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Transliteracy and the teacher-librarian

I submitted this paper today in fulfillment of the requirements for my M.Ed.

INTRODUCTION

From curious to competitive 

I always felt most comfortable working with students in portfolio courses where students knew what they needed to accomplish and had ample opportunity to do and re-do their assignments until they were satisfied.  I came into being a full-time teacher-librarian after being perfectly autonomous in my isolated department silo of English, drama, or media arts.  Teaching in the arts subject areas naturally leaned towards project-based learning as I had open level classes; ones that weren’t streamed.  The portfolios and the projects were about achieving a personal best.  The class atmosphere was comfortable and collaborative, not competitive.  Sometimes we wore hats, or listened to music, and often students did their brainstorming sprawled on the floor.  Learning was always happening as we travelled together through the creative process.  When the opportunity came for me to move into the library I was nervous, but I knew that the diversity of roles that I would play there would engage me forever.  I thought the library was a utopia for freedom of thought and resources to stimulate and encourage curiosity and imagination.  

I was surprised to find that the library culture was territorial and competitive.   Access to resources was controlled, availability of technology and librarian support were limited and equity was a constant struggle. Teachers strategized against each other for space, computers and my time and expertise in areas in which I did not yet feel confident.  Students felt split between their opportunity to study and the distractions around them.  It has taken me 5 years to get the library space and culture to a place where there is no need for ‘shushing’.  We still experience the feelings of scarcity with resources, but generally the new learning commons is a place where learning happens and we celebrate student success.  In many ways this paper on transliteracy is about my journey in understanding the complexities of technology integration in schools and my battles to keep these ideas foremost apparent in my learning commons: access, availability, and equity.  

Noticing disparities

One day I noticed a student using my old-fashioned lab, facing a wall and elbow-to-elbow with strangers on either side, waiting for his group members to begin collaborative work on his computer.  He pulled out his iPad to read his notes from, and his phone to text his classmates asking them when they would arrive.  To be doubly sure they were on their way, he opened up Facebook on his screen and messaged all of them inside their group space.  His substitute teacher came over and told him to stop playing with his phone and using Facebook and to get to work.  The substitute teacher believed that the student was being unproductive.

Within a week, a science teacher asked for help with his struggling Grade 10 students who were researching elements of the periodic table for their properties and how the elements are used in everyday life.  I had them sit with me and discuss what they already knew about their elements, and to reiterate the assignment.  We went to our science database and I showed them how to read and navigate the page and the students began their hunt.  Their teacher was amazed that they were so cooperative and enthusiastic about doing online research.  I feel that their teacher actually believed that these students weren’t up to the challenge.

A contemporary vision of transliteracy, originally defined by Thomas, Joseph, Laccetti, Mason, Mills, Perril and Pullinger (2007) as: “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks,” (para. 2)  demands individualization.  Technology allows every teacher to provide students with equal opportunities to learn.  Just like the librarian who keeps all the books under lock and key, practices that don’t engage students with their own curiosities are becoming increasingly antiquated.  Although the amount of time and assistance may differ between students, every teacher in every school should provide the same opportunity to learn to each student.   In my experience, the best way to support transliteracy is to provide equal opportunities for everyone to learn and to level the playing field so that we can progress together.  

Urgent and impulsive

There is a race happening to keep up with the latest trends in educational technology.  As I watched my school computer committee decide our implementation for the next 3 years, I feared that they would side with whatever was easier to manage.  I hoped they would listen to the individual requests of each department for devices that would best suit their subject area.  I insisted that the new learning commons model the diversity of learning styles that exist in our student population.  My arguments were ignored.  The committee chose to invest in 270 Samsung Chromebooks.  Their choice to spend our allotment on the same device reinforces the message that all students learn the same.  This doesn’t reflect a teacher or student’s individuality in choosing the right tool for the right job.  This choice doesn’t put pedagogy or learning first. There are pitfalls in this urgent approach to integration including only exposing our students to a surface level of technological exposure which won’t allow them to fully understand the social, economic and environmental implications of our impulses.  

Finding the right term

I have struggled to feel comfortable with the nomenclature of this elusive skill set for students and in the last 5 years I have moved from calling them literacy skills to digital fluency to 21st Century learning and am finally resting on transliteracy.  It seems that even now in the year 2014, when teachers are very familiar with the term 21st century learning, that we rely on traditional models of teaching and management which ask students to fit the same mold.  I believe that this model of standardized teaching continues to benefit the same students who have always done well.  Teachers are having a hard time wrestling with the new complexities of user/reader, software/hardware (King, 2012) and have too long been under the impression that students now are inherently more capable on computers since these students were born in the age of the internet.  It seems that teachers are struggling to change their teaching and be comfortable with ongoing change.  Meanwhile students appear to be challenged to engage deeply with material and persist when faced with problems they can’t quickly solve.  The education system itself seems uncertain with how to proceed.  Using the term transliteracy sets the goal in education to aim towards having literacy skills transfer across modes and mediums, and that these skills will adapt with every new change in software or hardware, mode and medium.  I hope that the skills of creation, collaboration, communication and curation will be strong no matter what changes come.  

Supporting pedagogy in educational technology

There are some who see technology as a new set of skills to be developed separately from curriculum content, and others who see it as integrated into every classroom.  Certainly the education system could do more to support professional development during this renaissance.  In my own experience, the best professional development offered to me outside of my school district continues to be self-driven.  I am receiving increasingly enticing offers to become a Google Certified Teacher or to become a Mac Educator.  At the same time there are hidden pitfalls to allowing Google and Apple to fill holes in professional development that aren’t being offered elsewhere.  Allowing professional development to be steered by corporations, ensures that a business model emphasizing the product will be implemented rather than a pedagogical approach which benefits learning.

A model of technology integration in my board that has potential to support pedagogy is the BYOD program .  The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program offers face-to-face and online workshops for teachers to join over the course of 6 weeks.  Teachers who commit to the program receive a Google Chromebook and time with coaches to feel more comfortable.  The program teaches skills while coaches model a philosophy of embracing a diversity of devices in the classroom.   

The Ontario School Library Association (OSLA) has recognized and responded to the changes required to meet the transliteracy needs of staff and students in their new Together for Learning document (Ontario School Library Association, 2010).  The document introduces Ontario teacher-librarians to The Learning Commons model which emphasizes the development of physical and virtual spaces where learning can happen 24/7 in multiple modes.  Together for Learning reinforces the necessity of Learning Commons spaces to be staffed by professional teacher-librarians who can best support staff as they redefine curriculum to encompass transliteracy.  The Learning Commons puts emphasis on the pedagogy of educational technology.

I want to develop a clear model of pedagogy to support the development of transliteracy in staff and students.  Ideally, this model would be sustainable, like a pyramid, with one level learning from the next and continually paying forward their learning.  As an agent of change in my position, I have seen the pyramid have a lasting effect on our school’s adoption of technology integration.  The desire to integrate technology equitably and sustainably pushes me to ask:  How can teacher-librarians support students and staff in developing essential transliteracy skills?

In order to fully develop answers to this question, I will research and review literature pertaining to the following guiding questions:

  • What are transliteracy skills?
  • What is their value or importance?
  • What strategies or practices or programs have been found to be supportive of transliteracy skills
  • What is the role of role of teacher-librarians in supporting students and staff in developing essential transliteracy skills?

In Part 3: Reflection and Sharing, I will: 

a) provide a concise summary of the findings of the literature review; and 

b) discuss the implications of these findings on the development of transliteracy skills for students and staff

LITERATURE REVIEW

How can teacher-librarians support students and staff in developing essential transliteracy skills?

What are transliteracy skills?

The term transliteracy has evolved from recognizing that the same offline skill set does not necessarily apply to online communication.  Coiro (2012), a researcher in adolescent online reading comprehension development, points out that “some of these additional, or new, reading strategies include generating digital queries, scrutinizing search engine results and negotiating multiple representations of text” (p. 551).  The term transliteracy has evolved from multiple attempts by researchers to consolidate the skill set that learners require to work fully in multiple modes.  

One of the precursors to transliteracy is the idea of 21st century skills.  Three major contributors to the development of the description of 21st century skills include the International Society for Technology in Education, the Educational Testing Service and Henry Jenkins, an American media scholar.   Here is a brief comparison of these three major contributors:

ISTE (2007) NETS/Standards focus on 6 proficiencies: 1) Creativity and innovation; 2) Communication and collaboration; 3) Research and information fluency; 4) Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making; 5) Digital citizenship; 6) Technology operations and concepts

Educational Testing Service ICT Digital Literacy Framework (Dede, 2010) emphasizes 3 proficiencies: 1) Cognitive proficiency; 2) Technical proficiency and 3) ICT proficiency (includes 5 levels of access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create)

Henry Jenkins digital literacies (Dede, 2010) include: play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgement, transmedia navigation, networking and negotiation

Transliteracy encompasses the skills of information literacy but also involves the idea of self-curation.  Rather than using traditional models of teaching information literacy, research from Collins (2013), a scholar of English, argues that digital citizenship needs to be incorporated through the curation of the user’s own interests.  Collins says:  

The contention that the curatorship of digital archives has become a vital form of identity formation depends on the conversion of intellectual property into electronic files, a process that horrifies readers who cling to the belief that the uniqueness of traditional-book-reading experience is the last line of defense against cultural decline. (p. 209)

Transliteracy then becomes a skill set that also utilizes metacognitive understanding of one’s own learning patterns, allowing the user/reader to adapt to changing texts and platforms.

What is value or importance of transliteracy skills?

The transliteracy skill set is important for all learners as we move into an uncertain future.  As platforms and devices come and go, transliteracy skills will allow users to adapt to new modes and mediums of communication.  While we can’t assume that the internet will always be the mode of delivery, we can use current research to illustrate the complexities of how the internet has changed the way we read.  As Doug Achterman (2010) summarized about new literacy research, there are 4 factors that the internet presents that have changed the nature of literacy:

  1. The ubiquity of the internet
  2. The nature of the internet itself allows for the continuous change of literacy technologies themselves
  3. Such technologies change the form and functions of earlier literacies
  4. The way we make and create meaning with text is in constant evolution.  (p. 79)

In public education it is essential that we give each student the same exposure and opportunity to interact with new modes of learning.  Livingstone (2012) warns while exposure to online reading generally improves school achievement, that the “already high-achieving children get more from gaining internet access than do low-achieving children” (p. 15).  In order to bridge this gap caused by detrimental factors external to a teacher’s influence, Dobler (2007) suggests “Teaching students how to learn, rather than what to learn, gives them the flexibility to adapt to changes in both text and technology” (p. 95.)  Focusing on transliteracy should allow students to meet future challenges with confidence, no matter the mode or medium of delivery.

Transliteracy endeavours for the future of our students

Many researchers allude to the necessity of  teaching attitudes and skills in information literacy and lifelong learning to our students as they become leaders in the global community (Bruce et al, 2012; Crockett, Jukes & Churches, 2011).  Crockett, Jukes and Churches (2011) agree that “we need to shift our instructional approach to a 21st-century learning environment that will provide our students with the most in-demand skills: those that can’t be easily outsourced, automated or turned into software” (p. 11).  Specifically, researchers group these skills into improving capacity for transdisciplinary communication, collaboration, and knowledge and information practices (Bruce et al, 2012; Crockett, Jukes & Churches, 2011).  

Recovering student deep reading engagement skills

With all of the active links, sidebars and flash animations on more web pages, it has lead many researchers to question how deeply readers are engaging with texts.  Carr (2008), popular technology and culture writer, says that reading online has changed our behaviour: “Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged” (para. 8).  However, others are questioning if this is not a cultural change that will improve with experience. Collins (2013) questions the idea that technology is influencing reading negatively: “Carr and Shirky define[s] literary reading solely in technological terms, and neither demonstrates much interest in how reading technologies are embedded in cultural formations” (p. 210). Collins maintains that since reading technologies, regardless of their mode and medium of delivery, are products of culture, therefore the culture will adapt to new technologies.  If Collins is correct, then educators have a hope of making reading engagement possible as long as we keep culturally redefining the idea of text and reading through the development of transliteracy skills.

Citizenship

As with the redefinition of texts and reading with the advance of digital formats, so too is the redefinition of the idea of community. Community has not devalued with the integration of technology, but it is changing as communities are built online.  Bruce et al. (2012) argue that citizenship now encompasses online communities built on the user’s interaction with education, fantasy, information, relationships and transactions (p. 532).  In being a good citizen, many of these online communities have offline impact on art, heritage, archives, and education (pp. 533-544).  As libraries shift their definition of information literacy to include digital citizenship, they may play a key role in developing communities online as well as offline.  

What strategies or practices or programs have been found to be supportive of transliteracy skills?

Researchers have been asking this same question about best practice in technology integration for some time.  Bruce et al. (2012) wonders what does transliteracy “look like across contexts, national borders, complex organizations and community subcultures, including the innovative cultures emerging in digital landscapes” (p. 524).  Indeed the task of trying to isolate the transliteracy skills and concepts that have such universal application is challenging.  Fullan (2013) insists that there are “four criteria for integrating technology and pedagogy to produce exciting, innovative learning experiences for all students…these new developments must be i) irresistibly engaging (for students and teachers); ii) elegantly efficient and easy to use; iii) technologically ubiquitous 24/7; and iv) steeped in real-life problem solving” (p. 4).  These goals are high and yet we know in order for transliteracy to take hold that we must have grounded suggestions for success in schools.

TPACK   

One entry point into easing technology into more traditional classroom structures would be to incorporate the TPACK framework.  The term TPACK was outlined by Thompson and Mishra (as cited in Brantley-Dias & Ertmer, 2013) (2006) to include “seven different types of knowledge required for technological integration to occur” (p. 104):

  • content knowledge (CK)
  • pedagogical knowledge (PK)
  • technological knowledge (TK)
  • pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)
  • technological content knowledge (TCK)
  • technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK)
  • technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)

Thompson and Mishra argue that “a conceptually based theoretical framework about the relationship between technology and teaching can transform the conceptualization and the practice of teacher education, teacher training, and teachers’ professional development” (p. 1019).  The TPACK model is illustrated here in Figure 1: 

Screenshot 2014-04-05 16.34.52

Figure 1: The TPACK model of technology integration (Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org)

The sweet spot of teaching would be the centre where Technology, Pedagogy, Content and Knowledge align as Brantley, Dias and Ertmer (2013) suggest here::

TP[A]CK is the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones.  (pp. 1028-1029)  

As Thompson and Mishra have outlined here, incorporating a model of pedagogy like TPACK, would lead to a deeper understanding of  transliteracy skills and concepts.

Focus on pedagogy

Because of the variables that digital technology integration brings to teaching, teaching with digital technology can be much more complex than teaching with traditional technologies. Michael Fullan (2013) says: “[Technology] is being grossly underutilized pedagogically” (p. 40).  In order to allow the technology to be integrated with pedagogy, it helps to incorporate the broadest scope of technology’s reach into learning structures that a) individualize learning and b) emphasize the process of learning.  It seems that inquiry-based learning structures do this as students work through recognizing a problem or question for further exploration, visualizing a solution, researching the best strategies, and then presenting solutions.  Reflection is also a stage that is essential to many different phases of this process.   At the very least, TPACK seems to allow all the stakeholders in education to have a common vocabulary as they aim to achieve high standards both in technology integration and pedagogy (Brantley-Dias & Ertmer, 2013).  One of the model’s strengths is that it is not specific to a particular discipline, so it allows whole systems of education to develop goals (Brantley-Dias & Ertmer, 2013, p. 119).  However, TPACK has been criticized for its simplicity and lack of best practice strategies for implementation.  It may describe the ‘why’ we need a continuum, but it doesn’t suggest the ‘how’.  

SAMR

The SAMR model of technology integration (Figure 2), developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura (2006), may offer more pedagogical strategies.  There is a growing movement away from using the phrase technology integration as it seems to emphasize technology for its own sake.  Instead, some researchers are arguing that the phrase technology-enabled learning would help put the focus back on the student (Brantley-Dias & Erner, 2013, p. 120).  The SAMR model asks teachers to move from using technology to enhance teaching, to using technology to transform teaching.

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 2.54.01 AM

Figure 2: The SAMR model of technology integration (Adapted from R. Puentedura, Hippasus.com, 2014.)

Continuum of skills and knowledge (a curriculum)

In developing a series of concepts and skills that each learner should become familiar with, and explicitly teaching towards their mastery, teacher-librarians can begin to see progress in transliteracy.  Bruce et al. (2012) have developed some of these concepts in information literacy that would fit nicely into a continuum of transliteracy.  Their “experiences of informed learning” (p. 527) include: information awareness, sources, process, control, knowledge construction, knowledge extension and wisdom.   In fact, these activities also align well with the SAMR model.  Bruce and her colleagues (2012) focus on the three concepts of awareness, process and control through learning activities and assessment design.  Bruce et al. (2012) use these experiences to define these concepts:

  • Awareness: Information scanning, exploring and sharing, within formal education and research environments, through using innovative technologies and traditional strategies.
  • Process: Engaging with information processes to learn through, for example, inquiry, problem, or resource-based learning and research.
  • Control: Organizing information, making and managing connections between information and learning needs, for all types of assignments and research projects, both independent and collaborative.

While this begins to help define a continuum of transliteracy, it barely scratches the surface.  It will be essential to maximize student exposure to the highest levels of transliteracy, which are defined by Bruce et al. here:

  • Knowledge Construction: Developing personal understandings of knowledge domains through critical and creative thinking processes.
  • Knowledge Extension: Creating and communicating new knowledge within and between discipline(s), innovating and creating new insights and new solutions to problems as outcomes of learning activities, including assessment and research projects.
  • Wisdom: Using information wisely and ethically on behalf of others, applying knowledge developed through learning and assessment activities or research projects to further social, economic, and educational well-being.

With the right support, it may be possible to reach every student and to maximize their learning potential in every classroom activity.  This will allow every student to have exposure and potential mastery of transliteracy skills and concepts.

Sustainable support structures for schools

In order for transliteracy to become pervasive “it is essential to provide present and potential participants with a supportive environment, built upon understanding and enhancing information and learning processes; and to introduce opportunities for the uptake and adoption of new practices [which] include [making use of] library administrators” (Bruce et al., 2012, p. 534)  Depending on the context of the learning, adding additional support may mean changing the physical or virtual spaces; increasing access and availability to learning; and increasing opportunities for teachers to build their own transliteracy skills.  Michael Fullan (2013), professor of education at the University of Toronto, states that “Innovative teaching practices were more likely to be seen in schools where teachers collaborate in a focused way on the particular instructional practices linked explicitly to 21st century learning skills” (p. 43).  Furthermore, Fullan argues that the best kind of professional development is one where teachers are actively engaged in research of their own creation and management (p. 43).  In order for teachers to raise the stakes on the significance of transliteracy, they must be allowed to engage with assessing and improving their own teaching of transliteracy.

What is the role of teacher-librarians in supporting students and staff in developing essential transliteracy skills?

The critical link in the community

Within many school communities, libraries and librarians are a centre of information. With the advent of transliteracy needs, their roles are even more vital.  Berger (2007) an educational technology/library consultant, suggests that teacher-librarians are responsible for creating “a shared vision for learning in the twenty-first century with students, faculty, administrators, and parents” (p. 125).  When asked about the changing role of librarians, Carr (as cited in Hales, 2010) writes: 

What I think librarians can help us do is broaden out beyond the types of results that search engines provide and take us off the beaten track a little bit — not just conform to popular expectations on a particular subject, but cover more perspectives and offer more intellectually rigorous takes on a particular subject…training their clients or patrons that there is more to the world of the intellect than can be found through Google.  (p. 30)  

A traditional role of librarians might be to provide accessibility and usability to their patrons.  As lines have blurred between modes and mediums of literacy, so too are the lines blurring between libraries and other civic centres like museums and galleries (Bruce et al., 2012, p. 535).    Bruce and co-authors (2012) argue that learning activities in school libraries need to focus on four types of learning: 1) reflective learning which promotes inquiry, reflection and problem solving; 2) management of information resources; 3) self-directed learning individually and collaboratively; and 4) research-based learning (p.  536).  Adapting to these learning activities may require a significant redesign of program and space in school libraries.  As transliteracy becomes a vital expectation of schools, so too will the role of teacher-librarian as a community link to providing resources, facilities and programming to support transliteracy.

Recognizing barriers to sustainability

In serving a role as the hub of any learning community, a teacher-librarian must prioritize recognizing and overcoming any barriers to the sustainability of the library’s mandates.  These barriers often prevent transliteracy from being mastered. Fullan’s research in Ontario (2013) describes the problem as “The organizational support for the use of technology in schools is badly underdeveloped (availability of digital media, shared vision, school culture, technical support, leadership and the school, district and state levels, assessment systems, and so on)” (p. 37).  In addition, one of the common programs of school-libraries has been information literacy instruction “while not always extending attention to helping students engage with content through their information use processes; and insufficient attention has been given to understanding and supporting the experience of engaging with information in workplace or community contexts” (Bruce et al., 2012, p. 523).  The teacher-librarian’s role in supporting transliteracy includes recognizing barriers to support, engagement and consistency and pressing for greater access and availability of resources.  

Advocating for equity in access and availability

Above all, teacher-librarians in public schools struggle with the equity issues of their diverse students in two major areas: the support they receive outside of school and the reliability of the technology in their home environments (Livingstone, 2012, p. 15).  Fullan (2013) reminds teachers: 

The unsustainable environment we are creating is socio-economic as much as environmental.  The trend is not purposeful.  It is a function of the better off helping themselves: of taking advantage of opportunities because they can, because they have greater access to the combined power of education and technology than the rest of the population. (p.74)

Although the learner community may be extremely diverse, the teacher-librarian needs to develop resources and programs to support the context of the school community.  Bruce et al. (2012) advocates that “the real life experiences of the population to be served should inform planning decisions; what using information to learn (being information literate) means to them, in the present situation, must become the starting point for the conversation.  If it becomes clear that changing (or enhancing) peoples’ ways of being information literate requires new educational, training or change management processes, this must occur through inclusive participative planning processes” (p. 535).  Once these needs are identified, programs and resources to support the development of transliteracy can be obtained with the knowledge that the teacher-librarian is best serving the community.  

Remediation for staff and students

In some circumstances, the teacher-librarian may discover that the school community’s resources are scarce and that transliteracy has been undersupported to the detriment of transliteracy development.  In such cases, the teacher-librarian needs to remediate the adults and managers of the community that are lacking transliteracy skills, such as parents, teachers and administrators.   Coiro (2012) has much to say on the topic of beginning remediation “of meeting teachers where they are” (p. 553). As many teachers are new users of transliteracy themselves, in order to be able to teach these skills they will require the scope of support available to meet teachers where they are comfortable.  “Classroom teachers bring a range of abilities, assumption, and comfort zones with them into any professional development situation, and they need time to express their ideas and concerns in a way that explicitly shapes the direction and pace of their learning” (Coiro, 2012, p. 553).  Henderson (2013), an Ontario technology integration teacher, says “It’s okay to be where you are, it’s just not okay to stay there.” Coiro suggests that short sessions of technology exploration that are job-embedded and risk-free are a great place to encourage developing professional networks (p. 553).  Eventually these interactions can progress to global connections and the creation of new communities.  In experiencing first-hand the power of digital connections “teachers also learn how to become mediators, supporting students’ self-reflection and self-regulation in ways that enable adolescents to gain greater control over their own literacy practices with networked information technologies” (Coiro, 2012, p. 553).  Embracing some transliteracy first as learners allows teachers to confidently tackle teaching transliteracy skills themselves and moving forward with their students. 

REFLECTIONS AND SHARING

When I was first introduced to using technology in my classroom it was in the form of developing a classroom website and using an interactive whiteboard.  I quickly learned that my students needed to be explicitly taught technology strategies through my class content in order for the students to find it meaningful.  Likewise, transliteracy models challenge every learning experience to be authentic and to be a true measure of deep understanding of concepts.  For too long, the education system has underthought the pedagogy of implementing technology in education. Dynamic developments in technology should be revolutionizing teaching, but have instead only maintained our factory model standards of achievement. As a result, we have serious deficits in transliteracy that need to be addressed.    I have had the benefit of using my position as teacher-librarian to influence the entire school community in developing a mindset that is more encompassing of multiple literacy modes and mediums.  My next step after this research is to help the staff and students to develop transliteracy skills in relation to the curriculum.  

The TPACK model is taking hold of my teaching and I am able to model it in collaboration with my staff.  A common lesson I’ve been using is in our Grade 10 Careers classes during their job shadow assignment.  Typically the students have taken a day to shadow someone’s job and then used a presentation software to report about it to the class.  Inserting the TPACK model my goal is to bring the pedagogy and technology closer to enhancing the knowledge of that experience.  I show them cloud-based computing software, like Prezi or Google presentations, and we use the tool for planning before the job shadow experience.  I incorporate elements of design, photography, and encourage the classes to find visual ways to describe their experiences.  Although many of them can rely on internet images and videos to embed, I also encourage them to use their phones or cameras to capture real pictures and videos of their day.  Having the opportunity to use the class content, finesse the assignment and use the technology more fully to its potential of all stages of this individualized experience, makes the job shadow experience and the sharing more impactful.  

The SAMR model is more challenging to incorporate as a teacher-librarian as it requires true collaboration as I help the teachers tweak their assignments to maximize the potential of the learning experience with technology integration.  An example of this is when I suggested using social media to build community for the student attendees of our annual mental health conference.  Traditionally, we invited speakers to come and answer questions with our students.  Once I created a Twitter hashtag for the event, students and the greater community became connected in a meaningful way by using the hashtag to crowdsource questions and ideas in response to the messages of the day.  To further enhance the power of the social media, we used a second screen to project the feed from the Twitter hashtag which allowed everyone in the room to be included in the conversation not just those with phones.  In this way, we moved to actually redefine the learning experience of the day by using social media to create community, before, during and well after the event itself.  It was simple for the organizers to archive the day and learn from the Twitter stream in their planning for future events.  

As you can see from the previous examples, integrating transliteracy into our education system is not so much a complete redesign as a need to appeal to students’ passions as a vehicle for experimentation in other modes and mediums.  Fullan (2013) reinforces this idea when he says that: 

the students in question talk of doing things that are meaningful in the world, projects that focus on solving a problem, engaging in teamwork, and operating under conditions that encourage risk-taking.  The new pedagogy involves helping students find purpose, passion, and experimental doing in a domain that stokes their desire to learn and keep on learning.  (p. 24)

Teacher-librarians are in ideal positions to be the agents of change in schools in full integration of transliteracy models.  They can use their unique perspectives to see opportunities for building cross-curricular collaboration for problem-solving.  Teacher-librarians can model teamwork and risk-taking to the entire school community as they facilitate experimentation that suits the passions of individual student needs.  As such, teacher-librarians become the top of the transliteracy integration pyramid (Figure 3).  Through their work and example, integration will flow downwards to impact the entire school community.  Likewise, the entire school community will flow upwards to drive the purpose of the teacher-librarian position.

Pyramid of technology integration - New Page

 Figure 3: The role of the teacher-librarian in transliteracy integration (Created by A. King, 2014.)

Born out of my own frustrations and anxiety about obvious disparities in my school in terms of technology integration, I began this paper asking the question: How can teacher-librarians support students and staff in developing essential transliteracy skills?  With the help of the masters before me who advocate for a curriculum where students develop a skill set of tools for perceiving and creating texts in multiple modes and mediums, I am prepared to move forward in my own role as a teacher-librarian.  

REFERENCES 

Achterman, D. (2010). Literacy leadership and the school library. In S. Coatney (Ed.), The many faces of school library leadership (pp. 67-84). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Berger, P. (2007). Literacy and learning in a digital world. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 111-127). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Brantley-Dias, L., & Ertmer, P. A. (2013-14). Goldilocks and TPACK: Is the construct “just right?” Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(2), 103-128.

Bruce, C., Hughes, H., & Somerville, M. M. (2012). Supporting informed learners in the twenty-first century. Library Trends, (Winter).

Carr, N. (2008, July 1). Is Google making us stupid? The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/

Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Coiro, J., & Moore, D. W. (2012). New literacies and adolescent learners: An interview with Julie Coiro. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(6), 551-553. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/JAAL.00065

Collins, J. (2013). Reading, in a digital archive of one’s own. Publications of the Modern Language Association, 128(1).

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. 21st Century Fluency Project.

Dede, C. (2010). Comparing frameworks for 21st Century Skills. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn (pp. 51-75). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the web: The merging of literacy and technology. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 93-110). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy and change knowledge. Toronto, Canada: Pearson.

Hales, S. (2010). ‘It’s incumbent upon librarians to give us something more’: An interview with Nicholas Carr. Information Outlook, 14(3), 28-30.

Henderson, L. (2013, October).  It’s ok to be where you are, it’s just not ok to stay there. Poster session presented at Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, Niagara Falls, Canada.

International Society for Technology in Education (Ed.). (2007). Digital age learning. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from International Society for Technology in Education website: http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-students

King, A. (2013). Redefining reading and the role of the teacher-librarian in the age of online text. Journal of the Literacy Special Interest Group of ISTE, 1(1), 23-29.

Koehler, M. J. (2014). TPACK 101. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from Dr. Matthew J. Koehler website: http://www.matt-koehler.com/tpack-101/ 

Livingstone, S. (2012). Critical reflections on the benefits of ICT in education. Oxford Review of Education, 38(1), 9-24.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Ontario School Library Association. (2010). Together for learning: School libraries and the emergence of the learning commons [Pamphlet]. Ontario Library Association.

Puentedura, R. R. (2014). Ongoing thoughts on education and technology. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from Ruben R. Puentedura’s Weblog: http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/ 

Puentedura, R. (2006, August).  Transformation, technology and education. Paper presented at Strengthening Your District Through Technology.

Thomas, S. (Ed.). (2013, April 12). Original definition of transliteracy. Retrieved from Transliteracy research group archive website: http://transliteracyresearch.wordpress.com/original-definition-of-transliteracy/

Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12).

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely fabulous. You’ve got to really like dragons (and luckily I do) but Rachel Hartman will have a fan in me forever after this. I hope she’s busy writing a sequel as after I was done I immediately looked for the next one. This is high fantasy, with lots of rich world-building and complicated new concepts and vocabulary for things. Hartman is not only delving into the fantastic with relish, but she is also making a social commentary about the ridiculousness of asking creatures to be what they are not in order to conform with societal norms. The taboos that the dragons break as they attempt to conform to the world of the humans are laughable. I’m also really glad that the ‘freaks’ (no spoilers) also get some superpowers as they develop their fringe community. I would highly recommend this book to any reader, young adult to adult, who enjoys fantasy.

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Posted by on March 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Literacy is NOT Enough by Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches

Literacy Is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age (The 21st Century Fluency Series)Literacy Is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age by Lee Crockett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Andrew Churches has been one of my professional development gurus ever since he developed the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy https://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloo… . This is my first encounter with the other two authors and I think they’ve….watered down the richness of the content with professional development activities. I would have preferred more of the ‘how’ are we going to move up the taxonomy with technology implementation than more ‘why’. I’m already convinced. You were preaching to the choir.

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Posted by on March 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Presentation: Redefining reading for Milennials

I start off trying to set context for 4 variables in redefining reading: reader, user, hardware and software using myself as the reader/user.  Then I add in various perspectives on how digital reading is changing reading and finally I suggest that teachers and teacher-librarians can play a key role in levelling the playing field for all students.

I’ve presented this just about three times now: at #ECOO13, at the UGDSB Literacy Symposium, and this week at the OLA Superconference 2014.

The link to my Prezi is here:

http://prezi.com/chvspkwmwjmy/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

and here is the link to the Google Doc that we co-construct during the presentation.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VS6zzHhZOOZ455Lme90ggMRY2QwLk8OxiTiBYDkoreQ/edit?usp=sharing

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Blog Dare

MIssion: Blog rejuvenation project

Mission target:  threadbarebeauty.com

Mission director: Alanna King under the tutelage of blogger Lisa Neale

11 Random Facts about me

born on leap year; I have 2 1/2 sisters; I lived in Japan for 3 years; my first pet was a hamster named Pepsi; I am a 6th generation Canadian; my family were some of the original settlers of Wellington County in Ontario; while my sisters were playing Barbies I played librarian; I really like to sing; I teach at the high school where I was a student; I’m addicted to PD; I had the strangest dream last night that my Mom and aunt flew me and my sisters and our families to Winnipeg to sing in High German in a concert…we don’t speak German

Questions for me from Lisa Neale:
1.   What is your preferred mode of transportation?

I prefer train ….something about that chugga chugga that puts me right to sleep as I watch the world go by.

2.   If someone asked you to give the a random piece of advice, what would you say? “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”

3.   What is your favourite hobby? Reading!

4.   How do you like your eggs? Poached with hollandaise sauce.

5.   What’s something you know you do differently than most people? When I’m anxious, I type on an imaginary typewriter on my lap.

6.   What movie must I be sure to watch? Why? Baz Luhrman’s Strictly Ballroom … see answer to #2

7.   When you have nothing pressing to do, what do you like to do? see #4

8.   What is your preferred hot beverage? Coffee in most any form

9.   How do you say it?  Twenty fourteen OR two thousand and fourteen? Both

10.  What was your first job? Day Camp Counsellor for the YMCA

11.  What lesson(s) have you learned from your relationships?  Uhhh…I’m totally stumped on this one.

Some Bloggers I want you to know about

  1. Julie Powell – food blogger….she inspired me
  2. Doug Johnson – blogs a lot about education and libraries…I love his tone and his frank honesty
  3. Sarah Le – my colleague blogs about her experiences teaching specifically in transliteracy and inquiry-based learning
  4. Lisa Unger – my colleague is really into libraries and blogging about blogging….she is questioning a whole whack of educational related topics
  5. Joyce Valenza – writes for School Library Journal, school-librarian guru
  6. Buffy Hamilton – The Unquiet Librarian, presses all of my librarian buttons at once

11 Questions for those bloggers

1.  What experience got you started blogging?

2.  What makes you get out of bed in the morning?

3.  If your house was burning down, and all your family and pets were safely away, are there any objects you would try to save?

4.  What profession would you choose if you had another life to live?

5.  Dogs or cats?

6.  Did you make any New Year’s resolutions and if so what are they?

7.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

8.  What one food could you happily live on for the rest of your life?

9.  What is a recent accomplishment that you are proud of?

10.  If offered a one-way ticket to Mars, would you take it?

11.  Do you hate me for daring you to do this?

So here’s how it works:
1.  Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2.  Tell us 11 random facts about yourself.
3.  Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4.  List 11 bloggers.  Or more or less.  Your choice.
5.  Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don’t nominate the blogger who has nominated you.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Learning Commons Model and Secondary School Library Redesign

Lately the idea of how to design for learning has become a focal point in setting up classrooms.  When it comes to a secondary school library, unique challenges face this space which is more mature than an elementary school library and more juvenile than a post-secondary library.  The secondary school library serves a role where the ambiance and activities need to serve the entire school community providing a communal area for learning that is unique compared to the classroom or the cafeteria.  Rather than looking fearfully at the future supposing that libraries are becoming rapidly irrelevant, the timely document of the Ontario School Library Association [OSLA] Together for Learning proposes that library spaces will become the “Learning Commons”: proactively envisioned as “the physical and virtual catalyst where inquiry, imagination, discovery, and creativity come alive and become central to growth — personal, academic, social and cultural” (2010, p. 3).  To meet the needs of the learning commons model, the secondary school library must become a school community showcase of equity, flexibility, innovation, collaboration and celebration.

Rationale

Johnston and Bishop (2011) assert that in order for a school library to be effective, it needs to meet the social, creative, exploration and security needs of its patrons; and create a sense of place where children can identify themselves culturally and physically (p. 3).   While the collection itself must reflect the diversity of its patrons, it is through interactions with the resources, whether in print or online, that users will develop a sense of place (Johnston and Bishop, 2011, p. 7) Therefore the accessibility and availability of a library’s resources must reflect the needs of the entire community of families that the school serves taking into account variables such as “race and ethnicity, income distribution, level of formal education, extent of parent involvement” (Johnston and Bishop, 2011, p.9).  In 2013, the role of the teacher-librarian is no longer to keep information but to provide access points to our students.

Until recently, libraries were repositories of information and programming was secondary but the onset of the internet has completely changed this raison d’etre.  In other words, the school library is required to meet the needs of each new generation of learners.  Don Tapscott (2009) calls the current generation of students in high school “The Net Generation” and describes them as valuing these eight norms: freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed and innovation (p. 74).  As such education is experiencing a massive paradigm shift and is moving towards inquiry-based learning, where students direct their own studies.  Tapscott (2009) describes school’s new dominant role as one to “encourage students to discover for themselves, and learn a process of discovery and critical thinking instead of just memorizing the teacher’s information” (p. 130).  School libraries need to morph to extend this role as well, creating flexible spaces where student innovation can happen.

The learning commons model calls for a redefinition of the library space in order to accommodate these demographic trends in our students and the new demands of teaching:

“Design components of 21st century learning spaces need to consider collaboration, comfort and community. Wherever possible, learning spaces should be colourful, inviting and playful. Learning is fluid and participatory… as a result, space should not place limits on learning.  Instead, space should encourage collegiality and intellectual development.” (OSLA, 2010, p. 9).

Equity

Defining equity for the learning commons model includes these three tenets: 1) optimal physical learning spaces for all; 2) availability of all library resources to all users in the school community; and 3) accessibility of all library resources to all users in the school.  The OSLA generalizes these goals for equity:

“The Learning Commons seeks to expand and integrate the real and virtual choices learners have to share their experiences. Safe, inclusive and welcoming environments throughout a school are imperative to meet the diverse abilities and learning styles of individuals, teams and groups. Virtual learning spaces increase this potential” (OSLA, 2010, p. 7).

More specifically and in alignment with the shift to inquiry-based learning, the Universal Education Organization (2010) says

“Universally designed curriculum overcomes limitations by incorporating three principles of flexibility into the design: multiple methods of presentation, multiple options for participation, and multiple means of expression.  This built-in flexibility provides a wider range of options for students to choose from — meaning the curriculum adapts to the student, rather than the other way around” (OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design, p. 200).

Providing this level of equity in one space is no small task.  Utah State University’s Centre for Persons with Disabilities in 2003 suggests that these “environments must be powerful enough to sustain the child’s interest and motivation without constant motivational and/or directional assistance from an adult” (OWP/P Architects et al., 2010, p. 204).  The learning commons model insists that true equity for each member of the school library community will include physical and virtual spaces that will appeal to the natural flow of learning and each learner.

An example of the complexity of these goals in equity might be found in the area of acoustics.  Since groups of teenagers can vary in their noise output, designing a static purpose in a static area of the library, such as creating an open computer lab, cannot work for the diversity of school library patrons.  OWP/P Architects et al. (2010) say “someone using English as a second language, or someone who suffers from an attention deficit disorder, is at a significant disadvantage in a noisy classroom (p. 42).  Ambient noise in the learning commons can affect all users:  “Research indicates that high levels of background noise, much of it from heating and cooling systems, adversely affects learning environments, particularly for young children, who require optimal conditions for hearing and comprehension (OWP/P Architects et al., p. 26).  Every choice made in design must consider the plethora of needs of the entire school community.

One way to begin achieving equity is to begin with the language of equity.  OWP/P Architects et al. (2010) insist “What you say influences what you think and what you do.  Use the term universal design, rather than accessible design, as a reminder of what it’s all about: creating an environment for all learners” (p. 201).   Achieving equity in the school library means accommodating diversity in all its resources, its programming and its virtual and physical environments.

Flexibility

In order to tackle the challenges of providing equity, each space within the learning commons needs to be improved for its fluidity in purpose and, where possible, accommodate these sensitivities to design.  Feinberg and Keller (2010) suggest that the school library needs to cater to a wide range of developmental programming needs to allow for these age and ability differences that make it an essential and unique part of every community (p. xi).  OWP/P Architects et al. (2010) proposes “Make classrooms agile. A learning space that can be reconfigured on a dime will engage different kinds of learners and teachers” (p. 89).  While these ideals are noble, implementation in schools at first seems quite difficult.  One of the main reasons that teachers bring their classes to the school library is to allow for, as OWP/P Architects et al. (2010) suggests:  “Change up the locations of regular activities so children can explore new surroundings with their bodies and their minds” (p. 49).  The stimulation of moving to a new environment of learning can signal a change in curriculum tempo.

Improving flexibility in the school library reiterates the need in our teaching to become more flexible as well.  Sir Ken Robinson (2010) says “if we’re looking for new pedagogical practices, we have to have facilities that will enable those to happen.  So you want flexible spaces where people can group and re-group, where you’re not stuck in one configuration with teachers at the front” (OWP/P Architects et al., p. 58).  This reconfiguration calls for spaces in the learning commons which do not have static purposes, and where equipment is mobile.  It not only improves the teacher’s ability to bring student-centred inquiry to the forefront of the curriculum, but it also allows for the equitable accommodation of multiple learning styles.   Feinberg and Keller (2010) say that in order to accommodate different learning styles in gender, that spaces in libraries need to be flexible enough to accommodate student preferences for the kinesthetic tendencies of boys, and the group-oriented tendencies of girl study groups. Feinberg and Keller (2010) emphasize  that “Teens frequent the library for a variety of reasons, and the more options provided the better the array of experience.  But somewhere in each library a core of students who see the library as a resource for study and quiet learning can probably be observed” (p. 75).  The learning commons isn’t only a place for stimulation, it needs to provide security for patrons who cannot find that in other school places.  Feinberg and Keller (2010) suggest that one way to provide this security is to honour the nature of adolescents in furniture choices which need to be comfortable to accommodate multiple sitting positions for the variety of tasks that might be completed by the full range of users in school library space:  “Curved work surfaces at two different heights can be accompanied by adjustable-height stools to accommodate varying heights of teenagers, either for standing or perching on stools halfway between sitting and standing (p. 42).  Once again, achieving equity in learning styles can be achieved by building in flexibility in task furniture.

Flexibility in learning design doesn’t just mean from moment to moment, but from season to season. Feinberg and Keller strongly suggest that “activities and needs are driving factors in how the space is used at any one time or for any one purpose” and that these needs can also change according to the time of day or the time of year (p. 112).  One way to maintain flexibility when implementing the infrastructure for technology, Feinberg and Keller (2010) suggest using flat wiring underneath carpet tiles so that moving anything requiring power only involves moving these tiles for access (p. 127).  Even in a static, traditional environment, flexibility in space and purpose can improve equity leading to greater opportunity for innovation.

Innovation

From an outsider point of view, it may appear that the library has no place in a digital future where information is at everyone’s fingertips.  Balas (2012) suggests that “the library is evolving from being a place that houses materials to a place where users can work (p. 33).  An emerging trend in public libraries is to create a ‘makerspace’ where learning happens through tinkering.  The makerspace, or area devoted to ingenuity in hands-on learning, can incorporate any sort of laboratory for experimentation from digital media to textiles.  The underlying concept of a lab space is to create a Da Vinci-esque space for exploration which transcends the curriculum.  Ken Robinson (2010) says that real innovation and creativity come at the intersections of disciplines — the way they merge and blend” (OWP/P Architects et al., p. 58).  With improved flexibility in how a space is used, occasionally teacher-librarians will need flexibility in separating zones for different purposes.  While the learning commons advocates for innovation, innovation cannot infringe on the other purposes of the learning commons.  Feinberg and Keller (2010) suggest that in order to maximize the potential for innovation and to “achieve full multifunctioning for these spaces, sliding doors can be used…the same design device can be applied to computer labs and small meeting rooms” (p. 51).  A teacher-librarian maximizing every corner can easily see how dividers can separate off areas for use as the seasons of purpose change.   Feinberg and Keller (2010) propose that the necessity of innovation is so great that any space that is single purpose needs to have a separate room built specially in order to alleviate scheduling demands on multipurpose areas (p. 51).  Tasks associated with specific and static areas of a library, like research and computing, will need to become possible in every facet of the learning commons.  The alternative is to create separate static areas which do not infringe on the flexibility and innovation happening in the learning commons model.

Collaboration

An age-old skill that has been reemphasized in the paradigm shift happening in education is the need for students to graduate with a firm grasp of collaboration on a global scale.  The learning commons model, incorporating new levels of flexibility and innovation, will naturally lead to cross-curricular collaboration.  The OSLA document Together for Learning describes the natural connections that will form in the new model:

“A Learning Commons is a vibrant, whole-school approach, presenting exciting opportunities for collaboration among teachers, teacher-librarians and students. Within a Learning Commons, new relationships are formed between learners, new technologies are realized and utilized, and both students and educators prepare for the future as they learn new ways to learn.  And best of all, as a space traditionally and naturally designed to facilitate people working together, a school’s library provides the natural dynamics for developing a Learning Commons” (p. 3).

A harmonious learning environment is one where socialization can naturally happen as Tapscott (2009) says “Students need to talk among themselves.  In fact, research has found collaborative learning to be more effective in increasing academic performance than individual or competitive learning” (p. 137).

In creating physical and virtual spaces for collaboration, the nature of working towards common goals will become permeated throughout the processes of creation and student work will reach a more authentic and diverse audience.  Tapscott (2009) advises teachers to “Encourage [students] to work with each other and show them how to access the world of subject-matter experts available on the Web” (p. 148).  There are many experiences that a learning commons can provide to stimulate discussion, relationships and deeper connections within the physical and virtual space.  OWP/P Architects et al. (2010) suggest that one way to support innovation is to “Emulate museums.  An environment rich in evocative objects…triggers active learning by letting students pick what to engage with (p. 67). Although this could of course be a solitary task, inquisitive discussion is a derivative of evocative objects.  Evocative objects provided can lead to the innovation and creation of new objects made by students themselves.  A natural extension of collaboration of this sort is the celebration of achievement in student work.

Celebration

The learning commons model enriches the traditional function of the library which is to serve its community.  There are few spaces in a school where student work can be shown to the entire community, and fewer still that will recognize the complete diversity of the community.  Once the learning commons model is achieved OWP/P Architects et al. (2010) suggests “Open the doors.  Give students places to exhibit their work as if it were in a public gallery, then invite the public to come and have a look” (p. 189).  Furthering the innovation of the traditional library space once more, the learning commons becomes an ideal place for the arts.  Feinberg and Keller (2010) suggest that “the creation of a performance space…used for small concerts by the teens, poetry readings, and other special events” can have a stage, curtain, lights and acoustics built in (p. 75). In order to create a sense of community and ownership of the learning commons by its users, student work must be honoured and celebrated in the physical and virtual spaces.

Libraries need to revisit their spaces to ensure that they are:

  • equitable, reaching every member of the school community;

  • flexible, allowing for learning processes to evolve naturally and adapting to the learner;

  • innovative, allowing for authentic cross-curricular creation;

  • collaborative, encouraging connections on a local and global scale; and

  • celebratory, recognizing the achievements of student work that embodies the aforementioned tenets of the learning commons model.

If these objectives are met, then the library becomes about the community within rather than the tasks associated with the space.  The traditional role of libraries is no longer pertinent when reading and research can happen anytime, anywhere.  Rather Feinberg and Keller (2010) maintain that the future success of high school libraries lies within our ability to create a space where teenagers perceive that they are “needed, respected and …belong” (p. 17).  Instead the mandate of accessible and available learning becomes embodied in a physical and virtual space known as The Learning Commons.

References

Balas, J. L. (2012). Do makerspaces add value to libraries? Computers in Libraries, 32(9), 33.

Feinberg, S., & Keller, J. R. (2010). Designing space for children and teens. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Johnston, M. P., & Bishop, B. W. (2011). The potential and possibilities for utilizing geographic information systems to inform school library as place. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), 1-12.

Ontario School Library Association. (2010). Together for learning: School libraries and the emergence of the learning commons. Ontario Library Association.

OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). The third teacher: 79 ways you can design to transform teaching & learning. New York, NY: Abrams.

Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown up digital: How the net generation is changing your world. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

 

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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