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.