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NECC Session: Feed, Tag, Research: Remixing for School Library 2.5

NECC Program Description

TagWhen I talk to the media specialists in our area, they often mention they enjoy listening to and following Joyce Valenza.  So I figured it would be great for me to attend this session…especially since I don’t have any librarian-type experience.  I hope to gain a little insight and perspective that might help our local media specialists take advantage of new tools in a way that makes sense to media specialists…not just myself.

Ustream Channel

Session Wiki

There are a total of six people up on stage…I didn’t realize this was going to be a panel-type presentation…but now that I see the session description I guess that’s exactly what it is.

Joyce Valenza:

What does School Library 2.5 look like?  School librarians should be the School CIO…Chief Information Officer.  Librarians need to access information differently…school libraries lend all kinds of stuff…flash drives, laptops, whatever.  Librarians want students to access databases, but the databases aren’t easily useable by students.  There are no widgets, RSS feeds, tools.  Collection of materials now includes the published work of students as well as archiving student/teacher images.

Cathy Nelson:

Tools for professional development.  One thing that she learned as she was leading sessions at librarian gatherings was that she was preaching to the choir.  So she began to focus on teachers at the “science” conference, “reading” conference, “middle school” conference, etc.  The connections she’s made in these other groups have allowed her to continue to reach out and bring the message of stretching boundaries to others.  Cathy views herself as the bridge.

Carolyn Foote:

How can a 2.5 librarian work with administrators?  Many librarians may feel like the library is the lost continent…that the principal doesn’t know what could/should happen in the library.  However, perhaps it’s a marketing mistake by the librarian.  Does the librarian know what the mission of the principal is?  How can librarians be change agents?  Librarians need to be advocates…for student first of all.  That’s really the mission of the school.

How to be popular with your principal…

  • Share, share, share.  Find out how they learn info best, and use 2.0 tools to get that information to them
  • Be there.  Be at meetings, committees, etc.
  • Be a partner, not a judge.
  • Share success stories.
  • Think of yourself as the corporate librarian supporting the administration.

Libraries at not just for information, but innovation!  Focus on the big picture, not just the library.  By partnering with the administration librarian makes themselves indispensable.

Diane Cordell:.

Diane considers herself a technology new-comer.  She is going to focus on how to reel in those who aren’t in the choir.  It’s important that librarians try not to take teachers out of their comfort area, but expand the possibilities of what they already doing.  New users need to feel comfortable, relaxed.  Librarians need to reassure teachers, using familiar vocabulary that new learners can identify with.  Help them narrow the choices of the many tools that will work for them.  Librarians need to get out of the library to be with teachers as they implement their new skills.  Encourage life-long learning and celebrate success.

Anita Beaman:

At the secondary level, librarians often get stuck in a rut teaching researching skills, not reading.  One of the missions should be to help kids develop a love of learning.  Anita highlighted the vast online resources for supporting and extending a popular series of books by Stephenie Meyer.  There are forums, playlists, MySpace groups, extended content etc.  What Anita has done is to use these tools to connect students to other great titles.  Her Reading 2.0 wiki explores “Using Technology to Promote Books – Not Replace Them!”  It looks like a great resource.

What’s unfortunate about this whole session is that each of these panelists could have/should have presented an entire session themselves.  Each of them contributed great ideas, but very quickly!  I’m glad I attended and hope to bring some of their innovative ideas back to our local CIOs…


Streams, Tubes, and Stories…

Weekly Web Wonders
  • There are two online classes starting January 28, Planning Interactive Curriculum Connections (PICC) and Internet in the Curriculum (IC). PICC focuses on developing projects integrating videoconferences while IC focuses on using the Internet in all curricular areas. Both classes can be taken for either graduate credit or SB-CEUs. To register email Jo Urias . Here’s the full info…
Internet in the Curriculum
Workshop (BC) #: 08-169
Date(s): January 28 – March 7, 2008
Use the Internet effectively in your classroom. In this course, you’ll learn about search strategies as well as explore ways to use communication tools such as email, listservs, and RSS to enhance your curriculum. Learn to create collaborative projects and online activities using blogs and wikis, and develop ways to design efficient Internet research projects.
Cost: $150.00
Credit: 6 SB-CEUs or 2 graduate credit hours
Planning Interactive Curriculum Connections
Workshop (BC) #: 08-067
Date(s): January 28 – February 22, 2008
Wondering how to integrate interactive video conference technology in your curriculum? This online course addresses finding and preparing for virtual field trips and classroom to classroom project connections. Learn about the great content available for your curriculum. Find out how to contact and schedule experts to visit your classroom via video conference. Learn about great classroom to classroom projects you can join. Create and advertise your own project connections to meet your curriculum goals. Visit http://www.remc11.k12.mi.us/dl/picc/ for more information.
Cost: $100.00 for local schools; 150.00 for outside; free for RUS participant buildings
Credit: 3 SB-CEUs or 1 graduate credit hour
  • The ease of this tool makes it pretty incredible. Now you can broadcast live from your classroom…or wherever with Ustream. Ustream is a free service that broadcasts video over the web that can be viewed by anyone or only by those who have the password. Broadcasts can be saved and played later or viewed live. It’s very easy to set up and gives a much different meaning to a traditional oral report…or you could record your class for absent students to watch at home. Lots of possibilities!
  • There may be a couple of your students who have cell phones (heavy sarcasm) or you yourself might have one. With Qipit you can take a picture of notes, your whiteboard, or any document, email it to Qipit, and have it converted to a PDF to download or share online. Very fun and free!!
  • SchoolTube is a video sharing site for teachers and students that allows posting of student-created content, but provides several safeguards so that inappropriate material doesn’t find it’s way online. For example, teachers must approve videos before they can be uploaded. What a great way to share student work/projects with a wider audience.
  • Collaborate with students to create an online, interactive timeline. Check out OurStory…it’s better if you just see what it looks like. Fantastic!

Effectiveness of Technology in Education

I received an email today from my friend, THE Journal, asking me to read, among others things, “The Great Debate: Effectiveness of Technology in Education” That’s the kind of article that I don’t really read, but just jump to the end to see what the conclusion is. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t come to any definitive conclusions, so I had to go back and actually read it. It did suggest that we need technology in education like we need food, so my job will probably still be needed for a while yet.

I took away from the article a list of six questions that should be asked before adopting any “new media” and I considered them with regard to Web 2.0 tools.

  1. Would the application of new media assess students’ prior knowledge and either provide the instructor with relevant information about students’ knowledge and skill level or provide help to students in acquiring the necessary prerequisite knowledge and skills if their prior knowledge is weak?
  2. Would the use of new media enhance students’ organization of information given that organization determines retrieval and flexible use?
  3. Would the use of new media actively engage students in purposeful practice that promotes deeper learning so that students focus on underlying principles, theories, models, and processes, and not the superficial features of problems?
  4. Would the application of new media provide frequent, timely, and constructive feedback, given that learning requires accurate information on one’s misconceptions, misunderstandings, and weaknesses?
  5. Would the application of new media help learners develop the proficiency they need to acquire the skills of selective monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting their learning strategies? Some call these metacognitive skills.
  6. Would the use of new media adjust to students’ individual differences given that students are increasingly diverse in their educational backgrounds and preferred methods of learning?

Let me translate and see if I can suggest some tools that fit the bill…

  1. Would the tool help teachers figure out what students already know or help them gain the necessary prerequisite knowledge to move forward?
    Potential web tools: Mindmeister, Bubbl.us, Zoho Challenge,
  2. Would the tool help students stay organized and find their information?
    Potential web tools: Google Notebook, del.icio.us, Ta-da List, Remember the Milk
  3. Would the tool allow students to collaborate in real-world activities, not just busywork?
    Potential web tools: Vyew, PBwiki (or any wiki tool), Zoho Meeting,
  4. Would the tool give quick feedback to students?
    Potential web tools: Twitter, Ning, WordPress (or any blogging tool)
  5. Would the tool allow students to develop the skills to adjust their learning to their own needs?
    Potential web tools: Hmmm….
  6. Would the tool allow for flexibility in how different students learn?
    Potential web tools: TeacherTube, YouTube, Animoto, Sketchcast

I suspect that some of those would be appropriate for more than one…and that there are many great tools that I haven’t included. (Any suggestions?)

Do the new web-based tools fit? Is it appropriate that educators include these “new media” into instruction? Yep.

Catching up with your students…

I’ve read and heard a lot of conversations lately that are focused on how teachers are becoming more and more curious about how “new” sites like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and others could be used for educational purposes. The thought is that since kids are using these sites so much, maybe it’s time educators take advantage of the opportunity for teaching and learning. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

“Join them?” you might say, “Join them in what? What exactly could I, the teacher, do on one of those sites?” (It’s important to read the “those sites” very disdainfully.) Most of these online activities involve creating and sharing content so it could be as simple as leaving comments on a blog or as complex as a full-blown character analysis or the sharing of a student-created video. Besides sharing, though, is the idea of belonging to a group, or community, of online citizens. That’s the social part of social networking.

NingSince MySpace and YouTube and others are blocked at many schools, educators have been looking for other possibilities. Two that I’ve seen tossed around quite a bit are Ning and imbee. Both of these sites allow users to create their own social network, label it private, and allow only approved users access to what’s inside. Ning would appeal to older students while Imbee has features that younger students would enjoy.

imbeeNing allows personal pages, discussion forums, photos, videos, groups, friends…hey that sounds a lot like that black sheep, MySpace, and it’s all controlled by the teacher. To see what a Ning site looks like, check out Classroom 2.0, a network of teachers exploring the use of these new technology tools. Like Ning, imbee allows the uploading of photos and videos, blog posts, etc., but presents it in a more kid-friendly format. Outsiders aren’t able to get in to see what an Imbee sight looks like (that’s the point), but take a lot at this special information they have for teachers.

This is what kids are doing online in their free time…it’s worth exploring these tools to see how they might engage students both during and after school.

(Another) Google Presentations Post

googlepresentation.pngThe online world has been all abuzz with the announcement that Google Docs now includes the ability to create, edit, and share Presentations. I found out the news while reading the Webware blog, which by the way is great for keeping up on Web 2.0 apps, and they weren’t as impressed with it as others will be.

PowerPoint-style presentations have two major objectives. Those are to inform the people to whom you are presenting and to hold their attention. I would personally not feel great about using Google Presentations on an important presentation, where I need to impress people. The presentations that it creates just do not have the “wow” factor.

I’d like to contend that of these two objectives of a PP-style presentation, only one can be achieved successfully: informing the people. Basically, if you are giving a presentation and depending on the software to “hold their attention” then you’ll fail almost every time. The “wow” should come from both the content as well as the presenter. PowerPoint has become so common that there’s not much wow left…how many times will zooming, flipping, or blinking text enamor the audience?

Google Presentations will be a powerful classroom tool because it allows authors (students) to focus on the content created collaboratively by many. Multiple authors working together can develop content that is both accurate and engaging, hopefully leaving their teachers with a “Wow!”

Time to crank it up…

OK, summer is rapidly coming to a close so it’s time to kick myself back into the swing of things. Taking a lot of time off in the summer is kind of like staying in shape. It’s easy to get out of shape, just stop exercising and eat anything you want. It’s more difficult, however, to get back into shape once you’ve fallen off the wagon. That’s kind of the way I feel having returned to work after hanging around in South Haven and the Smokies.

Over the last couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook (I’ll go ahead and link them even though they’re blocked at school.) and how they have the potential to be dangerous or at least disruptive to the lives of our students. However, there’s been somewhat of a shift away by some folks who see not just the problems, but the potential that social networking sites have to offer.

Most recently, the National School Board Association published a report entitled Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking, recommending that schools

Consider using social networking for staff communications and professional development.

as well as to

Find ways to harness the educational value of social networking.

That’s an about face for many! Some organizations have already begun the shift. Here are a couple that have set up their own sites and invited people to the party. Check them out!

MACULThe Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning created MACUL Space last spring to help members stay up to date and connected with each other. It’s a great place for technology using teachers to get together from around the state to share ideas, etc. MACUL Space uses a site called Ning…you could set up your own Ning site for your classroom!

I just ran across the Inspired Learning Community yesterday. It’s from Inspiration, oneInspiration of my favorite learning applications. Once you’re there you can “Find and share ideas about visual learning, Inspiration®, InspireData™ and Kidspiration®.” Hey, that sounds pretty good. The conversation is starting off slowly, but the site is new this summer, so perhaps it will pick up once the school year gets going.

My favorite stuff is getting better

I usually take July off…there’s not much going on around the ISD and most teachers are busy with other activities to want to come to any workshops. So, with one more day of work to go I’ve discovered that some of my favorite tools are adding features. I thought I’d better blog these down before the heat of July melts my memory.

Google EarthLet’s start with Google Earth…who doesn’t like zooming around the planet taking a look at your hometown or where you spent your last vacation? That’s cool, but there’s more to it than that. Adding placemarks with your own descriptions is interesting and fun, but can be a bit daunting to someone who’s wary of the term Keyhole Markup Language. So as part of the newly announced Google Earth Outreach program, video tutorials and starter templates are available for everyone to get a quick start in creating your own layers of information. Take a good look at them, they’re very good and easy to follow.

What else is new? Well, you can now add your images to Google Maps…images that you have uploaded to your Picasa Web Album. (In case you didn’t know, Picasa is Google’s free photo editing and sharing application. It’s very easy to use, I recommend it!) What a great way to document a class field trip or create an online tour of a city or famous location.

To keep up with what’s going on with Google Earth/Maps, check the Google Earth Blog.  This guy does his homework and quickly passes it on to the rest of us!

PBwikiNext topic: PBwiki.  The PBwiki team continues to add cool features to what I think is one of the most important tools for teachers.  Wikis are so quick and easy that every teacher should be using one to share content and develop a collaborative space for their classrooms.  The latest feature from PBwiki is the ability to embed spreadsheets directly into your wiki pages.

What’s cool about this feature is that the spreadsheets are live and editable.  So you go the page, add your data or information to the spreadsheet, and click the Save button.  Now it’s there for everyone, plus you can import Excel sheets. Sweet…

So many features!  By the time summer is over, some of these sites might do your dishes or mow the lawn!