking behaviour.  It is this mastery and unconscious competence that allows the TL to see the unit of work beyond the content and place the skills on the learning continuum. Schools that promote collaborative curriculum planning harness this knowledge and use this collective strength to create units of work that extend the mind and build upon those important life long skills.   The absence of a TL within curriculum development is detrimental to student learning. TLs are essential to curriculum planning for multiple reasons, especially their skill in information literacy and wide curriculum knowledge. Their skills in information seeking behaviour are essential in this digital age of misinformation and their unconscious competence in this field means that they are able to create units of work that are beyond the scope of most classroom teachers.  Whilst these skills are important for all students, they are essential for students from lower socio-economic households where there is already a digital divide (DIIS, 2016).


Curriculum planning ideally should be a collaborative effort and include all teachers and their disciplines.  The intentional exclusion of the TL seems foolhardy as there is ample evidence illustrating their positive effect on learning outcomes.  But unless a TL is willing to advocate their place at the table then it is unlikely an invitation will be issued.




ACARA (n.d.) Structure of Australian Curriculum; F-10. Retrieved from

 ACARA (n.d.b) History Inquiry. Retrieved from

 DET Victoria (n.d. ) Curriculum Planning. Retrieved from

 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2016). Australia’s digital economy update. Retrieved from

 Education NSW (2016) School library policy. Retrieved from

 Lutheran Education Queensland (n.d) Approaches to learning. Inquiry based learning.  Retrieved from

 Softlink International (n.d.) The ongoing importance of school libraries.  Retrieved from

VCAA (2015) Victorian Curriculum; Foundation – Year 10; Revised curriculum planning and reporting guidelines. Retrieved from


Analysis of Lupton (2014) paper – Module 5.3a

Edwin01 / Pixabay
Late to the ball


We live in an information rich society.  Our world is quickly adapting from industrial to one based upon the creation and dissemination of information.  This economic revolution needs a society that is fluent in information literacy.  Unfortunately, the education sector is resembling Cinderella with their late arrival to the information literacy ball.  Even though the national curriculum was designed with the goal of active and informed citizens, it has failed to meet the task at hand.

Lupton (2014) points out succinctly that there is no information literacy embedded within the Australian curriculum in her analysis.   It does seem fairly obvious that inquiry skill strands are the place to look for the elements that then link back to IL. A teacher librarian is ideally the perfect person to identify these elements and create the links due to their knowledge of the curriculum and holistic view of the learning and teaching within a school.  Unfortunately, we also know that there are many schools that there is no teacher librarian and thus there is no one to make these links in an effective manner. Consequently, teachers and students are often unable to have a planned learning sequence that builds upon prior knowledge. This inability to construct new knowledge upon prior knowledge, is a direct contradiction to the constructivist theory of guided inquiry.

As Lupton (2014) surmises, there is an inquiry focus within the national curriculum in three KLAs; science, history and geography.  Each of these areas addresses inquiry skills with slightly different applications. These mannerisms illustrate the strength and weaknesses of the curriculum to address IL.  Unfortunately, these subjects are not equally structured with respect to IL and thus, the embedding of these skills are inconsistent.

geralt / Pixabay

This variance between KLA’s has lead to science being the weakest of the three in regards to information literacy.  Whilst the research process is vigorous, the data is just gathered with the role of interpretation insufficient. The inquiry skills aspect is aligned only to the experimental procedure and there is limited correlation between the strands.  There is also a lack of consideration of the social, cultural, economic context of the investigation. This lack of social context means that the investigation is often difficult for students to apply newly gained information to real world applications which in turn defeats the ‘action’ part of the process.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

History KLA has strong IL embedded into its curriculum.  The nature of the strands mean that both the questioning and information seeking behaviour are important.  The strong dependence on primary and secondary sources means that students are constantly utilising skills in information seeking and using.  There is appropriate scaffolding within the curriculum that promotes independent learners. Geography, according to Lupton (2014) has the strongest in IL because; the questioning is stronger and varied, action is required in some form and lastly, it promotes personal and social growth and that the tasks are multidisciplinary.  As questioning is the cornerstone of inquiry, the Geography KLA allows for different perspectives of the same question as well as it forces the student to consider the views of the audience. It is clearly the most sophisticated and comprehensive inquiry skills based subject within the curriculum.

The problem with the Australian curriculum is that IL is not embedded within and across the curriculum in all KLAs.  Information literacy is cumulative. To have an IL education, sustainable development is required across all years and areas of study.  It is should be part of the content, structure and sequence of learning; and definitely not the outcome of a single subject.


Bundy, A. (Ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy.

Lupton, M.(2014)  Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6, Access, November


Inquiry learning – thinking about it – Module 4.1b

PoseMuse / Pixabay


Standardised testing has been present in Australia for almost two centuries.  From parochial schools and their itinerant school inspectors; external examination boards and modern day NAPLAN; testing was designed to determine the quality of teaching and learning (Munro, 2017).  This trend has lead to schools and teachers being held accountable for what students learn and achieve within the classroom, often to the detriment of learning. Often this scenario is described as high stakes, as test scores often correlate to level of status for student, teacher and school.  Unfortunately, this accountability has inadvertently forced many teachers and schools to ‘teach to the test’ to bolster up their average scores. Teaching to the test as Popham (2001) points out is when teachers use learning activities that mimic the test conditions in that the cognitive demand is unchanged between the learning activity and the test.    

A curriculum based on content is easier to teach and to test.  Facts and figures are straightforward to assess compared to creativity and critical thinking which require understanding of nuances and emotional intelligence.  This is especially true for automated tests in which answers are displayed in a multiple choice format. But are standardised test truly identifying if learning is actually occurring?

Education is changing and it is inevitable in this information age that fundamental basis of teaching and learning practices is to prepare students for the future.  This preparation should include the opportunity to generate ideas, build creativity and encourage critical thinking as a process in order to create either a product or an idea (Markham, 2013).  Markham (2013) even goes further to suggest that skills based assessments will eventually overtake content as markers of achievement.

Skills that are easily acquired, explained, evaluated and estimated are known as hard skills.  These skills can be quantified and scaled against other people’s results. As this competence can be taught in stages, it can also be assessed with ease.  Soft skills though are harder to teach as it requires more than just rote learning (Doyle, 2019). It requires a student to actively engage with the information and using their own cognition, construct this new information into their knowledge bank in order to create something from it.  In this process of learning, students assemble their own learning content and develop a mastery of skills. Constructivist pedagogy is based upon the theory that people build or construct their own understanding of their world based upon what they already know and experience and what they discover in their learning (McLeod, 2018).  Constructivism is the foundation of inquiry learning.

Inquiry learning as defined by LEQ (n.d.) is a constructivist approach in which the goal of learning is that students construct their own meaning from the task.  As the learning is student centred, it requires the teacher to set the parameters and guide the students through the process as their motivation is intrinsic. The Melbourne Declaration of 2008 clearly describes the goals of education as enabling young Australians be successful in their learning, confident and creative in their endeavours and active and informed citizens (MCEETYA, 2008).  Therefore, this form of learning has been included into the Australian national curriculum but only recently aligned with subject areas (Lupton, 2014). Whilst the research shows the widespread benefits to inquiry learning in schools there are a several barriers into implementing this process across the country.

The main issue with the implementation of inquiry learning is that it requires the teacher to hand over control of the learning to the student.  The power of a content based curriculum lies within a teacher, and it’s entrenched traditions of ‘chalk & talk’ and ability to control learning outcomes within a prescribed time frame.  It requires the teacher to understand that each student will maximise their learning if it is their individual third space and that collaboration is essential. Another facet of this disinclination in implementing inquiry learning is that teachers can be confused as to what aspects of the content needs to be taught explicitly and what strands need to be discovered.  This is a fine art as Markham (2013) points out. In some circumstances, content is best taught explicitly before and or during an inquiry project. In other times, it can be taught at at the end of a unit as a ‘mop up lesson’ to address any learning outcomes that were accidentally missed. In some cases the skills need to also be taught such as the ability to question prior to commencing a task. This shift of educational thinking is more psychological rather than logistical.  

Inquiry learning requires teachers to work along with their colleagues and para-professionals.  Once again, it is a psychological shift in thinking that forces a teacher to realise that they are not the only font of all information but rather it is the collaboration of minds that build the best teaching and learning experiences for students.  Classroom teachers who practice inquiry learning in its entirety need to be open to collaborating with their teacher librarian and other teachers. They need to create a safe learning space for their students to engage with other members of staff and not feel like its a personal rebuke.  This can be difficult for many practitioners who through their teaching years have isolated themselves within their departmental and or classroom silos.

Inquiry learning requires redefining success within teaching and learning as measures of success cannot be simplified to a percentage or a score, but rather a demonstrated ability on a rubric (Markham, 2013).  A performance rubric that identifies a students level of expertise in an individual strand. As the current standardised testing is aimed at an individual’s ability to address content, it needs to evolve to identify student’s cognitive ability along a continuum of growth and not restricted to age levels like the current system of NAPLAN.  


Doyle, A., (2019) The hard skills employers seek. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from

The Educator (2018) Inquiry based learning: what the research says. Retrieved from

Lupton, M., (2014) Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6: a bird’s eye view. Access November 2014.

Lutheran Education Queensland (n.d.) Approaches to learning. Inquiry based learning. Retrieved from

MCEETYA (20019) MCEETYA four-year plan 2009 – 2012. Retrieved from

McLeod, S., (2018) Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Markham, T., (2013) Inquiry learning vs. standardised content: Can they coexist? KQED. Retrieved from

Munro, J., (2017) Support for standardised tests boils down to beliefs about who benefits from it. Retrieved from

Popham, W., (2001) Teaching to the test. Educational leadership. 58:6. Retrieved from