What I’m Reading Online This Spring: Fountains of Information, Insight, and Inspiration

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite online reading resources that have really been pushing my thinking this spring; while some of these have been in my “premium” folder in Google Reader or on my iGoogle page for some time, others are recent finds.  What these sources share in common is the steady stream of quality content that speaks to my interest in participatory learning and/or culture, digital/new media literacies, inquiry, content creation, the curation of information and knowledge, communities of learners/learning, embedded librarianship, and the effective use of technology to support teaching and learning in thoughtful, innovate ways.  I invite you not only to browse these resources, but to also share your favorite online sources of information in the comments.  Enjoy!

1.  DML Central:  this treasure trove of a resource has been my #1 “go to” place of online reading in recent months.  Read about their mission here:  “We think digital media practices are fundamentally reshaping society in far-reaching ways, especially in how people all around the world are learning and connecting with one another…Across the globe, an ever-expanding number of researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, industry, scholars and youth are exploring the boundaries and possibilities of digital media and the networked world of the twenty-first century…At DMLcentral.net, we want to do all we can to fuel that exploration – to enable break-through collaborations and evoke illuminating conversations that lead to innovations in learning and public participation.”

2.  Mindshift:  :  all things learning in this space!  “MindShift explores the future of learning in all its dimensions – covering cultural and technology trends, groundbreaking research, education policy and more.”

3.  ACRL College and Research Libraries (open access!):  you don’t have to be an academic librarian to appreciate the insightful articles in this official scholarly research journal of the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

4.  ACRL College and Research Libraries News:  this is a companion site to C & RL that “…provides articles on the latest trends and practices affecting academic and research libraries and serves as the official newsmagazine and publication of record of ACRL. Monthly columns include Internet Resources, Internet Reviews, Preservation News, Washington Hotline, Grants and Acquisitions, People in the News, and New Publications. Other regular features are Scholarly Communication, Job of a Lifetime, and The Way I See It. C&RL News is published 11 times per year.”

5. Teach Paperless:  this blog is a constant source of ideas and thought-provoking conversation–a must read for anyone interested in teaching and learning.  “TeachPaperless began in February 2009 as a blog detailing the experiences of one teacher in a paperless classroom. It has grown to be something much more than that. In January 2011, TeachPaperless became a collaboratively written blog dedicated to conversation and commentary about the intertwined worlds of digital technology, new media, and education.”

6.  Open Culture:  I discovered this fantastic website through my friend and colleague Jeff Johnson about two months ago, and I love the diversity of topics/articles in this learning space.  What is Open Culture?  “Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content — it’s all here. Open Culture was founded in 2006.”

7.  The Heart of Innovation:  this blog features creative and “outside the box” posts as well as quotes—I find this resource one that helps me see challenges through different eyes.  “Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.”

8.  Educause Quarterly:  although this resource is geared toward higher education, I find incredibly thoughtful articles here that I can apply to my practice as a teacher and school librarian.  “EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. EDUCAUSE helps those who lead, manage, and use information resources to shape strategic decisions at every level.”

9.ALA TechSource:  the diversity of the posts on the ALA TechSource blog and featured publications highlighted on the website this spring have been enlightening and rich!  Although the focus is on library technology, I feel they emphasize their focus on learning technology, too (which is a win win!).

10.  Brian Solis:  The official website of Brian Solis, the “… principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture.”  While the posts are targets toward business and corporate audiences, I find pearls of wisdom that can be applied to our practice as librarians and learning specialists.

Crowdsourcing Recommended Reads for Issues in School Librarianship

CC Image via http://goo.gl/jE7ra

About two weeks ago, I received an email from my mentor and cherished friend, Dr. Mary Ann Fitzgerald, of the University of Georgia, who shared the following charge:

Here’s a question that’s perfect for you.  I’m teaching an Issues class this summer as an elective (M.Ed level). In the past, I’ve come up with a laundry list of topics and we’ve explored those.

Another approach might be to choose a single book — a paradigm shifter sort of book that relates to SLM.  Not a textbook.  Something like:

  • information + social + technology + education, multiplied by radical
  • Something we can all read and have some rich discussions about, preferably available in e-book format
  • TED talkish

What title would you nominate?  Something published quite recently.

While I had some titles in mind, I decided to tap into the wisdom of my PLN (personal learning network) via good old-fashioned email and crowdsource the list a bit.  Thanks to my sage colleagues, I have compiled a reading list that I think fits the criteria described by Mary Ann: I think this list gives veterans a rich reading menu as well!  What would you add?  You can share your own suggestions by adding them to the public Google doc I’ve created; you can also download the initial list I originally created in Word from SlideShare below.

Inspiration: “My Head’s On Fire Generating Ideas” by Jim Burke

Check out Jim Burke’s slidedeck for what had to have been an incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking presentation to the Michigan Reading Association on strategies for getting students to think in his high school English classroom (and I think they are applicable in any subject area).    In this slidedeck you’ll see familiar as well as inventive strategies for creating conversations for learning with students.

I’ve been a fan of Burke’s for many years (I think everyone who has taught high school English in the last decade or so is a fan), and it is exciting to follow him and be inspired by his work through social media.  You can follow him on Twitter, his blog, or through the wonderful English Companion Ning; I also love his “Weekly Reader” digital anthology. Additionally, I recommend his book, What’s the Big Idea?  Question Driven Units to Motivate Reading, Writing, and Thinking, for your personal and/or school professional collection.

As I’ve been pondering the intersection of collaboratively written research papers and multigenre projects for Spring 2011, a discussion thread initiated by Burke about his exploration of possibilities for digital essays has had me ruminating in recent weeks on ideas for digital research “papers” or “texts” (hint:  I’m using these terms in a broader context outside the traditional concepts associated with these words)  for this spring; I will be sharing my ideas a little later this week here on the blog.

Invest in Imagination, Vision, and Participation: “The Librarian Militant, The Librarian Triumphant” by Dr. R. David Lankes

If you know me or read my work, you know that the work of Dr. David Lankes transformed my philosophy of librarianship two years ago, and consequently, my practice.  The principles he outlines in this exceptional talk parallel my thinking and provide all librarians sound principles that go beyond trends, fads, or “the shiny”.  Take some time out of your day to see this informative and inspiring screencast.

Screencast/talk abstract:

What will kill this profession is not ebooks, amazon, or Google. It will be a lack of imagination. An inability to see not what is, but what could be. To see only how we are viewed now, but not how that is only a platform for greatness. Librarianship is not a building, or a collection. It is a conversation you are having. A conversation that has lasted over nearly three millennia. A conversation handed down from generation to generation, culture to culture, great society to great society, epoch to epoch. Librarianship only ends if we stop this conversation – set in stone, transfer practice to golden idols. It only survives if we, librarians and the communities we serve, take it up, renew, refresh it, and constantly engage in what is next. It is in that conversation that we find what a triumphant librarian is. Someone who wakes to see a better day for their community, and works to make the next even better, and the next day after that.

Listen, learn, and reflect, my friends.

Searching for the “So What?”

One of the things I love about social media and my transactions with my personal learning network is the wealth of ideas I glean from these learning spaces.   What I relish even more, though, are those who actually write about how they are putting those ideas into practice and reflections on those experiences.    In the last year, I have focused on trying to include more posts that explicitly share how my original ideas or those I am borrowing from others play out in my practice as a school librarian; sharing more evidence based practice is one of my writing goals for 2010-11.

I’d like to challenge all of us (public, school, academic librarians, and this includes me as well!) not only to talk about ideas we are discovering in our diverse learning spaces, but to also do more sharing of how those ideas are translating into actual practice in our daily work.  It’s one thing to talk about ideas, but to me, the real power comes from discussing how we are putting those ideas into actual action and exploring the ways people are breathing life into the ideas in their library spaces.  I hope you’ll join me in this challenge during the next twelve months so that we can tap into the power of the collective wisdom from our practice.

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