Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Peter M
According to leading educational thinker, Sir Ken Robinson, in order to meet the challenges of living and working in the 21st century, we need to deliberately and systematically create spaces and processes in our schools that foster creativity and innovation. We shouldn’t be anaesthetising our children, he argues, we should be waking them up:
In re-visioning the school wide learning environment through the lens of creativity and innovation, there is an opportunity for school libraries to rethink both the library space and role.
Since 2009, a growing wave of library ‘makerspaces’ have emerged in public libraries, museums and community facilities in the United States to foster collaboration and creativity. Focussing particularly on engaging and inspiring teens and pre-teens, it is only very recently however that the ‘makerspace’ model has been considered as a good fit for school libraries.
A ‘makerspace’ is a collaborative learning environment where young people can come together to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects. They are dynamic workshop spaces for creative multimedia learning and doing. Not so much defined by the space or the specific activities but by a mindset of collaboration and creativity.
The YOUmedia Network is a group of libraries, museums and community-based organizations that have embraced the makerspace model inviting young people to create, learn and build skills with traditional and 21st century digital tools.
The Youmedia idea was to create spaces where teens and pre-teens could come and learn about digital media from practitioner/mentors via a process that involves “hanging out”, “messing around”, and “geeking out”. They can create music, do photography or make videos, explore design concepts and innovations using 3d printing technology, and then show their work to each other. It’s a place to be creative and take advantage of new technologies as they’re evolving alongside skilled and enthusiastic guides and mentors.
In New Zealand, considerable thought is going in to the development and evolution of ‘open learning spaces’ and integrated learning hub classroom environments. Such learning environments echo many of the same principles of the makerspace movement. Flexibility. Collaboration. Stimulation. Innovation.
However, as Chris Bradbeer notes in his Open Learning Spaces blog, most schools are not in a position to rebuild or remodel their entire school environment but are more likely to be embarking on the conversion or reconfiguration of a subset of existing buildings. Within this context the development of open learning commons that integrate the roles of library and media centre supporting both individual, reflective learning and noisy, collaborative project based activities offer real scope for schools to embrace aspects of the open learning pedagogy to complement and add value to a more traditional school environment.
It is essential that school leaders apply the same spirit of innovation and future focus to the re-imagination of their school library environments as they do to other aspects of both their built and virtual school environment. Library as creative collaborative makerspace is an exciting, transformative idea that warrants exploration.
Moving into the unknown requires a pioneering spirit. In embracing a mindset of possibilities and exploration, of creativity and innovation, school librarians are challenged to mirror the very attributes we are seeking to foster in our students. Are you up for the challenge?
Ted talk: Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
Does our current education system support innovation? http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/07/does-our-current-education-system-support-innovation/ YOUmedia Expansions Offer Teens Student-Centered Learning Opportunities with Digital Media http://spotlight.macfound.org/featured-stories/entry/youmedia-offers-teens-student-centered-learning-opportunities-digital-media
Makerspaces, participatory learning and libraries http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/makerspaces-participatory-learning-and-libraries/
Spaces and places National Library Services to Schools schools.natlib.govt.nz/developing-your-library/school-library-futures/spaces-and-places
Bringing Maker-Style Garage Tinkering Into the Local Library http://www.good.is/post/bringing-maker-style-garage-tinkering-into-the-local-library/
Open learning spaces: linking pedagogy and classroom design by Chris Bradbeer http://openlearningspaces.blogspot.co.nz/
By Peter Murgatroyd
The Select Committee inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy currently underway is a critical opportunity for the library profession in New Zealand to contribute to the shaping of the future of our schools and to highlight the significant contribution that the library profession and school libraries can make to enhance learner outcomes through the creation of dynamic future focused learning environments.
The preamble to the terms of reference for the inquiry defines ‘learning environments’ as both physical and virtual spaces:
“The term ‘learning environment’ suggests learning happens in a place and space such as a school, a classroom, or a library. However, while much of 21st century learning takes place in physical locations, in today’s technology driven world, a learning environment can also be virtual, online or remote. The purpose of this inquiry is to investigate and provide recommendations on the best structures, tools, and communities, in both rural and urban New Zealand, that could better enable students and educators to attain the knowledge and skills, such as digital literacy, that the 21st century demands of us all.”
The terms of reference for the inquiry include:
The 2012 Horizon Report highlights the paramount importance of critical information literacy and the need for our students to be able to make sense of and critically assess the credibility and value of information in an environment where information is everywhere. It also challenges schools to remove the institutional barriers that may impede progress on embracing new technologies and pedagogies. These themes are reflected in both the focus and urgency of the Inquiry.
The inquiry challenges us to reflect and redefine our understandings of the school library and the role of the school librarian within the context of a transformed information landscape, shifts in teaching pedagogy, and the necessity to ensure that our students acquire the knowledge and skills, such as digital literacy, that the 21st century demands.
Submissions can be made online via a web form on the Inquiry webpage .
Writing a submission for an inquiry is different from writing a submission on a bill. As there are no specific clauses to comment on, it is important that you use the terms of reference of the inquiry as a guide to presenting your views.
Submissions closing date 11 May 2012
By Lisa O
A while ago one of my library heroes - Joyce Valenza, revised her Manifesto for 21st century school librarians. I shared a link to that manifesto with New Zealand school librarians along with a short annotation. I think it is both an inspirational and aspirational document for us. I received a lot of positive feedback from school librarians around the country who were inspired by reading Joyce’s words. I thought I’d write a few posts based on Joyce’s excellent piece.
This is the final section of the manifesto but where I choose to start. The future of school libraries looks exiting and invigorating, and very different than the past. Ubiquitous ultra-fast broadband is delivered wirelessly into our schools and libraries. E-books and other digital content stream into our libraries. We know that print publishing is changing and we don’t know where that will eventually lead, but we know that soon the proportion of print books in our collections will be smaller than it is today.
Joyce writes that the future of school libraries is a moving target. But also, as she told us at SLANZA last year: “there has never been a more exciting time to be a librarian”! So while we all work to shape the future of school libraries, working with our colleagues in education and the wider libraries sector, there are some things from the past that we will hold on to and carry forward with us for the benefit of the learners we serve.
School libraries provide equitable access to resources that support the curriculum and that grow readers. Ensuring that we continue to provide ready access to all our students, physically and digitally, to quality resources in our libraries and through our online presence is core business that we take into the future.
Carefully selecting, organising and annotating resources tailored to support the educational and reading needs of our community goes with us into the future – even though the formats may change and change again. With so many new tools and apps to help us to both curate and distribute this work, we can get much more mileage from our work in this area. We can maximise the utility of our work by sharing our curation work freely with our colleagues.
While the resources are growing in number and format we will continue to lead students and collaborate with teachers through guided inquiry as we support students learning.
Getting to know our students then getting a great book (e-book, graphic novel) into their hands that they enjoy so they then come back for more has not changed. The types of containers for stories and information have increased; we’ve got novels and non-fiction on paper and magazines, and graphic novels. We have e-books and blogs and e-zines. We’ve got articles on databases and wikis and websites. Formats change.
Creating readers, encouraging the joy of reading hasn’t changed a bit. We have to be on top of our game so we can continue be a trusted source for our students in this brave new world.
As a group, we librarians have always been particularly good at sharing our learning and work with our colleagues to grow our own skills and develop the tools for our practice. Again, the function is the same but we have so very many tools at our disposal for both consuming and sharing our learning with our professional colleagues. Twitter, online communities, blogs, e-pin-boards don’t replace our face to face learning and sharing networks but expand our opportunities for continuous personal, professional development.
So looking to the future, let’s hold on to the important elements of our practice even as we leave behind some tasks and practices that no longer add significant value to students’ learning and literacy achievements.
While we’re all trying to get our heads around e-books, particularly the mechanics of their provision in school libraries, some of us are also beginning to think about the possibilities of e-textbooks. At first blush, it seems like a no-brainer – they’re obviously going to be cheaper than the hard copy, since there’s no material costs involved. If they’re specifically written for digital format, with flexible usage rights, they can be selectively printed, modified to suit teaching plans, incorporate student annotations, hyperlink to definitions or related web-content, connect to collaborative study groups – the possibilities seem endless.
But we may not be quite there yet, according to Adriana Lee (August, 2011) who discusses the three main factors needing consideration in The scoop on e-textbooks.
The price has to be competitive with the paper copy, and may not be for a while, she suggests, as publishers attempt to protect their current business models, while investigating the financial stream which renting e-textbooks might provide. Students may still prefer to buy the hard copy too, knowing they can recoup some of their money when they on-sell it at the end of their course, an option not open to them with their e-version.
Lee points out that it’s still early days for a wide selection of e-textbooks available for purchase too – don’t run off and purchase a whole lot of hardware just yet. And she suggests that when you do, make sure you have a good idea of what functionality you might like from your e-textbook – will it allow note-taking? access related web-content? facilitate student content-sharing? It may not happen overnight…
A feature article in the US journal Teacher Librarian (February 2011) found that there were positives for students in the integration of e-textbooks with more traditional library resources. Marcia Mardis and Nancy Everhart, investigating the uptake of digital textbooks in Florida schools, found that not only did students enjoy using the electronic version better than traditional books; they also felt their concentration levels and comprehension had improved.
And before you get too woeful about the demise of the book, remember it’s the content that counts. Research by Peters (2009), discussed in this article, pointed out that ‘e-books and digital textbooks may represent a fresh way to continue [the library’s’] advocacy for the importance of reading’. Reading mileage is reading mileage, whatever the format.
The article highlights further positives: ‘Digital textbooks will represent an important transformation in the way teacher-librarians are involved in the resource base of the school’, not only playing a crucial leadership role in integrating online and physical resources, but also recognising the potential of the electronic format. Kenney (2009) is cited: ‘We could infuse these textbooks with different points of view in multiple formats, customize them to address diverse learning styles, and make them the launching point of guided inquiry.’ Wow! What was that about possibilities again?
As always, keep an eye on the play, and… watch this space.
Consultation is now open to all schools and teachers, until 11 November 2011, to provide feedback on the development of the New Zealand schools e-Learning Planning Framework (English-medium) and it is important that librarians engage in this process.
The e-Learning Planning Framework will provide schools, teachers and librarians with a road map that will guide them as they develop skills, knowledge, and confidence in using ICT. E-Learning supports the teaching approaches outlined in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa through “development of knowledge, competencies, and values, enabling students to be successful citizens in a digital world”.
Development of an integrated, holistic, student-centered practice and school culture to embed information literacy and digital fluency into the curriculum is a core component of the draft framework. While the draft framework has at its heart an integrated, whole of school approach to e-learning and information literacy, school libraries are not identified explicitly. For the best possible student outcomes, the articulation of both the role of the librarian and a process for school libraries to engage collaboratively with teachers to support this vision should be part of the planning framework.
Student Learning in the Information Landscape (2005) highlighted the need and value of establishing a school-wide cross-curriculum approach for student information literacy development and aligning the various parts of the school’s information infrastructure – principally the school library (including school library ICT) and other ICT within the school – with a clear rationale for their respective complementary roles in contributing to student learning. The e-Learning Planning Framework potentially offers a structure and process for ever better alignement and integration of the library.
The Ministry notes that feedback from a wide range of schools is vital to ensure the framework is meaningful and usable.
So, review and discuss the framework with colleagues, provide feedback individually via the online survey, and participate in the e-Learning Planning Framework workshops and ensure that we make the most of this opportunity.
Details of the E-Learning Planning Framework and the consultation process are available from the Enabling e-Learning website.
Details of how to provide feedback and participate in both online workshops and surveys are available from the Virtual Learning Network website.
E-Learning Planning Framework: draft for consultation
E-Learning Planning Framework: background information for sector consultation
E-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review
How many of you have had a conversation or read an article or been recently to a school library that has been renamed: the E-centre, the I Centre, the Information Centre, the Learning Cave, the Learning Commons, the Learning Hub, the Reading Room, the…whatever????
Actually, if you look at the derivation of the word, Library is still a very appropriate term which can cope very well with change – as it has done over 2,000 years. Look at the Latin derivation. You will find that the term Library is rooted in at least these two words and concepts:
In the past, the different formats of information included: books, catalogues, letters. In today’s world, the term seamlessly extends to encompass our online formats.
This concept can easily be extended to encompass the 21st Century focus on freedom of information and unrestrained expansion of information we see today.
School libraries like everything else in education are constantly reevaluated and redeveloped – as they should be.
Change services. Change management practices. Change purposes. Change tools. Change environments. Change staffing formulas. But, think twice and have some real conversations before you agree to change your library name.
The term library connects students with the past (scrolls, parchment, printing presses) and can lead them into the future (online interactive information environments, the thrill of reading within new ways of communicating).
If there is ever any doubt about the current importance of the library – by whatever name -as a valued community institution supporting literacy and learning, go and look in the door of one of the university libraries before exam time, or your public library on Saturday morning.
Glynis & Maxine
With school environments placing high in student expectations, institutional leaders should consider the findings in Herman Miller’s Once and Future Libraries and exploit their potential by investing in library facilities, not just as places for quiet reading, but as dynamic learning spaces. Data here can be leveraged to encourage the continuous enhancement and refinement of library facilities, collections, and services to support the learning missions.
In Manhattan's Washington Heights library a flock of books soar beneath a digitally printed sky. Read Divine Design: how to create the 21stC school library of your dreams. Transforming your library space so it embraces digital learning?. Asking the right questions about the tools and resources needed to link school wide learning and the library?. Art and aesthetics ?
Another article along the same lines by Tom Corbett in School Library Monthly advocates redesign based on
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