Professional Learning Resource Round Up

As we all respond to the directives and guidelines in relation to COVID – 19 our association is working hard to ensure we are doing all we can to support our members.

With some schools needing to close for indefinite periods of time there may be a need for your school library staff to indicate ways they are exploring professional learning during a period of school closure or changed operations.

To assist, we have created this post, listing a range of professional learning opportunities made available to members.

A range of presentations from past Professional Learning Events can be accessed via the SLAV Member Login page HERE.

Over the past two years we have created podcasts of all of our Reading Forum events as well recording a selection of presentations given at our major conferences. These podcasts are available to anyone online and can be accessed HERE.

Synergy is our online, research based, journal. The most recent edition of the journal is closed to members only but all other editions of the journal are made freely available in light of the Associations interest in being collegiate and supportive of the wider professional community. We encourage you to explore the wealth of information from current and past editions HERE. 

Digital issues of our publication – FYI – can be accessed HERE. 

As a SLAV member, you also have access to resources from the International Association of School Librarianship through our partner membership status. There are some wonderful resources to be accessed on the IASL website and we encourage you to find time to explore them. Login details are available on our Member Login page.

Finally, a word on our 2020 Professional Learning Calendar. As we advised in our most recent newsletter we are doing all we can to ensure we are keeping our members and presenters safe, and are responding to guidelines and directives accordingly.

Events – cancellations and postponements

Our March 23 conference has been cancelled.

The IB workshop to be held in conjunction with DATTA Vic at Kardinia College on April 16 has been cancelled.

Our May Masterclass in conjunction with LMERC – Powering Learning: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives has been moved to September 4.

Our May 29 Conference – School Libraries: Powering Primary has been moved to September 14.

The National Education Summit on August 28 and 29 at MCEC, a strand of which we are a partner in providing, has been postponed to a later date yet to be announced.

All other Reading Forums, Workshops and Masterclasses

The remainder of our program are events that are to be held in school venues. At present we are continuing to plan and offer these events on the understanding that a decision will be made a month to two weeks out from each as to whether they are to go ahead. As it is very difficult to know exactly where we will be in two months’ time this approach is hopefully the best response in unknown times.

If you have any queries about this, please contact the SLAV office on 0477 439 593 or email slav@slav.org.au

We encourage all members to stay in touch with each other in these challenging times. Our branch structure is an excellent source of local support.  We encourage you to reach out and offer collegiate advice wherever you can and to ask if you need help or assistance. Our social media platforms can also be a source of connection. Please do reach out, we are open to assisting you in any way we can.

Make the web work for you – new VicPLN course

H5546_BI

Many of you are part of the community that has grown out of the VicPLN series of online courses. With your feedback in mind, we’ve created a new course for 2015 which integrates the best of two previous courses into one:  Make the web work for you.

Make the web work for you introduces key concepts and skills in digital and information literacy, and models the use of simple and free web tools, enables people to join or create personal learning networks, and encourages everyone to play and explore online. But it’s also designed to give participants the chance to apply their learning to an authentic research task in a guided online learning experience.

The course is designed for people hoping to get more out of the web and build their confidence using technology in the workplace.

This six-unit, self-paced program covers:

  • advanced searching and information evaluation skills
  • social media for professional learning
  • web tools to help find, manage, store and share information
  • digital publishing including ebooks
  • online collaboration and networking.

We hope to keep challenging ourselves and our community to think differently about our work, how we learn and share ideas. As part of the work of a new team at the State Library Victoria focusing on learning design, we’ll be beginning to talk more about our professional learning model, Connected Inquiry.

Our new course Make the web work for you is based on the principles of Connected Inquiry, a great deal of thinking, evaluation and research. We’ve tried a few new things, we’ve done in-depth research in partnership with AITSL, and we’ve gathered really helpful feedback from course participants.

So what is Connected Inquiry about?  It’s in part a series of principles to help shape professional learning experiences that mirror the best of what we do as educators. Can an after school PD, online course or conference be built on the same principles we would an inquiry project for students – real life applications, personal relevance and curiosity? We think yes and we look forward to sharing our learning with you.

So if you’re interested in the course which begins April 20 or have any questions, you can contact us at learning@slv.vic.gov.au

Make the Web Work for You: an introduction to digital learning for school library teams and educators, 6 units over 8 weeks starting 20 April 2015.

And we’ll continue to be part of your personal learning networks: online, at SLAV conferences, and as part of the professional development program here at the State Library Victoria.

 Image credit – State Library Victoria

PLN Plus reflection – community in the making

In this guest post from Sue Osborne, Head of Library Service, Haileybury College, Brighton, she shares her experience of the recent PLN Plus course.

I was interested to do the PLN+ because I had participated in several PLN courses (two 23 things, PLN research tool kit) and I was interested in taking the things I had learned the next level. I was also interested in the idea of project work and finding other library professionals who were interested in developing similar ideas in their schools.

I found the course to be quite different from my past experience of the PLN. Firstly, it was a shorter course – only four weeks long, but it was filled with new ideas, so in terms of content it still delivered. There was also a less formal approach, with four stages rather than particular products or apps to focus on. It was more about the process of starting and growing networks, rather than specific, measurable outcomes. I found this approach disconcerting at first, but once we all started talking about our areas of interest, I took to it well.

I enjoyed the relaxed approach, self-driven learning, connecting with like-minded colleagues who wanted to be instruments of change within their organisations as well as a huge pool of ideas and tools to think about and try. I will be exploring the tools for at least the next month or so! I’ve listed my three favourite tools below.

1/ Mightybell – the platform the PLN was based in has been fantastic. It is easy to use, looks great and has greatly enhanced the learning and sharing for this course. Far superior to Edmodo, which was used in the last course. I love it. Not sure how I might use it in my work, except perhaps to set up a project group of my own down the track (not on the cards just yet)

2/ Shadow Puppet – this iPad app allowed me to take photographs and then record a narration track over a slide show. I decide when each photo comes up. It is intuitive and dead easy to use (as easy as Animoto, which I use almost constantly at work now). I am planning to use Shadow Puppet with my newly formed Middle School Library Committee. We are going to make short how-to presentations about the library catalogue, searching and so on for classes to view before they come to the Library to do research

3/ Padlet – this product let’s you set up a wall, send the link to people you want to have participate in the project/discussion and you all post ideas (a bit like post-it notes) so you can collaborate and brainstorm together. I am already using this regularly with other staff to talk about planning information literacy sessions and trying to develop a reading culture within the school

I guess the number one thing I am taking from the course is a sense of community – that we are all part of something bigger, something that can help us achieve great (or small) things. The openness of the participants has been fantastic and I think many of us will stay in touch by following each other on Twitter, or continuing to build on our Padlets or other collaborative tools.

I will also take a renewed sense of purpose in what I do, and the knowledge that I have skills and experience that other people appreciate and value, just as I value their experience and skills. The rise in my professional (and as a result, personal) self-esteem was an unexpected bonus.

Finally I plan to implement some programs in my school and document them, with the objective of sharing them via Bright Ideas, or perhaps even FYI, so that others can see what I am doing, and perhaps be inspired to try something different. I have the confidence to push myself forward and try harder, which is probably the most valuable thing of all.

Image credit: Toban Black on flickr

You can follow Sue on Twitter at @LibraryMonitor and her reviewing blog Worth Reading, Worth Sharing.

 

Talking about content curation

Rhondda Powling was part of  a group, including staff from the State Library of Victoria, who presented at SLAV ‘s ‘Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries’ on the value of personal learning networks, workflows and online tools. This guest post reflects on her presentation exploring content curation. You can find Rhondda’s blog here.

I was asked to speak about ‘Content Curation’ at a recent SLAV conference. You could say a lot about curation but I was asked to do two short sessions about ten minutes long. What to include in this brief session and what to leave out was a conundrum. I wanted the topic of curation to make sense. I tried to focus my thoughts on what I believe curation means to me. Why is it important to my learning, how do I use it with colleagues and students and why should I? So this is my experience of curation.

The phrases ‘content curation’ and ‘digital curation’ are buzz words in the online world, especially in my library networks. Although curation tools are many and varied, the approach I take when running sessions for teachers at my school is that when used properly, these tools enhance professional learning.

The AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers includes a section on Professional Engagement. The first paragraph under this is ‘Teachers model effective learning’. They identify their own learning needs and analyse, evaluate and expand their professional learning, both with colleagues and individually. One of the ways to demonstrate this kind of learning is through professional reading. It is easy to keep a record of professional reading and evidence of learning and sharing if you become a good content curator. Content curation also covers the collegial aspect.

Content or digital curation is not simply collecting links. Many teacher librarians, myself included, have been collecting links (for example: school topics, research) for years. So:

  • it’s not really a creating process as such but rather a process of sorting, arranging and then further publishing about information that already exists in the online or digital world
  • it is a process of first finding digital content that might be useful then sorting the results into the best and most relevant links, value adding with annotations and then sharing them in meaningful (organized) ways.

Good curators identify and define their topics or subjects at the outset. They then select what to keep whilst providing some context and annotation. Good curators make sure they correctly credit the sources as they offer their networks appropriate and easy access to their curated sources.

How to begin curating

Focused filtering and selection is a very important aspect of effective curation. Try to be as clear as possible about what you want. There are many ways to locate good content especially if you use social media. There are also many tools for curating. See my Google doc for some suggestions These are tools I use or others that I have seen. Some I do not use myself but they are recommended by other colleagues. Another post about curation tools that is worth looking at is 55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content, which includes an annotated list, from the TeachThought blog.

Robin Good is an expert when it comes to the topic of content curation. He has extensive knowledge of the practices and tools and his comprehensive map of content curation tools and skills is divided into key categories. There are over 250 tools in this collection, so be prepared and take it slowly.

I have found that the best way to choose a curation tool is to be as clear as possible about what you want then spend some time looking for the tool/s that best suit your needs. That means, as you begin, have a ‘play’ with different tools and evaluate them critically. Some tools offer more advanced filtering search options than others. Some are more visual. Of course, as with everything in the digital world, things may change and what works for a while may alter its perspective and/or no longer continue to meet your needs.

I use around five main tools that allow me to find information and links. I actively search for information on specific topics and follow a number of people and groups using social media who have similar interests to me. These include my Diigo groups, Scoop.it and Paper.li authors via gmail notifications and summaries. I usually get daily, but sometimes weekly, summaries sent to me.

I do not regard Twitter as a curation tool but I find it very useful (via groups and hashtags) to locate possibly useful content. If I don’t have time to read it fully, I use Diigo’s “read later” option to help me filter out what I want to annotate and keep. Twitter is also one of the ways I inform others in my networks about possible sources that may also be of interest to them. Pinterest and Scoop.it are both curation tools that I use often and they make it easy to share to other social media platforms.

When I first began I looked at what others were doing. Here are a selection of people I follow:

 by cambodia4kidsorg

I think it is important that the task of curating becomes a regular one, part of the daily routine. Beth’s suggestion about timing is a good one. I try to go through my lists most days. If, after a week I haven’t got to suggested sites, I usually delete the suggested lists, as new ones keep coming in.

My time was up. This was as far I got with my coverage of the topic. There is more I could discuss especially how it might be used to assist student learning.

I left the group with a second graphic that offers a good visual about the process of curating.

 by cambodia4kidsorg

And these videos about why it’s important to curate.

 

Image credit: Alfred E. McMicken, (1936) Greenville Public Library, [mobile library service] [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

 

Tags: You’re it!

Students and educators are embracing all the advantages of digital technology; they are writing blog posts, sharing annotated diagrams and photos, creating video clips and much, much more. Many of these digital items are being uploaded/shared in the hope of attracting an audience and engaging in real world conversations for authentic learning. So, why do some items receive a lot of attention, while others are ignored? Often it is because of the way an item has been tagged, which makes the item much more ‘findable’.

Tags are words or short phrases attached to items posted online. You might see them on blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking sites; you’ll definitely find them on social media sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook. (It’s even possible to add tags to your own Word documents and all the photos saved on your hard drive.) New media explorer and consultant, Robin Good explains them simply as:

… short keywords that define what your online digital content is all about.

Social Media Word Cloud

Social Media Word Cloud by Rubber Dragon (Flickr CC)

Why tag?

Tagging is the primary way of labelling items on Web 2.0 sites so they can be easily found when searching/ browsing, but it can also be used for:

  • organising
  • classifying
  • applying identity/ownership

While tags look like keywords, they work a little differently. Tagging is an informal system and often a personal one; tags are chosen and assigned by the creators (and sometimes the viewers). This can make a search more meaningful or less so, depending on the creator’s and user’s understandings of the tag words attached. By including tags that go beyond browser-assigned keywords, the content becomes even more accessible. On many sites, tagging is a collaborative activity, so the more people tag on an item/site, the more accessible items become and the more useful the site becomes. Tags  also increase searchability because they are normally visible on pages so can actively link users to related items with the same tags.

Smart Tagging

If you have never tagged in item before (or even if you have), here are a few tips:

  • choose tags that are descriptive
  • choose tags that are specific
  • be comprehensive (most sites allow you to tag generously)
  • think like your potential audience, choose tags effective for their searches
  • tag with singular and plural forms of a word, if relevant
  • use suggested tags, if relevant (many sites have tools that offer suggestions)
  • do a little scouting on the site you are using (eg. Flickr) to see what tags others are using to describe items similar to yours
  • do the same on Google to see what comes up (Tip: watch Google’s auto-suggestions as you type in search terms)

Understanding and using tags is a digital literacy skill that any teacher can discuss and encourage with students, and one that could generate positive results for your students’ online efforts.

What it takes to be a DIY Learner

Maria Anderson on Free Range Learning

With so much educational content now online for free, many educators are turning to DIY or free-range learning to support their professional development. It’s a great idea, but having limitless information at your fingertips does not equal learning. And simply consuming content does not mean that skills or knowledge will develop.

In this illuminating TED Talk, “Recipe for Free Range Learning”, Maria Anderson takes the audience through conditions and elements vital for successful self-directed learning.  Participating in online programs such as the Personal Learning Network can help learners meet many of the conditions Maria speaks about in her TED Talk. You can check out details of the next PLN course here.

Maria also highlights some of the common pitfalls in managing one’s learning such as info-whelm, decision fatigue and optimism bias.

This video could also be well worth viewing and discussing with students, perhaps as a springboard for further talks on time management, learning habits or future pathways learning.

School Library Plans into Actions

A Peter Drucker article read for uni many years ago ended up influencing me immensely as I started my first job running a primary school library. I was on my own, in a part-time position and was very passionate about effecting change to the service.

In the article written for Harvard Business Review, Drucker revealed that the best/most effective directors in business differed in personality, values, attitudes and styles of management but all of them were found to follow eight practices. They:

        • asked, “What needs to be done?”
        • asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”Photo by UQTR via Flickr CC
        • took responsibility for decisions.
        • developed action plans.
        • took responsibility for communicating.
        • focussed on opportunities rather than problems.
        • thought and said, “we” rather than “I”.
        • ran productive meetings.

If you translate these practices to the school library then the first two practices apply to the school library’s vision and its place within the whole school’s strategic plan. You can read more about these here.

The last three are to do with influence (which I’ll blog about later).

The middle three points are about turning those visions and goals into effective plans. 

A Word about Decisions and Communication

Most people have heard of the SMART guide for planning. They are important elements, but Drucker’s article highlights another aspect that is critical to effective plans; responsibility in the decision process.

Have you ever been in a meeting where a decision was made/a plan was approved but never got off the ground because no one was in charge or no one was accountable for certain steps? How often have we heard of something that affects us at work in a by-the-by fashion, after the decision has been made or on the grapevine instead of being included?

Responsible decision-making means you will improve your plan’s ability to succeed by:

        • making sure all of  the relevant people are involved in the decision process,
        • responsibility is taken for each aspect of the plan,
        • someone is responsible for effectively communicating about what’s going on throughout the process to all the relevant people (they may be different from the ones involved in the decisions).

Plans: Effort and Returns

Once you have your goals set and some plans in the works the next decision is, what to do first, what to do next? Prioritizing when your library is a busy place or if you are the lone Librarian is crucial.  An Action Priority matrix is a simple tool that can help you to spend your time and energy on the right things. It allows you to map your plans on the quadrant according to the amount of effort involved in relation to impact/return you’ll make (perhaps especially important when you are first trying to make an impact with your service). I like the matrix on this website; the labels and explanations are clear and relevant to any profession. There are also some excellent tips on how to score your plans and activities.

Action Priority Matrix

References

Drucker, P. (2004, June 21). Peter Drucker on Making Decisions. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from Harvard Business School website: http://ubswk.hbs.edu/archive/4208.html

The Action Priority Matrix [Fact sheet]. (2006). Retrieved February 4, 2013, from Time Analyzer website:  http://www.timeanalyzer.com/lib/priority.htm



 

New Year, New Resolution

Every year brings new challenges to school libraries; whether it is budget cuts or 1:1 technology roll-outs or something else. In the current education climate it is vital we all continue to demonstrate how our services benefit the school community and improve teaching and learning. This article is the first in a series that will focus on supporting Teacher Librarians in their leadership and advocacy roles.

 Resolution: noun. 1. A firm decision to do or not to do something. (Google definition)

I’ve been on school holidays, but like every other Teacher Librarian I’ve been making plans for the next year. I’m looking for ways to encourage students to read more and learn how to put information into their own words. I’m planning a Tumblr site for students and staff as we launch the iPad program plus a whole lot more. And now here it is – the start of a brand new term.

We all know that keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. Staying committed to new plans in the library can be just as hard. They get lost in the day-to-day scramble to meet the needs of students or staff, or they get side-tracked by other ideas that crop up. It’s easy to slip into a reactive mode of operation rather than a proactive one, and that’s not good for a school library’s image. So how do we maintain our resolution and realize our wonderful plans? First, we need to lay some foundations.

Compass

Image Credit: Compass by Walt Stoneburner on Flickr

Build a Vision, State your Mission
Have you got a vision for your school library? Visioning may sound like day-dreaming, but it is a vitally important proactive step for school libraries. The vision is how you see the library in the future, it is your inspiration. It is also how you aim to meet the future with your service.

Without a vision, things can be confusing (or worse). You may find members of the school community have out-dated perceptions of the purpose of the library, the role of the Teacher Librarian and even the relevancy of the service. Share your vision and refine it with principals, staff, students, community members; it will improve your library’s position and help it to become important to the school’s overall vision and strategic planning. Now commit to the vision with a Mission statement. (No, they are not the same thing; you’re going to need both!)

Mission statements spell out how you intend to turn the vision into reality. The statements you make in it are your approaches or strategies so think broad rather than specific for this. Once you have good mission statements, you can use them to help you prioritise and decide on goals and the actions/programs to achieve your goals.

If you’ve never written a vision or a mission statement before, there is plenty of help at hand.

 

Create Customised Resource Collections with Gooru

Gooru is a search engine you won’t want to miss if you are a Science, Math or Social Sciences teacher. It is free to use and allows teachers to create customised ‘play-lists’ of resources for their students. Gooru’s library of resources is extensive, vetted by learning professionals and includes videos, games, interactive items, texts and quizzes.
Once registered, creating your own ‘play-list’ or ‘Collection’ is an easy search, drag and drop process. Teachers will also appreciate professional touches such as the ability to include key vocabulary and learning objectives in the collection overview, and being able to add voice narration to direct students or highlight points within the collection.
The collaborative nature of the site allows teachers to use and adapt collections that other professionals have created and shared. Initially, any collections you create will default to a private setting, but once the quality of the content has been checked by the site’s experts (they are stringent about inappropriate content), Gooru encourages users to share; it is part of the growing OER (Open Education Resources) movement.

Students need to register to access collections and resources too, but are not able to create content or edit unless collaborator status is shared with them.

Perhaps the most appealing feature of all is Gooru’s ‘smart quizzes’. Students can test their understanding as they learn via enriched quizzes that can offer hints and explanations during the process. Once a quiz is taken, students receive feedback, including suggestions for further resources to enhance their understanding if needed.

Gooru is currently in beta so feedback and suggestions are welcome as they further improve the site. The website promises:

Our machine learning experts are working hard to develop and improve our algorithms and performance and deliver a truly personalized and adaptive learning experience.

Sounds like things will even get better.

 

On my desktop

In this series of posts, we ask people about the web tools and apps they use most and why. This week: the State Library of Victoria’s Online Learning Manager Kelly Gardiner, who juggles a part-time job including managing the Personal Learning Network course, plus study and writing days.

Which web tools do you use most?

I move between different computers and devices, like many people,  so the tools I use most enable seamless access to my own data and files. They include:

Dropbox – this is now so integrated into my life I don’t even notice it. I store all my active files there and can access them from home or uni, or work on documents on the train.

Evernote – I use it to gather research notes and resources, divided into different notebooks and notebook stacks.  Like Dropbox I have it installed on every device I own.

Chrome –  We take our browsers for granted, but they are useful tools in themselves.  Chrome now synchs bookmarks (so does Firefox) which is a huge breakthrough. I also constantly use the free extensions that enable clipping web articles to Evernote, Bitly for shortening links, Add This for sharing resources to social media, and Nanny for locking myself out of tempting sites like Twitter while I’m trying to write.

Elephant logo for Evernote

 

What’s your preferred social media network?

Twitter for professional network and a constant stream of resources and information (except during #eurovision). Facebook pages and groups are great for engaging with people, and I use my personal facebook profile for connecting with friends and family. It’s important for me, like educators, to keep a clear distinction between personal and professional profiles and audiences.

I use WordPress for my personal blog and tumblr for shorter-term project-based blogs, partly because it’s so easy to reblog images other people have posted.

And I must admit I adore Pinterest for gathering and sharing resources – it will be very intersting to see how it develops in the coming months.

Hootsuite helps me manage multiple social media profiles across different platforms such as Twitter, facebook, facebook pages. Tweetdeck does the same, but I like how Hootsuite allows me to set up a whole lot of tabs with streams, for the different compartments of my life (eg work, tech updates, conferences, etc). You can save a Twitter list, or a hashtag, or a person’s feed  as a stream. You can also schedule posts and retweets which I try to remember to do before I leave home, so as to not to bombard people with ten at once.

Owl logo for Hootsuite

 

What do you do when you arrive at work in the morning?

First, a very strong coffee. I look at Yammer, which we use for internal communications, then my email inbox. I set reminders on emails that I need to follow-up, so if there’s anything that needs attention I see to that.

We use Global2 blogs to run the PLN course, along with a facebook group and Twitter for communication. On the admin side, we use Google Reader to monitor the participants’ blog posts, and we store our shared admin tools and spreadsheets in Google Docs – we’re going to look at using other tools like Edmodo more in future. So if it’s my turn on PLN roster, I log into all of those and get cracking.

I tweet on behalf of the Library as @SLVLearn, so I also check the #VicPLN and #edtech streams early and at intervals through the day. For that, I use Tweetdeck.

 Favourite app?

My favourite mobile app is Passwords & PINs because of all these damn web tools and their different log-in requirements.