Make the web work for you – new VicPLN course

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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

Your library, your career – SLAV / SLV forum

On Friday 16 May, School library Association of Victoria, in conjunction with the State Library of Victoria, held a forum to explore the role of individuals working in a school libraries and the importance of their personal approaches to the position.  Entitled Your Library, Your Career : Manage, advocate and create change for a dynamic school library and fulfilling career, over 100 delegates ranging from teacher-librarians and librarians to technicians attended, once again indicating the diverse range of professionals working in school libraries. This Storify captures the #slavconf Twitter feed of the day, capturing conversations and knowledge sharing made possible beyond the actual forum venue through social media.

Three keynotes addressed the topic: Advocacy, vision, community and personal responsibility in the management of the emerging model of school libraries Justine Hyde, Director Library Services & Experience Directorate, spoke from a State Library of Victoria perspective on The Library as the centre of the community.  Justine outlined the transformation that has occurred in recent years as the result of research, planning and innovation to produce a 95% increase in use of the library by the public.  The journey continues for the State Library as they transform services to include more public involvement with an eye to new inclusive technologies through their website and programs.

Christine McAllister, Acting Manager Libraries & Learning, Brimbank Libraries shared the experience of Building a Learning Community.  Christine discussed Brimbank’s ‘Programs Framework’; a tool the library service uses to ensure programs are strategically targeted to support the community’s learning, leisure and lifestyle needs and enhance social and economic outcomes.  She illustrated the importance of designing specifically targeted services and building the skill capacity of staff.  This advice resonated with school library staff especially those who have participated in the SLV PLN (Personal Learning Network) program.

Library Teams 2.0: leveraging your Personal Learning Network for growth and innovation, presented by Camilla Elliott, Head of Library/eLearning Coordinator Mazenod College, focussed on the role of the individual within the library team.  It explored the necessary components and the ability to gain value by leveraging the tools, community and ideas within an environment that develops ownership, a sense of belonging and the confidence to act.  Success relates directly to individual attitudes however, leadership and a vision are essential.

Dr Carol Gordon, recently retired library educator of Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, challenged delegates to consider the today’s important challenges for school libraries by exploring the School Library as a Model for Educational Reform.  Carol emphasised equity of instruction and sustainability as critical criteria for the conceptualisation of viable school libraries.  Ranging from inquiry-based learning to reading and literacy programs, she also reminded us of the vigour required within school library programs, the need for tracking of programs to ensure equal access for all students.  Carol had a busy week while here in Victoria, conducting workshops at SLAV branches in Mafra and Wangaratta, and at John Fawkner College.

Suzette Boyd, also recently retired, gained a reputation for innovation and leadership throughout her career as a secondary teacher librarian.  Through Your Library, Your Career: a Case Study, Suzette challenged delegates to aim to be the cultural and educational hub of the school.  She provided a reflection toolkit to support this journey and shared a case study of her own career to inspire those present to reinvent and rebrand the library and its staff.  Suzette emphasised the need to know your team and its capabilities, the importance of building connections and trust with students and teachers and, most importantly, the principal.

The forum rounded off with the SLAV/SLV team moving into experimental territory and trialing an unconference session.  Ever conscious of the value of peer sharing, the unconference model invites delegates to write onto a ‘sticky note’, a topic they would like to know more about.  They are then put together in teams of like-minded individuals for discussion and information exchange.  The experiment was a success and delegates can look forward to more opportunities for informal learning at future SLAV events. Finally, two important and exciting initiatives launched at the forum were:

  • The new SLAV website www.slav.org.au introduced by website manager Joy Whiteside.
  • The SLAV mentoring program, introduced by Dr Susan La Marca, which will involve experienced members in providing support and advice to newly qualified SLAV library professionals.  Details will be available through the ‘members’ section of the SLAV website.

Please note: Presenters papers and presentations will be available shortly in the Professional Learning section of the new SLAV website.

PLN Plus – be the change you want to see

Kelly Gardiner, Online Learning Manager at the State Library of Victoria, is a well-known voice in the VicPLN community, particularly in relation to professional learning for educators and librarians. This post introduces the guiding questions that underpin the new PLN+ course, beginning on the 11th March.

We’ve been wondering: what’s the next logical step for people who’ve done the VicPLN course?

Last year, we found out. With support from AITSL, we carried out some research into impacts of the VicPLN courses. Many of you participated in that. The thing is that a startling number of people report that the course changes their practice. And once that’s happened, what do they do?

They – you  – start to enact whatever changes seem most needed in your immediate world or beyond. It might be changes to the way you do your work, the way you collaborate with colleagues, the interactions with students, simple process or system fixes, big initiatives.

It’s about leading change.

Now, we’re not all Joan of Arc.

But it seemed clear to us that after the initial PLN courses, people then need the skills, tools and resources to enable them to enact the kinds of change they want to see – in their workplace, in their classroom or library, in the wider school community, in professional networks, in disciplines, or the broader systems and structures.

How do you become an advocate for literacy or simply for more resources? How do you collaborate to create new professional networks or share ideas or raise funds? How do you involve the wider community in learning? How do you create programs that pass on what you’ve learned to students?

How do you define what you want to do, attract support, design and manage projects?

How do you keep on learning, when you have so much to do already?

And what does that mean about our VicPLN network – what do you need from it now?

We can’t promise to answer all of those huge questions in a few weeks. But let’s make a start, shall we?

If you’d like to take part in the course (and maybe change the world just a bit) you can find out more here or email learning@slv.vic.gov.au  to book a place.

PLN Plus March 2014

In March the State Library of Victoria will begin a new kind of PLN program, PLN Plus.

PLN Plus is designed for teacher librarians and educators who want to find out how to effect change in their schools and learning communities. The program will run for four weeks and will involve a group project where participants work with like minded people on a passion project – what is the one thing you would change if you could? It could be a practical endeavour like getting your school blogging, or look beyond to setting up TeachMeet-style programs and community building.

Each week participants will be introduced to relevant new tools and online environments and also have the opportunity to engage with inspiring educators and librarians who have made change happen in their schools and broader communities. We will also discuss theories and research that inform the concept of networked learning and key trends in education looking to the future.

You can register to take part in this course, but numbers are limited. For more information visit the State Library of Victoria website, PLN Plus page.

Influence and Enchantment

As part of a new series on advocacy in school libraries, regular Bright Ideas contributor Catherine Hainstock shares her reflections on how school librarians can assert their place at the heart of the school.

The School Library Association of Queensland in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology has recently published research on the important contribution that school libraries and teacher librarians make to literacy development. This excellent report reinforces the findings of decades of research on the positive influence a well-resourced library with a qualified teacher librarian has on student achievement.

I read this report in tandem with Guy Kawasaki’s book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions”. His book is about promotion and customer service and even though a school library is not a business, I believe it’s a useful model to explore. At the end of the day, as a teacher librarian I feel I am here to help others. The better our service, the better the result. I am also interested in how we promote what we do because no matter how much research is released, how well supported a school library is, how well it is resourced, or how qualified the teacher librarians are, there is no immunity from decisions to down-size or side-line a library service.

We must make our contribution to school life and student outcomes evident and our influence felt by everyone who comes into the library. Kawasaki’s book helped me understand that my ultimate goal is not about improving customer service, it’s about enchanting people with our service.

[Enchantment] is more than manipulating people to help you get your way. Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.

— Guy Kawasaki

Kawasaki’s book goes right back to basics (and that’s not a bad thing). He reveals the foundation of enchantment as ‘Likeability’. You can’t enchant people if they don’t like you or your service. (I still haven’t forgot the tyrannical librarian in the public library when I was a child!) Those lady-dragons in pearls may be extinct now, but we want students and teachers not just using our services, but raving about them. Here’s a short list of points from the book that I found relevant to school Library/Information Services (and check out this infographic for more):

  • smile (and be polite)
  • accept others (and sometimes give them a break)
  • get close (get out of the library and make contact)
  • project your passions/find shared passions
  • create win-win situations
  • adopt a Yes attitude

Kawasaki also points out that likeability only goes so far – people need to be able to trust you and your service. In a chapter on the importance of trustworthiness there’s some excellent food for thought about:

  • focussing on  goodwill
  • living up to and fulfilling promises
  • giving people the benefit of the doubt
  • the importance of expertise and competence  (like keeping abreast of basic ICT skills for us)
  • showing up (physically and virtually interacting with our clientele)

Reading these two publications at the same time brought into focus the influence we have (or can have) as teacher librarians and how important it is that we recognise and actively cultivate opportunities no matter how big or small.

We used to say the library was the heart of the school; a place for students to learn, inquire, read and enjoy. But with all the technological changes occurring in education, school libraries are no longer contained within four walls. Perhaps the focus can finally shift from the physical space to the real heart of the library – teacher librarians and the services they provide. Over the next few posts, I hope to explore the idea of teacher librarians at the heart of the school. I’d like to reflect on what that can mean for us and how we can continue to grow our influence.

Other posts in this series:

Image Credit: (ca. 1910),  Interior of The Queen’s Hall, showing a member of staff sitting at the Enquiries window, State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

Global Education Project

In this guest post Heath Graham (Project Officer for the Geography Teachers’ Association of Victoria) introduces resources and webinars for the Global Education project. 

The Global Education Project is an AusAid-funded initiative, designed to encourage teachers to take a global perspective in the classroom across all learning areas. The Global Education website features teaching activities, videos, image galleries and other resources. Resources cover a range of Global issues including Water & Sanitation.

The Victorian branch of the Global Education Project is hosting a series of webinars on range of global education topics. The first session covers Primary level resources on the topic of water, to coincide with the International Year of Water Cooperation. The second session gives a general introduction and overview of the global learning emphases and their application in the Primary classroom.

Webinar details:

Global Education And The International Year Of Water Cooperation

August 6, 2013 from 3:45pm to 5:15pm Session details

Global Perspectives in the primary classroom: building global citizens

August 7, 2013 from 3:45pm to 5:15pm Session details

These sessions are hosted in Blackboard Collaborate. If you have not used Blackboard before, DEECD have set up a Virtual Conference Centre to help you get started:

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/support/Pages/vcc.aspx

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.

 

The value of shares

There was an interesting development last week in the United Kingdom, where Education secretary Michael Gove gave a speech addressing a perceived lack of relevance and rigour in school education.

A key talking point of the speech was Gove bemoaning the way “proper history teaching is being crushed under the weight of play-based pedagogy which infantilises children, teachers and our culture.” Gove gave the example of an activity aimed at Year 11 students that asked them to create a picture book about the rise of Adolf Hitler in the style of Roger Hargreaves’ iconic Mr Men books.

History teacher Russel Tarr, who is the creator of the particular activity, responded to Gove’s claims. Tarr outlined the way the ‘Mr Men’ activity is used as a revision and consolidation task. Tarr’s response is well worth reading as it explains the methodology behind the task and student reactions to the activity.

Whatever your feelings about the task itself, the incident highlights the impact of technology on the professional practice of educators. In publishing the lesson Russel Tarr has not only shared a resource that may be useful to other educators, but he has also been drawn into a debate about the value of the particular lesson. I don’t think that is what Michael Gove intended when he made the point in his speech, but Tarr’s transparent approach to curriciulum design and his willingness to not only share but to also explain his rationale sets a great example for all educators.

Too often it is easy to feel protective or even defensive of our work and practice. I know when I first began teaching I would have been terrified of another teacher coming in and watching one of my classes. I’d make the most of resources created by others, but not want to share what I had developed. Often this comes from an irrational belief that we are not good enough, or that we need to be in the profession for a long time before we can share with other professionals. But however tempted we are to cover up the classroom windows or keep our resources to ourselves, it’s important to put our work out there.

This also applies to sharing online. Being able to publish our work opens us up to a whole range of other educators who not only can benefit from what we have done, but also help us to reflect on the efficacy of the tasks we create. For many people it might not feel natural to put this online. It can take a while for some to become active in online communities, and that’s okay too. But as we become more comfortable with those in our learning network we can become more willing to share. It’s challenging for some, but the benefits far outweigh the perceived drawbacks.

Even in the case of Russel Tarr, whose lesson plan became national news, we can see that a potentially negative experience can also be made into a positive. Tarr mentions that in a week that was ‘the strangest of [his] professional career’ he also received plenty of support from his colleagues and fellow professionals online. His blog response indicates that not only will he continue to share his work, but also continue to reflect upon his own professional practice. It’s an attitude to be commended.

Image Credit: W. Edmends, (1926) Bell Street School [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection

Bamboo Dirt: I need a digital research tool to …

Whenever we are faced with learning new skills or new methods we tend to focus on the tools. However, when we shift our focus from  the tools to what can be done with them, real transformation occurs. Mastery and success become possible; it’s the same whether you are learning to paint with oils or teach research skills at a 1:1 netbook/iPad/BYOD school.

Bamboo Dirt is an online registry created to help educators make that shift. Its focus is on research tools and the Bamboo Dirt search function is organised around the idea of purpose.

Bamboo Dirt’s home page offers lots of browsing categories based around tasks. Categories include:

  • visualise data
  • organise research materials
  • manage tasks
  • manage bibliographic information
  • communicate with colleagues
  • author an interactive work
  •  build and share collections

Users can also search or browse by keyword, tags, recommended resources, and new resources. Each result has a short description plus information on cost, licensing and platforms.

You can make the site even better by joining and contributing. Registration is free and members can:
  • add resources
  • review them
  • comment/describe how you have used a tool
  • recommend good resources and those appropriate for beginners
  • submit tips and tricks to help others understand the value of the tool
This service is an ongoing collaborative effort between Bamboo Partner Institutions (UC Berkeley, UChicago, UW Madison), Bamboo affiliates (University of Alabama, NINES), and individuals dedicated to helping connect people with digital resources. It’s a welcome addition to any educator’s  research toolkit.

 

New Libguides from the State Library of Victoria

Librarians at the State Library of Victoria answer complex reference questions for patrons everyday, whether it be onsite, via email or on the phone.

After years of experience with the questions people bring to the collection, reference librarians have developed over forty library guides looking at specific research topics.

The guides are aimed as a one-stop shop for subjects like bushfires in Victoria, court cases in Australiaearly Australian census records and more.

Each libguide gives background information on the topic and the Library’s holdings, key resources and related web links.

Recently published guides include:

And if you’re wondering what a reference librarian at the State Library does when they get an inquiry, here’s a video about the process.