Other Publications and Presentations
2012 AGQTP Project – Collaborative Online Writing – paper and presentation http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/collaborative-writing-oct-2012/
*Collaborative Writing – 1 to 1 Technology Workshop at Churchie on Friday 8 July, 2011 Ms Kristine Cooke, Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School; Ms Cathy Oxley, Brisbane Grammar School; Ms Helen Stower, St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace; Ms Anne Weaver All Hallows’ School, QLD
*Gamification -12 July 2011 All Hallows’ School, internal staff professional learning
*Collaborative writing – ASLA Conference, October 2-5 Ms Kristine Cooke, Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School; Ms Cathy Oxley, Brisbane Grammar School; Ms Helen Stower, St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace; Ms Anne Weaver All Hallows’ School, QLD Digital media can encourage social interaction and promote learning outcomes. Teacher-librarians at four Brisbane schools – two boys’ and two girls’ schools – initiated a collaborative project to foster creative writing in Year 8 students. This project explored the notion of shared writing, challenging students to produce a joint story.
“Gamification – Time for an Epic Win?” by Anne Weaver, published in Access Term 3, 2011
The following is the text of articles that I have written that have been published, except for articles in the current issue of Access. (Access is the journal of the Australian School Library Association http://www.asla.org.au/pubs/access/access.htm ) Images have not been included.
*SLAQ May 2011 PowerPoint Presentation at BBC http://my.brainshark.com/Gamification-816096179#
*Information Literacy and Overcoming Expendability with Professor Mike Eisenberg Access
*Personal, Portable, Multifunction-Devices and School Libraries IASL/SLAQ Conference 2010
Teaching Book trailers with Photo Story & Movie Maker in 45 mins SLAQ newsletter Vol 43 #3 September 2010, presented 2010 at SLAQ Brisbane Subcommittee PD at Marist College, Ashgrove
*Facebook and Other Pandora’s Boxes Access Vol 24 Issue 4 2010 pp 24-33
*Library Trailers – using email, email newsletters and annual reports for advocacy Access Vol 24 Issue 3 2010 pp 20-25
*Using Netbooks for E-reading Access Vol 24 Issue 2 2010 pp36-39
*Twitter for Teachers, Librarians and Teacher-Librarians Access Vol 24 Issue 2 2010 pp 16-35
*Blogging – It’s a journey – Access Vol 24 Issue 1 2010 pp 28-31
*Canoodling with moodle – Access Vol 24 Issue 1 2010 pp 10-27
*Teacher-Librarians – Polymaths or dinosaurs? Access Vol 24 Issue 1 2010 pp 18-25
*Good Vibrations with Netvibes Access Vol 23 Issue 4 2009 pp 10-13
*Book Trailers – A Web 2.0 Journey Access Vol 23 Issue 3 2009 pp 9-13
*Attending conferences virtually Access pp 26-29;
Information Literacy and Overcoming Expendability with Professor Mike Eisenberg
By Anne Weaver
In school libraries there often seem to be too many demands – ebooks, elearning, multimedia, plus the daily imperatives; many of these new and changing; with too little time, too few staff and too many obstacles. The right path can be difficult to determine. It is stimulating to note that Professor Michael Eisenberg does not see the future of school libraries tied to the latest technology conundrum; such as which ereader to buy; though he says that teacher-librarians should be technologically progressive. Rather, Mike offers specific and achievable suggestions for school librarians, which he considers “essential.”
For teacher-librarians, Mike’s ideas will be familiar, but it is the reprioritising and refocusing that is motivational. Michael Eisenberg, is dean emeritus and Professor at the Information School of the University of Washington. His is a “back to basics” approach in many ways – if school libraries are to continue to exist, then we must be very clear about the reasons why. We need to focus on our core business – information literacy. Information literacy should be of increasing importance in the curriculum in a rapidly changing digital future.
There is a saying that goes: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” (Bateman). This is a big fat lie. Many library professionals will concur with this, having worked very hard in their schools, often in difficult circumstances in terms of hours and budgets, but still experienced further reductions in library staffing and funding. The grim statistics on library staffing in Australia can be further explored at http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/background/few-statistics/ and http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/background/few-statistics/teacher-librarian-numbers-in-decline/ . Indeed, school library staffing worldwide is decreasing. Some evidence is shown at: http://www.cilip.org.uk/get-involved/special-interest-groups/youth/publications/children/pages/secondaryschoollibraries.aspx and http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=117551670433142326244.000482bb91ce51be5802b . The Australian government Inquiry into school libraries heightened interest in the contradiction between unprecedented spending on school library buildings in Australia in 2010, in the face of falling staffing of school libraries: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/edt/schoollibraries/hearings.htm . While this inquiry will be resurrected in 2011, there is no guarantee it will produce any improvement.
Eisenberg uses the “green frog being heated in water” analogy that was also used in the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and which can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7_3Wmet9IQ&feature=related . The removal of qualified staff from school libraries has been occurring steadily over time. Using this analogy, the water temperature has been gradually warming up, albeit more rapidly in recent times, and some library staff have certainly been scalded. If we just sit in the water and take no action while the temperature continues to rise, there is no guarantee that there will be someone to come and rescue us, like the frog is rescued. What battle plan is most likely to help us save ourselves? What should we be doing to increase the likelihood that the role of school libraries will be truly valued?
In the last issue of Access, Lyn Hay reminded us that “Shift happens” and that school librarians need to “rethink, rebuild and rebrand.” (November 2010 pp 5-10) . As a profession, we need to constantly consider what we can change ourselves, what should be changed, and how to remain “essential’ in our school communities. A very good place to reflect on future directions is with Michael Eisenberg and his vodcast called “The role of the teacher-librarian and the school library program,” well worth 14 minutes to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE2MpvByblc . Mike talks about a crisis in school libraries and that a revolution is needed to overcome this.
Mike states that in tough economic conditions, teacher-librarians may be seen as expendable if they are not timetabled on direct instruction. In reflecting on Mike’s words, the move to flexible timetabling might be seen in another light. While it is pedagogically superior when implemented correctly; has it facilitated removal of library professionals? Flexible timetabling relies on collaboration which can be problematic in some circumstances. Many library tasks, such as administration, are more easily achieved, but many of these can be performed by library assistants, so what is the justification for teacher-librarians?
Mike says that advocacy, “getting the message out” is not the central issue. He also talks about “rebranding.” Mike says library programs can be unclear, partly because they vary greatly between schools. Mike says that library programs may be seen as supportive, but not “essential.” Library programs are not always tied to school priorities and may not be accountable in terms of improving student achievement. They may be tied to old ways and old technologies. Library professionals need to ensure they have an “image” that is identified with new technologies, not tied to print. Reflecting on this, is your library program seen as “supportive” or essential? Mike states that library professionals and library programs need a major makeover. Library programs need to be clear, powerful in terms of vision and implementation, strategic, and continuously communicate their message, by all means available.
This may seem like an unsurmountable task, but, Mike has a “to do“ list for teacher-librarians for transformation. Firstly, library professionals need to “get an attitude” that reading and writing is not enough, but that students must also acquire information literacy skills. We need to communicate what information literacy is, why it is so important and what we can offer to support implementation.
Secondly, embrace the brand, mission and the function of the “teacher” part of being a teacher-librarian, a teacher with a curriculum. What is needed is a clear library and information technology program. We need to have a clear idea of what needs to be done to support our learning communities.
Thirdly, form a library and and information technology advisory team. This team needs to consist of the “movers and shakers” and also administrators to determine the priorities of the Library program and how it will be implemented and delivered. He states that “90 percent of library programs are planned by the teacher-librarian in isolation. So while teacher-librarians bring expertise to this team, it is important to listen carefully so Library programs closely support school goals. The mission of this team needs to “ensure” that students are “effective users and producers of ideas and information.” This is achieved in 3 ways – through information literacy instruction, through reading advocacy, and through information management and services.
Mike states that from this mission, there needs to be allocated the library “pie chart of time” that is derived from the library and information technology advisory team’s goals. The idea of pie chart planning has been explored by many teacher-librarians in reflecting on their effectiveness. Examples can be found here: http://librarygrits.blogspot.com/2010/03/tracking-my-activities.html and http://www.librarylea.com/?p=664 Monitoring use of time can be very “educational.” If time is being consumed by demands that do not align with priorities, then there is a need to develop strategies to address this.
Fourthly, focus on accountable information literacy skills and instruction. Eisenberg uses his Big 6 model – defining, information seeking, location and access, use of information, synthesis and evaluation; a non- linear model. There are many similar information literacy models, including the Guided Inquiry approach of Ross Todd which uses 7 steps – Initiation, Selection, Exploration, Formulation, Collection, Presentation and Assessment . These various models are somewhat similar, and it is important for a school to choose a model as part of implementing information literacy instruction across the whole school. Use of a whole school model and explicit terminology assists student learning and transfer.
One of the first roles of the library and information technology advisory team would be to agree on an information literacy model. This may involve selecting a model, or reassessing whether the model/s in use, are meeting current learning needs. Links are provided at: http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/information-literacy-21/ with comparisons of various models. The various models have much to offer. The Big 6 concept is clear and easy to communicate. However, the affective elements of Guided Inquiry are very important in assisting students to learn how to approach research effectively. Many links are provided, including presentations and other resources, with ideas about how to garner the best from these models at the following website: http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/information-literacy-21/ . Some may prefer to use one model, while others may prefer a combination, but this needs to be a school wide approach, with ownership by all teachers, to ensure the most successful implementation.
Mike states there is a need to measure and communicate student achievements in information literacy. He discusses a variety of methods from formal reports, to emails home to parents. Schools usually already provide some feedback on research skills within existing school report structures. We need to think about how to use data to show that teacher-librarians make a difference. There are a vast array of questionnaire and evidence collection tools available to support this. The UQ Cyberschool provides a starting point at: http://www.library.uq.edu.au/schools/seminar_2007/seminar_2007_program.html .
Mike says that new technologies do not supersede information literacy, but make it more important because it is the unifying literacy; with clearly identified processes and skills. So, new concepts such as media literacy and digital literacy, come under the umbrella of information literacy. Mike defines information literacy at his first vodcast at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH296RiR5I4&feature=related
The second vodcast discusses how to implement information literacy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcROQru5ijA&feature=related . The first stage is more informal, such as teaching how to use search tools and promoting an information literacy model. The second stage is more formal and looks at identifying a scope and sequence of information literacy skills. This stage needs to be more predictable, consistent and sustained. It looks at what information literacy skills students should be learning at different year levels to assist integration into the curriculum. Mike advises not to try and cover every big 6 skill with every assignment, but rather focus on one or two specific skills or sub skills for a particular assessment piece. He also warns against making the plan too complex, but to choose a simpler and clear approach.
Teacher-librarians can use research to promote teacher “buy in.” Mike says that while evidence can be used to convey the importance of information literacy, he suggests starting with teachers who are receptive and showing how information literacy supports their immediate teaching needs. He talks about how many teachers are preoccupied with testing, which may create opportunities for teacher-librarians to show that information literacy skills can improve test results. Evidence of this is at http://www.lrs.org/documents/fastfacts/287_CO3_Staffing_Test_Scores.pdf and this is an area for much further exploration. He also suggests connecting with parents and helping them to understand the information literacy process. Mike states that technology and web 2.0 tools fit very well into an information literacy model, but warns against a long shopping list of tools, when it is the information skills that are most important.
Mike has a vodcast on how to achieve accountability by providing a measurable, comprehensive, predictable and reported information skills and program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH296RiR5I4&feature=related . While he refers mainly to primary schools, there would equally be many benefits in implementing his ideas in secondary schools. In addition, he talks about the challenge of choosing areas of focus for different year levels, at different times, to ensure information literacy learning occurs.
This is very reminiscent of a backwards design pedagogy – teaching with the end in sight. If we fail to plan information literacy instruction, then we may be planning to fail. So, Mike is talking about a much less amorphous and reactive library program; one that is much more predictable, systematic and organised; one that is more closely tied to the curriculum and that is school wide.
Fifthly, Mike says that teacher-librarians are a scarce resource in many schools so they need to consider whether they are a deliverer or a manager of instruction. In reflecting on this, how many times do we teach the same lesson over and over, such as referencing? Is this best way to use our time, or do we need to utilise powerpoints, vodcasts or other instructional resources that can be provided online and used for “just in time” learning, over and over again, by students and teachers?
Sixthly, Mike states there is a need to reassess the “sacred cows” of how teacher-librarians spend time. We need to look at the value of tasks. He uses overdues as an example – if they take too much time; do them less frequently. He suggests considering how much staff time is taken in tasks such as cataloguing, stocktake and collection management. How beneficial is this; do they need to be done to current standards; is there a better use of resources?
It is important for library time to be allocated to meet school priorities, rather than library preferences. Joyce Valenza referred to this recently in relation to shelving. For example, who shelves in your library, and does the neatness of those shelves come at a price that can no longer be paid? http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/neverendingsearch/2011/01/02/2011-the-year-to-be-fierce/ . Erica McWilliam discussed the risks of a “…high standard of standardness” at the 2010 SLAQ/IASL Conference, highlighting the risks attached to library management decisions based on old paradigms http://www.slideshare.net/IASLonline/high-standards-or-a-high-standard-of-standardness .
It is significant to consider who is performing particular tasks. Teacher-librarians become essential through “teaching.” The challenge is to manage other library tasks, so that time is maximised for supporting learning. Mike says there is a need to consider what tasks can be reduced to make more time for priorities relating to information literacy instruction, reading advocacy and information management that directly supports current curriculum needs. A frequent phrase is “I don’t have time to…” This reflects choices about time allocation – making outdated choices is increasingly risky.
It may take time and persistence to bring about school wide change, and this may need to occur gradually, one step at a time. Teacher-librarians need to be able to communicate clear ideas about effective methods of promoting information literacy. Examples can be found of some fabulous information literacy initiatives by school libraries at: http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/information-literacy-21/ These include the independent research project work of Patricia Carmichael and Dr Rebecca Jones, and Buffy Hamilton’s Media 21 Capstone project. In addition, being flexible and listening to others may open up many new and unexpected possibilities.
However, there are some underlying fundamentals, such as promoting an information literacy model, and developing a scope and sequence for each year level. Resources are available here: http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/information-literacy-21/ . We need to consider how to communicate information literacy processes clearly – such as through online sites, library signage, emails, and via classes, professional learning sessions and inductions.
So, Mike sums up that being a teacher-librarian is the best job in the world, but we must embrace sharing the program actively with staff and students. Mike says we need to operate libraries in a way that is accountable, makes a difference and that is essential. The library program needs to “ensure” its mission that students are “effective users and producers of ideas and information. There needs to be a Library advisory team that sets priorities and that implements a shared and valued library program.
This is not new – teacher-librarians have always implemented information literacy programs, but Mike reminds us of how important information literacy is in the 21st century and how to revolutionise, or at least refocus and rejuvenate school library programs. Some of his suggestions may already be in place, while others may pose a significant challenge. However, these ideas are invaluable in reflecting on library planning. For further inspiration, Mike has published a new edition of his book, The Big6 Workshop Handbook: Implementation and Impact.
So, in 2011, we should be “making a list and checking it twice” not to see who’s naughty or nice, but in the hope that next Christmas, we can reflect on library programs that are even smarter and stronger and valued as “essential.”
Personal, Portable, Multifunction-Devices and School Libraries
Paper presented at the SLAQ/IASL2010 Conference in Brisbane, Australia. You will need to copy URLs into your browser as they have not been “linkified” for Scribd.
Slides with presentation transcript is at
The powerpoint from the presentation is here:
The Almost Impossible – teaching Book Trailers with Photo Story & Movie Maker in 45 mins
This is a copy of a presentation made at Marist Ashgrove on July 31, 2010, on basic skills for using Photo Story and Movie Maker to create multi modal products, such as book trailers. The presentation was made to 2 groups of about 30 teacher-librarians using wireless laptops. Teachers do not need to be computer experts – strategies like; using video tutorials, using google and youtube for assistance, and the software help tools, will aid in working out most uncertainties. Some teachers recommend Atomic Learning tutorials. Asking people also works, though it can be more efficient for “just in time” learning to be able to sort out problems independently. In class situations, students can often assist when problems arise as well, so there is no need to feel the need to be an expert. Teaching this software really needs twice this amount of time to do properly, so this was very rushed, but it is designed to provide resources to support further DIY learning.
We started at http://readingpower.wordpress.com/ and scrolled to the copy of the presentation located at
http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/book-trailers-presentation/ Here there are also evaluation rubrics, and 2 current Book Trailer competitions. Other teaching resources eg. story board templates, can be found at links at http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/links-on-book-trailers-this-year/ and planning sheets, task sheets, Essential Learning goals etc by scrolling to the bottom of the page at http://www.learningplace.com.au/deliver/content.asp?pid=41987
Goals of the session were to provide support for teaching this free software to staff and students, model a method of teaching book trailers at a beginner level, and convey that the teacher does not need to be the expert – learners can help each other through peer learning. We investigated who had used Photo Story and Movie Maker before and about 30 per cent indicated they had used these previously.
Step 1 Would usually be Copyright
Copyright was covered in in an earlier session, and there was not time to go over this but links are provided here:
Copyright in school is dependent on the context of publication. A good clip for students that explains publishing in the real world is: http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/all-right-to-copy/index.htm
An information pack on Creative Commons can be found here: http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/go/pid/956 eg. go to google images and click advanced search: http://images.google.com.au/advanced_image_search?hl=en . Go to usage rights and choose the bottom option, “labelled for commercial use with modification” as shown, then search as normal -very easy! More here : http://search.creativecommons.org/# Photo Story contains 2 songs that can be mashed by students which provide an easy option. Jamendo www.jamendo.com permits use of music, so long as credit is given. Jamstudio http://www.jamstudio.com/Studio/index.htm (may no longer be free, there may be free grants that teachers can apply for), but is easy for creating music. More relevant resources on copyright for teaching are at: http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/book-trailers-music-images-for-the-public-domain/ and:
Step 2 Examples
• Ghostgirl: Lovesick trailer – This was probably not made in Photo Story or Movie Maker, but is very cool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5RIBLJb5LA&feature=player_embedded 2.31mins long. The author explains how it was made at: http://tonyahurley.com/?p=70
• This book trailer shows how students can use their own artwork – Home and Away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmLRFN4HPqQ 2.02mings long. Note how credit is provided for use of images and music at the end.
• Example using largely text only for Tomorrow When the War Began: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17EkD2-w4a8
Step 3 Learning Photo Story
We watched the Bill Meyers tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtB6_D_toVQ . I use this in class as it teaches PhotoStory in 6 minutes – very efficient. Where schools block youtube, this tutorial is also available at: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/911959/creating_a_ken_burns_style_video_from_still_photographs_using_fr/ or http://www.bmyers.com/public/1321.cfm We stopped the tutorial regularly, so participants could do each step, checking everyone could do each section. People were asked to check that those around them had mastered the step and if not to provide assistance. This greatly helped me to assist others as I roamed around in a large group of this size, and speeded the whole learning process, effectively creating many teachers in the class, instead of just one. We used the sample pictures and music provided on computers in the My Pictures and My Music folders in My Documents. Alternatively, teachers can provide a small selection of images, when teaching the software. Otherwise, students will focus on searching for these, instead of learning the software skill. Recording voices will need headphones with microphones for some PCs, while other computers will have voice recording devices inbuilt. Photo Story allows only one audio track to be created for each picture, not both voice narration and music. However, there can be different audio for each image. Adding a newspaper image can be an interesting effect: http://www.tech-archive.net/Archive/WinXP/microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker/2005-05/msg01175.html
Customizing motion This James Blunt video shows great alignment of motion, using a focus on eyes, and matching images and motion to the words. It is rather gruesome, so it may be best to only play a small part, and may not be suitable for younger students: http://nobravery.cf.huffingtonpost.com/ . Rovinsky shows how effective panning can be to make still images feel like video. Download and play the Photo Story project file at: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/tips/create.mspx
Creating title slides Simple instructions to do this can be found at: http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/creating-title-slides-in-photostory/
Students need to be aware that the quality of the image will affect the final product eg. thumbnails will appear grainy. Huge image file sizes may cause problems as well if the final product is very large. For my personal use, I use a free image resizer found at: http://www.vso-software.fr/products/image_resizer/ which reduces the file size of images, but not greatly the appearance.
Step 4 Learning Moviemaker
The following are useful tutorials for moviemaker. We did not have time to watch them in our session, but they can be used in a similar manner to the Photo Story tutorial. We went step by step through the basics of Movie Maker, importing sound and images, changing the time length of music and images using handles, adding titles, effects and transitions, swapping between timeline and storyboard view, and using the preview function. Importing video is a similar process, but we did not have time to do this. We again used sample music and images from My Documents.
Moviemaker in just over 9 minutes can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DHFKVzG8Zw or also at: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3aon9_how-to-use-windows-movie-maker-basi
or 6 mins: A more advanced tutorial is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWtXaSpUx4U .
Moviemaker can only have one audio track. To create more you would have to finish the movie and reimport it to moviemaker as a video and then add another audio track.
It is very important to be aware of saving in Movie Maker. If you click the save icon, it saves it as a project file. In project files, the images, sound and animation are still separate. A project file of Movie Maker is a MSWMM file. Project files can still be edited. Project files are like the raw batter for a cake – you can still add ingredients. Once it is baked, it is “finished” and you can’t add ingredients. However, the cake can now be eaten. Similarly, the Movie Maker file needs to be saved in a format such a WMV to be published, watched or transferred easily, on different devices. To complete, you have to open this file in Moviemaker and save the movie to your computer. So, if you’ve finished your movie, choose the ‘Publish Movie’ or ‘Save Movie File’ or ‘Finish Movie’ option (depending on your version of Movie Maker) under the ‘File’ menu, or from the menu on the left hand side of the screen, and create a movie file such as .avi or .wmv. Then, your file eg. WMV can be converted to another video format or burned to DVD.
To check if it is a project file either:
• Check the file icon- if it looks like an old fashioned, but colourful movie reel – it is a project file. If it is WMV, it will have these letters.
• Check file extension to see if it wmv or mswmm. To do this, click View up the top of your screen, then Details. If you cannot see the file extensions, do the following in Windows XP. Open up Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the Start button (usually bottom left of your screen). Then, left-click on Explore. Click on Tools, Folder Options, View. Then, uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types.” This will then show the full file name and type.
Movie Maker has a built in effects editor. Some participants said they use Picasa to alter or mash their images. There are many other free and easy to use image editors, such as: http://editor.pho.to/ .
Step 5 Publishing
There are a variety of commercial products for converting computer files to CD or DVD as required by some of the book trailer competitions, such as Nero or Power DVD. If you need a free one, try DVD Flick http://www.dvdflick.net/ . This is a free DVD authoring program that takes a video file saved on your computer and converts it into a DVD that can play back in a DVD player, computer, or Home Cinema set. The software allows adding audio tracks and subtitles to a DVD. The program is open source. Instructions can be found here http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/9708 . You may also need to convert files from cameras to put into your book trailers. Prism is a free tool for changing formats: http://www.nchsoftware.com/prism/ . Students may also want to publish to online at sites like youtube and this is easy to do as explained at: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57924 . Parent permission is likely to be needed to publish student work to sites like youtube from school. Copyright compliance is important for publishing in the public domain.
These skills can be used for many projects, other than book trailers, and students generally find using these tools fun and engaging. In the 45 minutes of this session, most of the time was taken with going through the basic steps of Photo Story and Moviemaker and this would have taken 35-40 minutes of our time, for those thinking of doing this with classes.
-Facebook and Other Pandora’s Boxes-
Is the use of Facebook in schools like opening a box full of treasures or traumas? Social networking tools need to be considered within the context of a whole school approach to technology use. Schools need to choose tools on the basis of improving learning outcomes. However, if schools do not teach digital citizenship, then who will? Tools, like Facebook, create opportunities for Libraries to better connect with patrons, but are they a worthy use of library resources? School librarians must consider carefully which tools work best in their own circumstances. Such choices are best made from an informed perspective.
Conversation from a recent oz-teachers email list discussion:
Anne- What to do about Facebook?
Paul- Kill it with fire.
Anne- Why fire?
Fiona- Make sure it’s really dead.
Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking website. It was founded in February, 2004 and now has half a billion users worldwide. “…if it were a country, it would have the third largest population in the world.” They have even made a movie about it. In the trailer for “The Social Network, “ Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook is quoted as saying, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” http://mashable.com/2010/07/15/social-network-trailer-full/?utm_source=TweetMeme&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=retweetbutton Facebook has made more than a few enemies in recent times, mainly due to changes in its privacy settings. However, despite this, Facebook remains the social networking tool of choice for most young adults. Today, libraries are in the business of information, and if they wish to survive, communication. Today, one of the main ways of communication is… Facebook.
Thus, Facebook presents both an opportunity and a potential hazard. Irresponsible use of Facebook can impact adversely on a school’s reputation. However, Facebook represents an option for school libraries to better connect with their patrons via their preferred communication mode. Library staff these days must prioritise their resources to maximize client services, and choose carefully which campaigns to pursue with school leadership. Many social networking technologies are new and change frequently, so investment of time and resources must be considered accordingly. Not so long ago Myspace was a social networking leader, but its recent use has been declining relative to Facebook – next week, who knows? Library staff will better understand their clients and how to target services, if they have at least some knowledge of dominant technologies in use, such as Facebook.
Students need to learn acceptable behaviours for using any technology; this does not apply only to Facebook. Bullying occurred before Facebook existed. However, these communication tools can reach many more people, and the damage can be more long lasting, as content can be copied. Thus, students need to learn to use these tools appropriately in order to harness the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. If schools are in the business of teaching lifelong learning skills, then they need to be teaching how to use online social networking tools. Recent Nielsen research found that Americans spend nearly a quarter of the time they’re on the Internet, on social-networking sites and blogs. This is a quantum increase from a year ago and underscores the significance of Facebook, twitter and youtube. And usage is trending upwards:
Why is Facebook so Popular?
Facebook is a communications and community-building tool. It borrowed from the experience of Friendster and Myspace; but blossomed by establishing exclusive University “friending” clubs and extending these connections. It capitalized on the power of the “friend”, the desire to have more “friends,” the disconnection of modern real life social patterns, and the desire for personalized online spaces, where members create their own individual, but also very connected portal. “Facebook is wildly successful mainly because its founder matched new social media technology to deep, Western cultural longing–the adolescent desire for connection to other adolescents in their own private space; a space where they can be free to design their personal identities without adult supervision. Think digital tree house. Generation Y accepted Facebook as a free gift and proceeded to connect, express, and visualize the embarrassing aspects of their young lives.” http://www.psfk.com/2010/06/value-gift-glutting-and-the-future-of-facebook.html
Secondly, Facebook is a function of our time poor lifestyles. Adults have been drawn to Facebook as a time efficient way of maintaining contact with many people. Richard Allan states, “…you have enough time to maintain regularly going out with 20 to 30 people. Facebook typically extends your social circle by another 100 people. So you feel connected, in real time, to that wedding of a family member you haven’t seen for a while. The search function in Facebook has made it easy to find people and maintain contact. However, Facebook typically remains an online way of sharing information about real events.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/7903987/Facebook-its-story-and-future.html .
Thirdly, Facebook, like other social networking tools, has been fueled by increased access to computing devices, many of which are portable and personal, such as phones and laptops. Facebook capitalized on technology advances to develop a process for users to share photos, video and other media, very easily.
New technologies have a “flocking” effect with people moving rapidly to the most popular online venue where they will find their “friends.’ This is especially so when membership is free and the technology is designed to be very easy to use. Facebook has an addictive quality because there are many ‘applications’ that can be added to a profile such as games and quizzes like Poker, Uno, yoville, petville and Farmville. These limit “boredom and keep people socializing.
Facebook’s future and popularity is not guaranteed. In July, Facebook received a lower customer satisfaction rating than the US tax department’s e-filing program, due to “privacy concerns; frequent changes to the website; and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the [Facebook] consumer experience.” “Daniel Edmundson sees the problem as partially caused by Facebook failing to grasp the preferences of users, especially as they move from adolescence to adulthood and due to its pursuit of profit. Facebook has been commercializing and monetizing friendship networks, and users are resisting the invasion to their privacy. Older users want less sociability and more privacy, but profit is based on allowing increased access outside personal networks. Whilst, Facebook currently has the power of numbers and customer inertia, this can change, as MySpace has discovered. http://bigfatfinanceblog.com/2010/07/20/facebooks-future/
The recent furor over Facebook privacy changes relate to the importance of management of personal information which is also of great interest and monetary value to advertisers. The high usage of Facebook has attracted those with products and messages to market. Many organizations have unleashed the power of the “friend” to pursue their objectives. However, not everyone wins on Facebook. While, many nonprofit organizations with national and international name recognition can grow large fan bases, some small to medium-sized nonprofit groups have struggled to achieve Facebook “return on investment.”
However, Facebook is constantly considering new options, such as through credits, a toolbar, and location and linking features, to increase connectivity with users in increasingly profitable ways. http://gigaom.com/2010/04/20/facebook-takes-over-the-web/ Facebook has a new product called Facebook Questions where users will be able to ask and answer questions from their extended circle of friends. This will compete with tools such as Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn (job recruitment). Question and Answer sites drive massive page views. http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/31/facebook-questions-facebook/ However, products like TripAdvisor’s new Facebook integration, show that the future of social commerce is only just beginning… http://www.turntoblog.com/2010/07/14/tripadvisors-facebook-integration-shows-future-social-commerce/
Facebook and Schools
Schools need to ensure that guidelines are provided in relation to expectations regarding acceptable online communication, in relation to school matters. Most organizations have a Code of Conduct which should include consideration of online communications, such as at: http://www.vit.vic.edu.au/files/documents/1543_Code-of-Conduct-June-2008.pdf . School should have clear, easily accessible, and effectively communicated procedures for bullying, harassment and acceptable internet use. Approaches to interpersonal relations/bullying and appropriate internet use should be included in the school curriculum, in the school’s pastoral care program, and in explicit codes of conduct. Students should be advised how to deal with negative situations. For example, it is best not to respond to online bullying. Instead, students should click the “Print Screen” key, paste and print or save. Any student observing online bullying or issues of concern should report to parents, teachers, schools, or other authorities. The prevention of bullying requires a whole school approach, which engages all students and staff in positive social behavior management, conflict resolution, and bullying prevention, control and minimization.
Schools can monitor communications on internal social media via the security mechanisms included with applications. However schools do not have the same level of control over external social media, such as Facebook. User discussions can be investigated, but only to a limited extent via search engines, such as Social Mention http://socialmention.com/ or Google Alerts http://www.google.com/alerts, depending on use of privacy settings by users. Even when Facebook is used with the best of intentions, such as for school alumni groups, there is a risk that privacy and safety can be breached. Schools may prefer to consider assisting school associated groups to set up Facebook type groups in more secure settings, such as on a password protected Joomla site provided by the school. This may enable the advantages of social networking tools to be exploited, but in a safer environment. Whether users will migrate to these safer contexts is another question: http://cmslive.curriculum.edu.au/leader/default.asp?id=32046&issueID=12183 .
It is often recommended and sometimes mandated that teachers do not “befriend” students on Facebook. The Education QLD website, for example, states “You must not use internet social networks such as Face Book, My Space or YouTube to contact or access present students enrolled in any school or institute.” They further state, “If you [teachers] use internet social networks in your personal time you must ensure that the content is appropriate and private, and that you restrict access to specific people who are not students.” http://education.qld.gov.au/corporate/codeofconduct/respect_for_persons.html Teachers should take great care with what they publish online, even in their personal communications, as any content can be further disseminated: http://learningputty.com/2009/11/20/should-educators-be-afraid-of-having-a-facebook-profile/ . However, some teachers, in other jurisdictions, are finding Facebook very effective for connecting with parents and students: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/09/using-facebook-to-connect-with-students.html . For those seeking more control of their privacy than that offered by Facebook, options such as Diaspora, may be worthy of consideration: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/newsletters/newsletterbucketextrahelping/886786-443/will_librarians_leave_facebook_for.html.csp .
Thus, there is a communication divide regarding use of Facebook. This also applies to usage patterns, with adults preferring blogging, twitter and email; whilst teens prefer Facebook, though the number of adult users on Facebook is still considerable. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2010-02-04-teensonline04_ST_N.htm . Facebook use appears to be more prevalent with girls. A study of eight to 15-year-olds for National Family Week found 40% of girls identified Facebook as one of the most important things in their lives – compared with 6% of boys: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10121931 . Facebook users are supposed to be over 13 years of age. Not every student has a Facebook page.
Facebook is blocked by many schools, so use occurs mainly at home. Filtering, blocking and banning use are not simple solutions, especially in the home situation. It is important students know how to protect their privacy and their digital footprint, whichever tool or site they are using. Whatever is posted on the open internet can be copied and saved forever. While the school curriculum may include internet safety instruction, it is important that parents understand and supervise use of these tools and discuss what is appropriate, as use occurs largely outside the school context. Schools need to consider education programs to support this use, such as through information evenings and school newsletters, as social problems outside the school often impact on interpersonal relationships at school.
Managing Facebook privacy settings is not child’s play.
A U.K. survey discovered that 25% of teenagers have hacked or tried to hack their friends’ Facebook accounts; although four out of five admitted they knew this was wrong. Teenagers need to keep their login and password details private, and change them if concerned. They need to make it hard to hack in to their account eg. The word “password” is not a good password.
The following video advises how to maximize privacy settings on Facebook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGkUA84ftYU . One of the comments from this site is very appropriate: the best way to maximize privacy is not to post or even text information that you don’t want everyone to know. Also see:
With these privacy changes, it may also be advisable to consider reviewing information that has been published on Facebook to consider if any needs removal, and any connections through “apps,” as discussed in the following article: http://lifehacker.com/5522433/how-to-restore-your-privacy-on-facebook . As a double-check , the following site assists checking of Facebook security: http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/facebook .
All the privacy settings in the world will not protect you, if you share information with “friends” who pass it on. Teenagers need to be conscious of the need to be protective about what they share. Online text can be read differently to spoken words, and may upset people, even though meant as a joke. They need to be aware, that anything posted may haunt them forever, so they should be conservative about photos, for example. They need to be careful about what information is posted, such as their full name, where they live and what school they go to. Friends should already know this, so there is no need to put it online. When filling in online forms, leave them blank if they ask too much information or do not fill them in correctly. It is important to “know” what a friend is. Students need to check first eg. if they say they are the friend of a friend – better “safe than sorry” really works. If students feel unhappy or uncomfortable online, they should consider options such as blocking the person, stop using Facebook, and reporting and recording the information. Students should ask friends not to pass on information – forwarding emails is similarly a problem.
Adults have difficulty managing their online information, so it is difficult to expect this of children, especially if they are not taught how to do so. There are many sites collecting personal information, in addition to Facebook, so students need to learn the importance of protecting their identity. There are many groups collecting all types of personal data, and not just online. Many people reveal large quantities of personal information on the phone or internet, with little knowledge of how the information will be used. This collection of data is likely to continue. It is estimated Facebook is now making almost $2 billion annually because of it success in connecting with advertisers: http://tinyurl.com/2v2juxm . The CEO of google, Eric Schmidt, suggested that in the future, young people may need to change their names in adulthood “to escape their misspent youth, which is now recorded in excruciating detail on social networking sites such as Facebook,” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7951269/Young-will-have-to-change-names-to-escape-cyber-past-warns-Googles-Eric-Schmidt.html .
Facebook Blocking and Banning
Will Richardson states, “Facebook has become such an integral part of the culture, especially our kids’ cultures, that to not provide them with some context for both their actions there and the opportunities for learning in similar spaces is to leave them uneducated.” http://link.social.com/c/twitter/1349941/1274122351/b/bal8vE/97HxsP Also, students with smartphones can use them at school anyway, which means that students can access an unfiltered, unblocked internet connection. Nielson Research predicts that smartphones will account for a majority of phones sold in the U.S. by the end of 2011. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2010-08-02-networking02_ST_N.htm And there are many sites explaining to students how to bypass school and other filters: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Get-On-Facebook-At-School .
Spy or nanny software can also be circumvented. NetAlert, the $84 million software filter, provided free of charge by the Australian government in August 2007, was allegedly cracked by 16 year old Tom Wood in about half an hour after its release: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content-control_software .The Australian government recently proposed making state- approved anti-virus software compulsory, though this is currently in hiatus. While everyone should be educated about the importance of installing anti-virus software, the logistics of making this mandatory are considerable, and what exactly does “state-approved” mean? Will this prevent consumers from using some of the excellent free anti-virus providers? http://www.zdnet.com.au/make-zombie-code-mandatory-govt-report-339304001.htm The following comment sums up some of the issues; “I’d love to know how they propose to install anti-virus and firewalls on devices such as … smartphones and TIVOs. Not to mention all the folks who run GNU/Linux, who don’t need anti-virus as long as their systems are up-to-date. Is there anyone in the Government who actually understands how this stuff works?” : http://digihub.smh.com.au/Is-Australia-becoming-the-nanny-state .
Schools need to decide whether to have sites filtered or not. The decision not to filter site access carries the responsibility to manage the behavioral aspects of open student access, during the school day. However, the decision to filter sites also has implications for teachers where useful sites for learning may also be blocked. “Unblocking” creates additional work for often, already-overburdened, IT staff. It also may impact on the cost, speed, operation, reliability, and thus accessibility, of the whole school internet operation.
The following article suggests 10 ways to keep kids safe on social networks: http://bit.ly/cO6qYL . Sam Diaz suggests a multi-pronged strategy involving:
• connect with students by learning to use the technology yourself- at least in a basic way.
• clear rules with consequences, such as disconnection and removal of privileges
Education is about learning for the real world, and it is important for students to learn to use these increasingly prevalent communication modes in an appropriate manner.
It is a matter of weighing up the relative advantages and disadvantages. Schools may still experience the impact of any significant student misuse on their public image – banning Facebook does not provide immunity from appearing in the media. Secondly, it constrains, though it does not prevent, the ability to teach appropriate use, and thirdly it prevents use for learning purposes. However, on the “pro” side, blocking Facebook at school limits opportunities for abuse, and allows schools to take a stance that it is a parental, not school responsibility. Schools have long been faced with shouldering many social roles previously seen as the sole domain of parents, like sex education, so the argument that Facebook use occurs at home, may not be sufficient, as the consequent problems often overflow to the school situation. From another perspective, Parry Aftab quotes, “The single greatest risk our children face in connection with the Internet is being denied access. We have solutions for every other risk.” http://www.d102.org/teachinglearning/cybersafety.html
In the Face of Distraction
Mary Ann Bell, a University lecturer, recently stated that:
• Kids don’t know how to search and evaluate what they find
• Kids don’t know how to be smart and safe online
• Kids don’t know how to use technology for learning or productivity
(from http://www.mmischools.com/Articles/Column/Belltones/BELLTONES-What-Kids-Know-(and-Done28099t-Know)-About-Technology-60473.aspx) Bell was making the point that while kids may appear confident and competent with using technology, they still need supervision and guidance. The combined effect of ignoring warnings and directions, lack of intuitive ability associated with their age, and the attraction of socialising with peers, means students may need support in these areas.
Students have a limit to the time available for study. However, if they are spending that time on non-productive use of sites like msn, Facebook, YouTube or online games, then their learning may be adversely affected. Parents should discuss time management in relation to these online sites with children. Strategies, such as checking history on computers, placing computers in a visible place at home while they study, or removing phones, may assist students who need support with managing these distractions. Some students may need the internet and/or computer turned off at times, to facilitate learning. The internet is often not needed all the time when students are studying. If students have a problem with such distractions, it may be necessary to consider set times when students are permitted to access these sites, and negotiating access as a reward, such as for studying. More at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/technology/facebook-distracts-school-children-from-studies-survey/story-e6frep1o-1225844928422
Digital Footprints and Digital Citizenship
Just like we leave footprints when walking in sand; so we also leave a digital footprint from our online activities. The topic of managing digital footprints in school needs much more time to discuss thoroughly. Some resources can be located at:
Resources for using online tools appropriately:
• Video for parents http://www.commonsensemedia.org/facebook-parents
• Parent Tips http://www.theonlinemom.com/secondary.asp?id=936
• Online safety help for parents from the Australian government http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/en/News%20Article%20List/2010/07/Cybersmart%20parents%20-%20Connecting%20parents%20to%20cybersafety%20resources.aspx
• Settings for various sites – Australian Federal Police http://www.thinkuknow.org.au/site/stop.asp
• Australian government Cybersmart site http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Teens/Tips%20and%20advice/Your%20digital%20footprint.aspx
• What is a digital footprint? http://langwitches.org/blog/2009/09/13/digital-footprint-your-online-data-trail/
Resources –cyberbullying and digital citizenship (some for older students only):
• Anti-cyberbullying commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amueaVHIZ6A 30 sec
• Would you say it in person? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjKaWNGZNyI 50 sec
• I will be safe online http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2Sg2CbrI34 30 sec
• Protecting reputations online http://www.commoncraft.com/protecting-reputations-video
• Don’t forget your friend’s list, watch what you post and only add “friends” if you know them in person – Post to be private –http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/Post-to-bePrivate 3.05 Copyright at end http://vimeo.com/3976997
• Digital citizenship http://teenlearning.csla.net/ and http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/
• Digiteen links http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/digiteen-project/
• Cybersafety http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/cybersafety/
• Someone’s Watching You http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/someones-watching-you/
• Resource for teachers http://jennylu.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/nurturing-their-digital-footprint-lessons-for-year-12/
Resources for using Facebook:
• Facebook safety from Facebook http://www.facebook.com/help/?safety
• Guidebook to doing just about everything on Facebook http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/2010/a-facebook-guidebook/
• Facebook Questions provides answers to queries, similar to Yahoo Answers. Users can ask questions by clicking the “Ask Question” button on the homepage or on friends’ profiles. http://mashable.com/2010/07/28/facebook-questions/
• Facebook launches safety site – users should consider “friending” the safety site http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_launches_safety_center_to_educate_users.php
• Wowd http://wowd.com/ provides a real-time search engine that allows searching of Facebook information, in a Google-like keyword manner. http://www.pcworld.com/article/202910/wowd_a_faster_more_powerful_way_to_explore_facebook.html?tk=hp_new
Facebook and Libraries
As we have seen with google, once a site becomes dominant, it can almost define knowledge and information dissemination. Users are often unaware of how sites can manipulate the order and positioning of information, and are less than critical about what is presented, making these sites very powerful. The internet is an increasingly competitive coliseum, fighting for consumer attention – but is this an arena that schools and libraries should enter and how?
Social media in schools offer more communication options for members of school communities to connect. Social media is more informal and may create a deeper level of communication and alert schools to concerns in their community. However, the choice of social media options must be evaluated in terms of risk and resource management. Email, for example, offers many communication benefits, so the question to consider is what is gained by offering other social media options and at what cost?
Libraries need to be interested in Facebook because it is one of the major players in the world of public and private information. It is essentially defining online privacy and world social acceptance by its business decisions. The huge number of users and businesses make it of interest to governments. Facebook has been regularly banned by some smaller countries, for example Bangladesh and Pakistan, though this was for facilitating free speech and obscenity reasons – not privacy. These governments have usually reversed bans relatively quickly, once internal political pressure subsides. The following site has a very interesting graphic comparing Facebook users to world populations: http://www.economist.com/node/16646000 .
There is a lot of debate about the pros and cons of using Facebook for Libraries. Facebook can be used for reading promotion with both both the young and the not so young. Facebook is being used to provide reference services by some libraries and to keep clients informed of Library news. Most of the book sharing tools, like shelfari, visual bookshelf and weread, now have facebook applications. See more at: http://www.onlinecollege.org/2009/12/14/50-awesome-facebook-apps-for-serious-bookworms/ .
Buffy Hamilton’s Unquiet Library in Georgia, has three times as many Facebook fans as its football team.
http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/columns/next-steps/unquiet-library-has-high-schoolers-geeked Having decided to host a Library facebook page, the trick is to encourage students to participate. It would be a shame to have obtained permission to use Facebook for Library promotion, only to find students did not access it. The following hints may help with promotion: http://www.davidleeking.com/2010/02/09/humanizing-your-facebook-pages/ . School procedures that ban staff-to-student interaction on personal sites would need to exempt use for school sponsored activities, such as library promotion. Many schools that may not be able to use Facebook, may have other options that can be used instead, like chat, social lounges and forums, within their password protected intranets, to achieve similar results. There are several online tools to choose from when considering ways to better connect with patrons, not just Facebook. Here are some alternatives: http://www.helium.com/items/1836724-alternatives-to-facebook . One consideration is whether the effort of providing and maintaining Facebook, twitter, and other such services will pay off. Is there sufficient staffing to support these services, and who and how many will use them? More information is at: http://www.slideshare.net/LaurieBoettcher/facebook-fan-pages-libraries-2915190
Some examples and considerations regarding library use of Facebook (it may be necessary to sign up to Facebook to access these):
On a practical note, Andrea Walker, from Renaissance College in Hong Kong, in her presentation, Using Social Networks and ICT to Enhance Literature Circles, at the SLAQ/IASL2010 Conference in Brisbane, spoke about difficulties in choosing whether to set up a Facebook school library site in fan or group mode. They had used both modes, and found they both have different advantages and disadvantages, and were still deciding the best option. The following sites may help with this decision;
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/facebook-group-vs-facebook-fan-page-whats-better/7761/ http://www.slideshare.net/seckerj/librarians-libraries-and-facebook-presentation http://www.marketingprofs.com/marketing/online-seminars/313
Facebook for learning and teaching
Facebook can be used to engage students in learning. For example in one project, students used Facebook to study 20th century China. Students adopted the personalities of Sun Yat-sen, Mao Zedong and Chang Kai-shek on Facebook. They created and updated Facebook pages and profiles, along with with photos and wall postings: http://teachers.net/gazette/MAY09/levinson/ . Facebook has even been used considered with primary classes- here is an example: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/07/8-real-ways-facebook-enriched-ms.html . The following posts have links for using Facebook in a secondary school and to the Educators Using Facebook group: http://kerryhawk02.blogspot.com/2010/04/let-me-start-this-post-out-by-saying.html and http://assett.colorado.edu/post/1196 . Here are 100 ways to include Facebook in teaching http://www.onlinecollege.org/2009/10/20/100-ways-you-should-be-using-facebook-in-your-classroom/ . Facebook can also be used for advocacy in relation to social and environmental issues. http://www.edutopia.org/social-media-education-examples-facebook
Facebook Light relief
The following Facebook workout may add a touch of humour to this otherwise serious discussion: http://alexkaris.posterous.com/the-facebook-workout-via-donnydfine .
Facing the Truth
Thus, the question of whether school libraries should use Facebook or whether it will be like opening a pandora’s box, is a complex one. Use of tools like Facebook will depend very much on the approach adopted by individual schools. For schools, options, such as trying to ignore Facebook or placing the responsibility on parents, will not necessarily provide protection. Banning Facebook also bans a potential learning and communication tool that engages students, and is used by many in the school community. It was not that long ago, that email was similarly excluded from many schools. However, at the moment, utilising the benefits of Facebook without the dangers, seems to be in the “too hard” basket for most schools. Similarly, use of Facebook by school libraries, must carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages, especially in the face of competing demands on staffing and resources, and other goals.
Facebook has become a major player in the information game. Andy Borowitz said, ironically, that China could disband spying and use Facebook instead to gather personal information on people. He suggested China could “scrap its elaborate array of spy satellites, eavesdropping devices and closed-circuit surveillance cameras after recognizing that Facebook put[s] them all to shame.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-borowitz/china-to-stop-spying-on-i_b_577036.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter How far from the truth is this?
Also, there are intellectual property issues to consider. The new Facebook terms and conditions mean that Facebook essentially owns all user data. The recent changes also basically give Facebook the right to pass on information to third parties and advertisers, so they can tailor their marketing: http://chrisbetcher.com/2010/05/bye-bye-facebook/ . However, Zuckerberg claims it is not the data that makes Facebook valuable. “I think it’s really easy to say that there is all this information that Facebook has. What Facebook is today isn’t a set of information, it’s a community of people who are using Facebook to stay connected and share information. They are only going to do that as long as they trust us.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128744904&ft=1&f=2
Should we trust Facebook?
Or in the face of 500 million users, including most of our secondary students, should schools be addressing social networking tools more actively, regardless?
Library Trailers – using email, email newsletters and annual reports for advocacy
Libraries are in the business of information and resource management. One of their most important roles is communicating their services and activities to their communities. Email, email newsletters and annual reports are important methods for advocating the importance and achievements of school libraries.
Many teacher-librarians bemoan that others do not know what they do. As information specialists, it should be part of the teacher-librarian role to inform their communities about their activities and services. There is also an element of self preservation in doing this, in that it increases the likelihood that the role will be valued and therefore staffed and budgets provided appropriately. Today we have options such as email, video and online library sites to keep our communities informed, in addition to more traditional methods such as speaking, in person, to various members or groups in the school community. Many libraries are now using social networking tools such as twitter, facebook and text messaging to communicate with clients. This discussion will focus on school email newsletters, the school annual and library reports as excellent means of advocacy.
Library operations should have a structure of ongoing goal setting and regular review of progress. Once goals are agreed upon, they can be translated into projects and priorities for members of the Library team. Goals should have some flexibility to accommodate emerging community needs. Library goals should align with school learning goals. In reviewing progress on goals, a record can be created via the minutes of advancement and achievements. This information can form the basis of regular reports for the school newsletter, term reports and annual reports on library outcomes. This structure not only promotes celebration of successes, but allows reflection of performance to enhance operations.
Communication about progress on goals can facilitate improved operation of the Library team. Even when the library team is one person, a process of goal setting, review and reflection will assist time management and focus. Some staff may say that they do not have time for such structures, but a famous quote says “failure to plan is planning to fail.” Planning is about being proactive, rather than just reactive. It is about ensuring that the skills of the school library specialist are delivered.
Communication with the school community is a very important part of the teacher-librarian role. This promotes awareness and use of Library resources and services. It is too time consuming and usually impossible for the teacher-librarian to contact every member of the school community individually or even in groups. Therefore, digital and written information provides options for breaking through the communication barrier.
School email creates great opportunities for school Libraries. In the past, school newsletters were printed and mailed and therefore had to be kept short to minimize expense. However, with emailed newsletters, the distribution is virtually free. It may require negotiation to ensure space for library news in the newsletter on a regular basis. However, this is an invaluable opportunity to communicate with parents, staff and students. While not everyone will read these communications, many will do so. Photos can enhance interest. It is important to try and keep the communication targeted, interesting and relevant. Where the school does not have an emailed school newsletter, this should be pursued with school management. Here is an example of content contributed from my Library to the school weekly newsletter. It includes a report on Term 1 activities http://readingpower.wordpress.com/about/ . Photos and names have been removed from the original text for publication on my external blog.
Having an email list to communicate with parents is invaluable for a wide variety of school purposes. Similarly, all students should have email. This greatly facilitates school communication. The Library can also use email to contact students regarding reservations, overdues and various Library services and activities. Use of email to automatically communicate information, such as overdues, from library management software can greatly reduce time spent on these tasks.
Similarly, the school annual is an excellent opportunity to showcase the achievements of the Library over the year. This process will be much easier if photos and information are collated regularly as events occur. There may be a need to produce 2 annual reports. The report for school leadership can be more detailed, whereas a report for the school annual is likely to be more concise and contain highlights. http://librarygrits.blogspot.com/2010/07/annual-report-time.html . School annuals will invariably contain photos of sporting, debating and other such teams. Equally, shouldn’t recognition be given to library helpers, Readers’ Cup teams and Book Club members?
The school library website is a good place to collate and publish library news which also further promotes library activities to the school community. If the school does not have an online learning platform such as moodle, Blackboard or some other intranet portal, the library specialist may consider using an external site such as a blog, facebook or other such online presence. If external sites are chosen, it is important that agreement is obtained from school leadership about publishing in the public domain, and that procedures are established about what can included. This especially applies to use of student and staff names, school information and photographs.
Email can also be an effective tool for the Library to communicate with teaching staff. Many Library systems, such as Softlink Oliver, allow staff to set up email alerts so they are automatically emailed when new resources relevant to their teaching arrive. Similarly staff and students may elect to be emailed when new resources by favourite authors arrive in the Library. Obviously, email can also be an effective tool for staff and students to send suggestions regarding purchases and services to Library staff.
Recently, the use of library annual reports has been receiving much attention in the blogosphere, such as the following post from Di McKenzie which includes exemplars http://librarygrits.blogspot.com/2010/07/annual-report-time.html The comments on another post by Di reinforce how powerful Annual Reports can be for Library advocacy http://librarygrits.blogspot.com/2009/06/importance-of-creating-annual-report.html . The following is a collaborative document where you can find many Library Annual Reports and add your own http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=rzw8hacvB7jFRUNB6L2S29Q#gid=0 . Di outlines 10 reasons why every Library should prepare an annual report in the following post http://librarygrits.blogspot.com/2009/06/importance-of-creating-annual-report.html . I would be remiss if I did not specifically mention Buffy Hamilton who uses Libguides for her library reports http://theunquietlibrary.libguides.com/annualreport2009-10# . However, while these are wonderful examples of excellence, even a simple written report is a good way to start, and then grow the process from there.
Many of these library reports include video as well as images. Similarly, providing the report both by email and in print may increase the likelihood of it being read. Here are 2 Library Reports constructed using Animoto by Kathy Dacula http://librarystew.blogspot.com/2010/06/year-in-review-2009-2010.html and Joyce Valenza http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/neverendingsearch/2010/06/12/a-time-to-reflect/ . My library reports currently include text and statistics, but not video as yet.
It can be valuable to record lending, cataloguing and other Library information to assist planning and resourcing decisions. Some Library Reports are very long such as Fan Bullington’s at the following site, but it does provide an idea of the type of information that can be included http://informania.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/npbshslmc20092010annualreport-100610172422-phpapp021.pdf . Here is another post from Fran Bullington where she outlines her journey in writing library reports http://informania.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/advocacy-annual-reports/ . While it might seem daunting at first, the following post provides information for getting started and how it ties in with evidence based practice http://kasl.typepad.com/kasl/2009/04/annual-report-as-advocacy-tool.html .
Fran Bullington uses the term bragolog and discusses how teacher-librarians should not be shy but use various methods to “toot their horn” about what they do http://informania.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/advocacy-create-a-bragalog/ . More advice on library advocacy can be found at the following site from Cathy Jo Nelson regarding opportunities with new teachers and induction http://blog.cathyjonelson.com/?p=1426 . Some more general points on advocacy are made at the following site which highlights the many and varied ways that library advocacy can occur http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2010/7/16/wisdom-from-hartzell-and-professional-death-wishes.html .
Some library reports are so advanced; they could be called Library Trailers, as they promote their Libraries utilizing video techniques similar to those used to promote movies and more recently books, in addition to the more traditional written report format. The aim is to increase the likelihood that the school community, especially leadership, will view the information about the valuable services and resources provided by the School Library. Similarly, email, especially emailed school newsletters can be used to promote Library activities, as well as email in general. Whatever means are used; it is very useful to keep a record of Library achievements in order to promote reflection, improvement and ongoing planning. And if these records are kept, then sharing them with the school community will help ensure the essential role of school libraries is recognized. In summary, the message is that if we want people to know what we do… we need to tell them.
Using Netbooks for E-reading
The book has not disappeared – 3 billion paper books were sold in the US alone last year http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2010/03/electronic_publishing . E-readers and similar devices are still no match for the technology known as the book. However, new reading technologies are worthy of consideration, as they provide additional means of promoting reading.
What is e – reading?
According to yahoo answers, the most popular answer to this question was, “Reading novels, magazines etc. in the internete is E-reading.” Yes, the spelling and grammar is not inspiring. Another answer was “e-reading is the act of reading a book, magazine, or newspaper article from a hand held electronic device such as an Amazon Kindle or a Sony e-reader. Some hand held PDAs such as an iPod or Blackberry can also be used for e-reading.” http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090929073200AAnf21w Therefore, in this discussion, the term e-reading will refer to reading on the internet, previously done on books and magazine, as derived from the recent high profile of “e-reader” devices, rather than reading on computers in general.
The following videos are amusing reflections on “the book” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7kqO_DOsN8 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFAWR6hzZek . E-reading devices raise the issue of what device to choose for e-reading. E-reading can be done on desktop computers, but this may not allow sufficient comfort, portability or mobility. Many schools are moving to one- to- one computing devices, so what opportunities do these devices provide to promote and facilitate reading?
At our school, all Year 8, 10 and 11 students and all staff now have a Netbook- in our case the Acer Aspire – and the remainder of secondary students will have one in 9 months time. So, this discussion reflects the beginning of a journey in considering how to use Netbooks for e-reading, and some inquiry into the free program, Amazon Kindle for PC.
Netbooks for e-reading
Costwise, Netbooks, especially those with a larger battery, are usually slightly more expensive than most e-readers. Netbooks require a little more technical know-how, but in relation to school Netbooks, technical support is provided by our IT department. A Kindle is thinner and much lighter than a Netbook, and its battery lasts much longer on a charge. Netbooks have bigger, brighter, backlit screens and color, and they double as computers. Many e-readers cannot run Word or load Web pages as the Netbook does. Our Netbooks have a webcam, while an Ipad does not even have a camera. Storage is also an issue. The Kindle 6 inch can hold up to 1500 books, while the Kindle 9.7 inch DX is said to hold up to 3500 books.
In using school Netbooks, there is a need to consider storage, support and loading of programs. Schools vary greatly in the amount of control exercised over Netbooks. Today, I heard of a school that gives students administration rights to their mobile computing devices. At other schools, such as ours, students cannot load programs, such as Amazon Kindle for PC. In order to trial e-reading, Amazon for PC was loaded quite easily to my PC by IT staff. There is a time issue for support staff with any program that is loaded. Another issue is security. Parents would have to input credit card details and would need to decide if their child was able to purchase the books or if they would control this. However, there are many free books available. Another issue is storage space. The Netbooks are effective for most basic computing activities, but their use for other learning activities may be impaired if the memory becomes full with books. These are issues that would have to be determined at a curriculum level, in terms of how the devices should be best used for learning.
It was also discovered that books could not be downloaded at school due to the proxy server. So, while the book could be purchased online at school, the book did not download until the proxy server was turned off as is done to access home wireless internet. Even at home, an error message appeared, “Unable to connect,” for quite some time and then suddenly the book appeared. The downside to the PC version is the program does not allow reading Kindle weblogs and newspaper and magazine subscriptions. However, this may be a small price to pay for the chance to use a device already owned, instead of having to pay for the cost of a new gadget.
Amazon Kindle for PC requires a device with at least 500MHz Intel / AMD processor, 128MB of RAM and screen resolution of 800×600, and Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, Windows Vista or Windows 7 and 100MB of available disk space for the program, plus additional space to store books purchased. Readers can search and browse more than 480,000 books, get free book samples and also read the first chapter for free, before deciding to buy. The software allows users to adjust font size, as well as words per line. Pages can be bookmarked, but there’s no annotation with Kindle for PC. Apparently, Kindle content can be synched on multiple computers, so you can start reading on a desktop, and then resume where you left off from your laptop, though I have not tried this yet.
In terms of reading, it was decided to download, “The Reckoning,“ by Kelley Armstrong. The process of payment was simple as I already had an Amazon account. The book was billed to my Visa at a cost of $10.28 AUS. The text is very easy to read and navigate. However, to create a more book-like reading experience, a free application called EeeRotate can be downloaded http://sites.google.com/site/vkedwardli/eeerotate . This means the display can be rotated by holding down CTRL+ALT and the right arrow key (CTRL + ALT with the up arrow, returns the screen to normal). While I have seen this on our Netbooks, this is another example of a feature that requires downloading by the IT Department.
Can this be done on a laptop?
Both laptops and desktop computers can be used for e-reading. However, as in the following article, laptops are heavier, bulkier, cost more if you lose or break them or they are stolen; their batteries do not last as long, and they may be too big for an airline meal tray when travelling. http://www.naturalnews.com/027373_Taiwan_netbooks_battery_life.html .
Netbooks can be purchased cheaply –check deals online. Here is a great article if you want to read further on this, “Kindle, schmindle…I’ve got your $350 e-book reader right here” http://www.cnet.com/8301-18603_1-10188221-73.html
Ease of reading
The dedicated e-readers have E-ink mode that extends battery. They have no backlight, but this conserves power usage . The iPad has an LCD screen and is LED-backlit for power efficiency. This does not deliver the same sort of easy-on-the-eye viewing skills that e-ink’s electrophoretic technology does, but it allows the iPad to have more multimedia functionality.
Netbook versus the iPad
Here are some sites with comparisons of Netbooks versus the Ipad:
Where to get books
Different e-booksellers may require different software for viewing their books. E-booksellers like Amazon, eBooks.com, eReader, Fictionwise, and Mobipocket offer many mainstream, business, and academic titles. Here is a comparison of costs reported for the e-book,”The Host,” by Stephenie Meyer: Kindle: $9.99, Adobe: $23.99, Microsoft: $23.99 .
The supply of free e-books is increasing online. Here is a debate on books versus the kindle and sources of free e-books:
In Queensland, public libraries provide free e-books. In addition, there is often the option of audio book format which can also be played on Netbooks. For example, go to the BCC Library site http://elibcat.library.brisbane.qld.gov.au/uhtbin/webcat/ and click e-books and downloads in the dark blue menu bar. By choosing the Brisbane/Yarra collection, you can search for books in juvenile, young adult or general collections, and further search by popularity, recent or other categories. Then proceed to the checkout where you can borrow a digital book by inputting your Brisbane City Council Library card barcode which allows a free download.
Publish Your Own E- reading material
Convert your writing into an online PDF. This can be done for free at http://www.youconvertit.com or http://www.pdfonline.com/convert-pdf. You can then submit your e-book directories such as:
• http://www.myebook.com .
If you would like to sell your e-book, you can submit it to http://e-library.net/add.html. You can also submit your e-book to document sharing sites like Scribd.com, Issuu.com and Yudu.com. This site compares most of the options for self-publishing http://www.xmarks.com/topic/self_publishing .
Here is a 15 minute video on using e-books to motivate students to write http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=442 . The creation of e-books also has many possibilities for resourcing learning, especially by providing alternatives to text books, such as http://www.ck12.org/flexr/ . Here is a site about using e-books in education http://www.drscavanaugh.org/ebooks/ .
Other devices – Reading on mobile phones
Many other mobile devices have great reading capabilities. At the end of last year, one of the 2 best sellers in Japan was a 142-page hardback book about a high-school romance that was originally typed on a mobile phone. Rin’s Moshimo Kimiga (If You …) began as a series of instalments uploaded to an internet site that was sent out to the phones of thousands of subscribers. It sold more than 420,000 copies in the first 2 months that it was converted into a hardcopy book.
Five of the ten best selling novels in Japan in 2007 were keitai shousetsu or cellphone novels. These novels were originally written and published to phones via text messaging, by and for young adults. This phenomenon began in 2003, and has been slowly spreading to other countries such as South Korea, China and South Africa. Keitai shousetsu and equivalents show that people are willing to read content on a range of devices. Mayumi Sato, a 37-year-old editor at Goma Books who turned Rin’s episodic melodrama into a bestselling book, says, “It might seem strange that young readers are going out and buying the book after they’ve already read the story on their mobile. Often it’s because they email suggestions and criticisms to the author on the novel website as the story is unfolding, so they feel like they’ve contributed to the final product, and they want a hardcopy keepsake of it.” http://www.smh.com.au/news/mobiles–handhelds/in-japan-cellular-storytelling-is-all-the-rage/2007/12/03/1196530522543.html Maho no i-rando (Magic Island) is a site that has free tools to help readers create their own mobile phone novels. It has accumulated nearly 1 million works in its first 7 years of operation.
To keep up with developments in this area, the following site will be of interest http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/course/view.php?id=2497
E-books can be read in a myriad of ways, including on phones, on personal computing devices, such as Netbooks, and on more specific e-readers, such as kindles, nooks and iPads. The example given of using the free download, Amazon Kindle for PC on the Acer Aspire Netbook, is just one way that e-reading can be delivered.
Netbooks will become even more friendly for e-reading soon. Companies such as Pixel Qi are introducing multiple screen option functionality for Netbooks, such as a black-and-white e-ink mode for reading text documents and e-books, and two color modes, designed for use indoors or in bright sunlight, that are more suitable for Web surfing and video playback. Here is a visual comparison of the screens in sunlight and in shade http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oawX3wenxNc and http://gizmodo.com/5443895/e+ink-is-dead-pixel-qis-amazing-transflective-lcd-just-killed-it Manufacturers are also introducing more efficient ways of lighting the screen, which is the main drain on power, to facilitate e-reading. Now, that’s something to aspire to…
Twitter for Teachers, Librarians and Teacher-Librarians
Why tweet? Just in case you have never heard of twitter and are wondering why anyone would want to sit on a fence and make bird noises; twitter is a microblogging application. Messages must be less than 140 characters and are usually sent immediately. Tweets can include sound, images, geotagging and video; may be linked to longer communications elsewhere; and accessed anywhere, anytime, via mobile as well as desktop devices. You do not need to tweet yourself – you might just listen to the bird noises of others by “following” them, which is one way to begin.
Twitter has many useful applications for teachers and students. Twitter can be very enjoyable and extremely rewarding, especially in situations like schools where there may be only one teacher-librarian or sometimes one teacher in a subject.
My own use of twitter is more as a news service that provides the latest in library information and inspiration from around the world. I follow only 18 people on twitter, but benefit from their very extensive networks. However, even used in this restricted way, twitter is one of the most valuable avenues I have found for professional learning, in addition to using blogging and also reading blogs written by other people. My blog http://readingpower.wordpress.com/ usually features a daily compilation of the “top ten” (or so) news resources for teachers, librarians and teacher-librarians from sources like oztlnet, ozteachers, my twitter network, ypulse and a variety of blogs. However, these resources are selected for my particular learning purposes, which are likely to differ from your interests. Hence, there is a need for each of us to have our own professional learning system…and one of the great advantages of twitter is the 2 way communication and sharing, much like the warbling of a dawn chorus…
For the purposes of this article, I have researched Twitter and associated applications further and learnt much in the process. However, if you are seeking a twitter expert, please look in the direction of someone like Judy O’Connell http://twitter.com/heyjudeonline who was following 654 people when I checked. It is also important to remember that twitter is only one of many sources of professional learning, and much can be learnt from the strategies used by leading educators in managing their many information sources in a time effective manner.
Thus, methods of using twitter vary from small scale use to large scale use, where hundreds or thousands of people are followed. The larger the scale, the greater will be the need for tools to assist with organizing and sifting through information and these techniques can in turn be shared with our staff and students.
Bird noises for beginners
Go to http://twitter.com/ . Sign up. Include a brief description to help others decide if they would like to follow you. Pick a name that is easy to relate to e.g. my username of “Anneticipation,” http://twitter.com/Anneticipation is easier to relate to than something like “aweav305.” Add an avatar http://www.moeruavatar.com/index_en.shtml image or photo to your profile.
Then you need to decide “whom” to follow. Sue Waters and Chris Betcher recommend following at least 40 people to really assess twitter http://suewaters.wikispaces.com/twitter . Here is a link to a twitter (and Facebook) guidebook http://heyjude.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/twitter-facebook-guides/ .
The Pecking Order
Once you start tweeting, you will come across new twitterers as you read tweets, or you can check who the people you follow, are in turn following. Many people now include their twitter name in emails, blogs and other sources. However, to get started; the following are some leading teacher-librarians in the world who tweet:
• Anne Robinson in the UK http://twitter.com/The_Librain ,
• Judy O’Connell in Australia http://twitter.com/heyjudeonline ,
• Dianne McKenzie in Hong Kong http://twitter.com/dimac4
• Joyce Valenza in the USA http://twitter.com/joycevalenza
• Buffy Hamilton in the USA http://twitter.com/buffyjhamilton
• Melissa Techman in Canada http://twitter.com/mtechman
You can also find people to follow at:
• listorious e.g. http://listorious.com/ReadCloud/teacher-librarians
• Locate people by searching their names in directories e.g. http://twitdir.com/search_lite.php
If you want to reply to someone or mention them in a tweet, there may be a “reply” icon on your twitter application or type @ followed by their login e.g. “@Anneticipation thanks for the link.” If you would like to send a Direct Message that only one person will see, start with a capital D followed by a space e.g. “D meet you at 7 pm.” To follow someone, click on their name, then click “Follow.” To cease receiving updates from someone, click “Unfollow,” or if they are annoying, “block” them.
Normally, only people who follow a particular individual will see their tweets, but you may find a tweet you would like to share with your followers. Type RT or RETWEET followed by the sender’s twittername, in front of the original tweet and send, or you may need to copy and paste the tweet. Twitter clients like tweet deck and twirl allow retweeting by pressing one button.
Hash tags “#”help with finding and organizing information in twitter. For example, the hash tag #Followfriday is used on Fridays to recommend and find people to follow. Hash tags can be searched at http://search.twitter.com. Alternatively, you can use a twitter client with built in search, such as tweet deck. There is no listing, as such, of hash tags and you can start your own hash tags.
Twitter accounts can be made public or private and can also be subscribed to via RSS feeds. Users can create and send Twitter messages via many applications, including Twitter, IM accounts, Facebook, emails or text messages from mobile phones.
Searching and researching Twitter
Twitter can be used to keep up with news or to follow the latest developments in topics. Some people see searching as the most useful feature of Twitter because it accesses information that is live and immediate. To search, go to http://search.twitter.com/ , Tweet Scan – a search engine for Twitter topics, or http://www.monitter.com/ to keyword search. Semantic search engines are being developed, such as Ellerdale http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/beyond_twitter_semantic_analysis_of_the_real-time_web.php . Google now searches twitter – enter a search, then click “Show options” on the google results screen, then select blogs http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/43451 . Searching manually to find that special tweet can be time consuming, so try tweetscan or twistory http://twitnine.com/using-your-twitter-history-and-favorites/ . There are several tools for analyzing and utilizing twitter data, such as at http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/80437 .
Birds of a feather…
Twitter is used mainly by the 25 to 54 years age group, rather than teenagers. Teenagers are more likely to use phones or Facebook http://techcrunch.com/2009/08/30/why-dont-teens-tweet-we-asked-over-10000-of-them/ . Teens may prefer Facebook because they are more “friend- oriented” and seek a personalized online presence to share with their friends, while twitter is more suited to broadcasting and retrieving information. Also, teenagers may be less into content creation than adults http://mashable.com/2010/02/03/teens-dont-tweet-or-blog/ and texting does not require internet access http://mobithinking.com/blog/mobile-net-stats . Take-up of twitter has been extraordinary for a relatively new application, especially via mobile internet devices which has been facilitated by growth in smart phone technologies http://mashable.com/2010/03/03/comscore-mobile-stats/ .
It’s a hoot!
The following site reports sixty-five percent of tweeters use it directly from the twitter site – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_top_twitter_client_is_still_the_web.php . However, using a twitter client or plug-in, usually enhances the twitter experience. The most popular client is http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/ , but http://iseesmic.com/ and http://www.twhirl.org/ are also common. Hoot suite is a web based client, so there is no software to download or install, which may be prevented in some workplaces. With hoot suite, your account can be accessed just as you left it from any computer, so it may suit those who use different computing devices during a day. Aggregators and applications such as shareaholic http://www.libdemvoice.org/shareaholic-2-18021.html and friendfeed assist with receiving, bookmarking and sharing twitter links.
I currently browse with Firefox and had been using the Kutano plug-in which was great, but it was decommissioned on March 26th, so I have just installed Echofon to try as a replacement. Other browsers will have various twitter applications to select from, and some of these also interact well with devices such as i-phones. Tweetie, twinkle and twibble are apparently popular for mobile devices http://www.scribd.com/doc/14062777/Twitter-Handbook-for-Teachers . Tweets can be valuable for various reasons, so back them up with this free tool http://backupmytweets.com/ . Here are other twitter tools, some with equally strange names, that may be useful http://www.selectcourses.com/blog/2009/100-tips-tools-and-resources-for-twitter-research/comment-page-1/#comment-345 .
Creating flocks – Twitter lists
“Twitter Lists” is a newer feature to help with organizing people you’re following on Twitter, or find new people. Twitter Lists offers a way to group other users on Twitter to get an overview. The Lists aren’t just static listings of users, but rather curated streams of the latest tweets from specified sets of users http://mashable.com/2009/11/02/twitter-lists-guide/ .
Twitter is instantaneous communication. Tweets can be deleted. However, anything online can be copied and saved forever by others, so take care with what is posted. It may not be wise to tweet about your bad day at work, or people you are having difficulties with. If it is confidential, then online is often not the best medium. Online communication comes across differently than speech, so take care with how things are written. Avoid banal posts, like what you are eating, unless you really think your followers would want to know this. You may get spam followers, but just block these. Don’t respond online to rudeness. You are in control, so you can block who you follow and who follows you.
Shorten URLs if your client does not do this automatically e.g. http://tinyurl.com/. Be polite. If you want to swear, it is best not to do this online. Don’t post when upset. Personal issues are usually best dealt with in more personal ways than online tools like twitter.
No need to be in a flap about Twitter overload
There are now applications for managing twitter overload.
GPS for birds – Foursquare
Twitter can be combined with other applications. For example, foursquare http://foursquare.com/ is a location-based social networking website with software for mobile devices and a game aspect. Foursquare users “check-in” at venues and are then awarded points or “badges.” Foursquare combines location sharing, connecting with friends, and Twitter-like updates.
Taking off with Twitter for teaching
Some lecturers, conference presenters and teachers are using twitter as a “backchannel” with students and attendees posting questions or comments, or responding to polls. This is especially useful in the face of increasing student numbers in lectures, though this is obviously not for the faint –hearted teacher http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/twitter-classroom/ . Often in a class situation, some students may be reluctant to publicly ask questions and twitter can be used to overcome this. Twitter can also be used as an alternative communication tool for group learning and to assist class research http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_one_teacher_uses_twitter_in_the_classroom.php .
Examples of using twitter for teaching can be found at http://twhistory.org/ where students role- play the Cuban Missile crisis on twitter over a corresponding period of time http://twitter.com/CubanMissile09/following .
Judy O-Connell has useful posts on her blog about twitter and teaching:
• How to use twitter http://heyjude.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/tweet-me-now/
• Twitter in your professional life http://heyjude.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/making-twitter-work-for-me/
• Twitter for news http://heyjude.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/tsunami-in-the-classroom/
More flying lessons for using twitter in teaching
• Chris Betcher discussing twitter http://chrisbetcher.com/2010/03/big-twitter-little-twitter/
• Twitter for teaching http://ow.ly/1nild
• Pedagogy http://www.slideshare.net/dpeter19/twitter-and-teaching-and-learning-1574707
• Classroom Tips http://teachingtechnology.suite101.com/article.cfm/12_expert_twitter_tips_for_the_classroom
• Teach with twitter http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/02/100-ways-to-teach-with-twitter/
• Pleased to tweet you http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6708199.html
• Using twitter to facilitate discussion http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/using-twitter-to-facilitate-classroom-discussions/
• Alternatives for classrooms e.g. Shout ‘Em http://bvwlibrary.edublogs.org/2009/04/13/shout-em/
Twitter for Libraries
Libraries can use twitter to connect with patrons and to bring attention to new content on the main web site. Posts can be automatically generated through applications such as twitter feed, and delivered to patrons in the format they want such as text, IM, or email. RSS feeds can be delivered by twitter such as for announcing new titles by an author or publisher. Some libraries use twitter for their “Ask a librarian” help services. Here are lists of ways to use twitter in libraries:
• http://www.collegeathome.com/blog/2008/05/27/twitter-for-librarians-the-ultimate-guide/ http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/may09/Milstein.shtml
Flights of fancy
Twitter was established in 2006, so it is relatively new, but technology changes faster than the weather these days, so new iterations are probably already in development. Social networks are by their nature social, so users congregate where they will find the most other users with similar interests, and they will migrate accordingly as was seen happening recently from MySpace to Facebook, and also to follow improved technologies, such as is happening with smart phones. Some possible futures for blogging and microblogging were discussed in my article, “Blogging – It’s A Journey” in the Volume 24 Issue 10, 2010 edition of Access.
To tweet off
“Watching from the outside, Twitter [is] like the the dumbest thing you’ve heard of “Why would anyone want to tell others what they are doing in 140 characters. And yet to dismiss Twitter is a mistake because it’s an incredibly powerful tool for your personal learning and connecting with others.” (by Sue Waters http://suewaters.wikispaces.com/twitter )
“Twitter is brilliant, but I think it’s just the first iteration of what will eventually be an internet nervous system that you’ll be plugged into, and the zeitgeist will flow around you at all times. I think there’s better ways to do it than Twitter. I think we participate in it as journalists… we’re actually the input, we’re the ones who are putting content into it, and then people stir it and churn it around. Twitter is at [its] best, not when you say ‘I had toast for breakfast’, but when you say ‘Did you read this great article?’ If you really use Twitter properly, if you check it regularly, you don’t have any fear any more that you’re going to miss something, do you? Because you just know. If you follow the right people, the stuff you care about, you just know.” (by Leo Laport from http://betch.edublogs.org/2009/12/26/the-wisdom-of-leo/ )
Blogging – it’s a journey!
Acess, Volume 24 Issue 1 2010
There are billions of blogs. Why on earth blog and who has the time anyway? And isn’t blogging so “last year’s news?” I myself have started several blogs that were quickly constructed, but then just as quickly died of neglect. But blogging is worthy of reconsideration, both in itself and also in the face of new social media tools like microblogging (which sounds so much more impressive than “twitter”). Blogging has even become fashionable in the realms of educational pedagogy. It is recognized as an accessible, easily managed and effective introductory tool for promoting reflection and higher order thinking. Blogging is an important means of keeping au fait with a rapidly changing world of reading, research and technology; and when you don’t have the time to keep up with all this change … just follow the blog or microblog of someone who does.
What is a blog?
A blog (short for weblogs) is a website, with regular entries of text or other material, such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blogs may be private or public and may invite comments and feedback. Blogs may be simply information repositories, such as photos and/or text from a trip, or they may be very personal and reflective. Blogs may be ongoing or for limited purposes.
Here are 10 reasons to blog:
1. Blogs are quick and easy to construct, especially compared to many traditional websites
2. Blogs can become professional / e-portfolios – they make a great online filing cabinet
3. Blogs facilitate exploration and modelling of online communication issues as well as professional learning and collaboration
4. Wikis and nings are more communal, twitter more transient, while blogs allow more depth to explore a topic
5. Blogs are more individual-centric, whilst still allowing communication and collaboration
6. Blogs record a journey over time, facilitating reflection and improved practice
7. Blogs model technology implementation and develop technology skills
8. Blogs are one means of providing a portal for online tools and learning
9. Blogs can be dramatic, creative, artistic, fun artefacts. They can be- a bit like reality television, but usually contain more interesting and useful content
10. Blogs help with time management – with less time and resources in the face of increasing demands, they promote learning with and from each other, and sharing of resources, rather than everyone having to “reinvent the wheel.”
John Dewey (1910) (a distant relative of Melvil Dewey of the Dewey decimal system) said,
Reflective thinking is always more or less troublesome because it involves overcoming the inertia that inclines one to accept suggestions at their face value; it involves willingness to endure a condition of mental unrest and disturbance. Reflective thinking, in short, means judgment suspended during further inquiry; and suspense is likely to be somewhat painful. … To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry—these are the essentials of thinking. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/John_Dewey_lib.jpg
Dewy coined terms such as active learning, hands on learning and experiential learning. He said that action and reflection are two sides of the same coin.
Carol Gordon in Scan: “Raising Active Voices in School Libraries: authentic learning, information processing and guided inquiry part 2, the role of reflection,” Vol. 28, No. 4, Nov 2009 pp 27-33, discusses how reflective thinking is an essential part of constructivist, critical and higher order thinking. Knowledge is the raw material for thinking and without reflection there is no thinking. Reflection and feedback should inform every stage of learning, not just the final stage. Gordon suggests that journals/ blogs can be instruments of creation/action and reflection that offer snapshots of cognitive, affective and behavioural indicators that signal students’ needs that might otherwise be lost in the learning process.
Journals and blogs may focus on product and/or process, and both are valid for different purposes. There is no doubt that blog content can be “trivial” which is fine in some circumstances, but if the goal is higher order thinking, Carol suggests using questions and writing prompts to create focus and challenge. Reflection in inquiry learning is a key form of intervention to help students make the information – to – knowledge connection that supports critical thinking and growth of meta-cognition, but tasks need to be structured and focused accordingly.
Blogging and education
Will Richardson has great ideas for blogging in education in his book, “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful tools for Classrooms” and his blog http://weblogg-ed.com/ and I will not repeat these here. More teaching ideas can be found at http://www.davehuffaker.com/papers/Huffaker2005_LetThemBlog.pdf . The effectiveness of blogging compared to traditional websites is also recognized in business with advantages that can also be applied to education http://realestate.about.com/od/bloggingforrealestate/p/blog_is_biz.htm .
Blogs can provide real world tools and real audiences. Eleven-year-old community volunteer, Angela Stockman, developed a network of people from almost every continent and country, who shared their own stories of service. This is also a good example of a limited duration blog http://twentyfivedays.wordpress.com . Blogs can be an effective hands-on approach for teaching students how to use the internet safely and how to manage their digital footprint. Useful resources are at:
Research is showing that blogging is an effective learning tool. “Social networking, blogging and generally publishing writing online [improves] students’ attitudes to writing by about a sixth,” and “blogging within a structured learning environment improves writing in a foreign language.” http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2009/12/blogging-improves-young-peoples-confidence-writing-reading.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8392653.stm
The recent edublogs awards provide excellent examples of why blogging and reading blogs are valuable http://edublogawards.com/ . The teachpaperless blog is interesting as the author reflects on his journey from newbie to blog guru in the space of a year http://teachpaperless.blogspot.com/2010/01/639.html .These awarded sites are a great place for inspiration on content and design when constructing a blog.
Blogging can be effective in relation to Library websites. Carolyn Foote discusses blogging in: “Looking to Ramp Up Your Library Web Site? Try a Blog” http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6712732.html . Library sites can be very static if they cannot be easily updated, or if they are not interactive, allowing comments. Modern students are accustomed to instant messaging and texting – can students easily contact your Library using communication technologies? Here is a school Library site that is a blog: http://librarymhs.blogspot.com/ . An example of a school library site with both a primary and secondary blog follows (click bottom half of the link). https://sites.google.com/a/vmbulldogs.com/van-meter-secondary-library-voice/
Look here to see teacher responses to blogging http://suewaters.com/2009/09/29/what-are-your-thoughts-on-educational-blogging/ . Blogging from the student perspective is discussed at http://futura.edublogs.org/2009/12/04/and-children-shall-lead-them/ The recent k12 Online Conference included many uses of blogging with students, such as this presentation by Sarah Sutter http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=484 More on blogging in schools at http://ipl.ci.fsu.edu/community/wiki/index.php/Blogs The following wiki contains blogging resources, including permission letters to parents and student contracts http://showandtell-k1209.wikispaces.com/ .
Blogging and social networking tools also address what some have termed the “hostility” of schools to adult learning. Ferriter (2009) in “Learning with Blogs and Wikis” http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/Learning_with_Blogs_and_Wikis.aspx discusses how professional learning at schools has tended to be mass produced based on the latest educational craze. Whilst there is still a need for school-wide professional learning; blogs, wikis and other social networking tools allow teachers to personalize their professional learning, to benefit from world-wide collaboration, and to access the latest learning resources.
There are many blog platforms to choose from. Self hosted blogging will not be explored here, but those with higher skill levels who are able to manage the technical aspects and who require more flexibility, may prefer this option.
Only free blog options will be discussed here. WordPress.com is free, but restricts advertising, so this is not an ideal choice if you hope to make money from your free blog. Blogger/blogspot (owned by Google) allows free blogs which contain advertising. I have long been a fan of edublogs (affiliated with wordpress, but operates separately) as a very easy blog platform that facilitates widgets. My original blog was constructed at http://readingpower.edublogs.org/ However, after a very short time, the comparatively small free space dwindled, leading to the need to transfer elsewhere or “pay!” The copying of text from edublogs to wordpress.com which provides much more free space was easily done in one step, through the import/export function (see my blog http://readingpower.wordpress.com/for details) . Please be aware that porting between blog platforms is not always a simple process http://technical-tejash.blogspot.com/2009/04/problem-with-transfering-blog-between.html .
See more comparisons of blog platforms at: http://blogtipz.com/2009/11/02/comparison-blogger-and-wordpress-com/ and http://podnosh.com/social-media-help/tips-for-blogging-with-wordpress/where-to-blog-wordpress-vs-typepad-vs-blogger/ . It is not surprising that the most popular free blogs are also the most reliable http://churchcrunch.com/typepad-wordpress-blogger-top-3-for-uptime/ . Use of popular blog platforms is quite concentrated (if affiliated providers are combined) as shown at http://royal.pingdom.com/2009/01/15/the-blog-platforms-of-choice-among-the-top-100-blogs/ .
The state of the blogosphere and future directions
All is booming in the world of blogging, despite googlewave, twitter etc as shown by Technorati’s annual statistics on the state of the blogosphere http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-2009-introduction/ with a summary here http://thefuturebuzz.com/2009/12/10/blogging-stats-facts-data/ and also graphically at http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/24/twitter-wordpress-blogging-vs-microblogging/ .
At one stage it was suggested that twitter would kill blogs. Use of RSS was seen as too slow and it was thought that people would use social networks to access information instead of reading blogs. However, new ways of filtering, finding and reading information have emerged, helping users locate relevant content. These aggregators allow new posts from selected blogs to be seen in a central location. Googlereader and sites like netvibes allow portals to be created for reading blogs. Here is an example at the public part of my netvibes site http://www.netvibes.com/readingpower#Professional_Learning More on various RSS aggregator options can be found at the following link, and there are new versions constantly being produced that include many social networking applications. http://newtoolsworkshop.wikispaces.com/Feeds+and+aggregators Feeds can even be viewed in magazine format as shown at http://socialwayne.com/category/startups/ and http://readingpower.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/information-filters-feeds-funnels-fun/ .
Blogging and microblogging serve different purposes http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/39216 . One is more centered on the individual; and is a longer term repository, taking longer to manage. The other is more immediate, quick, multi-person and real time; but more ephemeral.
Social networking applications are becoming more intertwined. Many blogs now include widgets to show twitter posts, and can be set up to automatically post to twitter, facebook, myspace etc and vice versa.
Steve Rubel suggests several alternate blogging futures http://mashable.com/2009/07/07/future-of-blogging/ , with the most likely being that blogs remaining the primary social web hub, but turning into lifestream sites that syndicate content to and/or aggregate it from anywhere. He accordingly moved his online presence to http://posterous.com/ Also refer to:
Julia Allison has morphed blogging into life streaming http://julia.nonsociety.com/ See another example here http://cheslow.com/ . The following site explains how to set up life streaming on a wordpress site http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_future_of_blogging_reveale.php .
Blogs may become social networks of their own. Each of the major weblog platforms has such mechanisms in place (e.g. TypePad Connect, Blogger Followers). Then, we have tools like Facebook aiming to be the connective tissue between many sites. And even twitter itself may be replaced, such as by tools like plurk, a type of semantic microblogging…
Why travel alone? Blogging provides an historical learning journey that can be taken with other people all over the world. Blogging is an online filing cabinet, a professional portfolio, a product of “learning by doing.” And, if others can benefit by sharing this journey, all the better, just as many of us have learnt so much from many other generous bloggers. And then there is that sense of place, creation and communication. So try blogging, and see where the journey takes you…
Canoodling with moodle – School Libraries getting up close and personal
Access, Volume 24 Issue 1 2010
As libraries seek to employ collaborative technologies to promote learning outcomes and develop even more advanced online connections with their community, the quality and functionality of the library’s online presence is vital.
Some Teacher Librarians have constructed their own sites using web design software such as Frontpage or Dreamweaver, some use Web 2.0 tools such as netvibes, blogs or wikis, some are using school wide learning management solutions such as Moodle or Blackboard, and some a combination of these. Moodle provides a “free” learning management system and will be discussed in terms of some of its possibilities and capabilities for school libraries. Moodle has many interactive features for promoting learning, and consideration of these is useful when comparing other learning management systems and their features, especially in relation to their usefulness for school libraries.
Road blocks to the Web 2.0 Romance In Queensland, there has recently been a furore over indications that the teacher code of conduct will be amended by Education Queensland so that personal teacher websites must be password protected and to limit online contact between teachers and students via personal sites. This has implications for teacher librarians who have constructed their own blogs, wikis, facebook and myspace sites specifically to make library and other resources accessible to students without the need for passwords. This may lead to renewed consideration of learning management systems such as moodle that are school based and password protected.
Other advantages of moodle are that the software is free, although in the school context, costs generally apply in terms of technical support, staff training and maintenance of the site.
Why the moodle attraction? In 2009, we decided to move our Library site from Dreamweaver to moodle. The school had already implemented moodle as its learning management system, and the library site was available as a weblink via moodle. However, the difficulty with Dreamweaver was that it required a high skill level to add new content. By changing to moodle, inputting to moodle is relatively easy and can be done by any Library staff member after minimal training.
Bonding Further training is needed to take advantage of the full range of moodle features, but most skills can be taught as needed, and the main task of uploading content is quite straightforward. The school Technology Department had provided training in moodle over several years. With the redevelopment of the Library site in moodle, some Library staff undertook more extensive training such as via the Moodle Course Creator Certificate which is an online 8 week fee paying course for those with some moodle experience who wish to upgrade their skills. http://docs.moodle.org/en/Moodle_Course_Creator_Certificate
The school also provided an inhouse course called xclr8 which boosted skill levels. The expertise of some Library staff was then further shared with the rest of the library team. The school also has eLearning staff who assist with moodle queries and this support is another advantage of a school-wide solution. There are also many support resources on moodle freely available, especially at http://moodle.org/
2009 Getting familiar The images here show the progress thus far on our Library moodle site. The site is accessed via an icon on the main school moodle site which is in turn accessed by logging on via a link on the school public site. This can be accessed at home and school. As can be seen, the format is fairly linear, although hyperlinks provide tab-like navigation. The site has side blocks on both sides which are not included here to assist clarity of the images. Side blocks can be used to promote site features such as highlighting recent activity, showing tags, embedding video – like animoto or photostory and event calendars. Typical features of Library sites are evident in the images, such as files relating to reading lists, referencing and assignment pathfinders.
However, the site also includes collaborative tools. There are forums for promoting Library activities and for making suggestions. If students post to the forum to request a new book title for example, this automatically sends an email, so staff do not need to remember to check the forum.
Another feature is the Book Review activity where students can share responses to books they have read, as shown in the images. This is constructed using the database function and can be set up so teachers can check student reviews before they are posted, if desired. It is searchable. This is a fun reading activity that can be done with students both in and out of class.
This also shows the advantages of making connections with other moodle schools. This book review site and its construction, and many other ideas were generously shared with us by the Library and Technology staff at nearby St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace, and we in turn showed moodle features we had developed for our Library moodle site. Sharing ideas with both internal staff, and also those at other schools is very valuable, as most moodle sites are hidden behind password protection, and collaboration provides many wonderful new ideas.
Pulling a swifty with swfs As a large school with irregular influxes of new teachers and students, swfs enable the provision of online tutorials that provide “just in time” teaching. A commercial software package called Captivate was used to build our tutorials, but there are similar free software applications such as jing project http://www.jingproject.com/ camstudio http://camstudio.org/ and wink http://debugmode.com/wink/ that can be used. These tutorials can show every keystroke used, combined with voice narration. On our library site these swf files provide video tutorials that demonstrate how to use the References tool in Word 2007.
Wicked wikis We used wikis for Reader’s Cup, where students are able to input into the wiki questions and answers that can be used for revision for the books.
Bookilicious Blogs Blogs have been used in moodle for students to journal their reading. In moodle blogs are attached to individual user profiles.
Popping the Question Library staff are currently planning a moodle poll where students will be able to vote online for their favourite books, so that we create our own Top 50 Book list. Moodle has many choice, quiz and questionnaire options. There are many selections for students and staff to provide online feedback. With the more structured quiz and feedback formats, moodle also does analysis of the results, including in graphical form. Quizzes can be used to revise learning, and moodle can provide instant or delayed feedback to students, and if chosen, students can be asked to repeat the quiz until they attain a certain level. Questionnaires can be used for staff to sign up for various Professional Learning sessions such as turnitin and referencing, for example. They are able to indicate their preference for different session times. This data can be exported to excel for record keeping, and moodle can also be used to generate certificates for the Professional Learning. Moodle can even be used for signing up for things like buses, by setting the maximum number who can fit into each bus in the Choice module.
Information Literacy Moodle has a glossary function that can be used when teaching research lessons. In the image, it can be seen how moodle can be used to easily make learning games such as hangman and crosswords to revise key words and concepts.
Turning easy with Turnitin One of the other wonderful things that moodle does is that it makes turnitin, (a plagiarism checking tool) very user friendly. Turnitin can be integrated into quite a range of learning management systems, including Blackboard. In the past, teachers needed to be added to turnitin via email which created extra work for the turnitin administrator and involved numerous passwords. Students needed at least 3 passwords to submit to turnitin for any assignment. Now that turnitin has been integrated into moodle, no additional passwords are required except the one to access our intranet, and teachers do not have to be signed up – moodle does it all. It is now very easy for teachers and students to use turnitin and consequently we are seeing a significant increase in use. This is greatly helping in the teaching of students about plagiarism and the need to reference.
What next? We have a range of goals for next year in relation to our Library moodle site. We are planning to develop short information literacy modules with accompanying quizzes on skills such as website evaluation, and searching. In NSW, similar online modules are used in relation to the “All my own work” program which aims to teach students about the need for referencing, and some schools are already delivering this via moodle. http://news.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/index.cfm/2007/5/14/All-My-Own-Work-Up-and-Running We are also keen to use the moodle book module more extensively in order to house the Library weekly newsletter entries, and also to provide more videos that promote library activities.
And so These are just a few of the ways that an online management system can enhance delivery of the library program and utilize Web 2.0 technologies in a safe password protected environment, that is also easy for staff and students to use – a very mutually beneficial relationship!
Teacher-Librarians – Polymaths or dinosaurs?
Access, Volume 24 Issue 1 2010
The title of this discussion has been borrowed from a presentation by Dr Judith Broady-Preston (2009) about the future of information professionals. Having discovered that a Polymath is a Renaissance man (or woman); that is, a person of great and varied learning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymath) ; the question, “Teacher Librarians – Polymaths or dinosaurs?” is very timely.
The billions of dollars being spent on building new school Libraries by the Rudd government indicates a recognition of the importance of Libraries in education, but the decision to staff some of these with aides, teachers, or librarians, indicates there is a problem in communicating why specialist teacher-librarians are essential to realize the full value of this expenditure. However, in the face of this paradox, the most important resource that a teacher-librarian can manage is themselves and how they allocate their time and priorities. It is not being suggested that teacher- librarians are losing jobs because they are not working hard. However, throwing in a gratuitous Pink reference from the song, “Mr. President,” the lyric, “Let me tell you ’bout hard work!” conveys how hard work and rewards are often not correlated. So, how can we manage to improve the recognition, rewards and job opportunities for our profession?
The appointment of teacher -librarians is an issue directly related to management of school resources. Reports on email digest lists regarding the Building the Education Revolution implementation do not always reflect well upon Education Department decision-making in relation to libraries, nor the decisions of some Principals. However, this is a context that cannot be changed simply or quickly, if at all. Teacher-librarians, and those who support them, can pursue face to face meetings, lobbying as suggested by the hubinfo blog, changing schools, changing careers, or even returning to classroom teaching, but none of these are easy or certain options. The value of classroom teachers is in question itself in the “smart state” of Queensland where teachers are paid significantly less than other mainland states.
More than ever before, teacher-librarians need to seek opportunities to maximize ‘value adding” to learning outcomes. Technology staff at schools have made themselves indispensable by managing systems that cause schools to grind to a halt when computers fail. However, schools without teacher-librarians do not grind to a halt. Many libraries are surviving with school aides undertaking administration, supervision, purchasing, and cataloguing.
Whilst it might be uncomfortable to acknowledge it; the profession of teacher-librarian seems to be finding itself, like the dinosaur, in a fight for survival … and we all know how the dinosaurs ended up. Therefore, unless teacher-librarians forge a role connecting and collaborating with staff, students and their school community, there are cheaper options for school administrators. There are many Librarians, school aides and other unqualified staff currently managing school libraries, often in a manner above and beyond their pay classifications; so some Principals see little downside risk in this option.
So what is the role of teacher-librarian in Century 21? Teacher-librarians need to constantly review how our time is spent, reflect on our role priorities, and consider how we market what we do. We need to ensure our communities know the difference we make to learning outcomes, especially the school Principal. We need to connect with the learning needs of our school communities and foster positive and productive relationships.
Principals may not be greatly impressed with culled shelves or beautifully organized library catalogue records. In fact they may be more than happy to accept a fairly average level of Library administration. Many book stores are more than willing and very capable of advising on the spending of funds for reading and research, so teacher-librarians are not essential for this, and some Principals believe books will soon be extinct, anyway.
The grim reality is that many Principals want specialty staff, like teacher-librarians, to take, at least some classes, while classroom teachers have release time for planning and preparation, whether we think this is great pedagogy or not. Unfortunately, campaigns for flexible timetabling may contribute to Principals choosing to cease, reduce or circumvent employment of teacher-librarians. Also, while teachers may appreciate the extra time, Principals may not see the value if classroom teachers use lessons with the teacher-librarian as additional Release From Face- to-face teaching, in addition to the mandatory amount. Flexible timetabling allows teacher- librarians to operate in the most effective paradigm, but the reality is that in some cases, implementation and collaboration can be problematic.
Principals are also looking for enhancement of learning outcomes, including nowadays in relation to testing. They are looking for effective and supported learning programs. They are being pressured to demonstrate integration of technology into the curriculum; and they are trying to do more and more with less real money. Teacher-librarians can make a significant contribution to these objectives in this “new-Renaissance” world of collaboration and online connectivity. There is a quintessential role in sorting through the debris of the information explosion to help students and staff solve inquiries. The old staples are still important, like promoting reading, but we need to ensure we make a fanfare about the importance of reading for academic success with audiences who influence employment decisions. We need to show how teacher-librarians promote literacy education in a way that optimizes learning, even when it is measured by the letters NAPLAN. Because, if teacher- librarians do not blow their own trumpets, then their message will be drowned out by the competing cacophony of other educational imperatives. Teacher-librarians endanger their profession if they behave like Al Gore’s frog sitting in the water waiting for it to boil, thinking this problem will go away, or it won’t happen to them, that the situation will improve, or just holding out for retirement; because some teacher-librarian jobs have already disappeared into hot, thin air.
So, we need new approaches to new Century 21 problems. Teacher-librarians may need to consider being much more flexible about our roles in the future. Ironically, this may mean less flexible timetabling. We need to reflect on what Library tasks might be better terminated, streamlined or, if possible, delegated to volunteers or school aides, in order to better focus on connecting with learners’ needs. And we need to transform ourselves into essential Century 21 “polymath” resources. Because ignoring the drums of technology beating out chants containing words like blog, twitter, myspace, facebook, youtube, wiki, ning and other crazy Web 2.0 names, may be a bit like the dinosaurs ignoring the ice age. And while these new directions provide no guarantee of job retention, these technologies enable us to better connect with our clients, make learning and teaching more fun and engaging … and if all else fails, they look good on a resume.
ASLA. (2009). Letter to the Rudd Government. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from ASLA: http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/government/letter241109.htm
Broady-Preston, D. J. (2009). The information professional of the future: polymath or dinosaur. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from Caval: http://www.caval.edu.au/assets/files/CHRG/People_Conference/Session_C_Room_1/Broady_Preston_the_information_professional_of_the_futuremel.ppt.
Oxley, C. (2009). Diminishing respect for teacher- librarians. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from Discovery 2.0: http://cathryno.globalteacher.org.au/2009/09/30/diminishing-respect-for-teacher-librarians/
Parker, M. (2009). Writing on the wall for library revolution. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from Daily Telegraph: http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/maralynparker/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/new_libraries_but_no_promises_on_who_will_run_them/desc/#commentsmore
The Hub blog – member contributors. (2009). Retrieved December 12, 2009, from The Hub-Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia: http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/
Good Vibrations – with Netvibes
Access (journal of the Australian School Library Association)
Volume 23 Issue 4 2009 Good Vibrations with Netvibes pp 10-13
Images referred to in the article can be found here http://www.netvibes.com/readingpower#General
Netvibes – A professional learning powerhouse for staff, a research powerhouse for everyone.
Netvibes is free and easy to use. For teacher-librarians it is of interest for 3 main purposes
1. Organise personal professional learning and online resources
2. Host a library site
3. A research tool for students
1. Organise personal professional learning and online resources
A picture paints a thousand words, so see the first image of my Netvibes site as an example. Netvibes allows both public and private pages to your site. Tabs can be added as needed. Netvibes has many themes and the Library image is one of these or you can create your own banner. As can be seen, instead of having to visit a long list of favorite sites, blogs and wikis, these can be centralised in one location. There are live feeds to any sites with RSS feeds –email can be seen as it comes into your inbox (except with Yahoo Mail, hence the use of gmail). You can leave yourself notes, such as websites used frequently or reminders; calculate sums, set a calendar or check the weather using widgets, and access Google Docs, Del.ic.io.us. etc.
Adding RSS feeds and widgets is easy as below. Simply click on the RSS feeds links to add a site. There are many widgets to select from, and these are adding by clicking the green “add button.” There is consderable flexibility in page design in terms of number of columns, and items can easily be dropped and dragged, added and deleted.
Below is my Professional Learning page. It shows the new additions to my favourite blogs, so I do not have to visit every blog, one at a time. I can groups the blogs under various headings.
2 Host a library or online classroom site
Netvibes can be used for hosting a library site, an online course, or turning your teaching resources into an online library. It does not require skills in html. The Discovery College image shows how tabs can be used extensively http://www.netvibes.com/discoverycollegelibrary For some examples of school library sites using Netvibes see http://www.netvibes.com/pgsc#Homepage . Prestons Girls’ Secondary College has a site highlighting many Library activities and resources, including Readers’ Cup, Library Orientation, and video of their renovations. The Dixie Grammar School uses photostream from flickr on its Library site to show its renovations http://www.netvibes.com/library-online#Library . The Kings’ School Library is also interesting especially the Kings’ Cool Reads tab which links to book reviews they have organised by Year level on Library Thing http://www.netvibes.com/kingsschoollibrary#Home . See also the L.V. Rogers Secondary School Library and Media Resource Centre as well http://www.netvibes.com/jyasinchuk#General and Tokyo International School Library site as well http://www.netvibes.com/librareanne#General . This Netvibes site shows how it can be sued as an online classroom http://www.netvibes.com/wesch#Digital_Ethnography
3. Research tool
Netvibes can used for collating RSS feeds for current affairs research using various news feeds, flickr, twitter etc – the ultimate in up to date primary source research. http://theunquietlibrary.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/our-new-netvibes-research-pathfinder-iran-election-and-riots-2009/
How to use Netvibes
The internet provides good instructions for setting up Netvibes such as here http://tametheweb.com/2008/01/02/creating-a-librarians-info-portal-with-netvibes-and-rss/ An online narrated tutorial can be found here http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2009/02/introduction-to-netvibes-screen-cast.html
Is Netvibes the best tool available?
Buffy Hamilton recommends LibGuides for constructing research pathfinders, but it is not free. Find an example of a Lib Guide pathfinder here http://theunquietlibrary.libguides.com/geneticdisorders The following site reviews the main choices and sees Netvibes as the best free option – at least at the moment http://libedge.blogspot.com/2009/03/pulling-it-all-together-online.html . Joyce Valenza discusses why she thinks Netvibes has edged ahead here http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1340000334/post/1270044927.html
Web 2.O is wonderful, but there can be too much of a good thing if access points are too scattered and there is a need to constantly input passwords and logins. Netvibes is easy to use, especially compared to web page design using html, and allows the many different Web 2.0 tools and other online resources to be placed centrally at your behest. It can provide a portal to your wikis, blogs, nings and other sites, that can be accessed anywhere with internet access. Take care though, perhaps there should be a warning that collecting widgets for your Netvibes site can become addictive…
Book Trailers A web 2.0 Journey
Access (Journal of the Australian School Library Association, Volume 23, Issue 3, 2009, pp9-13)
Web 2 technologies offer great opportunities for teacher librarians to promote learning outcomes. Book trailers were introduced as a competition category in the QIEU, Courier Mail, ETAQ Book Review Competition in QLD in 2009. Armed with this incentive and also a PD session promoted by Jenny Stubbs, co-coordinator of the Ipswich District Teacher Librarian at UQ Ipswich, our Library staff ventured into the world of Book Trailers. This activity provided many insights into both interactive and collaborative technologies for student and staff learning, and also copyright for authentic audiences.
What? Book trailers are like movie trailers; except book trailers promote books.
Why? The Book Trailers Professional Development session provided by author, Penny Masson and Jenny Stubb’s team, had revealed how software could be used in a fun and contained context that would promote reading, and also teach students engaging and useful technology skills. The skills learnt by students can be applied in a vast array of other situations, in both authentic and assessment situations. Book trailer skills can be taught quickly and efficiently, and are fun to create. It was found the basics of Photo story and moviemaker could be taught to a group of 12 Year 7 students in a hands-on manner in 35 minutes.
When, Where, Who and How? Library staff decided to teach book trailers to interested students from Years 5-12 at lunchtime, and also via classes with interested teachers. The book trailer lessons were linked to a Year 10 English multimodal assignment occurring at the same time. This also involved co-operation with the e-learning staff who undertook PD for teaching staff in Photo story. It involved collaboration between e-learning and Library staff to reach common understandings about referencing, which were formalised in a referencing PowerPoint for use by the school that included referencing for multimodal tasks. Moviemaker and Photo story were used as they are free for Microsoft clients. Word 2007 PowerPoint features, which include improved audio options, would be covered in Year 10 English classes.
Finding Images and Music for Authentic Contexts Interestingly, one Year 7 student constructed a book trailer using images and music from the web. The student then constructed another book trailer, but drew her own pictures and then scanned the drawings. It took about the same amount of time to draw original images as it took to find and edit images from the internet. The following is is not an exhaustive list, but includes user friendly resources that provide images and sound that can be used in public and commercial contexts and can be altered.
Youtube YouTube is blocked at many schools which is a shame because Guerillabill can teach the basics of Photo story in just over 6 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtB6_D_toVQ For those with YouTube blocked, this handy site may be of interest http://kickyoutube.com/ The copyright implications are covered here http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/go/pid/855
Music Photostory contains 2 songs that can be mashed by students which provide an easy option. Jamendo http://www.jamendo.com permits use of music, so long as credit is given. Jamstudio http://www.jamstudio.com/Studio/index.htm as shown above, allows students to make their own music. Once students choose the chords, they can select instruments by clicking on the speakers beside them on the left; then music style, and whether to loop or not. Then, by clicking on MP3 MIX towards the top middle, students can have their music emailed to them (they will need to subscribe to a free trial). The MP3 file in the email can then be downloaded for inserting into moviemaker and photo story.
Images A google search for “royalty free” sites on the internet will produce mostly sites that charge for use of images. However, smartcopying has a great new resource that shows how to find images that students can use in any context http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/go/pid/956 To give a short example, simply go to google images and click advanced search http://images.google.com.au/advanced_image_search?hl=en . Go to usage rights and choose the bottom option, “labelled for commercial use with modification’ as shown, then search as normal -very easy! This creative commons site http://search.creativecommons.org/# also helps search the main sources for “license friendly” resources for photos, images and music.
Referencing There is not a lot of information on multimodal referencing and it varies. Our school procedure for referencing is that where possible, the reference for images, text, sound etc should go as close as possible to the item. Where this is not possible, as is often the case in multimodal presentations, there should be a credits section at the end of the production. This follows the system used in movies. The credits section must be part of the production, not separate. Items need to be identified in the credits eg. Slide 14, Clapping sound, Microsoft, 2009. This would equate to the in-text reference. Then, there would follow a full bibliography that included all texts; audio, video and images. This is simply one method for managing this referencing and it would be interesting for there to be more exchange about how other schools manage this.
Publication Finally, the book trailers need to be presented for entry. This involved several options. If uploading to YouTube – students could either do this themselves at home, or provide a signed note from parents for Library staff to assist with this. The note had to specify if the student’s name could be included or not. Otherwise, the book trailer can be saved to a DVD and the entry mailed. Uploading to YouTube provides an authentic publication context, but there are content issues.
Useful resources Johngregory teaches moviemaker in just over 9 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DHFKVzG8Zw E. A. Van der Veer shows how to add continuous sound in PowerPoint 2007 in 3 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VutG0oBwkMI&feature=related The following resource on authentic copyright is also very good http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/all-right-to-copy/index.htm
Thus, this activity provided a valuable learning and teaching opportunity, collaboration with many staff and students, and an opportunity to promote the profile of the Library and reading. It provided the opportunity to engage in discussion about referencing for authentic audiences, instead of simply teaching students how to reference for assignments. Web 2 tools and new and search options mean that following copyright is now much easier for staff and; and they can easily find material for different purposes. However, it is still essential to record sources of material used so they can be referenced. However, hopefully, these advances will encourage staff to set more assessment which is for authentic audiences and which permit students to be taught about real world copyright requirements.
Attending Conferences Virtually
Published in Access (Journal of the Australian School Library Association), Volume 23, Issue 3, 209, pp 25-29
Recently, I attended 2 fantastic conferences. The National Education and Computer Conference in Washington DC was held in July, 2009. In June this year, I participated in an Eluminate Panel Discussion: “Is There a Place for Media Specialists Who Don’t Know Social Media, held in various locations in the USA. All I spent was my time and I am still processing all the great material learnt. But, it is not too late – you can still attend. Such is the world of online virtual Professional Development.
Before taking you on a virtual PD trip to the USA, it is worth pointing out that vodcasting lessons is an important direction yet to be pursued in Australian schools to any substantial extent. Universities have taken this up, but they are often criticized for doing so. The criticisms seem to be based on the notion that students miss out if they do not personally sit in a lecture theatre. This is despite online lecture notes allowing replaying of lectures to facilitate learning, and that most students miss lectures at some point for various reasons, so online lectures are much better than having to borrow notes as was done in bygone eras. Also, the reality is that most lectures are one-way delivery, so the benefits of being personally there can be minimal. Hopefully, this virtual field trip will reveal the massive potential of using online delivery technologies to deliver teaching and to enhance learning outcomes.
Firstly, I will point out a few choice morsels to whet you appetite for further exploration of NECC 2009.Please visit the following site to discover a vast array of presentations that demonstrate leading teaching directions http://center.uoregon.edu/ISTE/NECC2009/ .
To begin, you really have not virtually lived until you have watched Tammy Worcester http://www.istevision.org/watch.php?vid=7f58d7da6941a103f1bde325965049d08d052933 Tammy is a magician of the internet and shows favorite tips, tricks, and tools that offer simple and effective methods to enhance teaching and learning. Her blog is at the following site, and all her presentation notes from NECC 2009 and others are stored here as well. You can subscribe to receive email tips from Tammy. http://www.tammyworcester.com/Tips/Tammys_Technology_Tips_for_Teachers.html Tammy uses blogs in amazing ways to enhance learning opportunities.
Secondly, Jonathan Bergman reveals exciting ways to use video podcasting to improve student achievement. Jonathan explores how teachers can better utilize class time to work with students individually and in groups, rather than standing at the front of a class giving the same lesson taught the year before, or to many groups. This is very relevant to teacher librarians who often teach skills such as referencing, over and over again. Jonathan will have you thinking about whether there are better ways to do this. Jonathan will show the magic of how to do more with class time. http://www.istevision.org/watch.php?vid=2ea776ebd60658eb58f0e16a351737293f857394
Thirdly, for fans of Will Richardson try “Here Comes Learning.” He presents with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and they explain how we can help our students move from simple sharing to collective action in the world through use of online technologies http://www.istevision.org/watch.php?vid=518605cf6c08c98cca3e3bf6812dcb9860f7dd3c
The handouts, papers, powerpoints and links to discussions from NECC 2009 can be found here http://center.uoregon.edu/ISTE/NECC2009/program/presenter_handouts.php NECC 2010 is in Denver, Colorado from June 27-30, so pop it in your diary and reserve some time for what is likely to be a wonderful virtual trip.
Now you may have missed the Future of Education panel discussion, “Is There a Place for Media Specialists Who Don’t Know Social Media?” but all is not lost. Click on the following link which will provide the option to view the full video. http://www.futureofeducation.com/forum/topics/panel-discussion-is-there-aThis panel is lead by Buffy Hamilton http://theunquietlibrarian.wikispaces.com/ , Joyce Valenza http://www.sdst.org/shs/library/ , Cathy Nelson http://teacherlibrarian.ning.com/profile/cnelson
and Carolyn Foote http://www.futura.edublogs.org/ who are amazing American teacher- librarians.
To provide another taster as to why these ladies are so exciting, visit http://theunquietlibrary.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/our-new-netvibes-research-pathfinder-iran-election-and-riots-2009/ During the recent Iran riots the mainstream media was slow to provide coverage on the election results. However, Joyce shows how Netvibes, a free Web 2.0 tool can be utilized to manage information from social networks brimming with the latest news. Joyce uses Netvibes to construct a pathfinder that includes YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Tweets, delicious bookmarks, and Google News. These Web 2.0 tools show new and exciting ways to collaborate with other Library professionals around the world, to manage our own profession learning; and also to assist students with research.
The Eluminate technology used in this panel discussion also deserves mention. Video-conferencing tools offer ways to link students and staff to our global world. Eluminate is interactive and participants attending the virtual conference at the time it is held can send messages to the presenter/s from any capable computer. The presenters can respond to questions throughout their presentation. Eluminate can show where people are logged in from all over the world, and even how warm it is there. Virtual attendees can vote live during the presentation to share opinions, and use emoticons to show reactions and hand icons to clap. Viewers anywhere in the world can even take over the microphone and participate live in the presentation. This is not an advertisement for this software, as there may be similar products, but it reveals exciting learning opportunities for the future and not so distant future. The School Library Association of Victoria has recently been offering training in this software, so the future has already made its way to Australia. http://slav.globalteacher.org.au/2009/06/12/slav-elluminate-training/
Anyway, all trips come to an end, even virtual ones. However, these new Web 2.0 technologies allows teacher–librarians to keep abreast of best practice, to collaborate with colleagues all over the world, to gain cutting edge Professional Development at no expense except time, and even better to attend conferences from the comfort of our own homes, even in pyjamas if we so desire; although I have heard that Denver is particularly nice in June.