31 October 2007

A Mirror to Practice - K12Online2007

Participate in the free K12 Online Conference

Well, the K12 Online Conference has finished for another year, and I didn't get very involved for all the usual reasons/excuses. But all is not lost if you have the slightest clue how to use iTunes - yes, it is on your computer so just open it. Then go to the store and search for k12online07. This will take you straight to the download page for both audio and video podcasts from the conference. I recommend subscribing to both if you use an mp3 player as you can sample the sessions that look promising via audio and later watch presentations which are of special interest.

The K12 Online 2007 Blog will provide you with information about each session. Browse the categories on the sidebar or search for what you are seeking. You can bypass iTunes by listening/viewing straight from the blog, and check out any related links.

My first recommendation is NZer Derek Wenmoth's keynote Holding a Mirror to Professional Practice. Derek is a teacher educator and gives a fine presentation about his research into the connection between teacher beliefs, intentions and professional practice in the use of ICT. They have some interesting programs going which are worth hearing about, but the absolute best thing is their EPS - Educational Positioning System. This is a free to use online tool which takes you through a series of reflections on your teaching practice with ICT.

The result is a map of various elements - beliefs about teaching, use of ICT, relative success in achieving outcomes and obstacles to practice. My map is below, along with my hastily written reflection. In fact I think my practice looks better in the map than it really is, but it was completing the EPS that alerted me to many of the flaws in what I was doing. These included fairly tenuous links between technology used and outcomes, and a sad lack of opportunity for students to really be creative (represented by those stunted yellow shrubs). I completely mucked up the questions about infrastructure impediments so have no rocky passages in my river of practice.

I learned a lot from this and will go back to it when I think I have worked on some of the issues. But do watch Derek's presentation. It is well done, moves along at pace and will explain much better than I have about the EPS.

21 October 2007

Travelling Librarian

Hyperactive Parramatta Diocese TL (and Bibliosphere News contributor) Jan Radford from Delany College, has not been content to develop a range of traditional and Web 2.0 services in her library. Now she has become the virtual librarian, for a few weeks anyway, as she visits the world, and a good few school libraries along the way.

You can follow Jan's progress via blog - Delany Library News - or listen to her voice messages on the Library Home Page. Make sure you check out Library Thing (I've linked to the cover view), Delicious, the Book Club Blog and other great things going on at Delany Library.

16 October 2007

New Imagery for Schools and Schooling: ACEL 2007

I was lucky enough to attend this Australian Council for Educational Leaders Conference in Sydney last week with several colleagues from my school, and also met up with a bunch of Teacher Librarians from other Sydney schools. It was a most stimulating event with a few items seeming to resonate from multiple voices amongst presenters.

Perhaps the highlight was the much anticipated dual presentation from Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullen. I think Andy hit the nail on the head when he noted having heard Kevin Rudd the day before pledge a Rudd Government to an agenda of improved literacy as a priority. Now literacy is of course A GOOD THING, but Hargreaves points out that Australia is second only to Finland in literacy, according to latest OECD Pisa results. So why is it that this is always the cry of the politicians and the media?

What is it that any Australian Government should be making a priority in education? My answer would be science (we do fairly well in scientific literacy in Pisa as well, but this doesn't transfer to science graduates), or perhaps technology infrastructure for schools, but presumably these would take a little more work to sell. What would be your educational priority?

Other high points for me included the presentations of Michael Furdyk - an inspiring keynote from a 25 year old Canadian entrepreneur; Peter Senge via video link from Boston; Heidi Hayes Jacobs from the US on curriculum mapping; Andrew Fraser from Parramatta Diocese on innovation in schools; and TLs Di Laycock and Linda Gibson Langford on teacher collaboration and online community building, particularly with reference to their coordination of CAR-TL for ASLA NSW.

To view many of the presentations go to the ACEL 2007 Conference Website.

The Connected Library: A Handbook for Engaging Users

This timely book by Suzette Boyd is a must read for all library staff. Slim enough to be manageable in these days of information overload, I found this book affirmed many of my current practices but more importantly inspired me to reach a bit further. There are first all those things I always meant to do but didn't quite get to and then the more difficult area of taking a few risks. I think what is obvious or correct or a risk will vary from one library to another, but Suzette's book is an excellent place to find your next project.

To be a bit more specific, I like the suggestions for reading programs and promotion and the very good advice on going about improving (or inventing) your web site. But there is also lots to absorb about planning, research into practice, and knowing your stakeholders.

This book is good reading and very manageable. Go on, order it today, or borrow a copy. Your local public library will probably buy it if you ask.