#BIT15Reads: Face-to-Face

What a ride!  Yes all the rumours were true that teacher job action had affected the attendance at the #BIT15 conference but when I last heard, 1000 people had still registered by Thursday morning.  Not knowing what to expect we leapt forward anyway!

What you might not know is that I’ve been working on developing the book club since the spring and contacted the publishers of all the books on our list to have review copies sent….so I brought 22 books with me to the #BIT15 conference on Thursday morning!  These were all free to give away.  The most asked question of the morning was simply….”Free?”  Yes!  That’s what librarians do!  Peter McAsh and Leslie Boerkamp really made the event possible through reserving the space, helping me set it up, bringing the coffee and breakfast right next to our location, reserving tables and of course, spreading the word.  Leslie even made #BIT15Reads clues inside the social scavenger hunt so all day people were finding me to get answers and hints for points.

Here is a Storify of our tweets over the conference time: https://storify.com/banana29/bit15reads-meets-face-to-face

Here are the glorious photos taken by Tim King during our breakfast and by lunchtime all the books were taken by devoted readers…with 1 catch: they had to make their reading process or responses visible to all of us.  It’s never too late to join #BIT15Reads!  Just login to Goodreads and invite yourself to our group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/170190-bit15reads  One of our many moderators can add you to our growing list (68 members across Canada and in 4 countries…and counting!)

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Revisiting Treasure Mountain 2014

I need to start off this blog post by once again speaking to the imbalance I experience in blogging itself.  Try as I might, I sometimes take years to process an experience or a reading and I find it really challenging to write regularly.  Today is no exception and I’d like to revisit an experience I had in May 2014 called Treasure Mountain Canada.  Treasure Mountain is a research retreat of school libraries and I’ve attended 2 of them…one in Connecticut in November 2013, and one in Victoria, BC where I presented my M.Ed. capping paper on Transliteracy.

Today we are trying to recreate the experience for the participants at the annual Ontario Library Association conference in Toronto.  To give you some background, there is no better place to start than with Anita Brooks-Kirkland’s blog of the Treasure Mountain experience last May.  The audience at Treasure Mountain is small but extremely diverse … there are major stakeholders in school libraries present.

In the week leading up to today, the revisiting of Treasure Mountain, I have really enjoyed going over my own thought process from January 2014 to May 2014, and I’m glad I was so visible in my thinking about it.  One of my favourite elements to revisit was a Google Hangout experiment where, as part of the capping paper requirements, I needed to present my ideas to a public audience.  I knew Treasure Mountain was coming up in May but wanted to make the experience as authentic as possible.  So….in true transliteracy fashion, I arranged via social media to make a Google Hangout to present my 20 slides and ask my authentic audience of educators some seriously deep questions about implementing transliteracy.  I considered editing this down to something manageable, but at the risk of appearing self-indulgent, here is the whole messy experience.  For at least 3 of the participants, it was their first Google hangout.

Joining me in this video are Kimberley Flood, Kevin Greenshields, Robin Feick, Kathy Inglis, Tim King, Peter McAsh, Daniel Beylerian and Heather Leatham.

As most of you are well aware from your own experiences, I learn a lot each time I present new material, and this time was no different.  Looking back at that experience, I realize now that sometimes I need a big push to try these things.  Reflecting on that idea alone, isn’t that what I ask the staff and students at my school to do every day?  One of my drama students a few years ago said, as she was fearfully preparing to take the stage, “I just need to put my big girl pants on and do it.”  Everytime I feel fearful of risk-taking, or worn out by being a change agent, I say to myself, “Just put your big girl pants on and do it.”  There are times during this presentation where I’m just giddy with happiness of the sharing and comraderie I experienced as I struggled through it.  Treasure Mountain itself, is just like that….a bunch of experienced and knowledgeable people coming together to share and loving the sharing.  I always feel energized and motivated by experiences like this.  This is the reason I’m addicted to supporting my own professional development.

The quest for self-selection

The truth is that the technology within my library is not self-selected.  We have 44 desktops, 7 netbooks and these have all been purchased by the board.  The software on the desktops is controlled by the board as well.  So while I can tell people my opinion on hardware and software choices for students, I don’t have any purchasing power to make these wishes come true. Currently, teachers sign out the use of these dinosaur-like devices in a paper book that is housed inside the library, and too often I have nothing to do with their class when they’re using these devices.  I wrestle with these slights on my professional achievement every moment of every working day.  I liberate myself away from the muck inside the library computer lab as often as possible by teaching in other people’s functional labs elsewhere in the school.

I could wallow in the misery of my #firstworldproblems.  Instead, I’d like to focus on what the future of my library should like. My husband Tim is the head of technology at his school and my earliest influencer in selecting tech.  He and I have been working on our vision of technology in education (his forte) and how to implement digital fluency in staff and students (my forte).  This year Tim presented at the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference this Prezi http://prezi.com/u26blkzyzodh/byod-the-minilab-digital-mastery/.  We both firmly believe that no one device or even one method for mastering digital fluency is going to work for all learners.  Instead he proposes a graduated program moving these learners from computer labs full of desktops with software that has been decided for them to portable mini-labs full of mobile devices to BYOD.  I believe that the library is the key component to making this system work.  Here’s how it would work if I could:

http://youtu.be/K3R9d0skIAM

Dresang (2008) refers to the change we’re seeing optimistically calling it an “era of synergy of digital and print media” (p. 301).   Henry Jenkins (2006) describes this as a “convergence culture”.  I see this era as a kind of digital infancy where we are renegotiating the culture of education as we move from print text to multimedia texts; from consumers to creators.

My frustration generally stems from the change not happening fast enough.  I’m not alone in my angst.  Wendy Stephens (2012) says that “Any school library considering the electronic transition will have to make some decisions about the purpose of connecting students with a particular text” (p. 43).  Call me cautious, but I won’t buy into an e-reader system (with my diminishing budget) because I don’t have access to the digital content that would best suit my learners.  Canadian educational publishers aren’t making e-texts that are robust enough to serve the dynamic change needed in classrooms today.  Hardware manufacturers aren’t making devices that are robust enough for the constant manipulation of their flimsy bits.  There seem to be ridiculous arguments about proprietary work and an outsourcing of all manufacturing of hardware that makes it prohibitively overpriced and short-lived.

Until education can drive the needs of hardware, software and each of these can adapt to the user’s needs, then I won’t be satisfied.  Until reading is a completely immersive experience, one that equals the excitement that a gamer feels while socializing in a virtual world, whether that be fantastical, historical or futuristic, I won’t be satisfied.  Until learning in a digital world is driven by the user, adapted to the reader and access to current Canadian content is the priority, I won’t buy in.  Until my library can be both reliable and flexible, I will continue to search for better solutions.  The quest for this satisfaction is what gets me up in the morning.

References

Dresang, E. T. (2008). Radical change revisited: Dynamic digital age books for youth.Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(3).

Jenkins, H. (2006).  “Welcome to Convergence Culture.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html

King, T. (2012).  “BYOD, the minilab & digital mastery.” http://prezi.com/u26blkzyzodh/byod-the-minilab-digital-mastery/

Stephens, W.S. (January/February 2012). “Deploying ereaders without buying ebooks.” Knowledge Quest 40, 3. 40-43.