May 16

Social Media – Engagement with Policies

There’s no escaping the fact that social media is a part of our connected world. Initially, social media was purely for social interactions, as distinct from professional. Those lines are now blurred, with an abundance of professional, government and educational organisations establishing strong social media presences across a number of platforms.

It is of critical importance that any social media or social networking account established for an organisation takes into account the protocols around engagement. Who is expected to interact with the social media presence? What are the rules of engagement going to be? And most importantly, how can you ensure that users are aware of these guidelines when engaging with your networks?

When establishing a social media presence for community engagement, it is important to consider the following five points:

1. What is the objective of the social media account?

Social media is supposed to be exactly that – SOCIAL. If your purpose is to create a space where people can find out dates of events, and receive updates about what is happening in your organisation, but don’t want them to provide feedback, or don’t want to allow comments or contributions from the community, then perhaps a billboard or a static website might be more suitable than a facebook page. If you want to create a space for sharing of ideas and discussions, then perhaps a wiki would be useful. If your objective is to curate a wide range of links and resources, then a site like diigo or pinterest might be the best place to start. Organisations need to ensure that their accounts and sites meet their needs, and provide appropriate opportunities for engagement.

2. How will the account be administered?

There are some serious admin considerations that need to be taken into account when setting up social media accounts on behalf of an organisation. Protocols for responding to complaints or suggestions, appropriate timing of posts, and the development of a style of posting/ sharing which reflects the organisation are all elements which need to be taken into consideration. Who will be responsible for creating and sharing content? What will happen it there is a controversial issue? How will the account passwords, privacy details, etc, be managed, in order to ensure that the account is sustainable, and not just reliant on the efforts of one enthusiastic person?

3. What regulations need to be abided by?

There are legal and ethical considerations when setting up a social media account. If your target audience is primary school aged children, then a site which requires members to be 13+ to create an account is not going to be suitable. Sites which don’t allow you a level of control over privacy and sharing of personal information could be a serious concern when children are anticipated users. Any site that is being considered for use should be closely examined to ensure that it fits with the guidelines for appropriate communications, as required by the organisation in question.

4. What are the “rules of engagement” for the account?

It is important that all users are aware of what the guidelines are for social media interactions. All social media accounts should provide some information about what is appropriate in terms of communication, response times, etc. For example, the Evans High School facebook page provides an outline of the types of behaviours that are expected from the school community when interacting with the page. This highlights the importance of contributions by all community members, the desire for the page to reflect the school’s PBL focus of “cooperative, polite and responsible” behaviours, and the expected time frame for any responses to requests posted on the page. (Evans HS, n.d.). This allows for positive management of the page, and ensures that users know what is expected when interacting. It is important that these rules of engagement are consistent across all social media accounts, and reflect the image and message of the organisation.

5. What policies and procedures are required to govern the social media accounts?

Establishing policies and procedures for social media will vary depending on the context of the organisation, and the framework within which it operates. Government organisations have specific requirements about representation and participation which may not apply to all organisations, for example. As a teacher librarian in a NSW public school, the key documents that I must refer to are the NSWDEC policies and procedures relating to Online Communications Services – specifically, the Social Media Policy and Guidelines for staff, and the Online Communication Services: Acceptable Usage for Students policy.

References:

DETNSW. (2015). Social Media Policy. Retrieved 12 May 2015, from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/technology/communication/PD20110418.shtml

Evans High School (n.d.) https://www.facebook.com/EvansHighSchool/info?tab=page_info

Socialmedia.biz,. (2015). Best practices for developing a social media policy. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from http://socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/

 

May 7

Continuing the 2.0 theme – the Librarian 2.0!

Essential skills of the information professional in a web2.0 world. What are they? I believe, fundamentally, that they are the same skills that are required by any effective educator: the ability to foster connection, collaboration, and community.

CONNECTION – it’s about more than just being able to chat to people. It’s about linking the people we work with to the information they are looking for (Mackenzie, 2007, p120). Simple as that? Well, yes and no. Because firstly, you need to make sure you are aware of what it is the people around you need! What are the teachers looking for to support their teaching and learning? What do the students require to help them reach their school learning goals, and also to support their development as lifelong learners? What does the school executive, and the wider school community, want and need from their school library? Once you know all these things, you can be the information specialist who is armed with the roadmap needed to establish these connections. Sometimes this will require ICT tools. Sometimes it will need a creative application of a traditional tool (Harvey, 2009). Sometimes it will require the willingness to concede that you have absolutely no idea what it requires, and do some research of your own.

And that’s where COLLABORATION comes in. No longer is the librarian the one who holds the keys to all knowledge. The 21st century information specialist knows how to find out what they need to know, and they know how to direct others in their question for information.  They collaborate with colleagues. They draw on the strengths of those who have gone before them – someone has curated an excellent diigo which relates to an area of study that a senior History class is researching? They create links between the class and the curator. A university on the other side of the globe is doing wonderful things with Instagram? They collaborate with the account admins, and regram content, giving credit to the original Instagram account. A student comes up with a great idea for a virtual world project which could benefit the school community? They liaise with the relevant stakeholders to create a working party to ensure that the idea doesn’t just languish in the corner, but is given the resources and expertise required to make it a success – and, most importantly, they recognize that this expertise may (and probably WILL) come from someone other than them.

It’s really an extension of the connection idea, I guess. Collaboration is a key indicator of the shift in perception of the information professional. Partridge, Lee and Munro refer  to research which reflects this notion that librarians “can’t do everything”, and need to work closely with IT professionals and multidisciplinary teams in order to meet the needs of their clients (2010). No longer are we the gurus, but the guides. We certainly ARE experts, but our expertise is often in the area of finding out who may have the answers and ideas needed, rather than being the storehouse for these ourselves.

Cohen’s Manifesto Statement that as a Librarian 2.0 “”I will be willing to go where users are” really encompasses the idea of COMMUNITY for me. It’s about a recognition that we need to be willing to embrace the spaces, connections and interests of our wider community. If our users are active on social networks, then we need to consider whether engaging with them on those platforms might be something that would be of benefit. We need to be willing, and indeed enthusiastic, about the interactions amongst our community, and what they can contribute to our library service. Social tagging is just one example of ways that our community engagement can enrich our library experience.

So I guess for me, the fundamental defining characteristic of Librarian 2.0 is the willingness to dive into the 21st century information landscape, with all the resources that provides, and to strive to create the absolute best library (Stephens, 2006, p8) they can for, and with, their patrons. We are no longer behind a desk, we are part of a community. And that’s my favourite thing of all about being this new breed of librarian!

References:

Cohen, L (2007) A manifesto for our times. American Libraries Vol. 38, No. 7 (Aug., 2007), pp. 47-49

Harvey, M. (2009)  What does it mean to be a Science Librarian 2.0? http://www.istl.org/09-summer/article2.html

Mackenzie, C. (2007). Creating our future: Workforce planning for Library 2.0 and beyond. APLIS, 20(3), 118-124.

Partridge, H., Lee, J., and Munro, C. (2010). Becoming “Librarian 2.0”: The Skills, Knowledge, and Attributes Required by Library and Information Science Professionals in a Web 2.0 World (and Beyond) Library Trends Volume 59 (1-2)  http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/journals/library_trends/v059/59.1-2.partridge.html

Stephens, M. (2006). Into a new world of librarianship. Next Space, The OCLC Newsletter. http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/publications/newsletters/nextspace/nextspace_002.pdf

 

 

May 2

Building academic library 2.0: Advice for Evans

The “Building Academic Library 2.0” video, part of a symposium sponsored by Librarians Association of the University of California, Berkeley Division in 2007, provides some interesting ideas for where we can go, as we shift our libraries from the static, traditional, quiet buildings that proliferate the stereotypes, to the dynamic participatory centres of learning that we owe our users.

Make some plans! Wagner, Associate Vice Chancellor at UC Berkeley’s opening remarks about the need for “Planning, partnership and privacy” rang true for me in the directions that the Library@Evans needs to take as we move towards a more participative Library 2.o. Wagner highlights the fact that it’s difficult to make plans when you don’t know what people want, so it’s vital to consult with your users. What do our students want and need? What do teachers want and need?

This leads to my second key takeaway message – technology isn’t about what you buy, but about what our clients can do with what we buy. Our laptop and iPads are fantastic additions to our technology offerings in the library, and supplement the existing computer labs, but they are just tools which can be used in a strategic plan to support teaching and learning. They aren’t solutions. They don’t enhance a student’s ability to embrace and develop their own lifelong learning love. They don’t facilitate engagement with critical literacies. They can be used as part of a proactive plan, rather than a reactionary approach to teaching which sees us responding to issues, rather than leading the conversation.

We need to question everything. I’ve discovered, since taking over the library at the beginning of last year, that so much of what happens in the library is a result of tradition. About 9 months into the year, we discovered that we were able to scan the ISBN of books directly into SCIS when doing a catalogue entry for new items. It makes perfect sense, right? We scan barcodes when we are doing circulation tasks. But, in the library manual, written 10+ years ago by a librarian long gone, it instructs us to type in the ISBN. The library assistant has been so used to keying the numbers in that she never even thought about scanning them. This is a minor example, but really illustrates the habits that we fall into in our profession. And, it’s something that we need to consider as we move towards being the kind of library we want to be. We encourage our students to

Another direction that we can consider is the benefits of marketing. Our social media accounts, particularly our Instagram account, are our first step in highlighting and marketing our collections to our key audiences. Using flickr and RSS feeds are some interesting suggestions from Farkas to consider as we shift our focus away from just the “new books” stand traditionally located in the high school library.

The final point that I took away from this video is the one that will perhaps be most challenging for many librarians and educators. It’s about embracing the idea that we don’t have to be the experts. Users have expertise that can and should be used more effectively in our libraries. How can we use that in our high school libraries? Social bookmarking, something that I’ve only really gotten into through my own post-grad study, is an interesting approach which can be employed to draw on the collective intelligence of our users.

 

 

May 1

User reviews – Whose opinion matters?

I often wonder how I used to make a life decision before google. Before I could look up a review of a movie I want to see, or search for some opinions on the new Thai restaurant in my neighbourhood before deciding where to eat. I will peruse book blogs and GoodReads to help me select a book from my TBR pile, and if I can’t find useful reviews to help me decide, I’ll crowdsource opinions on twitter or Facebook.

User reviews are a valuable source of information about goods and services, and online review platforms have the potential to provide organisations and individuals with an enormous range of information at their fingertips. But, like any information, it must be read critically. One of the things we strive to teach our students is the importance of critical information literacy – that we should not just accept any information on face value, but should analyse it. We apply the CRAP test at my school – Currency, Reliability, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. This same kind of critical analysis should be applied to reviews on Tripadvisor, as well as the ubiquitous wikipedia article that teachers are so fond of warning students off.

review-stars1

There is a potential downside to user reviews though. There is unfortunately the risk that some users may decide to wield the power of their negative review, and seek to actively destroy the reputation of a business or organisation. There have been increasing numbers of claims of such behaviour in recent years, including the cafe which was the result of an unrenewed lease, with frequent negative reviews given as one of the main reasons for this (Thomson, 2014). The phrase “Social Media Blackmail” has been coined to refer to the process of using social media reviews as currency, often to the detriment of the organisation being reviewed (Neidlinger, 2013), and it is a serious issue of concern.

Despite the potential problems, I believe that user reviews are a valuable resource. Beyond that, though, they are a reflection of the kind of information landscape I am proud to inhabit. A world in which opinions and ideas matter, and people are able to express them freely, without fear of repercussions. It is for this reason I will continue to gather the opinions of others when I’m hunting for somewhere to stay on my next trip somewhere unfamiliar. But I’ll also take the negative review with as much a grain of salt as the glowing one – because ultimately, my decisions are my responsibility, and my opinion matters too!

 

References:

Neidlinger, J. (2013). This Is What Social Media Blackmail Looks Like. Todaymade Blog. Retrieved from https://todaymade.com/blog/social-media-blackmail/

Thomson, P. (2014). Stromlo cafe owner lashes out at bad comments on Trip Advisor. Retrieved from http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/stromlo-cafe-owner-lashes-out-at-bad-comments-on-trip-advisor-20140801-zyyum.html

May 1

Oh what a tangled Web we weave … Web2.0

Web2.0. It’s like web version 1, but with a better camera, and more apps. Oh wait, that’s the iPhone.

Take 2. Web 2.0. What is it? I LOVE the jargon of the wiki definition, which describes Web 2.0 as “World Wide Web sites that emphasize user-generated content, usability, and interoperability” (wikipedia, n.d.) What does that mean? Basically, it represents the shift from the internet as a place where people go to find information, to a place where users create information, share ideas, and are involved in the production of media. The focus is on creation rather than consumption. Wikipedia itself represents a perfect example of a Web 2.0 site, as users are able to edit, create, and contribute to the body of knowledge.

Web 2.0 sites play a vital role in the way that people engage on the internet, on multiple levels. Socially, people create connections on sites like facebook, youtube and instagram, sharing their pictures, events, and ideas with an ever-expanding community. Academically, wikis allow spaces for connection, interaction and sharing of teaching and learning. Professionally, colleagues interact on sites such as twitter and google hangouts, allowing for a deepening collaborative connections. Web 2.0 platforms like tumblr, pinterest, and the numerous other blogging and curations sites in existance cross the boundaries of use, allowing people to collaborate and connect in many areas of their lives.

Web 2.0 is so much a part of our internet experience that it’s second nature to contribute to sites. As our ability to contribute to the collective body of knowledge that the internet represents increases, so does our need to throughtfully and critically analyse the media we consume. Active participation in the creation of media needs to be met with active engagement with the media we interact with. Web 2.0, then, is really a reflection of the relationships that users form with the sites – creating, exchanging and using information around a point of need (Miller, 2005).

Web 2.0 is an enormous part of my online life. Whether is facebook groups to communicate with colleagues or fellow students, instagram to share my day and my work, or one of the myriad of other sites I use in my teaching and learning, I’m constantly contributing to the ever-increasing world of Web 2.0. What will be next, I wonder?

 

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0. Accessed May 1 2015.

Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library, Ariadne, 45, 30 October. Retrieved from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue45/miller

March 15

Social networking – what is it anyway?

social-networks

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/10-surprising-social-medi_b_4325088.html

Social networking. Social media. What are they? I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes to put into words a concept that is so inherently a part of your life, so I will admit to struggling to find the right words to adequately explain what social networking is to me! So, here goes. I believe that social networking is an inherent part of the way that people interact today – it certainly is for me, and research shows that I’m not the only one! Recent statistics show that 71% of US adults use facebook, and the amount of internet users who use multiple social media platforms rose from 42% in 2013 to 52% in 2014 (Duggan et al, 2015) Using social media tools such as facebook, twitter, google plus, and whatever else comes along in the months and years ahead, social networking is about connecting, communicating, and collaborating. Rather than being a solitary activity, involving just yourself and your computer, social networking creates enormously powerful opportunities to interact with people who share similar ideas, interests and involvements, and allows you to contribute and collaborate to projects and conversations that would not normally be possible. It is, at its heart, about connections – as Grossman says, when discussing my Time Person of the Year award, “it is a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.” (2006)

I use social networking a lot. And, according to Huffpost, I’m not alone – in 2013, social networking overtook porn as the number one activity on the web. Bizarre I know – as is the statistic that the fastest growing demographic on twitter is the 55-64 age bracket. (Cooper, 2013) It’s strange what you can find out when you google “social media” huh?

Anyway, in all seriousness, my social networking is both personal and professional, and there are often tenuous barriers between these two aspects of my social media life. I use facebook on a daily basis, and I manage a couple of groups – one for fellow CSU students as a place to connect and commiserate as we study for our Masters, and one for my Library Warriors (students who have volunteered to be a part of our library team!) I also act as a second staff member on a number of our school facebook groups which have been set up by teachers to support a number of senior classes at our school. I also manage our school facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/EvansHighSchool), and have as of yesterday started in an admin role on the SLANSW facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/School-Library-Association-of-New-South-Wales/791343294233335).

I also use twitter (@tamararodgers74): I initially had a separate personal account, and kept this one for purely professional interactions, however this is my primary twitter account now. I also manage our school’s twitter account (@evanshigh), although this mostly involves a direct feed from our facebook page. Instagram is my guilty pleasure, with my personal stream being joined by one for our school (@evanshigh) and one for our library (@evanslibrary), and pinterest takes up far more of my life at 12am than is possibly healthy – with a personal page (http://www.pinterest.com/princesstamara/) and a school one (http://www.pinterest.com/evanshighschool/) which is a new addition to our social media profile, and a work in progress. I use goodreads as a way of tracking my reading and book collections, and have recently started stalking people on there … ahem, I mean, connecting with other users to discuss books and authors. I have dabbled in using sites like diigo and google plus, but they haven’t featured heavily in my regular social media profile, and I’ve used google docs, Second Life, edmodo and moodle as collaborative tools in a variety of professional contexts with a similar level of expertise (ie I’m still wearing floaties in most of these!)

Personally, social networking allows me to keep in contact with what’s going on in the equally busy lives of my family and friends. Professionally, it allows me to collaborate with colleagues, share ideas and resources, crowd source solutions to problems, and, possibly most importantly for me, communicate the powerful and important contributions that my school community is making to the lives of our students. As a result of my ongoing work with our school social media profile, I have contributed a “Social Media Tips” page which is used by NSWDEC Corporate Communications to provide guidance to schools who are looking at setting up their own social media presences. I will also be collaborating with the Communications and Engagement Team as they work on formulating the social media strategy for the Department, with a focus on consolidating and growing online community engagement based on best practice, which apparently Evans demonstrates! (That was a seriously cool email to receive, fyi … It’s nice to know that our hard work has been recognised!)

What am I hoping to get out of this subject? To be honest, I’ve already got some of it … significant modelling of best practice in how to use social media as an instructional tool. I’m loving the facebook page as a connection and discussion point. I’m highly excited by assignment one, and can’t wait to put into practice some of what I’ve been thinking about with regards to our use of facebook, goodreads and pinterest as collaborative elements in our library communications. I’m hoping for some more grounding in ways to use other social networks as curation tools, as my expertise in these is really limited to pinterest, and I’d like to have some more tools in my arsenal.

And, after reading all that, I’ve realised why I don’t spend much time sleeping – I’m online too much! 🙂

 

References:

Cooper, B (2013) Ten social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/10-surprising-social-medi_b_4325088.html Accessed March 14 2015.

Duggan, M, Ellison, N, Lampe, C, Lenhart, A, and Madden, M. (2015) Social Media Update 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/ Accessed March 14 2015.

Grossman, L (2006) Time’s Person of the Year: You. Time, Dec. 13, 2006. Cited in Sharing, Privacy and Trust in our Networked Worldhttp://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/reports/pdfs/sharing.pdf. Accessed March 14 2015.

 

March 15

Literature and History – a love story

I love literature. I love stories, and am endlessly enthralled with the multiplicity of ways those stories can communicate, and can connect people, places and ideas. I also love history, and one of the reasons I have always enjoyed teaching it is the ability to connect ideas about our history with individual’s experiences. So, what has been most interesting to me through this subject is how eye-opening the idea of using literature in non-traditional subject areas has been! When I think about it now, it makes perfect sense, but as a HSIE teacher previously, I had never even contemplated using fiction to support my teaching.

For me, completing ETL402 – Literature Across the Curriculum, as part of my study towards the M.Ed Teacher Librarianship, has broadened my ideas about the role of fiction in my work as a TL. In my capacity as a TL in a public high school in Western Sydney, I’m passionate about expanding our collection of quality fiction, and ensuring that we provide a comprehensive range of texts which support and extend the literary needs of our diverse student body. I have, however, considered this as somewhat separate to my role of supporting teaching and learning within the school. I must admit to only really considering literature as a resource for the English faculty, and steered directly to non-fiction when thinking about ways that I could provide support for other faculty areas – my beloved history included! In discussions last year with our Society and Culture class about their PIPs, not once did Simon and the Homosapien Agenda pop into my head when directing the student whose research was looking at the barriers gay students face in coming out to their peers.

So, what does this mean for my professional practice then? I’m now more actively engaged in exploring a wider range of texts and strategies to support learning, no matter what the subject area. We are implementing a tagging system in our catalogue to highlight fiction texts that are suitable for a variety of subjects, and in my regular faculty liaison meetings, I will now be promoting fiction options to support their subjects. Science and Maths don’t just live in the non-fiction section! The possibilities for integrating literature in science, and encouraging teachers to consider creative options to achieve their outcomes, are exciting. I found Pennington’s (2010) discussion on using science fiction in the Science classroom particularly interesting, and was surprised at my own surprise at the thought of using creative writing as a learning strategy in a Science lesson!

Apart from these revelations for me about the role of fiction in subjects other than English though, this subject has helped consolidate for me the importance of what we do in the library. We have unrivalled opportunities to impact student learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Providing literature which encompasses and represents the diversity of human experience is a huge responsibility, and the impact of this for our students in extraordinary. Students who see their own experiences reflected on the shelves gain a stronger sense of the value of their own stories (Hinton, 2007). Conversely, students who see other people’s lives and experiences in the pages of a novel or picture book develop a stronger world view, and develop a sense of empathy and acceptance for the differences around them (Smolen, 2010). Providing a multiplicity of experiences in a wide range of children’s literature has significant benefits for students (Bothelo 2009), and I’m excited about the possibilities of expanding the impact of our burgeoning literature collection – reading for pleasure is wonderful, and one of my core goals in the library, so being able to read for pleasure to support teaching and learning? Win win!!

References:

Bothelo, K, and Rudman, M. (2009) Critical multicultural analysis of children’s literature. Taylor and Francis.

Hinton, K, and Dickinson, G (2007) Integrating Multicultural Literature in Libraries and Classrooms in Secondary Schools. ABC-CLIO

Pennington, L (2010). Intergalactic Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Our place in the universe. New Horizons, Spring 2010. Accessed from http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Journals/spring2010/intergalacticinterdisciplinarycurriculum/

Smolen, L, and Oswald, R (2010) Multicultural Literature and Response: Affirming Diverse Voices. ABC-CLIO

 

October 20

One Semester In: What does a TL do again?

ETL401 Assignment 2 Part B Critical Reflection

One Semester In: What does a Teacher Librarian do?

So, I’ve finished my first semester of study in the Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship). I’ve blogged, I’ve posted on forums, I’ve read (LOTS!!!), I’ve chatted with fellow sufferers … ahem, students … in our collaborative facebook group, and I’m ready to answer the big question now. What exactly does a TL do?

I hope I’m not letting the side down here when I say I still find this question challenging to respond to. But I’m certainly coming to grips a bit more with how to deal with those people who tell me, oftentimes well-meaningly, that it must be lovely to spend my days surrounded by books. It is, really. Totally lovely. But what I’d give for five minutes to actually open one and read it beyond the blurb on the back, or the SCIS record! So, being a TL is about far more than curating books, as I reflected in an earlier blog post (Rodgers, 2014a)

I don’t actually feel like my view of the role of the TL has changed much due to my studies in this subject. Not that my perceptions are the same as they were six months ago – far from it. But “changed” feels like the wrong way to describe it. It has been, for me, more of a process of clarification, of being able to put critical concepts to ideas that were floating around in my head. Applying theories to the practices that I was attempting to undertake within the wonderful walls of my library without consciously realising why I was doing it, apart from that it just kind of felt like the right thing to do.

So, now I have might on my side. The might of Karen Bonanno, who tells me that it’s vital that I advocate for the importance of my role in the school, and that I fight with all my mighty fingers to ensure that my colleagues recognise my worth, both intrinsically, and in what I can give to them and their teaching practice (Bonanno, 2011) The might of Annette Lamb, who believes that my strength as a TL lies in my ability to partner with teachers, and to ensure that my role description clearly identifies the profound impact that I as TL can have on the curricular goals of the school, and on student achievement (2011). The might of Carol Kuhlthau, who advocates for the importance of the teacher librarian as the primary agent for 21st century learners to call upon, and who recognises the key role that a TL plays in creating a school which prepares its students for the complexities of a 21st century information and learning landscape (Kuhlthau, 2010, p17). And who, just quietly, was so on the money about the feelings of frustration, doubt and confusion in the exploration phase of her ISP model – I felt like she was monologuing my life at points in my journey through this subject!

The many and varied discussions about the ways in which libraries can meet the ever-changing needs of a 21st century learning have been fascinating, and have informed my own thoughts about the future of resourcing in such a transforming information landscape. The contrasts between reading onscreen vs paper was a topic in both the forums and our collegial facebook group that generated much discussion, both in our roles as 21st century learners and our roles as Teacher Librarians in Training (Rodgers, 2014b).

Similarly fascinating has been the ongoing discussion about the importance of collaboration, and tied into this the need for principal support of the role of TL. Farmer’s discussion of the principal as the “chief catalyst for collaboration” (2007, p56) really resonated with my own experiences of working with a dynamic and engaging school leader who strongly supports the role of the library in the learning framework of the school. Comments in both the forums and to my recent blog post about support have indicated that this is not a common thing, however (Rodgers, 2014c), which makes me mourn for those TL’s who aren’t experiencing that essential support from their leadership. It also reflects on the critical importance in our profession of advocacy – the need for us all to ensure that our influence is not only felt, but visible, and that the wider teaching profession are aware of the vital role a connected and engaged TL can play in establishing and steering the learning culture of the school in profound ways (Oberg, 2007)

I’m equally as enamoured with my chosen profession now as I was when I started paddling this canoe upstream, and I’m glad for a rest in the rapids before next semester starts. I wonder what additional enlightenments might come about the wonderful world of Teacher Librarianship in my next subject? I can’t wait to see!!

References

Bonanno, K. (2011). A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. http://vimeo.com/31003940

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010) Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide January 2010, Volume 16, Number 1, 17-28. Accessed from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/docs/GI-School-Librarians-in-the-21-Century.pdf

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.

Oberg, D. (2007). Taking the Library Out of the Library into the School. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(2), i-ii

Rodgers, T. (2014a)  Library Girls! And Boys. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/biggerontheinside/2014/08/11/librarygirlsandboys/

Rodgers, T. (2014b) Online vs IRL reading. Blog post 1. 03-Aug-14

Rodgers, T. (2014c) The Teacher Librarian and the Principal: A Modern Fairytale. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/biggerontheinside/2014/10/16/the-teacher-librarian-and-the-principal-a-modern-fairy-tale/

 

October 16

The Teacher Librarian and the Principal – A Modern Fairy Tale

ETL401 OLJ Blog Task 3

In the castle of books there lived a teacher librarian. She battled dangers unknown, and hardships unnumbered. Surrounded by foes of information and enemies of enlightenment, she endeavoured to impact the village around her with her wonder of words and her love of learning, but she couldn’t battle the hordes alone. She needed a fairy godmother.

Sounds dramatic huh? But really, it’s a challenge that teacher librarians face every day. The TL role can be isolating, and often we operate in a vacuum, surrounded by colleagues with little understanding of the role that we perform (Oberg, 2006, 14). It is in this context, then, that support from above becomes vital if the TL is to be empowered to exert influence on the learning culture of school.

Many studies have shown how important principal support is in facilitating the effectiveness of the TL and, as such, the library.  Farmer describes the principal as the “chief catalyst for collaboration”, responsible for establishing the vision of the school, and facilitating the curriculum that is offered (2007, p56). With the principal playing such a vital role in the learning culture of the school, then, it is imperative that the role of the library and the TL in this learning culture are both recognised as important by the principal, and thus afforded the support that will allow them to flourish.

Hartzell argues that the quality school library program relies on a librarian, and that no great library can be run without a passionate teacher librarian who brings their own stamp into the space (2009). Whilst this may be true, without a school leader who supports the TL, who collaborates with them on their vision for the space, who encourages them to dream big, and who supports both through their words and actions the professionalism and importance of the TL in the life of the school.

It is unfortunate, then, that literature shows that many principals don’t fully understand the role of the media specialist. Morris and Packard discuss the lack of recognition of principals for the importance of the TL in supporting the instructional process and contributing to student learning (2007, p36). By recognising the positive impacts that the TL and library can have on student achievement, and by modelling an atmosphere of recognition of the powerful role of the TL in the learning environment of the school, the engaged principal can facilitate an atmosphere of collaboration and communication between teaching staff and the TL which is vital to ensure that the full potential of the library as a centre for learning is realised (Morris, 2007, p23).

My experience in this fairy tale has been profoundly influenced by my own experiences with a supportive and empowering principal. With a bias towards yes, and a philosophy which encourages innovation and collaboration, my principal has inspired me to think big in my vision for what our library could look like, and how it, and indeed I, can influence the learning culture of the school. It’s a wonderful working relationship to be a part of, which contributes positively to the culture of our engaging library, and models for other staff the importance of the library in the narrative of our school.

References

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.

Hartzell, G. (2009). Librarian-proof libraries? Guest rant by Gary Hartzell. http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2009/8/25/librarian-proof-libraries-guest-rant-by-gary-hartzell.html

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224879111?accountid=10344

Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The Principal’s Support of Classroom Teacher-Media Specialist Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide,13(1), 36-55.

Morris, B. J. (2007). Principal Support for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 23-24.

October 14

Information Literacy: More than just a set of skills

ETL401 OLJ Blog Task 2

Literacy has increasingly become a buzzword in the rhetoric around education. We often hear in the media the need for a focus on literacy, and people commentators frequently bemoan the need to get “back to basics” in literacy education.

What is missing from these discussions, though, is a clear understanding of what “literacy” is. In education today, literacy is about more than just phonics and grammar. The literacy spectrum that we are dealing with in education covers a wide spectrum of literacies, embracing myriad skills and requiring multiple levels of understanding and application of knowledge. Schools deal with often competing demands to teach multiple literacies, and students are required to negotiate these complex skills across a wide range of subject areas. It’s not just about conjunctions!

Information literacy is really, as I see it, one of the core competencies that all students need to be fluent in, and all teachers should be addressing in their teaching and learning. It’s also one of the primary responsibilities of the TL, as we lead our schools into the brave new world of the 21st century information landscape. So what is information literacy then?

Information literacy is a broad concept. Fundamentally, it is about the ability of an individual to access information from a wide range of sources, analyse and synthesise what they find, and then use and present that information in ways that are appropriate to their purpose. This covers a wide range of individual literacies, from visual literacy to traditional grammatical literacy to computer literacy and more. ASLA defines information literacy as “an information process where students can access, use, organise, create, present and evaluate information” (2009). This is a core skill required by all students in all stages of education, and is really, in my opinion, the “basics” that we should be getting back to – or, more accurately, moving forward to!

Information literacy is not just about the ability to succeed at school, however. Its impact is far broader than that. As we face a rapidly changing technological and information landscape, the skills that people need in everyday life are also changing, and the ability to critically evaluate and engage with new forms of information is a vital skills for all learners (Eisenberg, 2008, p.43). Bundy cites ALIA in referring to information literacy as an essential skill for lifelong learning, with impacts on social inclusion, knowledge creation, participative citizenship and empowerment on personal, corporate and organizational levels (2004, p4).

The role of the teacher librarian in ensuring that our students are information literate is paramount. In our positions in the information heart of the school, we have the ability to influence the learning culture that our students are immersed in by providing rich and meaningful information literacy experiences. Working collaboratively with classroom teachers to support the implementation of curriculum in meaningful ways allows us the opportunity to ensure that information literacy is an embedded way of thinking, not simply something that is learned for the exam and is then forgotten. This requires, in some cases, significant change in the learning culture of a school, as staff all need to support the idea that information literacy and curriculum are inextricably linked (Herring, 2011, p34). By ensuring that learning is meaningful and related to real world contexts, we ensure that our students become thoughtful participants in their world, able to engage and interact with the complex information processes that will surround them. What an exciting role to play!

References

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009)

Bundy, A. (Ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).

Eisenberg, M.B. (2008). Information literacy: essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, information literacy and transfer in high schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32-36.