Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Let me begin about 18 months ago. I took the position of Director of Educational Media and Technology at an Independent School. In plain English, that means that I am in charge of the technology and the library of the school. In the first 12 months, I have been working with teachers and faculty to transform the way that technology is used in the classroom, but in the last 6 I have changed my focus to the school's library.
To give a simple picture, our school library is in a new building (4+ years old) and we have a good sized collection of books, that include reference, fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels. Our librarian keeps our collection up to date. Over the summer we converted our catalog system to Follet Destiny, with the add-on of Destiny Quest.
Other than that, we were using the model that had been at the school for over 10 years. PK- grade 2 classes would have scheduled library time, the teacher would drop them off and leave them for the librarian to read a book to and maybe start a discussion. For grades 3-5 teachers still have scheduled time, but they stay with their classes and use the space as they see fit. Some use it as computer time, others as silent reading time, some use it for regular class time in a "new" location.
This signaled to me that there was a need for a transformation, a way to re-frame the library space and give people extended options for its use and the use of its print, electronic, and human resources. The beginning of the transformation was a meeting with the library staff to develop a shared vision of what a library should be. While our ultimate goal was to get to the library to a 21st century library model, we knew this would be a process. Our first step was to market the library as a HUB of learning. We needed both students and teachers to see that the library is more than a space with a lot of books.
Our first change was to show that the library was a home for all types of resources. Our librarians began to offer their skills as information gatherers. We shared with teachers that we would help gather resources for class projects and units. For this we use a handy web 2.o tool called fur.ly (http://fur.ly).
This tool allows multiple URLs to be compiled into one tiny url that gives access to all of these resources. The advantage of this for our library was to enable our librarian to research any number of websites on a given topic and return one single url to the teacher. The teacher can then publish this to their website or any other resource list for students.
As we add transformative practices to our school library, i will be adding them to this blog.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
For most of my computer use this month I will be using a computer where the only thing I have paid for is the computer itself. I am using a browser to access all my applications, keep my notes, write this blog, store files and photos and much much more. All of the work that traditionally took place in office suite type applications, was stored on hard drives, moved around on floppy disks, then portable media drives, and then USB drives eventually printed on paper are now being done, stored, shared and submitted online. This is known as cloud computing.
If my "experiment" works, it could have multiple implications on the use of technology at my school. There could be economic, procedural and pedagogical repercussions with this type of change. In this first part, I am going to list out what web 2.o applications I am using and for what purpose. While this list is not finite, it will illustrate the backbone of what is being used.
First and formost I needed to choose a browser, and for this experiment as I am calling it, I have chosen to use Google Chrome. This is a very scaled down, low frills and fast moving browser. My usual browser of choice is firefox, but I thought this would be a great chance to run Chrome through its paces. Added onto chrome I have used add-ons for google wave, Picnik, Google Voice, Diigo, Blogger and evernote. The home page I use is an iGoogle home page with links to my most used applications and webpages.
The applications I have chosen are those that will help me with productivity, and other work and home related tasks. What I am not using this for is leisure or gaming.
Basic Tasks: Google Docs, word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, forms.
Email: Gmail, integrated with other google apps and easy to use from multiple computers.
Notes and Organization: Evernote, good filing system and web based.
Calendar: Google Calendar, easy to use, ical friendly, easy to organize multiple calendars.
Bookmarking: Diigo, interactive social bookmarking with good tagging tools.
Online Storage: Dropbox, 2 gigs of free storage.
RSS Feeds: Google Reader, integrated system with other google apps, easy to use.
Twitter: Tweetdeck, while this does take a good amount of memory, it is still better to organize your tweets.
Blogging: Blogger, again an easy to use app that integrates with other google features.
Screen Capture: Jing, easy to install and use. While not feature rich, until fireshot or something like it is available for Chrome, this will do.
I am sure that this list will grow, but my goal is not to spend a cent on any applications. If something changes and there is a charge for on of the above programs, I will abandon it and look for a similar application elsewhere. I will post reviews as I learn and grow with this and will blog about that too.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Where do you start when talking to students about Digital Communication? Our students are so much more adept than the average educator at using methods of digital communication in most aspects of their life. While most teachers use e-mail, some probably text or IM in their jobs or personal lives, some are parts of social networks and even some have their own blogs and wikis. The dilemma arises not with how to use these technologies, but the clarity with which they are being used.
There are many articles that speak about digital communication as a hybrid of written and spoken communication. What happens is that digital communication has the speed and ability to converse like the spoken word, but lacks the "in person" ability to read facial expressions and body language as well as with digital communication there is no volume to hear inflections in a speakers voice. It is unlike the written word, in that digital communication can be reactionary and does not give the receiver of the original message time to think about a response, write it down and then deliver it. Because of the speed in which digital communication can be sent, it can, at times be too quick.
Due to these gaps in communication, there have been accommodations that have been made to digital communications that help the author to convey emotions. There are acronyms, emoticons and the use of "all caps" to show vocal levels. I must admit, that these accommodations do not solve the problem in professional communications and are rather colloquial in nature. While these tools may make social interactions more clear for participants, it does not, in my mind, help clarity in professional communications.
In teaching this to students, I have taken the definition of Digital Communication" from Baily & Ribble's book, Digital Citizenship in Schools. I have put together some information on my school's digital citizenship wiki, including some types of digital communication and links to acronyms and emoticons. My goal will be to heighten awareness of the dangers of digital communication, to think before speaking/writing and to remember that there will always be a record of what is sent. Much like we teach our students to think before speaking, to not be mean or hurtful in their personal interactions, to write with purpose, we need to continue these tenets into their digital communication. Until we can begin to treat all of our digital communications in the same vein as we treat our "real life" communications, there will continue to be gaps and confusion in all forms of Digital Communication.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
I have begun reading Daniel Pink's book, A Whole New Mind and have started into Part 2; the six senses. The first of the senses described is Design. Pink says, "Design is a high-concept aptitude that is difficult to outsource or automate-and that increasingly confers a competitive advantage in business." (pg. 86)
What does Pink mean by this? I must admit that to me the answer is really nothing new, in fact he is just bringing us full circle to a time long ago...the Renaissance. Once upon a time, there were people who excelled in a multitude of areas, business, art, theology, science, architecture and much much more. These people were the premiere thinkers of their time, agents of change in a rather unchanging world. These men are now aptly dubbed Renaissance men (society was quite patriarchal then). Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Socrates, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the list goes on were these types of people, and yes, most of them facilitated change.
More recently (within the last century), skill specialization, along with a focus on what Pink calls L-directed thinkers put a premium on those that were number crunchers, business minded and the like. Those with Renaissance skill sets were less valued for those that could specialize in a highly touted skill. However, the world is now saturated with these specialized worker bees and many outside the US offer these skills at a cheaper rate than those in the US. More to my point, and to Pink's is that this L-directed thinking is no longer a commodity, so what is going to set those that will be agents of change apart from the crowd? One of the answers is Design.
I heartily agree with this point. Creativity was once seen as the things of dreamers, but as so many now understand, dreaming and making dreams come true are the things that we really do value. Apple's poster campaign "Think Different" is a perfect example of how this sense of "design" really is one of the qualities that will make our future brighter.
Pink's book gives some exercises to help develop and hone one's design sense. One of the ideas I was able to put right to action was reading design magazines. I do most of my reading online, and therefore I am going to share two sites that Pink shares. The first is Ambidextrous, a magazine put out by Stanford university. The second is Metropolis, with emphasis on construction and materials. I am always looking to increase my knowledge base.
With my renewed interest in developing my Renaissance persona, I will be adding Design to my repetoire of skills to infuse in my classes, lessons and professional development delivery. With all of the educational technology tools available, there should never be a shortage of creative design.