Thanks to everyone who attended my talk today! Thanks to OSLA for inviting me to speak as part of their track at the OLA Superconference.
OSLA Together for Learning Site: http://www.accessola.org/OLAWEB/Together_for_Learning/Welcome/OLAWEB/OSLA/Together_for_Learning/Together_for_Learning.aspx
Learning Everywhere article published in ASLA’a Access: http://tametheweb.com/2012/11/29/learning-everywhere-a-roadmap-article-from-access-australian-school-library-association-2012/
Peter Morville writes:
In fact, the LMS is ground zero for the future of the academic library. If these libraries hope to remain relevant, they must provide information and services at the point of need. Embedding librarians and LibGuides is a good start, but what’s most critical is an embeddable search widget.
Students must have a quick, easy way to search the literature that’s relevant to their subject. So far, libraries have failed to meet this challenge. Discovery tools such as Summon and EDS come close, but coverage is spotty, and they lack support for local customization.
Getting this right is not just important for libraries. A universal search and discovery service that makes it easy for students to find answers from trusted sources is vital to the whole enterprise of learning and literacy. It transforms the LMS into a mission-critical bridge that connects direct instructional guidance to inquiry-based learning.
And this bridge should exist in every classroom. It makes no sense to limit the LMS to online education. Every class can benefit from a learning management system that offers online assessment and analytics, and that connects students to their teachers, and their peers, and to trusted sources of information. The LMS is the point of needwhere an “architecture for learning” can have the greatest impact.
Read the whole piece here: http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000662.php
Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the connections I make in a digital world. The main purpose for the reflection was to fulfil a MIS assessment on Online Personal Learning Networks [OPLN] in Dr. Michael Stephens Fall 2012 Transformative Learning & Technology Literacies class. I think that Richardson and Mancabelli’s description of an OPLN as a unique learning environment where ‘we learn what we want or need to learn using the vast resources and people online’ is fitting (2011, p.3). This method of informal learning complements traditional learning and helps us to function better in all aspects of our daily life: at home with family and at work.
What excited me most about creating an OPLN was that I had to figure out what information I needed and where this was going to come from. This was a personal journey that only I could take; I set the direction and the path to follow. I also had to think about how I would curate what I found. Organising the information into one space or place had its benefits: ease of curation, portability and accessibility spring to mind immediately. The end result is more than simply an assessment; it is a practical tool that I can use throughout my career as an academic librarian.
Diving head first into the ocean of information that is ‘the internet’ works for some folk, though I needed something more structured or defined to begin with. As my OPLN was unique to me, I asked myself two questions:
- What are my current information needs both professionally and with my studies?
- With whom, what or where do I need to connect to help me address these needs?
I used the first question to form my goals statement highlighting my main information needs for both groups as below:
Professionally, in my role as a teaching librarian at a New Zealand University, it was important for me to keep informed about:
- Teaching methods/styles that promote information literacy
- Changes affecting the NZ University and academic library environment
- The use of social media tools within the academic library environment
- Professional development opportunities for librarians/information professionals
- Mentors and role models within the library or information profession environment
- Maori information resources and Maori world view
With my studies, and particularly in relation to my research project, it was important for me to keep informed about:
- Trends in digital and emerging technologies both globally and within New Zealand
- Trends in educational learning methods and styles
In categorising my main information needs, the scope of my resources falls broadly into the following four areas:
- Pedagogy (21st century learning, participatory learning)
- Technologies (mobile and emerging)
- Relationships (social media, professional development, mentorship, NZ University and library environments)
- Themes (information literacy, M?ori-focused resources)
Having defined my resources, the next step was to start collecting relevant information. I needed a discovery tool and, though I hadn’t quite realised at the time, I had been using one religiously for the past few months.
My discovery tool of choice: Twitter
It still amuses me, even now, that the majority of information resources that appear on my OPLN were sourced from one tool: Twitter. Yes, Twitter. This would be my answer to the ‘who, what, and where’ question I raised earlier.
I had created a Twitter account in 2009 and my activity between then and mid-2012 consisted of a whopping 40-ish tweets. In hindsight, my use of Twitter and my knowledge of its capabilities were pretty, well, pitiful. In the early stages of the LIBR 281-14 programme, each student was encouraged to create a Twitter account (if they didn’t already have one) and use it as part of the class engagement. We were encouraged to share links to relevant or interesting articles, webpages, and anything else we could find. Within two months of starting the programme, I had tweeted more times than in the previous 3 years! I am thankful we were encouraged to use Twitter as an information discovery tool. It wasn’t until I began putting my OPLN together that I truly understood its value in my personal learning.
What I love most about Twitter is its ability to filter information*. On the suggestion of a work colleague I monitored twitter feeds using first, Tweetdeck, and then secondly, Hootsuite (I actually preferred the first as the interface was more to my liking even though they look similar). Once I found people to follow, and by people I mean librarians, fellow MIS students and educators, I started to get a ‘feel’ for how information is best dispersed through this platform. For me, Twitter is like an index to the internet and is a simple way to conduct an environmental scan on a topic of interest with, dare I say it, minimal effort on my part. Naturally, I had to read any tweets and click through links for myself to see if the information suited my needs. The hard part though, finding the information in the first place, was done by those I followed: brilliant individuals passionate about their interests and wanting to share them with the world.
Interestingly, since using Twitter I’ve noticed it is used in more and more places. I used it myself as an engagement tool within my presentation slides at the LIANZA 2012 Conference. This morning I followed live ‘tweets’ from attendees at the Ascilite2012 Conference in Wellington, New Zealand (about 190km away) using the hashtag search: #ascilite2012. When my classmates post useful links I can find these by searching #transtech. Just moments ago I received this tweet as I was writing:
The link took me to another Ascilite2012 attendee’s collection of notes on ‘Web 2.0 Pedagogy: Mobile Social Media’ and included a number of links to related websites and educator blogs – wow! While it would be great to attend this conference in person, Twitter is definitely my ‘next best thing’.
Going back to the point at hand – I now have my information sources. The next step was to find a tool for curation.
My curation tool of choice: Netvibes
I learned about Symbaloo from a classmate’s blog and I was really impressed with the look and feel it had. I experimented with the design online and whilst the interface looked great, I already had an idea of how I wanted my OPLN to look. In my mind it would look similar in format to Tweetdeck but would need to encapsulate all types of information, preferably as live feeds. As luck would have it, Netvibes was mentioned in another classmate’s blog so I gave that a try. I haven’t looked back since.
There are many of wonderful features in Netvibes. First of all, it’s free. Second, it provides enough functionality (for me at least) to successfully curate the types of information sources I wanted to share: websites, blogs, twitter feeds and follows (no surprises there!), videos and links to journal and newspaper articles.
Netvibes allows you to curate your own private and public dashboards and I expect my public OPLN will continually evolve around my topics of interest at any given time. For the new librarian or information professional, the power of connected learning through the development and curation of your own OPLN is empowering. You won’t know what you don’t know until you come across it and an OPLN can help you find things you didn’t even realise you were interested in.
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful to Dr. Michael Stephens, to my LIBR 281-14 classmates, and to the many individuals who have participated in my online personal learning network.
*IMHO educators and librarians are the best at collecting, filtering and disseminating valuable information in 140 characters or less.
Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press
Tracy Maniapoto is an Information Services Librarian at Massey University Library in Palmerston North, New Zealand and a distance student studying towards her MIS at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Tracy’s interests include mobile technologies, academic libraries and utilising Twitter to grow her PLN! You can follow her on Twitter @libr4ry_girl
Reprinted with permission from the Australian School Library Association Inc. (ASLA) ACCESS, Vol. 26, No. 4, November 2012.
A lot has changed in the years since I visited Australia and spoke at the ASLA conference in 2009. Rapid technological advances continue to change the way we communicate, share and learn. The landscape can be defined in these terms: participatory, connected, pervasive.
In A New culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, the authors discuss the impact of technology on education and on society. The authors argue that the old adage “teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” is limited because this assumes that there will always be unlimited fish and no changes to the concept and mechanisms of fishing. Change, however, is a constant and one of the things we struggle to adapt to in libraries while staying true to our mission.
Technology enhances that change exponentially. “Today’s networked technology,” write Thomas and Brown, “is more than just a conduit to communicate information; it is a platform to share and network imaginations. Technology, like never before has become a tool to build worlds.” I propose that with the power of emerging technologies, the potential of the personal learning network, and the possibilities for newer methods of instruction, both teacher librarians and their students are on a positive path toward an emerging landscape of constant learning and growth. This article scans current research, the technology environment in LIS and recent trends to provide an overview and roadmap toward learning everywhere.
Transformative Learning 2.0
For the 2009 CAVAL project and now for a pilot study in the United States, I continue to explore and research the Learning 2.0 phenomenon, also known as “23 Things.” Created in 2006, by librarians at the public library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County, Learning 2.0 acquaints library staff with emerging technology via self-directed learning modules delivered via the Web. For CAVAL in 2009, we created a national survey of Australian library staff and conducted focus groups around the country. Three articles from the data, focus groups and case study site were published. Analyzing the data of the study offers a chance to understand the impact and effect of Learning 2.0. In Australia, these thematic statements were found to reflect the experience of those participating in the program:
- It is a personal change more than an institutional change.
- Staff are more confident, comfortable, and open to emerging technologies.
- The library is using the tools to varying degrees of success.
- Organizational blocks prevent use of the tools.
These four statements paint a picture of what is possible with Learning 2.0 as well as what some of the barriers might be. We discovered that it was a personal change for participants more than a sweeping organizational change. Words such as “confidence,” “comfort,” and “ongoing exploration” were used by those who described their experience.
Sadly, one underrepresented population in our national survey was that of the teacher librarian. The data gathered included only 10 respondents who identified as teacher librarians. Although a small amount of data, the responses from teacher librarians included statements that echo the above findings. These include: “I have enjoyed learning about new applications and have used them at work and personally – without being specifically encouraged other than given the opportunity to participate in 2.0” and “It was like a kick up the behind in getting me actively learning about this very important area, and helped me to get back into continuing education after a period of stagnation.” Blocks and barriers impact teacher librarians as well: “I have used applications when developing displays and I can see many other opportunities to use these tools if allowed to!”
This semester I am teaching a class I developed called Transformative Learning and Technology Literacies based on Mezirow’s concepts of transformative learning as a framework to study the impact of learning 2.0 on library staff. “Education that fosters critically reflective thought, imaginative problem posing, and discourse is learner-centered, participatory, and interactive, and it involves group deliberation and group problem solving” (1997, p. 10). In the Australian study, we discovered that program “champions,“ those designated as helpers for staff in each department were beneficial to the process as were group work on the modules.
For my class, we partner with library sites globally and groups of students act as champions themselves, developing and implementing a miniature learning 2.0 program. This semester, I’m excited that two of our site libraries are in Australia, as the CAVAL project comes full circle to influencing the learning of library staffs three years later. We also partnered with the American School in Japan to deliver an augmented version of Learning 2.0 for the staff of the school library there. This program will feature an exploration of emerging technologies with individual reflections posted to Twitter and group blogging activities to reflect on the impact of these technologies on teaching and learning.
Transformative learning “requires that new information be incorporated…into an already well developed…frame of reference, an active process involving thought, feelings, and disposition” (Mezirow, 1997, p. 10) with the potential to dramatically impact the learning process. With each new idea, affordance or thought, learners amend and expand their paradigm, reframing their view of the world.
I tell my students the class and the Learning 2.0 project will be fun, messy, chaotic and can seem rather daunting but I promise them they will learn. I think we could say the same for learning in our own organizations and for learning in general. Space for learning should be safe and encourage play and exploration – along with those comes chaos and messiness. Creativity can be encouraged as well. Mobile devices and applications make this an even easier task.
I look to the Horizon Report published by the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE each year for insights on what technologies are impacting teaching and learning this year is no exception and examining what the various reports say can be beneficial to understanding how our students learn. Although focused on higher education we can learn a lot from these reports. For example, the report focused on tertiary education in Australia points to some of the same technologies that will be impacting K-12. These include cloud computing, mobile devices/applications and tablets. All of these technologies share a common ground: portable, everywhere access.
The Horizon report for K-12 education describes the impact of mobile devices and applications and says “once banned from the classroom, mobile devices and apps have become such a compelling tools that schools are beginning to rethink standing policies, and some are even beginning to implement ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) programs.” Students, they report, want to use their own technology in their learning.
Mobile devices and applications can also transform the process of discovery for ourselves and our students. Not only can access occur anywhere, but the possibilities for learning and sharing creative projects grows. Have you created a digital story with photos snapped on a smartphone or other device? How about a video sharing a new idea or plan you are using in your practice? In the hands of youth, a mobile device can be a powerful tool for expression and discovery. Let them tell their own story via images, video or sound. Turn assignments upside down with the inclusion of a media-based component. Work with teachers to help them understand the potential.
Personal Learning Networks
Richardson and Mancabelli (2011) define learning networks as “the rich set of connections each of us can make to people in both our online and offline worlds who help us with our learning pursuits (p. 21).” Creating a model of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), Rajagopal et al describe it as such:
A personal learning network (PLN) is a network set up by an individual specifically in the context of her professional activities through online platforms to support her professional non–formal learning needs. Therefore, a professional who intentionally builds, maintains and activates her strong, weak and very weak ties with contacts within her personal network for the purpose of improving her learning — and uses technology to support this activity — is creating a personal learning network. (citation?)
The creation of a personal learning network (PLN) via current and emerging communication technologies may be one positive result of participation in Learning 2.0 programs, as evidenced by the Australian study. Survey respondents reported utilizing emerging technologies, specifically blogs and RSS feeds in many instances, as a means to keep up with library news and thought. In light of these responses and findings, I see a strong relation between the self-directed program as foundational for development of a learning network for library staff.
Time to Play
Jenkins (2006) argues that our emerging participatory culture brings a need for new skills: “The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom.” He defines play as “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving.” He asserted that play is one of the emerging social literacies for education. The Learning 2.0 model combines transparency, play, and opportunities to explore new spaces into a unique approach to self-directed professional development.
A focus on play, innovation and experimentation is needed for 21st Century learning success, argue Thomas and Brown. These concepts were foundational to the original Learning 2.0 program and continue to be emphasized when the program is utilized in libraries. Thomas and Brown also argue that the world is changing faster than ever and acquired skill sets have a much shorter life in this new landscape.
This is a concern for library staff as technologies change so quickly. New forms of learning – play and experimentation – can ameliorate this problem: “Much of what makes play powerful as a tool for learning is our ability to engage in experimentation…. Most critically, play reveals a structure of learning that is radically different from the one that most schools or other formal learning environments provide, and which is well suited to the notions of a world in constant flux. (Kindle Locations 1376-1379)”
Navigating Multiple Channels
As we become more adept at curating our own PLNs, we might find that we have moved beyond just reading blogs and news sites to other channels of interaction. What begins as a Twitter conversation may lead to Facebook, back to a blog and on to another site that’s new.
Jenkins writes that “Transmedia Navigation” is the “ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities.” This is one approach to exploring emerging literacies centered around technology as well as how we might think about navigating the information in our PLNs. It’s also good to consider the impact of technology in relation to mindfulness – sometimes these multiple channels can seem overwhelming! When we understand how to participate in the ebb and flow of our information channels, the technology fades into the background and content comes to the forefront. Stories are powerful things for teaching and learning. The Center for Digital Storytelling notes on its “What We Do” page: “Technology is a powerful instrument of creativity” and “Sharing stories can lead to positive change.”
Roadmap to Everywhere
I would urge teacher librarians and others working with students in library media centers to consider the following based on this scan of the current technological environment above.
Launch an ASLA 23 Things Initiative: In my talk at ASLA, I detailed the initial findings of my research in Australia concerning Learning 2.0. After further analysis of the data and recent publications, I’d strongly urge the association to explore the program for the membership. Work together to discover the current technologies of the days as well as those on the horizon. Participants will understand not only how the tools work but how they might utilize to the tools for their own ongoing PLN. Share with your teachers and administrators what the program can do for building comfort and confidence with emerging tools.
Explore trans-media learning. Follow developing stories in your field across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and more. Delve into newer channels you haven’t yet discovered. Personal curating tools such as Scoop It or Pinterest allow even more sharing. Understand what it means to follow a story across a wide spectrum of modes and formats. Master it and then teach your students the same. This will be a factor in the world they grow into.
Incorporate mobile devices and apps into your learning. The original 23 Things style programs were Web-based. Now, we can also create modules and learning objects centered around mobile devices, tablets and the plethora of apps available. Use this to demonstrate to administrators and governing bodies that mobile devices offer enhancements to learning and creativity on a scale never before available.
Advocate to break down barriers. Use the above ideas and evidence cited in this article to demonstrate the usefulness of access to potentially blocked tools in your setting. Explore the possibilities of allowing students to bring their own devices into the classroom to utilize during lessons and collaborative searching.
Encourage creativity. Explore resources online devoted to digital storytelling of all kinds. Share with teachers and students and urge assignments to take on a medi-focused component. Writing a script, recording and editing the final product for sharing online with classmates and teachers hones multiple skill sets needed for a decidedly digital, technology-enhanced future.
Be the change. Be a model for all of the characteristics of a 21st Century information professional. Move effortlessly in the networks of your PLN, sharing, learning and growing. Pay it forward. Promote discovery, curiosity and creativity to your students and do everything in your power to give them the tools to do so.
Play. Everyday, find something to explore or experience. Puzzle out a solution to a problem. Imagine scenarios involving new services and disrupted version of convential ones. “Where imaginations play, learning happens” write Thomas and Brown. Use this as a gude for your own learning and for the atmosphere you create in your library.
Center for Digital Storytelling: http://www.storycenter.org/
Jenkins, H. 2006. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Chicago: MacArthur Foundation. (PDF)
Mezirow, J. (1997) Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice http://www.ecolas.eu/content/images/Mezirow%20Transformative%20Learning.pdf
NMC Horizon Report, 2012 K-12 Edition http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2012-horizon-report-K12.pdf
Rajagopal, K.(2012). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, Volume 17, Number 1 – 2 January 2012 http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/3559/3131
Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press
Technology Outlook, Australian Tertiary Education 2012-2017 http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2012-technology-outlook-australian-tertiary-education-A4.pdf
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?. Kindle edition.
Stephens, M., & Cheetham, W. (2011). The impact and effect of learning 2.0 programs in Australian academic libraries. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 17(1), 31-63.
Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). Benefits and results of Learning 2.0: a case study of CityLibrariesLearning – discover*play*connect. Australian Library Journal, 61(1), 6-15.
Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). The Impact and effect of Learning 2.0 Programs in Australian public libraries. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 7(1).
Video: Hamburg, TUHH. Courtesy of the Zukunftwerkstatt
Christoph Deeg was my gracious traveling companion for much of the week. (Photo by Martin Kramer)
I want to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended my talks in Germany and the good folks who worked so tirelessly to bring me over for a four stop tour with “Learning Everywhere.” Special thanks to Christoph Deeg and Julia Bergmann of the Zukunftwerkstatt for planning the tour and making everything so smooth. Also to Prof Hans Christoph Hobohm for facilitating in Berlin and everyone else who welcomed us at each stop! The dinners, discussions, chats over wine and everything else were wonderful.
Presentation Abstract: Mobile and Web technologies are changing the way we live and learn. Libraries can play a key role in this future. Imagine the emerging hyperlinked library as a creation space, community space, anything space. Imagine this library available everywhere via mobile devices and tablets. How will services change? What skills will staff require? What does this future look like going forward as we encourage learning everywhere as a means for transformative change for ourselves and our users.
Here’s a breakdown of our tour:
Mon 22, October
Berlin, Berlin Central and Regional Library
Tue 23, October
Frankfurt / Main, National Library, Sitzungssal General German National Library
Thurs 25th, October
Cologne, Cologne University of Applied Sciences , Claudius Straße Auditorium
Fri 26th, October
Hamburg, Hamburg Harberg University of Technology (TUHH)
On Wednesday the 24th, we also spent 90 minutes discussing the future of library services in the home of Consul General Kevin C. Milas. The Consul General and his wife were most hospitable and welcoming.
Special thanks also to Nancy Rajczak and the US Embassy Berlin for the sponsorship of this most rewarding visit to Germany to discuss learning and technology with German librarians and museum folk.
With Martin Kramer at the Cologne presentation.
Yesterday I presented the SJSU SLIS Lecture at the California Library Association. Thanks to all who attended and participated. Download the slides here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/StephensLearningEverywhereCLA.pdf
Michael Casey writes: “Photo of TechStudio offerings. Not everything is in this photo, but most is. Not pictured are the green screen, an extra two headphones, one more Apogee microphone, another two small tripods, many cables and connectors, and the other iMac, desk and lamp.”