Category Archives: LIS Education in the 21st Century

The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate

Dr Michael Stephens delivered the Dr Laurel Anne Clyde Memorial Keynote Address at the ASLA XXI Biennial Conference, held in Perth, Western Australia, from 29 September to 2 October 2009.

Reprinted with permission from the Australian School Library Association Inc. (ASLA) Access 2010 24(1): 5.

The evolving Web is an open and social place. The Web has changed everything. Its impact on every facet of our lives — home, work and school — would be difficult to measure but the ‘always on, always available’ Internet is certainly a game changer. Can you recall the first time you realised that the Internet would change your job? Your school? Your students?

Dr Laurel Anne Clyde recognised the power and potential for emerging technologies in schools and spent time exploring the implications. As technology evolved, so did her research. Her work examining weblogs was one of the first scholarly endeavours with emerging Web 2.0 tools. Now many of us study and move in a world of hyperconnected spaces: Facebook, WordPress Multi- User Blog communities (WordPress MU), Flickr and any number of socially enabled sites.

What a world Dr. Clyde would see today!

Sadly, this world includes the fact that many libraries are suffering financial setbacks. The recent news that Australian school libraries are in dire need of support all too well illustrates that changes are needed. The press release from the Australian School Library Association (ASLA 2009) detailed the findings of a 2007 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including:

That means ensuring there are enough qualified teacher librarians as well as maintaining and improving infrastructure. Having a new or refurbished school library is important, but the full potential of these resources cannot be realised without a qualified teacher librarian in place as well.

This fact cannot be ignored. Schools need qualified librarians. And in this Web-enhanced world, the qualifications and skill sets required are many.

Today’s teacher librarian (TL) must master foundational skills built on our core values, understand the importance of a strong and useful collection of materials and resources AND be knowledgeable in the emerging world of online social engagement. Exploring emerging tools and trends should be part of every qualified TL’s duties. Dr Clyde wrote (2004) about the use of blogs in the library setting:

“By not taking advantage of this simple medium (and doing it well), libraries will be the losers.”

This sentiment could easily be expanded to include many new tools and technologies to enhance learning in that ‘always on’ way. The potential for fostering connected learning and inquiry is broad.

As technology continues to evolve so quickly, TLs are faced with many challenges: providing resources, supporting the curriculum and guiding access. What can we do to ensure we are best meeting the needs of our students and their learning in times of change and challenge?

Embrace the 21st century learner

These learners are ‘born with the chip’ and the world they are growing up in is different from that of the previous generation of learners. There has been useful research about the so- called ‘Google Generation’ and it can help us understand how to meet their needs. Recent findings include:

These young people use the social Web. A recent study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority reported that:

children aged eight to 11 years are spending 1.3 hours a day online, while 12- to 17-year-olds average 2.9 hours … among older teenagers that shifted to using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook (The Age 2009).

These young people write — a lot! Pew Internet & American Life Project found that:

85% of teens aged 12–17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending e-mail or instant messages or posting comments on social networking sites (Pew Internet & American Life Project 2008).

These young people learn differently. Pew also noted in an earlier report that young people’s learning is shaped by technology and collaboration. Although this is US data, the connection between technology, collaboration and learning for Australian youth who have access to the tools would surely be similar.

These young people integrate technology into their lives. Mine the report entitled Listening to Student Voices for more about student perception and use of technology and ponder the answer to this question: Are we forcing our students into a decidedly text-based school environment when their world is a hyperlinked, digital space? Key components of the report include:

  • Technology is not an extra. • Computers and the Internet are communication tools first.
  • Students want challenging, technology-oriented instructional activities.
  • Technology has caused students to approach life differently; to adults nothing has changed.

These young people are living in a decidedly different world. University of California, Irvine, researcher Mizuko Ito conducted interviews with 800 youth and young adults and performed 5000 hours of online observations for another ground- breaking study in the US. The America-centric findings are telling and could illuminate Australian viewpoints as well. Findings included:

  • New media forms have altered how youth socialise and learn and raise a new set of issues that educators, parents and policymakers should consider.
  • To stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media.
  • Interest-driven participation can lead to learning opportunities from peers and those who are more experienced.

What emerges from this scan of recent research is a focus on the new digital realities of our learners and the need to help them understand new digital literacies. Don’t be fooled, however; young people demonstrate time and time again that they understand the basics of privacy and sharing in a connected world. Don’t miss interviews with Australian teens in a recent Herald Sun exposé (Herald Sun 2009) for more.

Explore emerging tools

What tools could you use to extend the reach and potential of your library services? The simple power of blogs, the ‘simple medium’ Dr Clyde noted could be used to great effect, has now given way to wikis, Web-based chat, Flickr, Twitter, Skype, virtual worlds and much more. Many of these tools are open source — meaning they’re free to use and enhance. Use a blog to encourage student writing. WordPress MU allows for multiple blogs via one installation, allowing a teacher to create a virtual community for a class where everyone can customise their own blogspace and practise writing and linking. This could be done within a school firewall or outside on the open Web (WordPress MU see http:// wpmu.org/wordpress-as-a-learning- management-system-move-over- blackboard).

Use free applications such as Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net) to record and edit podcasts based on curriculum or students’ creative projects. Students could be ‘roving reporters’, creating news stories about school events, projects and so on.

Grab a digital camera and enable your students to practise their visual skills. Tell a story via images, stored on blogs or sites like Flickr, if available.

Expand this creativity to short video segments produced with any of the various low-cost, hand- held video camcorders available. What could a class do with a Flip Video (http://www.theflip.com/ en-au) to show off their learning and creativity? Book reports? Mini- movies illustrating curriculum?

Utilise Skype to connect your classroom to the world. Find a class nearby or across the country and Skype in for a group-learning module. Connect and let students interact, while blogging the experience. For a real world example of this in action, please see http://learningismessy. com/blog/?p=191

Create a school social network with Ning to promote connected collaboration. This DIY tool does all the dirty work. Visit ASLA Online’s Ning to see the site in action.

These are just a few ideas for bringing technology into the classroom. All of them take the idea of a ‘simple medium’ and expand the tool into digital learning modules. What else would you add?

Celebrate the potential for 21st century learning

Many have said this is the best time to be a librarian. The challenges are there, but so are the means to make change, to make a difference, to make an impact on the lives of our students. Open source options, connected communities of online support that span the globe and shared practice via the Web are all low-cost or no- cost ways to implement some of these changes. Stop for a moment amidst all of your work, take a breath and celebrate how far we’ve come.

And ponder then how we might move forward? What traits are important for these new channels of learning? I would argue that the following characteristics are key to creating an effective 21st century learning experience:

Curiosity: Be curious with your students. Promote curiosity as a means of learning with teachers and administrators.

Exploration: Give students the necessary ideas and the tools to work with, then step back and let them explore. Stand by as a guide as they navigate new waters.

Transparency and openness: Work to build a library within your school that’s open and transparent. Involve everyone in decisions and keep them informed. Start that From the teacher librarian’s desk blog for your students, teachers and parents.

Creativity: Offer as many outlets for student creativity as possible. Provide tools and space and let imaginations soar. Share the results with everyone as well.

Flexibility: Rigid rules and overly structured procedures dampen the creativity and ‘just in time’ nature of our work. Be flexible with students and teachers and encourage the same from them.

Play = learning: Make space and allow time for ‘play’ in your library. It might be interactive gaming on a Wii, an online scavenger hunt centered on science or maths or a problem-solving contest built around information literacy. Launch a 23 things for your teachers and administration as well — then expand to students and parents. Let students help create the modules for their parents!

Continuing the journey

At the ASLA XXI Biennial Conference, I spoke about these topics and interacted for the day with some excited librarians from all over Australia. We sat in the conference centre lobby after my presentations and discussed how to proceed. I was reminded of the slide in my talks of a road disappearing into the horizon. How do we move forward into an unknown future?

Break down barriers: What roadblocks have you encountered? Money? Access? Strict rules about content? Work within your school’s structure to educate teachers and administrators about the value of emerging technologies. Perform a ‘kindness audit’ of your library space to see what your students see. Posted rules made up of ‘No this’ and ‘No that’ are not encouraging to the young learner’s heart.

Develop your own personal learning network (PLN): Find the online spaces — a virtual community for TLs, blog networks, Twitter friends in the profession — and learn from them. Constantly update your PLN with new and opposing voices to encourage your own critical thinking. This will guide your growth as you bring about change.

Use evidence: Use studies noted above, books like Born Digital and supporting materials, blog posts or tweets from your PLN to demonstrate the power and potential of online collaboration. Research concerning Australian youth — including Indigenous youth — would be timely and telling. Seek it out or do some yourself. Report to all of us.

Explore play for yourself: If you haven’t had a chance to participate in a 23 things or Learning 2.0 program, find one online and DIY! Set aside 20–30 minutes of professional development time weekly during the school year or break to be curious about some of the tools you might not have used. Or band together with other TLs in your area, state or nationally to offer a program for everyone.

Be selective: Use what fits best with your library and students. A focus on writing might include student blogging opportunities via a WordPress MU installation onsite. A focus on creativity might include a small, inexpensive video camera and editing software so your students can explore digital storytelling or reporting.

Know it’s okay to fail: One impact of the gaming generation is the mindset that it’s okay to make a mistake, learn from it and go on with new knowledge in a different direction. Talk about these ‘failures’ within your PLN and share what you’ve learned. Others may have insights or may benefit.

Don’t be afraid to change: The way it’s always been done does not have to be the way it will always be done. The biggest change right now is not technology but of mindset. Set an example. ‘Bring it on.’

Be persistent: Keep doing all of the above to hone your craft and add to your storehouse of evidence, facts and proven results. Meet resistance with a kind but firm push the other way. Educate everyone every chance you get: administrators, governing bodies, parents and so on.

The potential is there for a great future for the school library. Recently, I was asked to describe my vision of the role libraries will play for learners. I imagine the school library, public library and academic library forming a connected web of support and service for learners as they grow. Learning will happen everywhere in collaborative spaces and online.

Successes will be shared. Learning from failures will be shared as well. It will truly be a celebration.

Download a PDF of the article here: Michael Stephens pp5-8

The presentation at ASLA this article is based on is here: http://tametheweb.com/2009/10/01/thanks-australian-school-library-association/

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) 2009, http:// www.asla.org.au/advocacy/ mediarelease-May09.htm

Clyde, LA 2004, ‘Weblogs — are you serious?’ The Electronic Library, vol. 22, issue 5, pp. 390–392.

Herald Sun 2009, ‘We’re Gen-Y and we care’, http://www. heraldsun.com.au/opinion/ were-gen-y-and-we-care/story- e6frfhqf-1225778349502

Pew Internet & American Life Project 2008, Writing, Technology and Teenshttp://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/ PIP_Writing_Repot_FINAL3.pdf

The Age 2009, http://www.theage. com.au/national/social-networking- lures-teenagers-to-internet-20090708- ddew.html

Additional resources

http://tametheweb. com/2009/10/29/the-hyperlinked- library-adapted-for-anangu-people

Utilizing Emerging Tools to Extend the Classroom

Links from my Dominican “Technology Bytes” session tomorrow:

Finding My Tribe at EDUCAUSE LI

WordPress as a Learning Management System – Move Over, Blackboard

Slides: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/TechnologyBytesSessionStephens.pdf

Links from ALA Techsource Post:

Born Digital: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/BornDigital/196238
ELI2010 Presentations: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/Browse/ELI2010/37186
Gardener Campbell’s Blog: http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/
Google Moderator: http://moderator.appspot.com/
Michael’s Hyperlinked Campus:http://www.educause.edu/Resources/CreativeCollaborationandImmers/196260
Twitter Symbiosis: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/TwitterSymbiosisALibrarianaHas/196234

WordPress as a Learning Management System – Move Over, Blackboard

Don’t miss this interview with the Kyle Jones all about the WordPressMU/BuddyPress sites he’s developing for my classes at

http://wpmu.org/wordpress-as-a-learning-management-system-move-over-blackboard/

Q: What are the pros and cons of using BuddyPress in an educational / classroom environment?

A: No other LMS that I’m aware provides such a human touch on learning. We really see the students personalities show in BuddyPress – they open up to each other, they open up to the world. We get to read their academic reflections on their blogs and are provided insights into their thought process on their wire posts. If you’re an instructor and you’re looking to create a personable and personal learning space BuddyPress is the way to go.

If you’re an instructor that prefers the lectern and strict office hours don’t come near BuddyPress with a 20 foot pole. There’s a real onus on the instructor to monitor the communication streams not for behavior but to keep in touch with what’s going on in their online classroom and to be involved in a very dynamic conversation. In just over a few weeks of class there’s been over 200 different types of posts on the LIS 768BuddyPress-powered course site.

But this the state of 21st century learning with online communication technologies and the always-on classroom. There’s a higher level of responsibility placed on the instructor to stay tuned into the collaborative online experience that organically develops.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Thoughts from the Blogosphere (Updated)

I received my copy of Linchpin, the new book by Seth Godin a few weeks ago and have only got to read a bit. What I’ve read, however, is speaking to me the way all of his books do. Until I have finished the book and pondered some more, take a look at these posts, etc. I’ll be suggesteing this as yet another choice for context books in LIS768.

Church of the Customer Blog: http://www.churchofcustomer.com/2010/01/5-questions-with-linchpin-author-seth-godin.html

Q: What is a linchpin, and why is it important to become one?

A linchpin is the part you can’t live without, the thing that makes a difference. In every organization there are one (or several) people like this. It might be the brilliant inventor who creates the impossible, but it’s far more likely to be the great sales rep or customer service person who makes a connection, or the marketer who knows how to tell a story that resonates.

In a post-factory world, manning the assembly line isn’t so critical. Stuffing the candies into the boxes, running the punch press, following the manual… these are easily replaced roles, ones where neither the worker nor the organization gains much on the margin. If you want real job satisfaction and security, then, you need to figure out how to do the unexpected, to do work that matters and to create human interactions.

Daniel Pink: http://www.danpink.com/archives/2010/01/linchpin

GODIN: Does this explain why people with an irresistible need to create tend to gravitate to fields where they’re almost certain to not get paid? (Stuff like poets, painters and playwrights come to mind).

PINK: I doubt it. What I think is going on is that until recently, the business world didn’t much prize people with these kinds of skills. So if you wanted to do those things, you weren’t going to get paid much. Today, these right-brain types are much more in demand. That said, there are maybe fourteen people on the planet who are going to make a living as poets. But, again, there are maybe a million who can use their talents as poets in work as teachers, copywriters, bloggers, journalists, and other professions and business centered on creation.

GODIN: Do you agree with me that every successful organization needs people like this today? Problem solvers, self-drivers, artists?

PINK: Of course. Not even a close call.

GODIN: How then do we merge the two motivations? How do we get people to bring their artist to work?

PINK: Stop treating people like horses and start treating them like human beings. Instead of trying to bribe folks with sweeter carrots or threaten them with sharpen sticks, how about giving them greater freedom at work, allowing them to get better at something they love, and infusing the workplace with a sense of purpose? If we tap that third drive more fully, we can rejuvenate or businesses and remake our world.

Rethinking Learning: http://my-ecoach.com/blogs.php?action=view_post&blog=8&post=8470

Q. Universities take the longest to change. Does everyone need to take classes with information they mastered already? How can university students set their agenda, challenge material they know already, and demonstrate what they understand?

Seth: Here’s what’s going to make universities change: we’re going to stop going. We’re going to stop paying. Once people realize that Full Sail and the U of Phoenix can deliver the same thing (or better) for much less money, the panic will set in, for the first time in five hundred years Universities are going to have to do something new. I think this will happen in the next thirty years.

Q. Education tends to be a top-down driven model where administrators, standards, policies, and test scores drive what teachers teach. How do you see education changing with this model where the individual sets their agenda?

Seth: As a student in a digital world, tell me again why I need the building? The administration? The system? I don’t. And as accreditation becomes less meaningful because it’s easier to test the student than to test the system, the top heavy organizations will falter. And fast.

Can you tell I chose those passages because they speak to me and my vision of the library workplace of the future? I’d like to think we’ll be hiring poets, artists and dreamers in our libraries – bringing their vision, uniqueness and viewpoints. And what does that mean for they way we prepare new librarians? I definitely have some thoughts about that!

Check out Linchpin soon.

More:

Podcast with Merlin Mann: http://www.43folders.com/2010/01/26/godin-linchpin

Squidoo: http://www.squidoo.com/the-Linchpin-Posts

Gearing up for New LIS Class Sites

Michael’s EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives 2010 conference presentation where he discussed “The Hyperlinked Campus” leads nicely into a recent post I made detailing exactly how Michael and I put together his course sites from a technical standpoint.

If you’re looking to break free from the constraints of your learning management systems (LMS), I highly suggest you look into using WordPress MU and BuddyPress for a custom LMS.  See all the details here: http://thecorkboard.org/blog/enhancing-wordpress-as-lms/

——-

Kyle Jones, TTW Contributor
@thecorkboard
thecorkboard.org

Interview with Finding Education

I was honored to do an interview with Finding Education‘s Shannon Firth last week. We talked a lot about the Australian research project as well as other topics. The post is now up:

http://blog.findingeducation.com/assignment/educators-that-rock-michael-stephens/

Here’s a bit of the piece:

fE: How important is branding to libraries? And what do things like blogs and wikis have to do with stewardship?

MS: I think branding is important. I like seeing librarians who are actively engaging with users, via Facebook, via Twitter, and identifying themselves as a librarian or staff member at the library. I think that really helps carry the brand and mission of the library.

The library brand is also created by library users. That’s why things like tapping into review sites, finding what users are saying, allowing comments to post, and having that back and forth are very important.

I see stewardship alive and well in the new social spaces like Flickr, where a library can share a digital image collection and ask for user input on tags, comments, notes, etcetera–all enhancing the collection. That’s a beautiful combination of one of our foundational values (stewardship) meeting an emerging, collaborative sharing tool. The best use of social tools in libraries will be the ones that tap into our core duties and responsibilities as librarians.

Checkout the other interviews here – http://blog.findingeducation.com/assignment/tag/educator-profiles/ – including Sarah Houghton-Jan, Helene Blowers, danah boyd and David Lee King.

Thanks Shannon!

In Praise of Grade Inflation

http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning/in_praise_of_grade_inflation

Joshua Kim writes:

But many of our classes are moving towards an active learning approach where students are required to create something new. A better understanding of how we learn, catalyzed by technologies that bring multimedia authoring and sharing to a range of technical skill levels, have combined to transition our students from knowledge consumers to knowledge creators. This transition is occurring earlier than in the past, where previous cohorts needed to wait until graduate school to become part of the scholarly conversation. Today, with blogs, wikis, rapid authoring, Slideshare, and YouTube – all of our students (even in large classes) can learn the material by teaching.

I’ve observed this as well. By allowing my LIS students the chance to examine a topic, think about it and create a representation of that thinking via their choice of multiple channels, I believe they are getting much more value and opportunity for learning than listening to me lecture for three hours. The videos created for the Context Book Assignment in LIS768 this past semester are evidence of this.

Check out the whole post for more on student creativity and mention of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink. I’ve used A Whole New Mind in LIS701 for some time now and I’m interested to read this new one.

Don’t Miss the Tech Set from LITA & Neal Schuman

The Librarian in Black writes:

I’m pleased to announce that my first book, Technology Training in Libraries, is set to be released in March of this year!

This book has been a labor of love for the last year.  In it, I walk you through setting up a technology training program in your library, including basic technology training (both online and face-to-face) and general tech training principles and tips.  I also address creating and training to a set of “technology skills” expectations for staff members.  The bulk of the book walks you through the steps for setting up specific types of technology training: lunchtime brown-bags, 23-things style programs, technology petting zoos, peer training, and train-the-trainer programs.  On the practical side, I cover how to come up with a dollar value for estimating the return on investment for training programs, how to market training, creating a culture of learning, dealing with difficult learning, and measuring success with individuals and the library as a whole.  Finally, I offer a huge list of recommended resources at the end of the book.  At 125 pages, it is a concise how-to manual for successfully setting up specific technology training initiatives in a library.

The book is the 6th in a 10-book series called The Tech Set, a joint LITA & Neal-Schuman project edited by Ellyssa Kroski.  The entire series is  meant to be a series of practical how-to guides on specific technology services in libraries.  Other topics include next-gen catalogs, microblogging, mobile technology, gaming, unconferences, and more.  The set boasts some great names: Cliff Landis, Connie Crosby, Jason Griffey, Robin Hastings, Steve Lawson, Sean Robinson, Lauren Pressley, Kelly Czarnecki, and Marshall Breeding.

For more information, you can see my book’s pre-pub website (which offers a peek inside the book) and for a complete list of the Tech Set titles, see the site for the entire Tech Set series.

Elyssa asked me to take a look at the set and consider an endorsement. I read multiple chapters from each work – and Sean Robinson’s excellent tome on video making for libraries in its entirety and was very pleased. Pleased enough to endorse the set. I was especially taken with Jason Griffey’s work on mobile library services and mobile technology and Sarah’s take on a subject near and dear to my heart tech training. Here’s what I submitted to Neal Schuman:

For those curious about next gen library catalogs or wondering if the library should be on Twitter, the Tech Set offers ten volumes of current thinking and best practice for a wide range of  library-related tech trends. Editor Elyssa Kroski has assembled a who’s who of notable experts on these timely topics – including outstanding entries such as Jason Griffey on mobile technologies, Cliff Landis on utilizing social networking and Sarah Houghton-Jan on effective technology training. The titles are well-researched, clearly explained by a cadre of library technologists, offering tips and tricks for diving into blogging, gaming, video production, and  more. This set will be a useful addition to any librarian’s toolkit for  planning for emerging technologies.

These up-to-date  volumes will surely find a welcome spot in my teaching and will probably serve as textbooks for many technology-related LIS courses. Congrats to all involved!

View it any way you’d like…

Via all sorts of wonderful bloggers comes this video prototyping the future of Sports Illustrated. Karl Fisch had this to say:

More evidence that the way we interact with “text” is changing. To combine and paraphrase something I’ve heard David Warlick say more than once with something Jason Ohler says:

We need to stop paper training our students. We should spend less time training our students how to use paper, and more time helping them use digital tools to interact in meaningful and productive ways with the media forms of the day.

Also reminds me of this post:

Note that this is additive – no one is suggesting that words don’t matter, that what we traditionally think of as “writing” is no longer important, but that the very nature of composition is more complex now, and that our instruction, our pedagogy, our learning spaces need to reflect that.

. . . Writing (composing) is no longer exclusively a solitary activity. And we need to expand our definition of composition beyond only text and beyond only a specific medium (book, research paper, academic journal).

“Text” is changing. Is your classroom?

I would add: Text is changing. Is your library?

This speaks to me on so many levels. Core curriculum in LIS will shift to more of an emphasis on media creation and consumption as well as classification in a time when the new issue of Time may be delivered wirelessly to the device of the moment. I’m reminded of something my colleague Warren Cheetham said in Australia about new formats and new media: “Staff are wondering: where does the barcode go??”

I have no idea what will happen. Watch the Apple tablet hype machine in the next few months and monitor the endless supply of new stories about the death of old meadia – if the rumours are true, the video above could be closer to fact than to fiction.

However will we catalog and barcode that?