18 June 2006

Enabling Learning in Today's World

Last week all members of the Catholic Education Office had the opportunity to hear/see a presentation of the new Executive Director, Gregory Whitby.

Mr Whitby's presentation was inspiring for the vision that it communicated in relation to delivering education for the future. There is much written about future learning, and new frameworks to embrace, and all are critical to the shape of learning and how we should be developing it. I have been sharing with you some of these ideas in our network meetings, as well as exploring them in more detail on this blog and on my own professional learning blog.

Mr Whitby reminds us that learning and teaching is a:
  • relational process
  • collaborative and contextual processes
  • demanding and intellectually rigorous
  • time and space non-dependent
These are not cliches, but core to the very essence of our teaching framework. We need to talk about these further. But learning that is time and space non-dependent as well as collaborative is everything that is Social Networking (see the paper from FutureLabs) and the 'remix' that is Web 2.0.

I was greatly encouraged to hear our Executive Director throwing out the challenge to us all. In fact, it is a real buzz to be working in an education environment that recognises the future directions of the lives of our digitally native students, and which encourages exploration of the possibilities.

In response to requests from TLs at the last round of network meetings, and to help further the knowledge of social networking and Web 2.0, I will be organising further inservices on Blogging, Social Bookmarking, and other Social network tools such as Flickr, RSS News Readers etc. If you missed the network meetings, but have a special request - just let me know.

Form Follows Function - this slide from the presentation positions education with a different set of questions....

What if....
  • students weren't grouped in uniformly sized 'classes'?
  • students weren't expected to move from one room to another almost identical to the last. What might schools look like?
  • multidisciplinary teams of professionals took corporate responsibility for a cohort of students?
  • students owned every hour?
  • study spaces were designed and furnished for collaborative as well as individual work?
  • older students were not always required to be physically present in order to be "attending"?
  • if ICT infrastrucuture and portable devices were ubiquitous?

Reading Promotion

Monica McQueen, TL at the International School Of Luxembourg, shares her reading promotion tips with subscribers of the ECIS listserv. I thought I would share her tip with you all, as you might like to try this out for yourselves:
Here is a great resource to promote good books for summer reading. It's a website with video clips of famous authors (Eoin Colfer, Anne Fine, Terry Pratchett, etc.) giving book talks about books they have written.

I have been displaying all the books we have in the library which are featured on the website, and then playing the videos for our 5th graders and letting them take the books that interest them.

For children's & younger YA books, under "Category" choose "Children's" and then you can sort by title or author.


17 June 2006

MySpace and Information Literacy

Half an Hour: Adults and MySpace

I am regularly being asked "what shall do we do about MySpace?". Michael Downes writes an extensive reflection on emerging issues being raised by online forums such as MySpace. He raises many issues. , many of which are particularly relevant in relation to values education in our schools and our responsibility to help develop emotional intelligence and personal resilience in our students.

"The dirty little secret is that we as a society are all up in arms about MySpace not because it’s not safe but because it’s making visible the extent to which we are failing our kids."

He also touches on a completely different message of importance - information literacy in a digital environment.

"My own observation, though, is that people who spend more time online are more able to deal with these issues, that the people who accept things uncritically - especially when presented from an authoritative source - are those who are uneducated and those who are mostly offline.

In other words, what I am saying is that my own observation suggests that prolonged exposure to the internet makes someone more able to reason critically, not less. And in my more cynical days I suggest that it is this increased capacity to reason that is sparking concern among some adults."

These and other issues need to be discussed in depth, and an appropriate response developed by us and our schools if we are to meet our educational responsibilities in the new digital arena.

15 June 2006

The Library: Next Best Thing....

What we shouldn't forget while we develop our libraries to respond to the full digital age requirments, is the intrinsic and practical value that libraries have always offered - particularly in supporting information seekers.

Across the country, public libraries are giving would-be entrepreneurs a helping hand with resources and expert guidance.

From Business Week Online comes an interesting read about the very relevant role that Public Libraries play in the business world. How do School Libraries fit into that picture?

13 June 2006

Top Three Dangers for Libraries in the Digital Age

I have just picked up a good read from Doug Johnson, the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Public Schools since 1991. Doug recently spent 10 days in Australia touring with his son, but in between the fun he spoke at the Queensland Library Conference on June 5.

Doug is a visionary, and completely responsive to the challenges of the global digital agenda.

He says:

"I would suggest three factors that are creating a dangerous “perfect storm” of societal changes that will impact libraries. Only by actively addressing the challenges each of these dangers pose will libraries survive and thrive. Here are the winds of crisis that are buffeting us:

1. The growing digitization and portability of information.
2. Emerging fundamental changes in the nature and sources of information.
3. The critical need for new skills for workers in a global economy"

His paper takes a look at each "dangerous" trend in turn, and then looks at some strategies that may help libraries and librarians use these winds to propel us in new directions rather than capsize us.

A comprehensive 23 page read! If you weren't aware of, or thinking about, the changes and our need to respond to them "big time", then you will be by the end of this paper!

Doug has made available his supporting-notes for that presentation here.

10 June 2006

Social Software and Learning

Recently I was alerted to a particularly good paper on the topic of Social Software- which also looks closely at the 'shape' of learning as a result of the transformation in the technology environment of our students.

I have posted a message about this on heyjude.

07 June 2006

Copyright in the Digital Age

The recent seminar presentations for Copyright Agency Limited's Copyright in the Digital Age series are now available http://www.copyright.com.au/seminar_papers.htm

You can also download any of the information sheets provided at the seminar, including Protecting and Offering work in the Digital Environment at http://www.copyright.com.au/information.htm

The Latest from "Bib Blog" - Weekly News

I have been experimenting in developing our Bib Blog as a communication tool for all. You will notice that Bib Blog now has several RSS feed buttons (for those who know how to use them) and also a Subscribe by Email box.

You may wish to subscribe to Bib Blog via email - and then any messages will appear in your email box when there is an addition to Bib Blog. As my own groupwise email is set to HTML (ask your LTST how to set this), the message I receive looks just like it does on the Blog.

At this point in time, however, it doesn't show the comments. I am going to experiment with the Comments settings, to see if we can have that also coming to you via email, for those who want to go with this option.

Subscribing by email is a neat trick for using Blogs as a communication tool. The email option is a great way to distribute information as well as keeping a running record of discussions.

If you decide to give email a go - let me know how it works. But for now, you will have to link back to read the actual Bib Blog to have access to comments and feedback.

06 June 2006

Online Cool on a Budget!

A great article from Information Today Inc

New online tools make it easy—and cheap—to go beyond the basics, letting your library show its best side and appear as dynamic, interesting, and relevant in cyberspace as it is in physical space. Here are a few free and low-cost options that any library can use; pick and choose those that seem most interesting and relevant for your community. (Some of these brief overviews will be followed by lengthier discussions in future columns, but you don’t have to wait for us. Just jump on in!)

Read "Online Cool on a Budget" here.

So You've got an Interactive Whiteboard?

What now??

I found this very good summary of research into the use of IWB from the Technology School of the Future - lots of information and ideas, plus survey tools and links.

Read it here. Might be of interest to IWB schools or those aspiring to have them. The rest of the site might also be useful.

05 June 2006

Introduction to Blogging

Despite the dismal rainy day, a good group of people gathered in the CEO training room on Monday morning to take part in our first short workshop called "Introduction to Blogging". We were able to go through the basics of starting off and managing a Blog using Blogger.

This was just the beginning - but already some of the group have ideas of what they will be doing at school, or within the community group. I hope people keep me informed about.... how they go, what they suceed with, what sort of responses they get, what they change, and what they discover about teaching and learning in the process.

The short couse was just a taster. But for those who attended, and for those who are ready to get started alone, I have placed a good selection of resources to help you along the way. You will find them in a document folder called 'Blogging' in the Library Forum. Look for the link left of the front page.

Start with 'Introduction to Blogging', and 'Blogworksheetprint' followed by 'BloglinesWebFeed101' and/or 'Easy steps to creating a Blog'.

We used Blogger, which you will find at http://www.blogger.com. However, you might also like to explore Edublogs at http://www.edublogs.org. If you want to dip into Edublogs or Learnerblogs I have also put an 'Edublogs Wordpress' file there for you, which will explain how to use Edublogs.

Thanks to those who came..... your enthusiasm keeps me going! We may be able to run an additional course next term if needed - just let me know if you are interested.

02 June 2006

The Orange Prize for Fiction

Shortlist 2006

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Find out more

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Find out more

The Accidental by Ali Smith
Find out more

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Find out more

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany
Find out more

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Find out more

WWW Tools for Teachers

wwwtools is designed to keep you informed and to save valuable time in tracking down information and resources on the World Wide Web. Each article is on a particular topic or issue related to Web-based teaching and learning. The articles take a skilled researcher between 10 and 20 hours to research and prepare.

You may like to subscribe to the wwwtools email update. If you do this whenever a new article is added to the database you will be informed by email. You can opt-out of the email list at any time.

Amongst the latest articles you will find Blogging for Learning 2006. A worthwhile read.