School Libraries Worldwide - Volume 14 Number 2, July 2008

Welcome to a special edition of School Libraries WorldWide (SLW). The theme for this edition (Volume 14, Number 2) is New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries.

The goal of this issue is to explore some of the current research and emerging notions of School Libraries 2.0. By this we mean implications for libraries of Web 2.0, or “the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology, social software and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users”(Wikipedia, ¶ 1). Library 2.0 entails “both physical and mindset changes that are occurring within libraries to make our spaces and services more user-centric and inviting” (Wikipedia, ¶ 1). We are publishing this issue in blog and wiki formats to reflect new ways to publish and share information and to allow viewers/readers to add their responses and comments to the content presented. Thus the journal itself is a living example of socially constructing knowledge with Web 2.0 tools.

We have gathered an eclectic set of articles all of which are linked to a variety of web-based resources which support and extend the content in the articles. The authors have varied perspectives and experiences and present a wide variety of issues related to the challenges facing the worldwide school library community. The idea is to present the core set of articles for all to share and then have viewers explore beyond that core in order to build their own understanding of Web 2.0 and the influence it continues to have on emerging notions of new school libraries (what some are calling school libraries 2.0).

While the influences of Web 2.0 may vary in regions around the world, there can be little doubt that the challenges raised by new technologies must be addressed by the entire school library community. Without facing the new realities of how people use information and communication or digital learning technologies, we risk a real danger of becoming isolated as print-only learning environments. We need to draw on our traditional leadership in building collaborative teaching and learning activities in order to engage students in new learning environments which harness their innate interests in new technologies and connect their in-school and out-of-school literacy practices.

While these challenges seem daunting on many levels including providing adequate and equitable access, improving teacher and teacher-librarian education, and developing curriculum aligned with current notions of literacy and learning, we hope this issue will foster an international conversation about how school libraries can show leadership and create compelling models for school libraries in the 21st century.

Guest Editors: Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

Table of Contents

School Libraries Worldwide
Volume 13, Number 2, July 2008

New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries

Editor: Dianne Oberg, University of Alberta, Canada

Guest Co-Editors:
Marlene Asselin, University of British Columbia, Canada
Ray Doiron, University of Prince Edward Island Canada

Critical Concepts
Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries
Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

Youth and their Virtual Networked Worlds: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries
Ross Todd

Open Access and the Open Journal Systems: Making Sense All Over
Rick Kopak

Shaping Global Criticality with School Libraries
Keith McPherson

Diverse Contexts
Popular Culture in the School Library: Enhancing Literacies Traditional and New
Elizabeth E. G. Friese

Videogames in the Library? What is the World Coming To?
Kathy Sanford

Immersive Learning Environments in Parallel Universes: Learning through Second Life
Jeremy W. Kemp & Ken Haycock

Towards School Library 2.0: An Overview of Social Software Tools for Teacher-Librarians
Jo-Anne Naslund & Dean Giustini

Creative Expressions
New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries - a wiki
Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

School Library Mash-Up
Lillian Trousdell & Sharon Doyle

Technology in our Lives- Voices of Two Learners
Kaitlyn & Allen

Young People Talk about Libraries - A Video
Maryam Moayeri

Abstracts and Links to the Articles

Included below are the abstracts and links to all the articles in this special issue of School Libraries Worldwide.
You are invited to read any and all of the articles and add your comments at the link below each abstract.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Article 1: Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries

Marlene Asselin & Ray Doiron

Today’s students are no longer the people our education system
was designed to teach. (Prensky,2001)

As more and more educators face the impact of Web 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2005), and as we see emerging what could be called a Learning 2.0 environment, it becomes urgent to expand teaching to meet the literacy and learning needs of the Net Generation (e.g. Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). These ‘new’ learners and their expanding literacy needs have major implications for current models of school library programs which are traditionally focused on reading promotion and information literacy skills. Discussions and resources about this challenge are rapidly appearing, appropriately within Web 2.0 environments (e.g. Classroom 2.0, iBrary, School Library Learning 2.0, and Library 2.0,). Arising from these sites is the need to critically question long held tenets of school libraries and to create a new research-based vision that will accord with the current economic and social directions driving educational change (e.g. Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2007; Government of Canada, 2002). This paper contributes to that process by proposing a framework for the work of school libraries in New Times (Luke & Elkins, 1998) based on research in new literacies, new learners, and new concepts of knowledge.

View the full article.


Charity Becker said...

This article certainly gives educators something to think about. Because I have been looking into the new literacies and based on previous discussions in our masters courses, I have been trying to move towards a teaching pedagogy that reflects this new type of learning. I would say that I am improved, but still have a long way to go. I worry that I fit the category of those who "layer the new onto deeply embedded ways of learning and teaching", but I hope this is not the case. If it has been, I hope that I am moving away from that into incorporating this new type of thinking, learning, and teaching into my practice.

Some of the ways I have attempted to transform my teaching this year: 1) I have directly incorporated critical literacy skills into my teaching, 2) I have had students engaged in more collaborative learning experiences, 3) I have encouraged students to present their knowledge in innovative ways (they have completed traditional written and oral assignments but have also done slide shows, videos, webquests, visual responses, audio responses, etc.-- I even had one student, of her own volition, e-mail the Canadian Armed Forces with a question about her debate topic, 4) I have added website evaluation to my teaching of research skills and have encouraged students to be prepared to have their research challenged, 5) I have opened up the independent reading part of my courses to include any text (print or digital), 6) I have engaged my students in discussions about the education system -- particularly analyzing whose concerns are prevalent and what they feel is being neglected. I am feeling good about incorporating these things into my teaching, but Doiron and Asselin's article makes me realize how much farther I have to go.

One idea that particularly stood out for me as an English teacher was the way in which a traditional essay assignment can be manipulated to include digital links. There are certain written requirements for the English courses, and those were things which I saw as being predetermined (an essay is an essay). My grade 12 students will be writing researched literary essays very soon and while they have many options in terms of the "literature" they select, the structure of the essay is limited. While I'm sure some of my students will stick with the traditional essay, I would like to explore the option of a digital research essay. I think this might encourage students who "shut down" at the thoughts of having to write a formal research paper.

We definitely need to start seeing things in a new way.

Anonymous said...

Dawn MacIsaac said...
For those who have already heard me talking about this, please excuse.

I attended a recent in-service to hear about a new Literacy Acton Plan. I went with great interest and nosiness wondering what was going to be in store for Librarians as I assumed they would be correlated with Literacy. I was very disappointed. No librarians were mentioned and only one attended.
I was hoping to hear about “new literacies ,,,preparing students for the 21st century” and transformation being a goal however these ideas were not part of the plan.
Instead, I heard about Leadership and Coordination that will confirm a moral purpose (Fullan, Hill & Crévola, 2006). Upon further research, I see this model involving home and school, standards, professional learning teams, leadership, intervention etc.
As I listened to the presentation, I clearly saw that vision for future needs, as I understand it, was not going to be mentioned. I was hoping to heaer abput technology, web 2.0,intrinsicaly motivated students and trasformative teaching.
I listened to the direction and explanations to hear the speaker say, "We don’t do transformation.” I was now brave enough to voice a question (the room was not that crowded). I asked, “Why can’t transformation be part of our school system?” I was told that the list of “why not’s” would be so long it would take up the rest of our time. “The semester-system is one reason, was finally declared.”
This article states basic literacy as having 5 components: Technological Literacy, Critical Literacy, Creative representation, Creativity and representation, Ethics and Social Responsibility and Inquiry and Problem solving. I do feel that these five components must be part of the of an aggressive literacy plan for the future.
The best part of the whole session was when the plan was openly acknowledged as just at the beginning stages. More ideas and information would be considered. I did receive hope from this.
As a classroom teacher, I find it hard to manage technological initiatives in my daily teaching. It is a busy day and planning new ways of presenting is tough and time consuming. Technology is lacking. If I want to build bridges between my classroom and web 2.0, yet struggle to do so. Yet, we owe it to our students to have them prepared for the changing future. I will keep trying, hoping soon to get a computer in my classroom.
Trying not to be pessimistic, I will maintain hope.

Here are some more visions to provide food for thought,

Jo-Anne said...

The article Towards a Transformative Pedagogy of School Libraries 2.0 transforms my thinking and teaching by challenging me, by providing me with many thoughts and questions, and by offering me hope.

It challenges my thinking because I went through most of my education at a very different time. On the one hand, I still see evidence daily of instruction, student groupings, school design, classroom designs, and practices which hearken back thirty years. Although I like to think that I constantly reevaluate my own teaching strategies and approaches, I know that they are very much influenced by my own experiences. They are also reflective of a system which, in many ways, has not changed much in the last thirty years. However, learning about Web 2.0 and the implication challenges me to think about the world that today’s children are growing up in, and, since as an educator I truly want what is best for the learners that I encounter, I want to learn more about the new literacies. When I look in the Social Studies curriculum that I am using for the first time, I see that the topic of earthquakes is next on the agenda. I don’t want the students to answer questions that I generate and that they can find the answers to in the textbook. What I want for them, is to discover information about earthquakes, to find out something that intrigues them and makes them hungry for more information. How will I do that ? I’m not sure but this article challenges me to think about my approach.

As I look into a new way to approach this assignment for my students, I zero in on one excerpt from the text: We would be better to set clear parameters for a task and let learners choose the ways and means to create personally meaningful products that will still include what we expected for this assignment. It seems like I still want the students to meet the outcomes but I don’t want to tell them how to get there. This is something that I struggle with - to find a balance between not enough instruction and too much. I think some of the answers will be found in the trail and error method. After all, lots of traditional approaches, work some days and not others, or with one class but not with another. Other questions come to mind. How will I learn about Web 2.0 ? Where is there time in my life ? What are the legal implications ? I attended a meeting on report cards recently and the overriding message was - Be Careful - anything you say on a report card is open to scrutiny, and there are many legal cases currently on island and off about comments that have been made on report cards. Is there room for error as I open up the possibilities of Web 2.0 or will my hands be tied by rules and regulations which seem more and more to dominate this profession ? My questions feel endless but that does not mean that I am not hopeful.

I do hope that I can meet the needs of my students. I do hope that I can gain the knowledge to use new technologies and to move forward with new literacies despite the obstacles which sometimes seem insurmountable. The concept of hope, to me, is tied in with the heart. I still struggle with the notion that looking at the library as the heart of the school is “old school”. Yes, I understand the notion of the library as the “brain” or the “nerve centre” of the school but there is a loss in those terms of emotion. We want our students to create, to imagine, to care, to make sound ethical judgements, and so much of those qualities are from the heart. The “brain” seems to me to be more reminiscent of a black and white world where there is only one answer, and one way to present that answer. My hope is that the school library caters to all of the students’ needs - their hopes, their dreams, their intellect, their creative spirit, their yearning for answers.

Anonymous said...

I'm struggling with this article. I want to find the bridge between teaching practices in my everyday work and the direction that this article is pointing towards!Somedays the gap is large in my mind.
I've been thinking about motivation and authentic learning, too. Which, in my mind, parallels with social responsibility.

As I was reading this morning and found more evidence for my "foundation of thoughts"..I thought I'd share with you.

Kapitzke is quoted to say that new literacies are not limited to technical and intellectual competencies, but include social and ethical responsibilities..Page 125 of State of learning in Canada supported this by saying..

Computer and internet usage is strongly associated
with improved literacy skills and higher earnings. Individuals
most in need of skills upgrading are the least likely to use
computers and the internet.
Adults who are more engaged in community activities
generally have higher levels of prose literacy.161 The 2003
IALSS suggests that literacy may be a key factor in building
a socially engaged community, “while such a community
in turn may be more likely to develop a literacy-rich
environment to sustain and improve its literacy base.”

page 125 of State of Learning in Canada

Anonymous said...

OOPs I didn't sign my name to my last bit of writing..It was dated

November 15, 2008 6:58 AM


Jill Coffin said...

I feel that Charity and I are very much on the same page in regards to our experiences of adapting to the new literacies of a 2.0 system. I, too, have been trying to incorporated elements of the new literacies into my teaching, but find myself fearful to "jump in with both feet". It's still a bit scary; however, we must move with the times if we are to continue being effective educators.

I constantly find myself attempting to transform my teaching to create a transformative learning environment for my students. I now have an lcd projector and speakers in my room, so I try to utilize these in effective ways that will engage my students. I also encourage my students to use new forms of technology to enhance their presentations. I, too, have incorporated web site evaluation into my lessons as a way for students to practice critical analysis.

This article gives us so much to digest. The one things which stood out to me was the fact that use of new literacies at home is very different from that at school. We need to provide students with access to many of the blocked sites and tools in order to fully enable creative learning through the use of 2.0 literacies. In reference to one of the other webinars...we know what, but it's the when and how that are the issues.

Charity Becker said...

It is a bit scary "jumping in with both feet" isn't it, Jill. I decided to open up my literary research paper and make it a literary research project where students have the option of writing a traditional paper or creating a more creative print text or creating a digital text (wiki, blog, or website). I told them the most important thing is that they critically analyze a text or literary issue, that they effectively use their secondary sources, and that they maintain a high quality of writing. I'm hoping that this will allow them each to create their best work in their own way while still meeting the requirements of the project.

Angela said...

Response to “Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries 2.0"

I didn’t have to read very far in this article before I was tempted to reflect immediately. A quote by Prensky(pg.1) gave me a sense of how this article was going to evolve. Prensky (2001) states
“Today’s student’s are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach”. Prensky didn’t have to sell me on that one! As a teacher of general English courses, I can tell you that our education system and curriculum is not completely geared towards/for some students. Charity, I’m sure you can relate with me on this (we often discuss our classes and their arrangements on occasion). Teachers have work hard to adapt and modify outcomes on a daily basis. And of course, then there are those students who need to be enriched. Boy, do I drop the ball on that one!!! Then there is the Net Generation, that is discussed thoroughly in this paper. I think some of these are the people that Prensky is really referring to in the opening quote.

Today’s new learners have a great deal of skill in many areas, but especially in the area of technology. Some of these areas are addressed in school, but some are avoided altogether. As educators, is this always our fault? Amanda often shared examples/techniques in class on how to get around items at school, specifically when it comes to the Internet (showing YouTube videos, etc...). Often blocks are put on website from the department. Sure they have good intentions, but sometimes it’s just plain silly. Learning can happen in YouTube videos, but how many curriculum documents encourage us to tap into that! Sometimes we can be a disservice to our students. What I’m saying is perhaps that YouTube video was the key to getting “Johnny” to understand Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter. As a side note, I have to share this example. One day in the library in a Career Futures class a students was researching equipment manager. He typed in different types of equipment pieces, one being “balls”. Well of course...the site was blocked because of the term “balls”. I guess better safe than sorry (I think those were my exact words before he rolled his eyes at me).

The ideas in this article reassures me that my role as teacher-librarian (and as an English teacher) is constantly changing. There was a suggestion made on page 4 about using the Internet to make school more engaging and relevant. I’d like to think that I do those things and that I do it quite well, but this article made me think I can try to do more. I don’t know every single new concept to there but I can recognize a new learner when I see one. They’re everywhere and they’re not going away. Our students are going to keep getting more and more advance, arriving to high school. I need to be ready for them. I also realized I am a new learner when it comes to the new literacies, so I need to change the way I think and learn about things!

I’m not sure if I really answered the question as it was asked. I was just kind of struck by a quote and went from there. Talk about transforming!!!!


Angela said...

Hi Charity!

You grabbed my attention instantly when you said you were moving away from "that" type of teaching to more of a pedagogy. That's exactly how I'm feeling! I';m trying with all my might! I think this course does a great job of trying to get us (as educators) to engage our students in more creative hand-ons ways that tap into their strengths!
Look at all you've accomplished so far this year: slide shows, videos, webquests, visual responses, audio responses. WOW!!!

It's always a pleasure to be in a group with you, Charity!
Your insight is incredible! And your passion for your students and courses even deeper!
I appreciate the conversations!
Hope all is well!

Kim M said...

The expertise and skills you ladies bring to this masters group goes without saying.

Jo-Anne I agree that our own experiences play a major role in our teaching. The exciting thing about our job is that we want to continue to learn and develop new experiences that we can share with our students.

Jill, Charity and Angela you are all doing excellent work. Thank you for sharing your new techniques. You have given me some food for thought to add to my program. You all seem to reflect that there is more for you to do. I admire your drive and determination. Don't forget to give yourselves a pat on the back and celebrate the success and progress you have already made. I will be striving to reach the bar you have set for us.

Dawn I too am confused as to the lack of inclusion of the teacher librarian in the literacy movement. The literacy mentors are going to be giving 45min sessions once a month as part of their mandate. I have asked to be able to attend these meetings. Hopefully all our advocacy will payoff someday soon.

Thank you for all your hard work.

Ms. MacRae said...

Like Angela, the Prensky quote caught my attention immediately. Over the past year and a half our cohort of Masters students have been discussing this 'disconnect' between what we are teaching and whom we are teaching. I can only imagine how long of a day it must seem in most classrooms for today's student's ' the Net geners'. It is like they are on 'pause' for so many hours in the day, while at school, then once outside of our doors- boom- they are connected, multitasking, socializing, using the multi-media tools that are for the most part banned in schools- facebook, email, youtube, ipods (during classtime), cell phones...the list is long.

The idea of transformative teaching is what should guide us to bridging this gap with our teaching and our learners. Students today are eager for change and being active participants for this change- they are willing to try all sorts of things without fear of failure- what an opportunity they are providing teachers to teach them. They are willing and ready- we need to let them at it and guide them as best we can.
As teachers, we can focus on 'interaction, participation, and creation', we can provide the much needed instruction for 'higher level literacies' to our students and transform the lives of our students from one that is out of sync between school and home, to one that is sync, where what they are able to do at home they are able to do at school.

Karen said...

I really liked the Prensky quote too as it makes you think not only about about your method of teaching but it makes you focus on your student's learning. Similar thoughts are being expressed more and more in the literature we are reading lately and the videos we are watching.

This new generation of learners is summed up nicely in the following quote from the article " They are growing up connected to the world and each other; they use technologies to communicate with known and unknown others and to shape their lives; they are action-oriented problem solvers and see technology as their primary tool; they define their identities by shared interests and experiences; they harald creative thinking, empowerment, and problem solving as key qualities in the new global economies; and they see themselves as competent pioneers in their personal and shared futures".

I see with my elementary aged students those who think they are savvy, with respect to the new literacies of the Internet, but they are not as proficient as they, or sometimes we, thought they were. Yes they can connect to the Internet but they mostly choose Google as their search engine (which is a hard habit to break and it's sometimes impossible to teach them to use anything else!) but they don't really get the best search results. They do tend to grab the stuff that comes first on their list of results and they don't necessarily evaluate first what they do grab.

This is where we need to step in and guide them in developing their critical literacy and information literacy skills. The Information Search Process (ISP) described by Todd and Kulthau in an earlier course we took, fits in perfectly at this step where new literacies allow us to use the Internet to identify important questions, locate information, critically evaluate the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to answer those questions, and then communicate the answers to others.

The article identified and categorized the principles for teaching for the knowledge based society as 'what we teach' and 'how we teach' leading us to think of the library as the brain or nerve center of the school where learners gather in a learning commons built around inquiry, creativity and interconnected/interdependent communities. One statement that particularly caught my eye was " learners will bypass us completely unless we become knowledgeable about new resources and new ways of building and disseminating knowledge".

I'm trying to allow my students to discover more on their own instead of me showing them because it's quicker and I'm also trying to allow them more opportunities to socialize in their thinking and planning and learning because I do believe that many of them learn best this way.

I really appreciated the comment about students uncovering the curriculum instead of us covering the curriculum. How true! We focus more on how much and what we deliver to our students instead of worrying about what they (students) are learning or discovering or uncovering themselves.

I find myself truly fascinated by these new literacies and am devouring as many new Web 2.0 tools as I feel I can handle into my own learning. I hope to introduce these to my colleagues and students once I get more of an understanding of them and feel more comfortable using them.

I am excited about the possibilities our school libraries can evolve into and what our roles can be re-defined as and I look forward to transforming my pedagogy to incorporate these new literacies. I see a shift in our thinking and I am embracing this new thinking into my teaching and learning especially as I know there are many of my colleagues who are doing the same and are there for me and for each other to offer help and support as we individually and collectively move forward.

Kim D said...

Transformative Pedagogy:
I rally enjoying reading and feeling like there is hope and a purpose, even if it is not evident immediately in my teaching practice. I hesitate often with new ideas, strategies, practices when it comes to changing my teaching style and incorporating more technology in various aspects of my students’ day. Don’t get me wrong, I incorporate a lot of technology, digital material, visual, interactive experiences and practical skills they will use for the rest of their lives. We use new literacies, collaboration and information seeking skills on a daily bases. Even still I step back and wonder how will this affect my class, the learning, mostly wondering what can I do to inform or guide students using time effectively?
Yes time is my elastic band holding me back when I’m trying to move forward!

Mel C said...

Finally, I am getting the overall message of the Master of Ed (L) program. The more articles I read, the easier this point is coming across. Times have changed, are changing, and will continue to change and yes at a faster rate than before due to technology. Therefore learners learn faster and in different ways. The way 'this generation' learns is a totally different process compared to my generation. We did not have the information accessible as we do now. We relied on lecture and course texts to 'teach' us the information. Now, learners need to take all the information available and 'learn' from it more in their own personal way.

Lynn said...

I was immediately struck by the comment made regarding today’s students proficiency with technology. The article states “Although today’s students are savvy in many aspects of the new literacies of the Internet, research shows they are not as proficient as popularly thought.” (Asselin & Doiron, 2008). Yes, they do own a tremendous amount of technology and are able to have fun with them but can they utilize the technology to solve problems? Quite often this is where they struggle. Just as the article stated, students tend to use Google as their first and only means of research. They trust the articles that are listed first without conducting further investigation to determine whether the information is credible. To be quite honest, this is the method that I used when I was in university. I did not know better because I was not taught how to differentiate between credible and non-credible sources. Nobody instructed me to look at URLs or questions the author’s motives behind the information. Sadly, it wasn’t until I began this Master’s journey that I was educated on how to read critically. But the question is who is teaching our students to do this? I have never been in-serviced on how to help our students read critically. Nobody from the department has drawn up lesson plans on how to use key words to help narrow searches. How are we supposed to educate our students when many of us were never taught the strategies to utilize the Internet to its best potential? Too often we just assume that because the students are “techie” that they don’t need our assistance.

I also found it interesting that today’s students learn by doing, creating, tearing apart and putting back together. Yet, our current curriculum with its numerous outcomes does not support this type of transformational learning. As Dawn shared in her response, “the list of why nots would be so long, it would take up the rest of our time”. With the aid of technology, our youth are more globally aware then ever before. They are able to establish friendship connections with people around the world through the use of weblogs, chat rooms, and social networks. Why not harness this power of communication to create learning opportunities that reach far beyond the four walls of our classrooms? Make learning more meaningful and interesting and I have no doubt that our students will respond.

Mel C said...

I want to continue on that note.
Someone said to me once, it is not important what the answer is... but how you ask the question.
Interesting, I guess we need to know what questions to ask. This inquiry approach to literacy is what I pulled most from this article. Learners must know when they have an information need, question or a problem that requires new information. They need to know how to go about to find the info they need, adn how to 'use' or gain new knowledge from the founded information. I think the NEt Geners can manipulate new technology, but still need guidance and skills at the Inquiry Process. As teachers, we too need to be able to work with or manipulate technology and be able to understand our own learning process and information search process. (research skills) In order to help our students, we need to be comfortable in our own learning and researching, and 'using' information.
Mel C

Kim M said...

Hi Mel C.
I agree that the students have access to many more advanced resources today that unfortunately change so quickly it is hard to keep current.

I too think it is important that students know how to ask the right questions to access the information that they need.

I believe that it is also important that we keep the lines of communication open as well. Look at ourselves as an example. In the last couple of weeks there has been emails from our classmates looking for various resources or answers to questions that were above and beyond our course work. We have a fabulous support network. One which I hope can continue beyond these courses.

Are there people in your school and /or community that you rely on for support?

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me, Therese.
I so enjoyed reading this article by Dr. Asselin and our own dear Dr. Ray D.. It brought much of the learning to the fore that I have been building over these past many months with our masters courses. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole Web 2.0 phenomenon now taking place with our youth and learners of all ages. I think things really started taking off for me when I made my first slideshow just less than a year ago on “grounded theory”. “You’ve come a long way baby”, only puts it mildly. I am excited and still quite intimidated about the kinds of learning the information literacies require.
Yes, I’m still using a rotary dial phone. Yes, I still have only dial-up Internet service. No, I don’t have a cell, or a blackberry, or an Ipod or even cable TV. No, I have never tried Facebook, MySpace or any of the other fashionable social networking site. However, in this last year I have tried Moodle, Ibrary and posted to various blogs when assigned to for UPEI. In this last year I have now embraced Corel Presentations and (drum roll please) ANIMOTO. In this past year I tried out and fell in love with a smartboard (unfortunately it is back at my last school). In this last year I now know what a wiki is and I have also participated in webinars. As of these last few months I now own a laptop and a digital camera. I know what a memory stick is and I use it every day. As of this last year I now know what youtube is and can do research through my computer and connecting to UPEI Robertson library.
Will I give up my rotary dial phone? No way! There is still a very large part of me that takes pride in and wants to value antiquity. Will I get High-speed Internet? Unfortunately, I have to give up my rotary dial phone to do that. Yes, I am hanging on to the past and embracing the future at the same time. Let’s hope I don’t get split into pieces in the process. As far as teaching students for the information future, well, I’m going to try. I’ve got a lot of learning under my belt now after these many masters courses, now I have to turn that “learning” into “doing” for the sake of my students. I’m on the way to transforming, hey!
All the best (of both worlds),

Liz said...

This article has challenged me on several levels both as a teacher and parent of elementary school aged children. I see the confidence and ease these kids have in interacting with technology, it is without a doubt their primary tool. I also see their expectation with immediate feedback and the frustration when it doesn't happen. It also reassures me that multi-tasking and multi-modal learning modes are perfectly normal.

The challenge is there for educators to get with it and provide learning opportunities that reach all learners of the 21st century. How many of us see and hear teaching "styles" that make us cringe, knowing that their methods are closer to those referred to in the article as from the Industrial Age.

The reference to the "participation divide" is so true in our schools. The gap that exists between those who have home based technology and those who would like to use it at school but access is limited and/ir blocked.

With the talk about students and their technology savy, I was surprised that research indicates their proficiency isn't as savy. I thought it was just my students, what a relief. Highlighting this gap identifies an area we can better target as teacher-librarians. There is so much more classroom teachers can do to better reach learners and teach them "how to learn".

Kim M said...

Hi Therese
You have certainly acquired a vast amount of knowledge this year. I like your last comment "I now have to turn my learning into doing". I have trouble with that. I have all these great ideas, plans or new knowledge but it is not always easy to follow through with your plans. I wish you all the best in all your future learning endeavors.

Gail said...

Hi Charity:
Wow!!! I am impressed by the changes that you have made already. That is an impressive list. I think after reading the article we will all take a look at our teachings. For some of us it will be hard to 'teach an old dog new tricks' but like you I have been changing some of my teachings to reflect the students learning. Our Masters courses have certainly opened up new avenues for us to explore with our teaching. The world is changing so quickly, especially with new technologies that we have to focus on the 'new literacies', 'new learners', and 'new concepts of knowledge'.

Gail said...

Hi Angela:
I think we are all trying to change with the times but that is often difficult to do. We get set in our ways and change is scary for many. I received my teaching degree in 1978 - we were still using typewriters, well the secretary was using the only one in the school. I really don't feel that old but when I think of the changes in technology and the education system in general that I have seen, I also think of how my teaching and my ideas have changed. I do believe that we have to continually change to meet the needs and interests of the new learners. I think we, as teacher librarians are doing a good job at that.

Angela said...

Hi Gail!
I suppose if I told you that I wasn't even in born in '78 that would set you off, eh? Oh...just having fun! You speak of changes in technology... as a 1997 grad, I did not even having internet during any of my schooling. It wasn't until I began UPEI did I experience it and then it has just taken off. It's been a tremendous, but satisfying learning experience for me. Think of where we'll be 10 years from now??!! WOW!!!

Gail said...

Thanks Angela!!!

Crystal said...

Ok...I struggle a little bit with this topic. We talk about "new literacies" and the way in which the net genners learn however our school systems are not conducive to these described learning styles. How are we to introduce/incorporate some of these new ideas when websites are blocked, cell phones and iPods are banned etc. These new devices are to some students a lifeline. Why are we banning something that they have come to be so depended on? When you step back and look there are so many lesson plans that can be done using a cell or an iPod. I am having a hard time with this.

Don't get me wrong, I try on an almost daily basis to incoporated "new literacies" into my lesson plans however it is quite frustrating when you go to bring up something such as a youtube video to use for journal writing and the site is blocked. I know these are not the only issues surrounding Web 2.0 learning however they are at the fore front of my teaching career to date.

Cindy said...

Jill - I think it is so important in our world to teach students to look critically at the web sites they are using rather then using the first hit on Google. My students still rarely look beyond the first few hits they get even though they have been introduced to why they should.

Lori - Your last paragraph should be part of the teachers' handbook in each school. Teachers can help guide students on the acceptable use of technologies that students are freely using with no inhibitions. Students tend to be so carefree that they do not think beyond the click of their computer.

Kim D. - You are not alone. I think many of us feel the way you described in that we question how we can best assist students. How can we incorporate all this learning in a productive and interesting manner?

Lynn - I agree wholeheartedly with you. Students can not think to solve problems in this age of instant gratification. So many of them can not even attempt to problem solve but instead wait for us is spoon feed them the answer. I have been frustrated in the last several weeks by this very thing in my science labs. Students enjoy the hands on work but they do not want to think about why things are happening the way they do. I should have a recording of me saying that I want them to think for themselves. I guess I get frustrated that students are willing to step a bit out of their comfort zone when many of us do this on a regular basis with technology to engage them.

Anonymous said...

Amanda B’s Response to Article 
As I read this article, one aspect of my teaching in the library played through my mind over and over again: the creation and implementation of learning stations. It seems as though we are going through some sort of Learning Station boom at TOSH this year. To date, myself and one other teacher (the teacher who works in the library while I teach) have created 3 new learning stations (Ancient Greece, Law and History 521) and have also updated 4 previously existing learning stations (English Writing, Alive, Pirates and Environmental Studies). It seems as though I have done nothing but create learning stations, update learning stations, set up learning stations, take down learning stations and correct learning stations for the past 3 months! The whole time knowing that they are not the most effective way to cover the material highlighted. The Learning Stations as TOSH, for the most part, take three entire periods (75 minutes each) to complete and mainly consist of fill-in-the-blanks questions. Yes, the students get to know the library: they work on the internet, use Ebsco, use Microcat, use various forms of print material, but what are they really learning? Are they really learning? Where does individuality and ownership come into play when all students are walking around with identical booklets filled with identical questions and blanks to be filled in?
I guess the way in which this article has transformed my thinking and my teaching is by bringing that voice in the back of my mind telling me that learning stations are not an effective way for students to learn, to the forefront of my mind. I think that teachers like these learning stations and choose to do them because they always have, but it is time to challenge their thinking and ask them why they have their students complete these learning stations. The next step is to work with classroom teachers in order to develop learning stations which are individualized and allow for transformation of knowledge, not transmission in its simplest form. I am starting to envision students going around the library to several stations and viewing a video on slavery, listening to “swing low sweet chariot”, researching the Underground Railroad on the internet, reading an encyclopaedia article on Harriet Tubman, all in search of information which can be put together to write a journal from the perspective of a former slave who escaped to Canada or a newspaper article or a fictional account of an interview, etc. Whatever it may be, I believe the assignment should allow for individual choice, exploration and final products.
I am excited to get to work on this... Just to find the time :P
Amanda Biggar

Rosemary said...

Hi Liz,

I wasn't surprised by what the article said about students not being proficient users of technology. In some ways I guess we might be the same: if you don't use it, have a need to use it or aren't interested, then you won't develop the skills you need. I know there are kids in my class who have PlayStation and x-box and all that stuff but they still need to be reminded how to copy and paste information from one document to another (I'm not talking about breaking copyright!!). And so many don't know how to touch-type!!! Going to the lab can be very painful.

The problem I have at my school is a lack of computer time when I'm teaching. I believe there are only two afternoon time slots that are available for me to use the computer lab and if those days don't suit me, I'm out of luck. It's very frustrating.

I think we have a long way to go before teaching changes on a broad scale. I don't know how long it will take, but there are a lot of teachers out there who teach in the old style --- hey, I do it too, but I'm trying new things. I guess what we can do in our positions as information and curriculum specialists is carry the torch, so to speak, and try to lead the way towards a more enlightened way of teaching.

Rosemary said...

Hi Crystal,

I hear your pain. As I've said many times before, the system needs to change. We are behind the times. It's very frustrating to be told we should be teaching a certain way because that's best for the kids, but then we can't do it because our hands are tied and available tools are banned/blocked or otherwise withheld. Yes, very frustrating.

What's the answer? Do we open the doors and let everything in? That's a scary prospect for "the system," I think. I'm sure they'd say, "There must be control."

Lately, I've been experiencing what I call a crisis of faith. We're learning one thing but making that a reality at school and in our classrooms can be soooo difficult. I feel I'm in a battle with myself all the time telling myself you should be doing this and that, but not being able to for one reason or another. It's very hard, very discouraging, and has the potential to be demoralizing. I guess we can only do what we can do and take baby steps towards a new way of teaching. Keep doing what you're doing and find ways to do what you want to...there's got to be a way. The system won't change unless we start to do it ourselves.

Angela said...

I couldn't help but feel for you as I read your response. I could hear so many us of agreeing immediately as you write about learning stations woes! Yours are particularly troublesome. You bring to light the issue of "time", which is a demotivating factor for us all. Perhaps the highlight of your response was your vision for more transformative learning, as opposed to transmission. Getting our fellow colleagues on board will be half the battle, as it can be difficult to engage new ideas.
All the best!

Anonymous said...

This is Melanie D

Over the past year I have listened to numerous discussion about how the students are so far ahead of us concerning technology and I have to catch up and become more aware of what is going on in the world concerning technology. I teach grade 2. The students in my class do not know more than I do. They may know where to find a great skateboarding game, or a cool picture. Karen was right when she said most elementary students go to Google and choose the first result that pops up. My students cannot read what comes up so we do not search much. We may look for images but that is about it . I teach them how to type, save, print and to log in. They may know more than I did when I was seven but they do not know more than I do now. Then again there were very few people who had a computer at home in 1981, if any. I guess if I taught a different level where the students were on facebook and you tube I may be more concerned about the Net Genners but right now if I can find a place with a cool dirt bike I am a hero. I used the LCD projector the other day with my class and I went up one notch in the “grade 2 smartest teacher ever” scale. I guess the point of my rant is that I don’t feel the same pressure as others seem to, to be on top of all these new technologies. If I ever get placed in the library then I know I will have to bring my “A” game and start figuring these things out so I can get some older students interested in coming to the library. As for right now I am pretty happy with what I do know.
I really like Kim D’s comment that time is the elastic band holding her back. That is exactly how I feel. Even if I wanted to brush up on what is out there I do not have the time.

Gail said...

I could feel your frustration as I read your response. Learning Stations do take a great deal of time with the creation, revising, setting up, taking down, correcting, etc. and if they are not proving to be valuable for the students learning then we do have to take a long hard look at why we do them. You presented some great ideas to try and individualize your topics so that students have some responsibility for their learning. Time is always the issue for us. Where and when will I create this assignment???

Anonymous said...

Throughout my reading of this article, I continually brought to mind my recent meeting with my grade five team. The topic was the "Grade 5 Country Project". I needed to put my oar in and stir things up a bit. I don't like cookie-cutter projects, fact finding missions and too much structure without room for creativity. When I arrived at the meeting (late as per usual!), all faces turned towards me and asked me for my ideas. This project has been traditionally delivered in a tradtional way. Extremely structured, many fill in the blank templates and independently. Choice was always limited based on the number of resources available and the number of students in the class, names were drawn so that only 1 student per class studied each particular country on "the list".Many students achieved success this way. They liked reading about another country and produced beautifully formatted final projects. Others struggled as literacy skills and lack of organization made the learning extremely challenging.
When all eyes were on me I was determined to voice my opinion and let the chips fall where they may. The change was gradually accepted with each team member brainstorming ideas and asking for clarification when necessary. What would the project look like? How could we organize groups of students from various classrooms who had similar interests? How could we provide opportunities to learn about fewer topics but in greater depth rather than mere surface learning? Our team members had a wonderful discussion about how to open up the project to include student-directed learning, internet use to communicate with people of other countries, guest speakers from Holland College and the Newcomers Association and a wide variety of presentations to parents in the gym as a culmunating activity. This would take place in the evening (Remember how exciting it was to be at school at night when you were a kid?)The students would produce a huge mural map of the world on which each group has painted their countries, dramatic presentations, musical performances and an art exhibit. We envisioned groups from various classrooms coming out of their kennels to work as "Team Australia" or "Team Europe"(focusing on continental areas for each team) and learning everything they wanted to know! For our parent's night our students will pretend they are from their country of choice and speak about what they have learned.
Have we moved far enough away from the indepdent bristol board projects of last year? I would love to teach the students how to create a wiki or keep a learning log on a webblog.Could our students work together to affect change in another part of the world or would it be sufficient to open up their minds about ways in which all people are the same even though there are cultural,economic and geographical differences?
How will our parameters support the striving readers who struggle to even decode the simplest text? How can we question the voracity of the information we discover on the internet and in our extensive collection of books? What measures must we put in place in order that our student's won't flounder in this type of learning...that they won't think only of the final product before the learning happens? Will we be able to accept the noise level that results from collaborative learning? How will we ensure that each student improves his/her literacy skills, either traditional or new via this project? I am thrilled with the prospect of our proposal and at the same time terrified! What if it fails? Will people shake their heads at me and say, "We should have stuck to the 'old way' of doing it." I must constantly remind myself that the questions swimming around in my mind are to be answered as a team. I don't have to have all the answers myself. Just as we will be facilitators for our students, I can be the facilitator for our teams' collective learning.
Wish US luck!

Pam said...

Pam said,
Hi Amanda,
I was surprised when you mentioned the number of Learning Station activities you are involved in this fall.
I'm seeing a big shift from learning stations to more individual student research projects. Teachers are giving students the opportunity to select topics of interests within the parameters of the course and related to the curriculum.
At the junior high level- recently students were involved in creating a Language Arts lesson with activities to teach a variety of topics to their peers. The students enjoyed being the teachers in the class for a period. This experience created confidence, pride, and a sense of ownership in their own learning.
What a great experience for these students.

Rosemary said...

Hi Leslie! I'm assuming that's you, with the second last comment. I think your idea to change the countries research sounds fantastic! I wish I could participate!

Everything starts with an idea from a brave soul (in this case, you!!) who dares to suggest a shift away from the tried and true. I'm sure it's scary, but I know it will be so rewarding for everyone involved. And so what if it doesn't go perfectly the first time around? If the kids are enjoying the work, are taking pride in what they're doing and learning something from the process, that's what's important. How many of us have said no to change because it might "fail"? I don't think we can worry about it.

There are things we can do though to prepare students for the work. There are skills they'll need in order to be able to have success with their research. I'm realizing how important that is doing a little animal research project with Grade 2. I really think we need to incorporate weeks of practice for students to be able to use text features to help them find information, how to take notes, how to THINK about what they're reading in various resources and make connections. I don't know how many times last week the students "read" through their books and said, "I can't find any information to answer these questions." The information wasn't all laid out for them; they were required to think about what they were reading and how it related to the guiding questions.

There's so much prep work that needs to be done before we embark on such projects. I think it's even important at Grade 5.

I'm really excited by your ideas. Thanks for sharing! Can I use some of them with our Grade 6s when they start world cultures after Christmas?!?