Dr. Michael Wesch: Rethinking Education (and Libraries,Too)

I somehow missed this video when it was first released in January, but thank you to DML Central and Open Culture for helping me discover the video, “Rethinking Education” from Dr. Michael Wesch . I found myself exclaiming “yes!” several times while watching this video from thought leader and teacher extraordinaire (and inspiration agent for Media 21) Dr. Michael Wesch.  A little background on this video designed to be a “conversation starter”:

This video was produced as a contribution to the EDUCAUSE book, The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing, edited by Richard Katz and available as an e-Book athttp://www.educause.edu/thetowerandthecloud or commercially at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0967285399/ref=kinw_rke_rti_1 Produced in 2007 as a conversation starter in small groups. Released in 2011 as a conversation starter online.

Although targeted toward the world of higher education, this video speaks to the challenges we face in K12 education and consequently, libraries at large as we now realize, “there is no shelf”; the video speaks to the fundamental shifts in how information is distributed and how we are now constructing and sharing knowledge.  While many statements stood out to me, one in particular captures the sense of urgency I feel in my work as a librarian and teacher:

‎”The critical thing that is happening is the public is existing now, is living and breathing, within a much larger sphere of information and knowledge.  That critical openness to knowledge, that is something we had better address, or we are ill-serving our students.”

The possibilities for initiating, inviting, and sustaining conversations for learning about these organic changes in the information landscape are what I find incredibly exciting and what give me hope, in spite of what seem to be insurmountable challenges at times, that we can disrupt and topple the banking system of education that treats students as passive receptacles of knowledge and devalues the potential of participatory learning, critical thinking, and inquiry.

Ushering in the Era of “Validation”: Gaining Authority in the Age of Digital Overload

Curation” is a hot buzzword right now in circles of people interested in information and how it is created, organized, distributed, digested, and self-filtered.  As someone who has been and continues to be interested in the changing nature of authority, social scholarship, and helping people learn how to develop their own “information filters”, I was fascinated by this slidedeck from Steve Rubel and the accompanying article via Mashable (thank you to Steve Rosenbaum for pointing me to these resources).

While the slides and article focus on how companies and their brands can gain authority through transmedia storytelling, I think the principles highlighted in the slides and the Mashable article are more than applicable for libraries and librarians:

1.  Elevate the experts (this SO speaks to the concepts of participatory librarianship and culture!):  “Find your company’s subject-matter experts and empower them to “cultivate new ideas and engage in meaningful conversation around them,” advises Rubel.

2.  Curate to connect:  “Rubel pointed out an unprecedented opportunity for companies and individuals to gain authority and become thought leaders by being the ones who “separate art from junk for people to understand it.” Curation is just as important as creation.”

3.  Dazzle with data:  “The solution is to make data and information more visual and entertaining.”  I’ve talked extensively in the last year about libraries using more than flat statistics and your sole perspective to tell the story of library.  Think multimedia and shared voices of your patrons in giving meaning to the data you are sharing transparently with your community.

4.  Put hubs on hubs:  “Publish your company’s content, such as slideshows and white papers, on hubs like SlideShare and Scribd, so that interested parties can access it and “go deeper” when they want to.” We’re doing this already with SlideShare (but not Scribd–our district’s filter classifies Scribd as “porn”) at The Unquiet Library; I’m now thinking about other mediums for adding hubs that the staff can create in 2011-12 as well as our students, our experts in training (this principle speaks to Henry Jenkins’ identifying the scaffolding of novices in becoming experts as an essential element of participatory culture).

5.  Ask and Answer:  everyone in an organization should be able to field questions via social media, not just a few staff members.  I’m contemplating some interesting possibilities for ways libraries and schools could take this advice to heart to elevate our “brand” and authority in our community.

How do you see your library incorporating these principles of authority building ?  How might these principles help you and your library community create conversations for learning?

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.