Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians

School library guru Dr Joyce Valenza has written an inspiring post entitled A Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Covering our responsibilities to students regarding:

  • reading
  • information landscape
  • communication and publishing and storytelling
  • collection development
  • facilities, your physical space
  • access, equity, advocacy
  • audience and collaboration
  • copyright, copyleft and information ethics
  • new technology tools
  • professional development and professionalism
  • teaching and learning and reference
  • into the future (acknowledging the best of the past)

this is a must read, must react, must reflect post. Thanks to Helen Boelens for directing me to this post.

DropBox

Earlier this year, The Nerdy Teacher mentioned the tool DropBox on his blog. It sounded so great that I had to try it myself.

Screen shot 2010-07-28 at 10.17.04 AM

DropBox is a free (2GB) download and enables you to share folders and/or documents with selected colleagues or friends. Rather than having to email often cumbersome files, the holder of the DropBox invites friends via email to a specific folder within the DropBox. Friends can then either add or access these files, but only within the specific folder they have been given access to. Large photo albums, powerpoint presentations or documents are quickly and easily transferred.

If you need more storage to meet your needs, there are premium accounts.

The addition of mobile DropBox apps for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android (Blackberry coming soon) means that you can sync these with your computer. You can also add more than one computer to your account; so you could access DropBox on your home and work computers as well as a mobile device.

The video on the DropBox sites explains it all in two minutes.

I can say that DropBox has been an excellent addition to my toolbox and I have used it at least once a week since March. The DropBox website states that it works on PC, Mac and Linux.

A Prescription for Healthier School Librarianship: Transforming Our Practice for the 21st Century

The brilliant Buffy Hamilton has agreed to share her presentation on A Prescription for Healthier School Librarianship: Transforming Our Practice for the 21st Century with readers of Bright Ideas.

A Prescription for Healthier School Librarianship: Transforming Our Practice for the 21st Century

As Hamilton states, the challenges we all face such as:
  • budget contraints
  • filtering
  • fear of change

Can be overcome by:

  • seeing change as an opportunity, not a threat
  • creating a participatory culture and environment
  • multiple forms of literacy
  • multiple modes of learning
  • shared knowledge construction through collaboration
  • listening, sharing and risk-taking
  • Energise your mind by plugging into your PLN

This is a presentation that is thoughtful, creative, intelligent and timely. As Hamilton states, “Libraries are in the change business”. A visit to her website, The Unquiet Librarian is highly recommended.

The many and varied roles of the teacher librarian

Carl A. Harvey II is the library media specialist at North Elementary School in
Noblesville, Indiana.

Carl A. Harvey II, a library media specialist at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana has developed a document on the expectations of teacher librarians/school library media specialists/school librarians.

Covering eleven points such as teaching, addressing new technologies, collaborating, leading, learning and innovation, this document is a great starting point for anyone who needs guidance about the diverse role of the teacher librarian.

Although US in origin, this document is relevant to Australian school libraries. However, one omission does seem to be the lack of acknowledgement of the contribution to reading programs and support.

Thanks to Keisa Williams for the heads up on this document.

Learning from the Extremes by Charles Leadbeater and Annika Wong

Learning from the Extremes is a  recently released white paper by Annika Wong and WeThink: mass innovation, not mass production author Charles Leadbeater.

A two page executive summary of this important 40 page document that focuses on schools and learning has also been released and covers these main points:

  1. Improve school:  essential but not enough
  2. Reinventing school: cracking the code
  3. Supplement school: invest in families and communities
  4. Transformational innovation: a new logic to learning

The main points relate to the thoughts that schools that are collaborating and creatively using technology are the way to go, however, reinvented schools are not enough if families and communities do not value learning.  Learning must also take place outside of the school and include parents and the community. Specific programs that ‘pull families and children to learning by making it attractive, productive and relevant’ are applauded.

The authors advocate ‘new, low-cost models for learning’ and a massive shift in education policy. They conclude:

Governments should continue to look to the very best school systems to guide improvement strategies. But increasingly they should also look to social entrepreneurs working at the extremes who may well create the low-cost, mass, participatory models of learning that will be needed in the future.

Further discussion is invited at http://www.getideas.org

In the next few decades hundreds of millions of young, poor families will migrate to cities in the developing world
in search of work and opportunity. Education provides them with a shared sense of hope. Many will be the first
generation in their family to go to school. It is vital the hopes they invest are not disappointed.
Ingrained Failure
Yet even in the developed world, education systems that were established more than a century ago still underperform,
mainly because they fail to reach and motivate large portions of the population. These ingrained
problems of low aspiration and achievement among the most disinvested communities in the developed world
are proving resistant to traditional treatment.
The Four Strategies
This report outlines four basic strategies governments in the developing and developed world can pursue to
meet these challenges: improve, reinvent, supplement, and transform.
1 Improve School: Essential but not Enough
The most obvious strategy is to spread and improve schools. By 2015 most eligible children will have a place at
a primary school. The lesson from high-performing school systems like Finland is that to get good results you
have to attract, train, and motivate good teachers and provide them with good facilities to work in.
Today, though, too much schooling in the developing world delivers too little learning. There are high rates of
teacher absence, high drop-out rates among poorer children, pupils repeating years in large numbers, high
failure rates in final exams, and low progression to further education and training. More children are going
to school for longer but too many are not learning enough. Even in parts of the developed world sustained
investment in schools and teachers has not led to expected improvements in educational outcomes.
School improvement on its own will not be enough to meet the need for learning. Relying solely on this route will
take too long. Governments must turn to more innovative strategies that will come from outside the traditional
school system.
2 Reinventing School: Cracking the Code
Different kinds of schools are needed to teach new skills in new ways. Around the world innovators such as
the Lumiar Institute in Brazil, charter schools in the United States, and independent schools in Sweden are
reinventing school. They use technology more creatively and provide more personalized, collaborative,
creative, and problem-focused learning, in schools that have as many informal spaces for learning as they
have classrooms.
3 Supplement School: Invest in Families and Communities
Even reinvented schools, however, may not be enough to change cultures in communities where formal learning
is not valued. Families and communities have a huge bearing on whether children are ready to learn at school.
Executive Summary
© 2009 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 2 of 4
That is why innovation beyond the classroom is vital to supplement schools. The Harlem Children’s Zone and
the preschool play groups run by Pratham in India are prime examples of social innovation to promote learning in
communities, outside schools, and often without formal teachers.
4 Transformational Innovation: a New Logic to Learning
However, to get learning to the hundreds of millions who want it in the developing world, transformational
innovation will be needed. Transformational innovation will create new ways to learn, new skills, in new ways,
outside formal school.
Transformational innovation is being pioneered by social entrepreneurs such as Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the
Wall and the Barefoot College in India, the Sistema in Venezuela, the Center for Digital Inclusion in Brazil, and
many others.
These programmes: pull families and children to learning by making it attractive, productive, and relevant;
often rely on peer-to-peer learning rather than formal teachers; create spaces for learning where they are
needed rather than using schools; and start learning from challenges that people face rather than from a formal
curriculum. The test of these approaches is whether they get useful knowledge into the hands of people who
need it rather than exam pass rates.
From Improvement to Innovation
To make learning effective in the future, to teach the skills children will need, on the scale they will be needed
(especially in the developing world), will require disruptive innovation to create new low-cost, mass models for
learning. Even relying on good schools will not be enough.
This means there will have to be a wholesale shift of emphasis in education policies.
School improvement is still a vital goal. But more emphasis will need to be put on innovation that supplements
school, reinvents it, and transforms learning by making it available in new ways, often using technology.
The chief policy aim in the 20th century was to spread access to and improve the quality of schooling. In the
future it will be vital to encourage entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation in education, to find new and more
effective approaches to learning.
Learning from the Extremes
That kind of disruptive innovation may well not come from the best schools. It is much more likely to come
from social entrepreneurs often seeking to meet huge need but without the resources for traditional solutions:
teachers, text books, and schools. Disruptive innovation invariably starts in the margins rather than the
mainstream.
Governments should continue to look to the very best school systems to guide improvement strategies. But
increasingly they should also look to social entrepreneurs working at the extremes who may well create the lowcost,
mass, participatory models of learning that will be needed in the future.
To join the dialog about this paper, go to www.getideas.org

Edubeacon

Camilla Elliott is a real learning leader. Her blog, Edubeacon has been informing readers for six years now, which is an amazingly long time in the relatively new world of Web 2.0. Camilla explains more about Edubeacon:

Why do we blog?  I’ve been blogging at Edubeacon.com since January 2004.  The site has gone through a name change and a platform change (starting on Blogger, then migrating to WordPress) but the purpose remains the same.  It is a place for reflection; for storing resources with explanatory notes and for sharing with others. Most bloggers will give you the same answer.

Edubeacon

‘Edubeacon’ is an extension of my website ‘Linking for Learning’ (L4L), which began life in about 1997 as ‘Staying Connected’ – an accessible place to store study resources.  L4L needs some therapy but is a patient companion.  I use it to link to my conference presentations and professional writing, thereby saving the odd tree or two and the photocopying budget.  It is also an accessible site for beginners seeking resources of relevance to Australian educators.

Blogs, wikis, personal websites and collaborative spaces, reflect the open and sharing nature of the Internet and Web 2.0 resources in particular.  Edubeacon serves as one of the cogs in my Personal Learning Network.  It provides opportunities for the occasional conversation and has had various changes of pace over the years depending on life’s pressures.

Building a Personal Learning Network is an essential professional activity in this time of constant change.  It’s a journey on which we build knowledge, collegiality and understanding with a variety of companions.  Blogging on Edubeacon is part of my  meandering learning journey.

Thank you Camilla for sharing your learning journey with the readers of Bright Ideas. Edubeacon really is a beacon of blogs; a shining light on technology and education that is thoughtfully researched and written.

Networked Schools – Classrooms Using New Technologies to Connect and Collaborate

Hear how two teachers use a variety of online environments to connect students in rural and remote schools with experienced educators.

Where: Online in Elluminate. You don’t need to leave your desk – the program comes to you.
Sign up at: http://eventactions.com/ea.aspx?ea=Rsvp&guid=2a3a72ee67194e03b3c1138c9645e2a9

When: Thursday 20 August at 4pm

Who:
Gary Schultz is a teacher of 25 years. With a career path through Physical Education, Science, Information Technology and Work Education, to developing Dimboola Memorial Secondary College teachers integration of ICT into classroom practice. Gary was awarded the 2008 Most Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the year for his work in changing the ICT culture of the college. He is currently working at the Horsham Regional Office in the position of Wimmera Virtual School Project Officer.

The Wimmera Virtual School project is a pilot project that encompasses eleven secondary colleges around the Wimmera area in the North West of Victoria. The project is attempting to address disadvantage in rural and remote schools by developing a Blended Learning model of provision. Currently there are eight VCE subjects being provided that include the use of video conferencing, online content, digital recorded content and also face-to-face teaching.

and

Adrian Camm is the Head of Mathematics at McGuire College and has responsibility for senior Mathematics and Physics. He is now taking a leadership role in promoting effective use of emerging technologies across all faculty areas. Adrian is also a member of the Powerful Learning Practice International Cohort where he engages with international educators on 21st century learning.

Adrian has created a VCE Physics Unit 3&4 Virtual Learning Community that links students across the state of Victoria to experienced educators and textbook authors. Come and learn how the initiative created opportunities for students to interact with each other, educators and knowledgeable adults in authentic learning experiences.

For more information see: http://knowledgebank.global2.vic.edu.au/2009/08/03/networked-schools-two-great-stories-from-classrooms-using-new-technologies-to-connect-collaborate/

Thanks to Tamara Carpenter from KnowledgeBank for the above text.

Archivd

Archivd is a collaborative research tool that enables users to “automatically extract images, videos, phone numbers, emails, mailing addresses, prices. Group pages by project and subject. Search the full text of every page and custom field. Research with and get feedback from your coworkers.”

Homepage
Homepage

It provides a central space for people with common interests, be they colleagues or not, to save, comment on and extract information from web pages, quickly and easily. Students working in groups on research projects could use this tool and as Archivd is available in English, French and Spanish, it could be useful for LOTE teachers and classes.

 FAQs explain more and here is a video demonstration of how Archivd can be used:

 

The people from Archivd have also provided an example of a saved search:

Example page
Example page

There is a trial version of Archivd for anyone who wants to test it out without signing up. Archivd is free, but also has premium services that do cost.

Webspiration

Do you remember Inspiration? The mind mapping tool on CD that was available for purchase in the late 1990s has now been replaced by Webspiration. A mind mapping tool on steroids, Webspiration is a free online collaborative tool that can lead students to plan and share ideas.

Introducing Webspiration
Introducing Webspiration

The Webspiration website provides more information:

 Create Diagrams and Think Visually

Use Webspiration’s diagramming environment to create bubble diagrams, flow charts, concept maps, process flows and other visual representations that stimulate and reflect your thinking. With Webspiration, you focus on developing and connecting ideas, not the drawing.

 Outline and Structure Ideas and Information

 With Webspiration’s powerful outlining capabilities, you can take notes, organize work and expand ideas fluidly to develop your writing into plans, study guides, papers, reports, and other more comprehensive documents.

 Collaborate and Share

 Webspiration makes it easy to collaborate and share documents by simply sending an invite. Everyone works on the same document, contributing, posting comments, and viewing changes. Webspiration is ideal for team projects, study groups, reviewing and commenting on documents and co-authoring materials.

 Anytime and Anywhere

 Store and access documents online without discs, drives or email. Work at home, a friend’s house, the library, your office, or the local coffee shop. Webspiration and your documents are available anywhere you have access to the internet.

Educators and administrators should also find Webspiration useful for project management. We can all learn more about how we think and how we plan as well as seeking feedback from our peers. Webspiration is a tool that enables all of these.

Thanks to the amazing Marco Torres for sharing this excellent tool.

Dimdim

Dimdim is a free web conferencing service where users can communicate quckly and effectively.

Dimdim home
Dimdim home

The Dimdim website says that its features are:

  • It’s Easy, Open & Affordable
  • No Install to Host/Join meetings
  • Easy Share Screens & Webpages
  • Audio & Video Conferencing
  • Present PowerPoint and PDFs
  • Private & Public Chat
  • Whiteboard & Annotations
  • Record and Playback Meetings
  • Open Source and open APIs

As with many of the Web 2.0 tools now available, there is the option to upgrade membership from free, basic account to a premium paid account.  The fee structure is as follows:

Anyone wanting to set up a web conference either for professional development or for schools to communicate and work collaboratively, the Dimdim free account gives users the opportunity to do this.