SLAV Connects is a blog by the School Libraries Association of Victoria (SLAV), formerly named Bright Ideas when a collaboration between SLAV and the State Library of Victoria (SLV). Its aim is to share news from the Association and to encourage teacher librarians, librarians, school library staff, educators and all interested persons to actively engage with the school libraries, to share tools and experiences; to network on a global scale; and to embrace dynamic teaching and learning opportunities.
Earlier this year, The Nerdy Teacher mentioned the tool DropBox on his blog. It sounded so great that I had to try it myself.
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.
As Hamilton states, the challenges we all face such as:
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.
Carl A. Harvey II is the library media specialist at North Elementary School in
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.
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:
Improve school: essential but not enough
Reinventing school: cracking the code
Supplement school: invest in families and communities
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.
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
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
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.
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’ 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.