As school libraries forge a new future, it’s clearly apparent that no two libraries are the same. Whilst we can exchange ideas and hold discussions on ‘what works’ for us, defining the role of a school library is an exercise in knowing what is best for our own community.
Last week, at the SLAV workshop Redesigning thinking in Libraries, Hamish Curry of NoTosh guided library staff through a design thinking approach to exploring the future possibilities for their libraries and schools. With an explicit focus on the areas of Mindset, Skillset, and Toolset, delegates were led through a critical and creative process learning to think deeply and constructively. They thought through the current position of their school library and explored possibilities from different angles and through various lenses.
The room buzzed with energy as throughout the day they used words such as ‘and’, rather than ‘but’, to shake off the limitations we often place on our own thinking. Delegates learnt about ‘ideation’ and ‘actions’ and the ‘7 spaces’ concept. By the end of the day new ideas had been formed along with the conviction to put them into practice.
Hamish is an old friend of SLAV, having previously collaborated through his role in the Education Team at State Library of Victoria. The new knowledge he brought from No Tosh is timely inspiration and guidance for school library staff charged with the responsibility of re-envisaging the traditional school library service.
This Storify captures some of the Twitter feed shared via #slavconf. Thanks to delegates who tweeted from the workshop enabling the capture of this valuable record.
Hamish’s presentation is available in the member’s area of the SLAV website.
Using an image to convey a message can cement a lasting memory. Combine this image with words and you have the makings of a memorable learning experience. Tony Vincent of Learning in Hand has shared the idea of creating Infopics, a combination of image and words that combine as a thinking and analysis exercise suitable for both adult and student learning.
In his post Producing Infopics Tony provides a thorough overview of a range of mobile apps (for all systems) and standard PC applications that can be used to produce infopics. Simpler than an Infographic which generally conveys a message with a combination of statistics, images and general information, an Infopic is one image onto which you add text.
Whilst a relatively simple task, it requires you to think deeply about your image/topic and to come up with appropriate words to match. It could be a reflective Infopic as I have created in the header image using Phonto on the iPhone or you could ask students to select an image relevant to a book they have read and think of words or phrases in response to the text.
Many students will find this task challenging but with practice it has the potential for numerous applications. Tools can be as simple as a Powerpoint, Keynote or Google slides, or one of the many apps that Tony describes in inspirational post – Producing Infopics. Try producing your own, then take it into the classroom. Thanks Tony.
At the recent SLAV Conference Building a Participatory Learning Community, school library leaders Dr David Loertscher (USA) and Carol Koechlin (Canada) presented the concept of a Virtual Learning Commons. School libraries have become familiar with the model of ‘learning commons‘ which considers the library as place, an environment that enhances social interaction and cross-disciplinary learning outside the classroom. This conference transferred that idea to a virtual space in keeping with the changing nature of library services where visiting the library is no longer a necessity when online access is available.
David and Carol demonstrated the depth to which a Virtual Learning Commons can support the organisation of library resources and bring a community together. A template is provided to simplify the process of making one for your own library.
The SLAV Learning Commons includes the template and all the resources to you need to bring together learning resources, thinking skills, examples of best practice for library innovation and much more. Take time to explore these resources and you will find a wealth of ideas and support to enhance the learning experience for your school community.
Many schools, including my own, use Google Apps for Education (GAFE). As such, I was interested to discover the new partnership between one of my favourite mindmapping tools Mindmeister and GAFE. With the new MindMeister add-on, (accessible via the add-on tab within a Google Doc) users can turn any bullet-point list into a MindMeister mindmap and automatically inserts it into their document. The mindmap adopts the exact hierarchical structure used in the list and adds a visually appealing graphic to the document. It’s free and doesn’t require a MindMeister account. The map created is not editable so students need to do the thinking and planning before they convert it to a mindmap. Nothing lost however, as they can always delete and re-do if they need more details. As we are basically visual learners, this is a useful, easily accessible learning support tool. There are many, many online, collaborative mindmapping tools available. A couple of other favourites are:
- Bubble .us – ‘Freemium’ model also with full access but limit of 3 maps. Good collaborative interface.
- Wisemapping – Free, open source, collaborative and able to be embedded into websites.
- iThoughts – very popular IOS tool for iPad and iPhone
Comments and suggestions for other recommended options are welcome.