Building Networks

Photo by Flickr user adesigna under CC BY NC-SA 20

Photo by Flickr user adesigna under CC BY NC-SA 20

Pondering connectivism was an excellent think for me, and I was able to reflect on the activities I currently work on as well as the ones that are percolating in the back of my brain.  I connected with all of these readings, but Daniel Pink’s Drive speech at the RAS was the best.  Therefore, I’ve selected his three factors for motivation to organize my reflection: Autonomy, Purpose and Drive.

Autonomy

#1 Tech Tuesday: I need to schedule a round-table sharing day for people to bring in their favorite tech tools.  I also need to do more scheduled sharing by others.  My “Guest Star” days are by far the best attended Tech Tuesday (I try not to take it personally). 🙂

Photo by NASA - Public Domain

Photo by NASA – Public Domain

#2: More international collaboration through social networks: by modeling how you can make this happen for my students, I can show them how to use the world as their encyclopedia once they’re out of school. I am (still) toe-dipping stage with this, and I need to figure out what deep diving looks like without engaging in another paid for course that forces me to do it like the Flat Classroom. Twitter is of course a great resource, and I’ve started to have some nibbles through Skype for Education.

Mastery

#1: MOOCs as after-school activities: The University of the People fascinated me, but I don’t think it’s relevant option for me or my students right now.  I did like reflecting on all these modern innovations when it comes to learning, and I think have students select a MOOC and take it alongside interested teachers would be amazing.

Purpose

This is a tough one for me.  it’s so easy to bribe students into doing stuff you think is cool! But here’s the hard truth:

#1. I need to stop bringing candy to my library lunchtime celebrations.  Damn you Daniel Pink!  It’s time to return the motivation to come and the motivation to stay back to the WHAT of what we’re doing. If the activity itself isn’t motivating and interesting, sugary teeth-rotting candies aren’t going to make it any better. Actually, as I’ve seen recently, it will take away from the excitement for those who are truly there because they love -NaNoWriMo, LIS Reads, Reading, Gaming- since candy crashers just come take loads of freebies, half heartedly participate and leave.

#2: Connectivism is important and it is not about technology. Technology is just a toolConnectivism is about relationships: developing, nurturing and valuing relationships. I think the IB program does put relationships at the center of their program, and then it is our job as schools to work on making sure relationships are at the center of our delivery.  One of the things I think our new deputy principal is doing particularly well is putting the focus back on relationships and conversation as the primary tool for navigating “discipline”. I am trying to reflect this in my library program.

#3 READ: I think connectivism in the library is deepening my connection with students, the sense of community and developing the library as a vibrant community space. I was delighted (and a little scared) when I saw

#4 Pay people enough to take money as an issue off the table.

Bingo Number 20 by Flickr user Leo Reynolds under CC BY NC-SA 2.0

Bingo Number 20 by Flickr user Leo Reynolds under CC BY NC-SA 2.0

How do we take grades (the student version of money) off the table for students?  Well, I am still fascinated by the 20% idea, and I think if we do inquiry well, the grade part becomes less of a motivation.  Perhaps working 20% time into one of our science classes will be my Course 5 project?

FedEx day: How do we take money (the teacher version of grades) off the table for teachers? We did one of these with our secondary school faculty at work, and it was wildly successful. I think we all felt good about working at LIS that day.  And we accomplished some serious stuff!  So WHY WHY WHY WHY haven’t we built that into our classrooms?

In very small ways at LIS, we are starting. For example, I believe “read whatever you want time” is essential, and I’m proud of our Language A English classes for building this into the majority of their courses, if on varying levels.  One of my favorite manifestations of this time is in Sou Cheng Leong’s Year 7 class, where she allows students to have ownership and autonomy in this process by having a different student each month design the book report format (students vote on which one the class will do) as well as reward the best ones based on their own judgement. You can check out examples in her Year 7 Reading and Book Reports Category.

In Conclusion

I think connectivism has a place in every learning environment.  I hope to keep it in mind as work to develop the learning relationships at my school.

LIS Diig(o)s Social Bookmarking

In line with my post about developing PLNs with curated collections, I have been working to support my students in more effectively developing their PLNs.  Recently, I led our Extended Essay students in a research workshop on using Diigo for their pre-search.

The post I wrote for the LIS Secondary Library blog, Extended Essay: Planning and Organizing Your Research, details the process we went through during the lesson.  Although there were some internet connectivity issues part way through, most students:

  • created a Diigo account.
  • joined a relevant LIS Extended Essay Diigo group (There’s one for each IB DP subject areas).
  • added a Diigolet or Chrome Highlighter to their browser.
  • bookmarked a relevant resource.
  • highlight, tagged and annotated their resource.
  • shared a relevant resource with their Diigo subject area group.

I hope students will support one another in their research by sharing and exchanging subject specific resources.  At the very least, I hope they will stop using Word documents (or simply leaving 100 tabs open at once!) to save their links.

It is a given that as a school librarian I work to support my students in using technology tools to be more effective researchers.  However, a significant part of my role as a school librarian is also supporting the professional learning of our faculty.  In order to make this Diigo push with my students work, my teachers need to engage in this tool as well.

I may be getting a bit ahead of myself with this title, but here are my goals:

  • IB DP Extended Essay and IB MYP Personal Project students using Diigo to organize their pre-search and share their resources with each other and their supervisors.
  • LIS Faculty using our Faculty Diigo group to share and exchange about resources, research, and strategies related to effective teaching and learning
  • LIS Faculty and IT department collaborating on the LIS Tech Diigo group to share and exchange about resources related to educational technology, best practices and emerging technologies.
  • LIS Business Administration and Leadership streamlining the ordering process by sharing vendors and other purchasing related resources in a LIS Order Diigo group.

I am moving in this direction, slowly but surely. I host a regular Tech Tuesday (with the help of some great teacher friends) before school for primary and secondary faculty, and two of these mornings have focused on Diigo.  My principal also carved an hour into our most recent professional learning day for me to offer a Diigo session to interested teachers.

Compliments of Flickr User Newtown Grafitti – Under CC BY 2.0 License

I’ve gotten our Deputy Director of Operations on board with Diigo, and she wants to start using it for the 2013-2014 ordering process.  In the next few days, I’ll be emailing secondary faculty about the role of Diigo in the students’ extended essay research process and requesting their support.

As a librarian, I am already convinced of the benefits of being a connected learner; geeking out is what I do for a living. Now my job is to become a connected learning evangelist and suck in everyone around me, guiding even the tech haters to the light.

 

Down with the Filter!

As someone who is already fairly connected, these readings on “Connectivism” struck me as truth.  Not because I am concerned about not being connected enough, but because I am concerned about policies and filters that limit the ability of students to be effectively connected.  I am concerned that technology policies in schools tend to be built on a foundation of fear, developed for exclusion not inclusion.

Remember how “The Giver” worked out?
Photo by Flickr User William Wend

I’m just going to say it: Internet filtering sucks.  I feel that our students would be better off if we allowed them unfettered access to the Internet while developing their resource evaluation skills, exposing students to diverse viewpoints (especially ones we don’t agree with or like), empowering them with the academic potential of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, and helping them to grow into strong digital citizens by participating in the real world of the Internet, not some poorly edited, watered down version of that world. (Besides the solid pedagogical reasons for getting rid of the filter, what’s the point of it when all you have to do is replace http with https to be able to go wherever you want?)

As a librarian, I feel that a filter is merely censorship dressed in technology. I also suspect some educators support a filter because they think it makes their lives easier.  They don’t have to deal with the non-academic aspects of tools like Facebook since it’s blocked.  They don’t have to put as much effort into teaching our kids how to be good researchers, how to evaluate resources, how to decide for themselves what is good and bad on the Internet.  They don’t have to be made to feel uncomfortable when a student comes across something that needs to be discussed.

The reasons I’ve heard for using a filter are as follows:

  • Protecting students from pornography
  • Keeping extremist viewpoints and extremist recruitment organizations out of view
  • Keeping kids safe from online predators
  • Limiting access to distracting games and digital tools
  • Keeping students from participating in environments with potential for cyber-bullying

Photo by Flickr User: Gates Foundation

Arguing that we shouldn’t give kids access to everything available online because bad things might happen reminds of the argument that we shouldn’t teach about contraception because kids might have more sex if they figure out how to do it “safely”. Our students are having filthy, unfiltered Internet access at home with varying levels of supervision.  Wouldn’t it be better if we gave them supervised, scaffolded, directed time using unfiltered Internet at school?  When they do come across a disturbing photo, viewpoint or issue, experts (that’s us folks!) who care about them are nearby, ready to help them navigate the good, the bad and the ugly of the “real world” on the Internet.

So, knowing that this one blog post is not going to tear down the shackles of our school filter today, I want to study this issue in more depth.  To do this, I need help. I am interested in learning more about filtering (or not) practices in international schools and the decision making and makers behind filtering (or not).

  • Studies on filtering (These could be in any school or library related setting. It doesn’t have to be international schools. I am willing to reuse someone else’s successful methodology.)
  • Questions to ask- What should I ask in a survey about filtering?
  • Stakeholders to survey- Who should I be interviewing? (Teachers, Librarians, Administrators, Students, Parents)
  • Why do schools choose (not) to filter their students’ Internet access?
  • Examples of international schools that don’t filter their students’ Internet access

Thank you for your feedback.