Conferences, Rants, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness

#AASL11 reflections: technotreats

I’m always interested in how others are using technology (and technotools) intelligently in their schools – after all, we know that technology is only a tool, it’s not the answer to our pedagogical/programatic problems. Right? Here are some of my takeaways (and one rant) from the conference.

17 Things to Chew On

The presenter, Alicia Duell, decided that tech was too shiny, bright – not needed but then she found these tools (Weebly,Animoto, Ning, Google Docs and Zoho) and started to revise her opinion.

So, as part of her professional goals for the year, she created the “17 Things…” program and its sequel. Why? This sort of PD

  • gives peers practice in self-assessment (via blog posts) and reflection (peer assessment of their work)
  • helps teachers stay ahead of the student-tech curve
  • peers got professional development credit (you’ll need admin buy-in for this)

She made it simple and easy to follow with constant encouragement and communication to participants, including branding and prizes. It’s critical that when you’re setting up a similar program, you give clear instructions on what they have to do to get credit (usually a checklist of steps for final assessment of that Thing) and that you show as well as tell (iow, model it for them as well as link to FAQ and tutorials).  Given the number of tools out there, and our different community needs, there’s plenty of room for customization with this type of program.

Given the number of sweet, young things entering our schools from various teacher-training programs who think they know how to use all those shiny tech tools, this might be a great way to meet them where they live (and show them that the library and librarian are useful partners when it comes to using these tools with their students).

QR Codes, etc. to promote reading

It’s important to remember that we’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re translating what we already do and using technotools to enhance love of reading for students (they’re Just Tools).

Today’s teens

  • are producers of info (capturing video on cell; updating FB)
  • visually literate, but unaware of that and have difficulty tapping into those skills
  • have different expectations re: privacy  and what it means
  • always have a DEL or UNDO strategy – less worried about making mistakes (need to teach them to live in the process, not the end product)

Interestingly, every few years there’s a generation gap (unlike before, when it was 10-15 years before gap appears.  As a result, older teens use more social media more than teens (iow, we learn habits and then carry them forward): current middle and high school students are not blogging now, not tweeting now but their college age siblings are.

Project ideas:
Models creative use of technology (show it’s not just for graded projects) – tech is the hook, not the end product.

QR code information skills scavenger hunts

CLUE ONE: swipe code – go to catalog to find author of book –  go to shelf to find next clue

  • kids don’t know what QR codes are; don’t always have smartphones w/cameras so we have to find ways to help them with this
  • teaches skills, gets them to go around and finding things

Book Spotlight:

  • student created book space: they selected books, created displays with covers and real books (available for borrowing) and  had to talk about why the chose those books
  • added online component – space on website (trailers, prezi, websites, etc.)

Video book talks

  • make this easy to do because teens often too intimidated to be on camera themselves
  • so easy to do with smartphones or Flip cameras, if you still have one

Get students to set up and promote these initiatives –  they will work much better and garner more interest, as teens listen to peers more than adults.

We also saw a promotion trailer for Sesame Street Connect: why are we producing this? why aren’t we focussed on having kids interact with each other not a computer????  This was such a rant-raiser for me! I’ve always hated it when producers of entertainment say “this is what the public wants” and we – the public – just go along with it meekly.  In this case we should say NO loudly.  Social interaction at that age should be with humans, not tv or tv-linked devices.  What is wrong with society that we think this is a good idea?  If we want to create a warm, creative, intelligent society we will stress unstructured play rather than this crap. /rant

School Library Websites

This session had some great ideas, but even more interesting was the thinking that went into their process. The presenters started by asking: what is the purpose of the website? what should it do for students?

“Learning as Conversation” (based on Gordon Pask‘s work (70s-80s): how systems learn from each other=conversation theory)

  •   is learning/teaching monologue or true conversation?
  • Sugatra Mitra’s Hole in the Wall experiments
  • David Lankes: It’s not about libraries, it’s about what libraries do… and libraries don’t do anything, it’s the librarians. “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities”

Keep this as your focus: research=conversation / literacy=how to become (which is a shifting target).  Think of students as members of the library, not just users of the library.

Which schools are also doing this?
Outram NZ  (also look at school vision

SOOOOO…. do our websites encourage conversation? do they encourage minimally invasive learning?  think of a website as “curation” but include students in the process of finding and curating.


Sources for the above and more:

Constantly remember, “It’s the student’s, stupid.” They need to feel possessive about knowledge building – ownership and power can be given away to students. It’s ok.

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