My Takeaway From Our Inquiry

I have enjoyed delving into all the topics we have looked at in this inquiry phase of the course.  Though some I had already covered in previous courses, such as creating a reading culture and developing leadership skills in the area of professional development, I still expanded my knowledge with my own continued research or through insight from others’ posts.  Researching libraries in the developing world and learning how mobile technology can play an important role in their construction and use has helped expand my world view, beyond my own District.  However, I think my main takeaway from this inquiry is how to develop a personal learning network through current information and communication technology.  In other words, how I can use social media to expand my professional development opportunities.

I took this course because I wanted to learn more ways of using digital technology in my practice as a teacher-librarian because my knowledge is lacking in this area.  I know other digital immigrants have embraced social media in both their personal and professional lives, but I have yet to feel comfortable doing that.  I am not sure what is holding me back.

people-texting1

1. We are being social.

Maybe it is the bias I have against being inundated with the minutiae of people’s day, or the ease of mobile devices in creating social interactions online instead of face to face.

social-media-overwhelm2

2. It’s too much!

 

 

Or it might be that I am often overwhelmed by the shear mass of information I receive with the few subscriptions to social media sites I have.

The-Four-Headed-Monster-The-Anti-Social-Media

3. The Four Headed Monster

 

 

Or maybe it is because I am a very private person and am not yet comfortable “sharing” my ideas with others in cyberspace.

 

 

This inquiry has helped me see the positive aspects of using social media and how important its use is for teachers and teacher-librarians to collaborate, share, and stay informed about educational issues.  After all, I tell my students that technology can be used as a tool to help them become more successful in school, so I should be modelling this behaviour, showing how I can use technology in my teaching practice to extend my knowledge and learning.

The ideas in Lia’s blog post, Expanding My Personal Learning Network, inspired me.  In it, she lists ways she uses social media, like bookmarking, pinning, and networking, in her teaching practice along with further goals for using these technologies.   Though I do get inspired by others’ ideas, as a TOC I have few opportunities to directly implement many of them in my own teaching practice.  So my collection of digital resources sit in my computer bookmarks or Evernote notebooks, awaiting the day I can use them in my own classroom or library.  However, I have come to realize through this inquiry that establishing a personal learning network online offers more than just resources.  It provides access to a group of professionals that will be there when I need them for ideas, answering questions, collaboration or simply an understanding of the problems I may face as a teacher-librarian.  By utilizing digital technology, I will be able to take more control of my professional development.  So a logical place to start is with Twitter; learning how to use it more effectively as part of my personal learning network.  I have been following the #libe477 tweets, and added a couple of my own, but I haven’t really explored this tool to its fullest.  I know that once I embrace the value of using Twitter professionally, it will be easier to branch out into other social media platforms to widen my PLN.  I am hopeful that soon I can move my comfort zone from……

vintage-social-networking

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wordlezimmer

 

 

Image Citations:

1. When is the best time to post on social media (2014) http://theagencyonline.co.uk/2014/03/when-is-the-best-time-to-post-on-social-media/

2. Tips to effectively manage your social media sites. (2014) http://meetadrianacasanova.com/tips-effectively-manage-social-media-sites/

3.There is no such thing as privacy on social networks (2011)  http://theantisocialmedia.com/there-is-no-such-thing-as-privacy-on-social-networks/

Vintage Social Networking – University of Leeds (2014) Social Media http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/sddu-social-media.html

21st-Century Teacher Tools Wordle – A guide for newbie social educators (2011) http://judyoconnell.com/2011/01/17/a-guide-for-newbie-social-educators/

 

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Libraries: A Global Perspective

“Should libraries in developing nations rely on donations and weeded books from developed nations?”  This statement in this week’s module reminded me of a discussion in another course about what to do with weeded books.  I am sure many teacher-librarians are like me and don’t like throwing anything out, but I think it is demeaning to expect that developing countries should be grateful for or rely upon our out-of-date, old, discarded books.  This discussion also reminded me of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who grew up reading American and British children’s books.  Her views question whether or not it is appropriate for developed countries to simply provide new books to developing nations.

“At about the age of seven … I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather: how lovely it was that the sun had come out. This despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria; we didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.”

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story, TEDGlobal 2009.

The first 3 minutes of her TED Talk brings up the fact that though she enjoyed the foreign stories she read, the “unintended consequence” was that growing up she did not know that people like her could be in a story.  (Though the rest of her talk is not related to our discussion, I highly recommend watching it if you have the time.)

 

Consequently, my online search focussed on how organizations support libraries and literacy in developing nations.  Is it mostly through donations of books and materials from developed countries?  Or do they work closely with countries to make sure their cultures are well represented in their own libraries?

The first organization I looked at was Room to Read.  Room to Read was started by John Wood, ex-Microsoft executive, in  1998.  The organization soon realized that “one of the greatest challenges to early adoption of the habit of reading in developing countries is a lack of high-quality, age-appropriate children’s books in the local language.”  So in 2003 it started publishing books in the countries where it works.  Of course, publishing takes longer than simply buying and donating, and to date, though about 14.5 million books have been distributed ,  just over 1000 have been published.  A low ratio, but I think they are on the right track.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 11.03.21 PM

Room to Read statistics, 2013. (screenshot from http://www.roomtoread.org/OurPrograms)

 

Another organization I found was Librarians Without Borders, working in Ghana and Guatemala.  I was intrigued by this organization because I hadn’t heard of it before.  It was started in 2005 by a group of librarians who wanted to do something about “the vast information resource inequity existing between different regions of the world.”   Though its website has no statistics about their work, the values of LWB state that they “do not draw cultural or linguistic boundaries – diversity is embraced; we will work with our partners in their own cultural context and in their own languages.”   Membership is free in Canada and gives individuals the opportunity to partner with community organizations to help in areas of need.  I would like to look at this organization in more detail.  I think it would be a great way to showcase in my own library how librarians are supporting literacy on a global scale, giving a way for my school community to support others.

Though digital technology has become an essential part of libraries in Canada, I couldn’t find information that these two organizations help provide it as part of their donations.  Room to Read did not mention technology at all on their website (ironic from an ex-Microsoft executive?) and though LWB does provide access to digital content, it is unclear if donations help support the purchase of associated technology.  I assume it does as technology is such an important part of library services.  In reference to mobile technology, it makes sense that some areas in developing nations are bypassing traditional computers and opting for going mobile.  It would be cheaper to install, allowing people in poorer areas without infrastructure in place, access to information, broadening their knowledge base, as well as providing them a voice on the global stage.

Group of Human Arms Raised with Speech Bubble

 

 

With my studies I have been mostly concerned with how I, as a teacher-librarian, can work with and be involved in my school community.  Thinking about how I can contribute to others on a global scale had not become part of my dialogue yet.  However, I appreciate the opportunity to broaden my perspective and find out how literacies are being supported around the world.

 

Works Consulted

 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (2009). The Danger of a Single Story. TEDTalks. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

Librarians Without Borders (n.d.) About Us. Retrieved from http://lwb-online.org/about-us/

Room to Read (2013). Quality reading materials: A life-long love of reading starts with great children’s books.  Retrieved from http://www.roomtoread.org/page.aspx?pid=463

 

Image citation:

Librarians Without Borders (n.d.) Events. Retrieved from http://lwb-online.org/category/events/

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Teacher-Librarians as Leaders

leadership

In one of the first courses I took on this journey, I learned that an important role of a teacher-librarian is as a leader (Toor and Weisburg, 2007).  Toor and Weisburg state that this can be difficult because a teacher-librarian will not be given any authority.  However, taking on a position as leader within a school is important for the welfare of a library program (p. 93).  I knew right away that this would be a challenge for me as I tend to let others take the lead.  Though definitions of leadership can vary, what is universal is that a good leader “know(s) how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way” (Helmrich, 2015).  I prefer to think of leadership, not as taking control or directing a group, but as creating good partnerships with my colleagues so we can collaborate and “inspire” each other.  Now, in my last course, I am more comfortable acting as a leader in this capacity.

Something that I have been concerned with throughout my studies, is the lack of training for teachers about the benefits of a strong library program.  Admittedly, I completed my PDP many years ago, but talking more recently with student teachers it seems that not much has changed.  Therefore, one way in which I plan to take on the mantle of leadership when I have my own library, is by offering professional development to the staff at my school.  A few ideas I have come up with include:

1. Offer a session for new/student teachers in the school to showcase the library program and encourage collaboration.

2. Provide professional development on local (school) inservice days to highlight new resources, technology, inquiry, book talks, creative commons, reliable websites or whatever other information literacy/technology topics teachers are interested in learning more about.

3. Attend department meetings to offer my help and support for inquiry projects as well as learn the needs of the teachers and what they see as important for the library program.

In addition to offering staff formal professional development, it is also important to educate staff on an informal basis throughout the year (Eby, 2013).  For example, by having library blocks for students with the teacher present, learning along with them about information and digital literacy, classroom teachers will begin to understand the role and expertise of the teacher-librarian (Eby, 2013).  As well, I would like to create a virtual space teachers can go to for ideas, resources, technology information, etc.  This could be through the library website or social media platforms like blogging or Twitter.   By taking advantage of teachable moments, Eby found that providing informal education could transform how classroom teachers view teacher-librarians, shifting from an old-school view as keepers of information to equal partners in 21st Century learning (p. 232).

Where I begin in terms of staff professional development will depend on the school environment where I work.  With a school that is used to a dynamic library program I may be able to jump right in offering professional development on a more formal basis.  However, at a school where the classroom teachers are not used to learning from or collaborating with the teacher-librarian, I may have to start more slowly, building relationships through informal education, creating a base from which to start professional development for the staff.  In either case, my ability to take on a leadership role is needed to ensure success at sharing my knowledge and expertise with the rest of the school community.

 

Works Consulted

Eby, H. (2013).  Professional development with a qualified teacher-librarian. In Becoming and being: reflections on teacher-librarianship. Branch-Mueller, J., De Groot, J. & Salerno, K. (eds)  Edmonton, AB: Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning. p. 231-241.  eBook. Downloaded from https://sites.google.com/a/ualberta.ca/becoming-and-being/home

Helmrich, B. (23 Jan. 2015). 30 Ways to Define Leadership. Business News Daily.  Retrieved from <http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3647-leadership-definition.html>.

Toor, R. and H. K. Weisburg. (2007). New on the job: A school library media specialist’s guide to success. Chicago: American Library Association.

 

Image uploaded from: https://www.avanoo.com/landing/454/Leadership

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Developing PLNs with ICTs

PLN Wordle

 

Creating a personal learning network is important for teachers-librarians, and using available information and communication technologies makes it easier than ever.  Teacher-librarians are usually in a unique position in their schools so though they can share and learn from colleagues, they often have unique challenges that only other teacher-librarians would understand.  Though I don’t have a teaching position yet, there are a few things I have in place right now that will help create learning opportunities for myself when I eventually get my own library.

1. LM-NET: In a previous course, I was required to subscribe to the Library Media Network.  LM-NET is an international network of teacher-librarians in which members can pose questions, share ideas and offer support to each other.  The site’s archives can also be searched by date or particular topic.  Though I am not participating within the network right now, I still receive emails about current posts and I often glance through the topics finding helpful information that I bookmark for future reference.

2. My courses: I have found many useful blogs and websites by educators through the courses I have taken for my Teacher-Librarian’s Diploma.  I use Evernote to help keep them organized. I have a teacher-librarian resources notebook in which I add links to online resources that I find helpful.  As well, I have most of my coursework organized in separate notebooks.  When I am finished my diploma, I will go through these notebooks and better organize the resources by topic.  I find Evernote to be a great organization tool, as it is available on whatever device or computer I may be using at the moment.

3. When I had a temporary contract in a high school library a couple of years ago, I was automatically added to our district’s teacher-librarian email list. This was very helpful if I needed help or advice and gave me the ability to keep in the loop about what other teacher-librarians were doing in the district.  I know that once I have my own library, I will have this built-in network if I need it.

Those are a few things I have started, but I know I need to do more, especially in terms of social media.  I have resisted using social media because until recently I hadn’t really seen it as a potential professional resource.  I have used Diigo in the past, (Diigo: A Bookmarking Tool), but didn’t take advantage of its social aspect.  I am on Facebook and, more recently, Twitter but do not utilize them.  One problem I think is that I do not have a mobile device I carry with me all the time and often social media works best on these devices.  So right now I am forced to use my computer at home on which I do not like, with a family and kids, to take the time to wade through all the information coming at me.  However, knowing now how social media can be invaluable in helping to establish a personal learning network, I will definitely try to utilize these resources in the future.

In this age of cutbacks, it is important for teacher-librarians to reinvent themselves to keep their school libraries relevant for 21st Century learning.  Right now, our education system is working under a 150 year old model (Richardson, 2012) so educators need to go outside the curriculum learning resources to find ways to teach the digital natives in our classrooms.  Creating a personal learning network of educators, both local and international, can offer new ideas in collaboration, sharing and teaching to help make teacher-librarians an indispensable part of their schools.

Works Consulted

Richardson, W. (2012) Why school? How education must change when learning and information are everywhere. Ebook. Kindle Version.  http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00998J5YQ

Image Citation:

Bucky, C. (2008) PLN 1. Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobannon/2983755525/

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