Redesigning thinking in school libraries


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.

Creating a Virtual Learning Commons



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.



Futurelab free handbooks: digital literacy and innovation

Futurelab are offering free access to digital editions of some of their digital literacy and innovation handbooks. This offer includes:

  • Futures Thinking Teachers PackFutures Thinking Teachers Pack

    Increasingly, collaboration is seen as important in creative learning. This handbook sets out some recommendations for ways in which digital technologies could be designed and used to support creative collaboration in the classroom.

    This free resource supports teachers and learners to develop approaches to exploring the future that are not about making predictions, but about considering possible, probable and preferable futures in order to support action and decision making in the present.

    pdf version (pdf, 2.9MB)

    • () (pdf, 1MB)

    May 2010

  • digital literacyDigital literacy across the curriculum

    March 2010

    This handbook introduces educational practitioners to the concepts and contexts of digital literacy and supports them in developing their own practice aimed at fostering the components of digital literacy in classroom subject teaching and in real school settings.

  • Home-school relationships handbookDeveloping the home-school relationship using digital technologies

    March 2010

    This handbook introduces key issues around home-school relationships to provide schools with a framework in which to consider how to support these relationships, and how to navigate the challenges afforded by the use of digital technologies in this field.

  • Thinking SpaceThinking Space

    January 2010

    This workshop resource aims to support people who are thinking about, or currently undertaking, redesign and rebuild projects. It provides a set of activities, tools and techniques that can be used to facilitate workshop sessions.

    pdf version

  • Digital inclusion handbookUsing digital technologies to promote inclusive practices in education

    April 2009

    This handbook provides educators with guidance on using digital technologies to promote inclusive practices, case studies of current practice, and a directory of resources.

  • Curriculum and teaching innovationCurriculum and teaching innovation

    April 2009

    Aimed at educational leaders involved in curriculum and teaching innovation, this handbook provides guidance for exploring the potential of personalisation to transform curriculum design and teaching practices.

  • Reimagining outdoor learning spaces handbookReimagining outdoor learning spaces

    January 2009

    This handbook focuses on the use and utility of outdoor space for play and learning, and aims to support those thinking about redesigning their outdoor spaces as part of the Primary Capital Programme or other initiatives.

  • Promoting transformative innovation in schoolsPromoting transformative innovation in schools

    November 2008

    This handbook aims to offer evidence, insights, ideas and recommendations that can be built upon to support and nurture a culture of transformative innovation within education.

  • Designing educational technologies for social justiceDesigning educational technologies for social justice

    April 2008

    This handbook explores the role that digital technologies can play in reducing inequality in education, and offers guidance on designing resources or projects to promote social justice.

  • Learning with handheld technologiesLearning with handheld technologies

    December 2006

    A guide for those considering handheld technologies for teaching and learning purposes, with case studies illustrating the potential of handheld technology for learning, and a wide survey of projects in this area.

  • Learner voiceLearner voice

    August 2006

    Despite the vast number of changes in education in recent years, learners are seldom consulted and remain largely unheard in the change process. If education is to become more personalised, then learners must be heard.

  • Games and learning (Myst image courtesy of Cyan Inc)Games and learning

    October 2005

    There’s an increasing interest in the potential role of computer and video games to support young people’s learning, and recent studies have begun to ask how games might be used or adapted for use in schools. This handbook reports on some of the latest developments.

  • Building collaboration between designers and researchersBuilding collaboration between designers and researchers

    April 2005

    How can research on teaching and learning be used to improve the design of e-content? This report uses case studies to illustrate a range of collaborations; a directory of educational researchers is also available.

  • Designing with usersDesigning educational technologies with users

    September 2004

    There is concern about the separation between developers of digital educational resources and those who use them – teachers and learners. This handbook suggests ways in which the communities might work together to create more effective and relevant resources.

  • Creativity and collaboration handbookDesigning technologies to support creativity and collaboration

August 2004

Certainly worth a look. Just beware that the print versions do cost, so look for the free digital downloads.

Educators’ Guide to Innovation ning

This ning is a “professional network for those interested in innovative practices happening in education.” The Educator’s Guide to Innovation ning is part of action research by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Innovation and Next Practice Division.

Screen shot 2010-08-23 at 9.00.06 AM

The ning has rich content, which includes:

  • event listings
  • forums
  • blog posts
  • links to free Elluminate sessions
  • archives and links to Elluminate session recordings

Anyone who is an educator and/or is genuinely interested in innovative practice in education is welcome to join.

SLAV Web Elements Engaged Project

For Victorian Schools only.

Are any of your students and teachers involved in using interesting and innovative online tools?

Have you been working with students and teachers on copyright, creative commons and Intellectual property?

Are you interested in helping your students to build online resources to share their discoveries with others? If you answer YES to any or all of the questions above then the SLAV Web Elements Engaged project might be for you. We need a number of schools to be involved in the development of online video/audio resources to help share knowledge, skills and links that make use of online technologies and help educate others about copyright and IP.

Being part of the project will provide schools with:

  • on-site professional development activities for teachers,
  • some additional equipment and software, and
  • the opportunity for your students to create online resources for other students.

Those involved in the project will also become part of an online community where project resources, ideas and learnings will be shared, discussed and reviewed.

The following are some of the areas we would like to cover as part of the project:

  • Basic Searching Skills
  • Searching skills explored
  • Creative Commons basics
  • Creative Commons – classroom application
  • IP for schools
  • Online Safety
  • Digital Publishing Tools
  • Digital Publishing Responsibilities
  • Google Tools
  • Google Forms
  • Google Docs and Collaboration
  • Google Sites
  • Animoto
  • Wall Wisher
  • Glogster
  • Copyright Free Images
  • Copyright Free Audio/Video
  • Mind Maps
  • ccMixter
  • Evernote
  • Edmodo
  • Prezi
  • Social Bookmarking
  • VoiceThread
  • Avatars
  • Please Note this is not a definitive list and if your school has been working on other areas we would love to hear and see what you have done. If you are interested in being involved please fill out the following online form.

If you are interested in being involved please fill out the following online Expression of Interest Form.

Expressions of Interest close: Monday 13th September 2010
To send any additional information including audio or video clips to show us what you have done, please contact the SLAV office on phone: 9349 5822 or email: for uploading instructions.

Timeline: Project will run from September 2010 until May 2011.

DEECD Innovation Showcase

Recordings and Presentation Materials from the 2010 Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Innovation Showcase have just been released.

Katrina Reynen, the General Manager of the Department’s Innovation and Next Practice Division has shared the following information about the Showcase:

The 2010 Innovation Showcase, staged in May, exhibited a wide range of innovative practices from inspiring teachers and early childhood workers.

Recordings of each session along with their accompanying presentation are now available online.

With 36 presentations on innovative practices – from iPod touches to play based learning – and three inspiring keynote speeches, the online resources from the 2010 Innovation Showcase have something to interest everyone.

Some stand outs from the event included:
To continue to connect with the inspiring Innovation Showcase presenters and take part in further discussions about innovative practice, join the Educators Guide to Innovation ning.
You can listen to and view any or all of the presentations at your leisure. They are certainly well worth the time invested. Hopefully they might inspire you to implement your own innovations.

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

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
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

IASL Conference focuses on role of school libraries in preparing pupils for the future

From the UNESCO site comes the following report from the IASL 2009 conference:

11-09-2009 (Padua)
UNESCO participated in the 38th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL), which concluded last week in Padua, Italy. This year’s theme, School Libraries in the Picture: Preparing Pupils and Students for the Future, highlighted the increasingly important role of school libraries to equip students in the 21st century with the abilities to use information effectively and develop critical thinking and life-long learning skills that are essential to responsible citizenship.
While the significant contributions of school libraries to student learning have been demonstrated over the years, in the rapidly changing and competitive environment of the 21st century, the role of school libraries has shifted from one of technical work to intermediation, from conservation to innovation, and from reactive user-trainer modes to proactive teacher-trainer modes.
IASL is a professional association that provides an international forum for those interested in promoting effective school library programmes as viable instruments in the educational process.

This was the main theme of this year’s Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship that gathered more than 300 school librarians, teachers, library advisers, educational administrators, students and others who are responsible for library and information services in educational institutes from around the world.

School librarians will therefore be increasingly contributing to UNESCO’s mandate for building knowledge societies. In particular school libraries will play a key role as catalysts for the introduction of media and information literacy policies in schools by engaging both students and teachers to acquire a combination of skills, competencies, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.

The topics discussed at the Conference are closely connected with UNESCO’s work on a teacher-training curriculum for media and information literacy to be introduced worldwide. The curriculum aims to integrate media education and information literacy in the initial training of teachers at secondary school levels, and will be designed according to the needs of each country.


Futurelab: is a not-for-profit group from the United Kingdom. Their goal is innovation in education and their website states:

Who are we and what we do

Futurelab is passionate about transforming the way people learn. Tapping into the huge potential offered by digital and other technologies, we develop innovative resources and practices that support new approaches to learning for the 21st century. A not-for-profit organisation, we work in partnership with others to:

Futurelab homepage
Futurelab homepage

Futurelab has a range of resources for educators. There are pages on:

  • projects (includes research data)
  • resources
  • events

Some of the projects include Games and learning, Design challenge and Innovate to educate.

Games and learning
Games and learning

Futurelab is a portal to all things innovative in education. Well worth a visit and reflection on how these ideas could be used in our classrooms. Not all projects are current, but the ones that have been completed are usually accompanied by research data and reports on the efficacy of the project.