New ALA Learning Post: “Documenting and Sharing Your eReader Program Practices”

http://alalearning.org/2011/03/08/documenting-and-sharing-your-ereader-program-practices/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ALALearning+%28ALA+Learning+Round+Table%29

Documenting and Sharing Your eReader Program Practices via kwout

Check out my new post at ALA Learning! In this post, I outline my approach to sharing our library’s eReader program practices and why sharing those practices matters:

Because we are all pioneering and forging this brave new world of content delivery, it is important we share our practices with our eReader and/or eBook programs–what is working, what is not—with others.  The act of sharing our ideas, materials, and practices can be empowering for those who are just starting an eReader or eBook program while helping us to be more purposeful in our own programs.


Oh, the Places We Hope to Go: Mapping Program and Learning Themes 2010-11 FTW!

Unquiet Library Learning and Program Themes, 2010-11

Once again, I am using Mindomo to help me pull together the swirling mass of ideas for 2010-11 that have been simmering in my mind throughout the summer.    You can see the working draft (which is subject to change and evolution throughout the next ten months) of the map that outlines the major program and learning initiatives for The Unquiet Library in 2010-11.     These goals and initiatives will take place against the backdrop of reduced staff as our district lost all of its media clerks for the 2010-11 year; protecting instructional services is our priority as is minimizing the ease and flow of access to the physical library space.

In a nutshell, here is where I hope to see the library program grow and go in 2010-11:

Media 21

This learning model will once again be the centerpiece of the program and will be the vehicle for a mini-pilot of the embedded librarian model.    Details will not be finalized until August 2, but tentatively, I have a team of four English teachers and one science teacher who are looking to scale out the work that Susan Lester and I did with our students in 2009-10. I will be writing a separate blog post outlining the goals, framework, tools, themes, and challenges of Media 21 for the upcoming year within the next two weeks;  I’ll also be outlining how I plan to grow my own instructional literacy and my past and present interests in looking at what happens next year through an anthropological lens, so please watch for that impending post.  This year, I hope to frame the Media 21 work as action research and/or ethnography to better understand and analyze student learning and the dynamics of what I hope will be a mini professional learning community.  In addition, I will also compose an additional post outlining and exploring my working conceptualization of participation literacy and its overarching influence on the design of Media 21.

eBooks/eReaders/eReading

This goal feels very much like a moving target in spite of my best efforts to approach our first efforts to roll out ereaders in a methodical and thoughtful way.   I’ll be meeting with the stakeholders who will be helping me in this process over the next weeks, but the preliminary plan at this time is to start with a small set of Kindles for circulation to students and faculty and hopefully expand the menu to include iPads and/or some other tablet device.   I want to have a mix so that students and teachers have options; in addition, I want a mix of dedicated ereaders as well as tablet devices with educational and productivity apps for learning.  The waters feel muddy as the library community grapples with digital rights management issues and the blitz of devices that are either in development or are on the brink of release, such as the Pandigital Novel. I definitely plan to continue collaboration with my personal learning network as we try to share our knowledge and criteria for evaluating these resources that will best fit the needs of our patrons.

I should also add that the initial plan is to purchase Kindles (and possibly Nooks) and to collect a considerable amount of student feedback and qualitative data from the students who use the initial set of devices.  I’ll be using student feedback and the results of their experiences to drive additional purchases and future directions with ereaders.

Gaming

The Unquiet Library will be purchasing additional board games using Libraries Got Game as one of our compasses for purchasing materials that are engaging and aligned to the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners.  In addition, Kimberly Hirsh has been doing some cool work in aligning games to the standards as well, and her work will inform the decision making process; Justin Hoenke is another friend and colleague whose experience and wisdom I’ll be calling upon to help me develop my gaming collection.   I am also working on assembling a team of gaming bloggers who will post directly to The Unquiet Library blog and share their insights and experiences on games of their choosing.

Student Virtual Collection

I want to step up last year’s focus on student content creation while providing a virtual space for hosting student learning artifacts that they may create either in collaboration with teachers and the library or that they may create out of their own learning interests.  I feel this student virtual collection is a way of celebrating student learning while providing an archive and space to explore the evolution and diversity of student learning.

Community/Tribe Building

I’ll be exploring and crowdsourcing strategies for stepping up our current degree of transparency as well as for  inviting even more participation in 2010-11 not only from students, but from parents, administrators, faculty, and other community stakeholders.     I’m working to recruit a team of stakeholders who will be guest bloggers for The Unquiet Library blog as well as finding more ways to crowdsource library policies, events, purchases, and learning experiences that better reflect the needs and wishes of all of our patrons.  In addition, I’m working with other educators to hopefully implement more learning experiences that tap into a larger global network to connect our learning community with others outside of our corner of the world.  My goal is to get more voices participating in the conversations we’re having in and outside of our learning space in the library.

Mobile Learning and Library Services

I plan for the library to lead the way in increasing integration of mobile devices and computing into instruction while finding ways to better tap into students’ mobile devices for access to library services and materials.  In addition, I’m planning on incorporating essential educational apps into our catalog.

Bring It

Although I don’t report back to work officially until July 27, my summer has been a hive of activity and thinking although I certainly wish I could have a few more weeks for collaboration, contemplation, reading, listening, and reflection.   Each of these initiatives presents its own challenges, but I will once again use this blog space to share the journey with you in hopes that others can not only learn from my successes and failures, but  also help me problem solve the challenges along the way and inform my thinking, which I plan to keep fluid and open throughout the next school year.     I am excited to see where we’ll go this year and what we’ll all learn together!

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It’s in the Way That You Use It: What Library 2.0 Means to Me

Image used under a CC license from http://bit.ly/bUiJiy

A few months ago, fellow librarian Andy Woodworth blogged “Deconstructing Library 2.0” as he (in his own words) explored “… if the term was dead or the principles or both.”  A healthy discussion and dialogue about the term itself and application of “Library 2.0” ensued, and other voices chimed in with their own blog posts on the topic, including the incredibly thoughtful and articulate response from Jenny Levine.   While we all may have different interpretations of what exactly the term “Library 2.0” may mean and if we should even still be using it, most everyone who has chimed in on the conversation agrees that it is definitely more than just the “let’s use the web 2.0 tools because they are shiny” thinking.   The application of those tools for service and as a means for expanding our patrons’ ability to access, interpret, share, and create information/knowledge is where the power truly lies for both librarians and those we serve.  On a larger scale, I think the term means more than just the technology and includes the bigger picture of one’s philosophy of librarianship.

Although this discussion took place two months ago, it has been weighing on my mind, but I feel I am just now able to articulate my response to this conversation.   In reading Andy’s blog post and the subsequent responses, I am reminded of three questions that came to mind in 2005 when I first read Library:  An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles.

  • Where does the library live?
  • What are the points of transformation?
  • What is the meaning of the library itself?

When I first encountered the terms Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0 back in early 2007, the work of people like Dr. David Lankes, Jenny Levine, Joyce Valenza, Meredith Farkas, Helene Blowers, and Laura Cohen influenced my conceptualization of the possibilities (and limitations) of “Library 2.0” and how it could support a participatory approach to librarianship.  Laura Cohen’s Librarian 2.0 Manifesto truly captures my own thinking and perceptions of what Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0 can mean:

  • I will recognize that the universe of information culture is changing fast and that libraries need to respond positively to these changes to provide resources and services that users need and want.
  • I will educate myself about the information culture of my users and look for ways to incorporate what I learn into library services.
  • I will not be defensive about my library, but will look clearly at its situation and make an honest assessment about what can be accomplished.
  • I will become an active participant in moving my library forward.
  • I will recognize that libraries change slowly, and will work with my colleagues to expedite our responsiveness to change.
  • I will be courageous about proposing new services and new ways of providing services, even though some of my colleagues will be resistant.
  • I will enjoy the excitement and fun of positive change and will convey this to colleagues and users.
  • I will let go of previous practices if there is a better way to do things now, even if these practices once seemed so great.
  • I will take an experimental approach to change and be willing to make mistakes.
  • I will not wait until something is perfect before I release it, and I’ll modify it based on user feedback.
  • I will not fear Google or related services, but rather will take advantage of these services to benefit users while also providing excellent library services that users need.
  • I will avoid requiring users to see things in librarians’ terms but rather will shape services to reflect users’ preferences and expectations.
  • I will be willing to go where users are, both online and in physical spaces, to practice my profession.
  • I will create open Web sites that allow users to join with librarians to contribute content in order to enhance their learning experience and provide assistance to their peers.
  • I will lobby for an open catalog that provides personalized, interactive features that users expect in online information environments.
  • I will encourage my library’s administration to blog.
  • I will validate, through my actions, librarians’ vital and relevant professional role in any type of information culture that evolves.

I love how this manifesto focuses on organic librarianship that embraces lifelong learning, risk-taking, transparency, play, passion, and persistence; these principles continue to be a “compass” for me of sorts when I think about how I frame my practice and ongoing philosophical evolution.

So how does this manifesto and my perceptions of “Library 2.0” play out in my daily world as a school librarian?

  • I use assorted social media streams to share information via text, images, and video, about what is happening in the library and the library program.  I strive to be in as many places as my students, teachers, administrators, and yes, legislators might dwell.   By sharing what is happening at The Unquiet Library through these multiple streams, I and my patrons can share in the telling of the ongoing story of our library and hopefully expand our learning community’s perceptions of “high school library” and the role we play in our school.
  • These web-based information streams and tools help me compose multilayered and multidimensional monthly library reports that include hard data as well as qualitative/anecdotal evidence of what is happening in the library.  These web-based reports are a powerful tool for advocacy as they both show and tell through traditional text and multimedia the story of our library program not just through my eyes, but from the vantage point of students and teachers on an ongoing basis, not just when a budget crisis may strike.
  • I can use tools like PollDaddy.com, PollEverywhere, or Google Forms to solicit feedback and engage students in learning.
  • This manifesto informs my approach to teaching and learning in the library, including my efforts to help students cultivate personal learning environments, hone their information literacy skills, develop an awareness of digital citizenship, and harness the power of cloud computing for accessing, sharing, and creating knowledge; all of these principles fall under the umbrella of the AASL Standards for the 21st Century learner.  In addition, the Librarian 2.0 manifesto dovetails with my efforts to function as a positive sponsor of multiple forms of literacy that unpacks and theorizes literacies through the lenses of transliteracy and connectivism.  My work with the Media 21 project reflects the embodiment and actual implementation of these principles with students as I try to broaden the possibilities for what a literate community of learners can mean.  By privileging and integrating transliteracy as a “critical form of education“, I can scaffold my students’ ability  to access, share, and create multiple forms of information; consequently, the library is a major player in preparing student to fully participate in today’s society.
  • I can explore alternate ways to share my traditional library program goals/plan document through visualization tools (free!) like Mindomo.  For many users, a visual map of library program goals means much more than a 15 page document that outlines goals, action steps, and assessment strategies.
  • I can be responsive to students’ wishes and usage patterns by rethinking the physical space of my library.
  • I can be transparent about my practice, thinking, wonderings, stumbles, successes, dreams, and other assorted musings through my blog and personal professional page.  These tools are a means not only for sharing with the larger library community, but also for ongoing active self-reflection so that I am a thinking librarian who approaches everything I do thoughtfully and purposefully.
  • I can model lifelong, joyful, playful, and transparent learning for my students and colleagues through my engagement with my personal learning network (see also this link).

For me, the concepts of “Library 2.0” and “Librarian 2.0” are “tags” that reflect my broader vision or “subject heading” of librarianship and provide an umbrella to frame and connect the various theoretical lenses and paradigms that inform my philosophy and practice as a librarian.  What do the terms “Library 2.0” and “Librarian 2.0” mean to you?  How do these ideals play out in your library program and your continued growth as a librarian?

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Extreme Monthly Library Report Makeover

Since opening my library in August of 2006, I have compiled a monthly report as part of my efforts to share what is happening with the library program and as a tool for reflection and action.  I have always completed paper reports using Microsoft Word and posted them on the library website as Word document or Adobe Acrobat PDF; each year, I have added tweaks and additional data.  Last year’s reports (you can see here or here) represented a somewhat dramatic improvement as I incorporated more images, improved graphic design, some additional quantitative data, and a correlation of collaborative lessons (and the accompanying research pathfinders) to assorted standards, including AASL, ISTE, and state performance standards (Georgia Performance Standards or GPS).

While I was pleased with the monthly reports and the culminating annual report for 2008-09, I wanted to add more depth and dimension for this school year to better illustrate what is happening with the library program.  In addition, I felt that a reporting format with more than just print data would help me evaluate my program more effectively and consequently, engage in more thoughtful decision-making.

Originally, I envisioned adding only a master a multimedia video format full of images and data to accompany the print format.  By late October, though, I had this vision of creating a web page in Google Sites for every collaborative assignment that would showcase the link to the pathfinder, student work, assessment tools, video, photos, and any other relevant material and to house these individual pages under an umbrella “month” page.   In addition, I wanted to complete a lesson or unit plan using the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learner template for each collaborative effort and to embed this on these individual pages as well.

While I had good intentions and grandiose visions of this form of reporting, the reality of library life , which has happily been more time-consuming than ever, prevented me from actually following through with my reporting ideas.   Until this year, I have been fairly punctual in creating and posting my reports, but I am sad to say that has not been the case this year!  About a week ago, I finally got a slight break in the action to get all my data together since August and to set about the task of getting caught up.  I realize more than ever that somehow, I must designate a day a month to make sure I stay on track with my reporting and reflection efforts whether I do so at work or at home.  While I feel guilty for letting the reports slide so long this year, I think I did so because I felt preparing the lessons and learning resources for all the collaborative lessons we’ve been doing this year took precedence.

So here is what I’m now including in my monthly reports, which I am generating via LibGuides:

  • A tab featuring an embedded print report (which I’ve uploaded to Slideshare and also attached as a PDF file), a photo show of events for that month, and a link roll to each research pathfinder
  • A tab featuring student video interviews
  • A tab featuring teacher video interview

I still need to catch up this week (I am on vacation) on the November, December, and January reports.  However, in the process of getting the August 2009, September 2009, and October 2009 monthly reports created, I’ve come to recognize several significant insights:

  • I have come up somewhat short in being consistent in incorporating student self-assessments and feedback tools (such as polls) on a regular basis in each research pathfinder; I am determined to correct this shortcoming by making it a tab/element in each LibGuides pathfinder.
  • I have not been consistent in creating links or space for student work to be featured on the pathfinder pages at the end of a project; I want to include a tab in each LibGuides pathfinder for this element.
  • I need to do a better job of collecting those student and teacher quotes so that I can incorporate more as qualitative data into the print report.
  • I have not been as consistent as I would like in documenting projects and gathering feedback from students and teachers with photos and videos; again, I can include a tab in each LibGuides pathfinder to document this qualitative data with multimedia.
  • I now want to include a tab in my each pathfinder I create to reflect the lesson plan (using that AASL template) and the standards we are addressing through the project.

In other words, all the elements I originally envisioned as parts of multiple pages in Google Sites can simply be embedded  as  essential parts/elements of the LibGuides research pathfinder.

One other insight I’ve gained from this process relates to the standards documentation.  While I need to take ownership of documenting the AASL standards the collaborative lesson or unit addresses, I need to give the ownership of documenting state performance standards to the classroom teacher.  I have now devised a simple, low-tech, and already effective method for doing this:  I simply print a copy of the state standards from the GPS website, attach a friendly note on top of the printout to the teacher, and have the teacher highlight all the course standards he/she feels the collaborative project addresses.  In the past, we’d talk about the standards we’d cover, and I’d jot down notes as I did not want to force teachers to fill out a collaborative planning form, but many times I’d realize my shorthand was not terribly effective.  Now that I’ve started asking teachers to use this method, both the teacher and I find the process of documenting the GPSs painless and easy!  In addition, this exercise has really opened the eyes of my teachers as to how many content standards they are addressing through our collaboratively planned research projects.    Last week, one of my 10th grade English teachers came by to tell me how excited he was about how many standards his students were mastering in a hands-on, meaningful, real-world sort of way and not through the superficial  means imposed upon him by the test-driven approach.  I am now “backtracking” in include these standards on all project we’ve engaged in since January 1 and incorporate this process into each collaborative effort from this point forward.

These “light bulb” moments of recent days are energizing and exciting for me!  I feel that the tweaks to the pathfinders will not only improve the pathfinders themselves but will support my endeavor of creating dynamic and multifaceted monthly reports that tell the story of my library program rather than merely reporting facts and figures.

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