During my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) studies there have been many critical points in my learning that have impacted my views, knowledge and understanding of the work of a teacher librarian (TL). These critical learning points have given me a deeper understanding of how a TL can be a responsive and effective leader in the school learning community. The following points influenced my learning significantly.
Critical Learning Point # 1: Good digital citizenship is an important part of information literacy
Gaining a deeper understanding of digital citizenship was a critical point in my learning about information literacy and the fundamental role a TL plays in teaching the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes necessary for students to be ethical users of information. This critical point in my learning came during analysis of the question: Is information literacy more than just a set of skills? I critically analysed this question in Blog Task # 3 (https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com/2013/05/) set in ETL401 – Introduction to Teacher Librarianship.
In the process of analysing issues and perspectives surrounding this question, it became clear that good digital citizenship is linked to the communicating and synthesizing steps of information literacy (Abilock, 2014, Communicating, synthesizing section, para. 3). In the 21st century, to be information literate students must learn to communicate their ideas effectively using current technologies (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014, Communicating with ICT section, para. 1). Learning to participate in online spaces offers students new information experiences and opportunities to learn skills necessary to be effective and ethical users of information.
The impact of my learning is a deeper understanding and knowledge of the ethical issues that students encounter as they participate in the online community. These ethical issues include:
- Appropriately expressing ideas and feelings whilst maintaining a strong sense of personal identity
- Awareness and management of online privacy
- Understanding the importance and responsibility of authorship
- Understanding the importance of personal and information credibility
- Civil and socially responsible participation in online communities (Waters, 2012, Social media 101 section, para. 7).
To address these ethical issues students will need to gain a variety of skills, knowledge, values and attitudes. It is the TLs role to teach students skills for personal safety practices and the values and attitudes necessary to behave in a civil manner in online spaces. The TL can guide and teach students to use information wisely and ethically and behave in a socially responsible manner when participating in the online community. Information literate students understand how their behaviour affects others in online spaces (Bundy, 2004, p. 11).
Introducing and creating new information experiences for students is an excellent way for a TL to be a leader in the school learning community. TLs can utilise current technologies that allow students to publish their work online using a variety of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, Wikis and digital storytelling.
An article by John K. Waters titled ‘Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens’ was central to my learning about digital citizenship. This article also included a series of videos by Michael Wesch at FETC 2012, which were also instrumental to my learning.
Having gained a deeper understanding of rapidly changing technologies and online communities available to educators and students has highlighted the need for continuing professional development to support my future learning needs in this area. Regularly attending conferences like FETC, for educators interested in new ways to use technologies to enhance learning outcomes is one of my goals. As a non-practicing TL, in the future I intend to create learning experiences for students that require them to assess the credibility of information, research and find different viewpoints about issues and publish their work online (Waters, 2012, Day-to-day skill set section, para. 5).
Critical Learning Point # 2 – The educational potential of Web 2.0 tools
In ETL501 – Information Environment, I experienced a number of critical learning points; one of the most valuable was gaining deeper understanding and knowledge about the educational potential of Web 2.0 tools in the work of a TL. As part of this subject we explored key aspects of Web 2.0 tools and considered their likely impact on education in today’s schools. In a blog post for this subject I highlighted some ideas on the educational potential of Web 2.0 tools (https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com/2013/09/).
A fundamental role of the TL is to support the capability of students in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Web 2.0 learning and teaching tools support the ICT capabilities described in the Australian Curriculum v7.1. Web 2.0 tools offer TLs the opportunity to utilise new and dynamic ways to engage students and improve information literacy skills (O’Connell, 2008, p. 53). The TL can create a school library service that is appropriate for the changing information environment, offering students diverse and meaningful experiences using ICTs and Web 2.0 tools for information seeking, sharing and communication purposes (O’Connell, 2008, p. 52).
Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, Wikis and podcasts create flexible teaching and learning environments. Teaching and learning is not confined within the four walls of the library space. A TL can be responsive to the real learning needs unique to their students by using Web 2.0 tools to create personal student projects and class projects. Web 2.0 tools offer exciting new ways for students to publish their work. The TL can design pathfinders for specific grade learning areas that:
- support curriculum learning outcomes
- embed information literacy skills at the point of need
- are tailored to the students’ learning needs
This learning experience has impacted my understanding and knowledge of how a TL can create opportunities for creativity with technology. My understanding and knowledge of diverse ways in which Web 2.0 tools can be utilised in the classroom and to collaborate with the professional educational community (Hauser, 2007, p. 7) has deepened significantly.
My learning was impacted by a chapter in an edited book titled “Information literacy meets Library 2.0”. The chapter was written by Judy O’Connell (2008) and titled, “School library 2.0: new skills, new knowledge, new futures”. This chapter highlighted the importance for the TL to embrace and utilise Web 2.0 learning and teaching tools. These tools can help students to become successful researchers, independent learners, and effective users of information for sharing, collaborating, interacting and participating in the global online community (pp. 54-60).
A video by Allanah King (2007), titled “One woman’s wanderings with Web 2.0” was inspirational and impacted my learning about Web 2.0 tools. This video gave practical examples of how to use Web 2.0 tools in the classroom in meaningful and engaging ways. It provided me with a deeper understanding and knowledge of how blogs, podcasts, social booking tools and Skye could be used for classroom projects, as reflective tools, for communication, information sharing, interactivity and collaboration amongst students and teachers. It was inspiring to see how the students at the school in this video had class blogs that linked with other classes blogs and that the students used these blogs to share interesting things that their class were doing.
My understanding of the importance for TLs to keep up to date with the newest and best Web 2.0 teaching and learning tools has deepened considerably. As suggested by King (2007), I will continue to practice using Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs, Wikis and podcasts to become competent in using the technology. As an effective TL it is essential to remain aware of and competent with Web 2.0 tools in order to teach the school learning community how to use them. Reading other TL’s blogs and journal articles is a practice that I intend to do in the future. An article by Joyce Valenza on the School Library Journal website is an excellent example of the information available about the best teaching and learning tools Web 2.0 has to offer (http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2013/06/29/best-websites-for-teaching-and-learning-2013/). Another excellent website on the best and most current Web 2.0 teaching and learning tools is Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: Bloomin’ Apps. As a non-practicing TL, I feel excited about the future prospect of being a leader in the school community by introducing new and engaging information experiences necessary for 21st century learning.
“Vision Statement” by Marie-Lee Walker Created with Tagul.com
Critical Learning Point # 3 – Creating a vision statement for the school library
Gaining understanding and knowledge about what a vision statement is and how to create one for a school library was a critical learning point. I gained a deeper understanding of how the TL can be an effective leader in the school community by creating a vision statement as an essential part of a strategic framework for the future of a school library (Jisc, 2014, What is a vision statement section, para. 1). A vision statement allows the TL to articulate aspirational goals for school library service and demonstrates its key function of supporting students to become successful researchers and users of information (Crowley, 2011, p. 26).
A vision statement is strategic in nature (Johnson, 2010; Walter & Weisberg, 2011, p. 18). It provides the school community with a clear direction for guiding the change process necessary to meet the changing needs of the school learning community. It is essential the school community understands the goals for the future of the school library, as it takes the effort of many to achieve these goals (Jisc, 2014, Why do you need a vision statement section, para. 1-2).
In ETL504 – Teacher Librarian as Leader, I was introduced to the acronym SMART, an effective tool to measure the success of a vision statement (used for Assessment 2). SMART deepened my knowledge and understanding of following guidelines when writing a vision statement. The following is an explanation of this acronym:
S – Simple: Use language that is simple and easy to understand for all members of the school community. Do not use teacher librarian jargon (Jisc, 2014, A good vision statement section, para. 8).
M – Measurable: Goals need to be measurable (Jisc, 2014, A good vision statement section, para. 5). For example, increasing online resources by 25% to meet curriculum learning outcomes.
A – Achievable: Goals need to be achieved. The TL needs to be realistic about what can be achieved. It is important that the school community sees success (Jisc, 2014, A good vision statement section, para. 5).
R – Reasonable: Be reasonable about what can be achieved; break larger tasks into small tasks so they are not overwhelming. Prioritise what can be done over a specified period of time (Jisc, 2014, A good vision statement section, para. 5).
T – Timeframe: Have a specified period of time to achieve the goals. Reviewing a vision statement every 3 – 5 years is important (Jisc, 2014, How far should you look ahead section, para. 3). It is important to set targets for each year of the specified time.
This learning experience has impacted my understanding and knowledge of how important it is for a TL to develop a vision for the future of the school library service. It has impacted my understanding of how the TL can be a leader in driving and communicating a vision. This learning experience has deepened my understanding of how a school library vision statement is necessary to create ongoing improvement of the library services. In particular, I have new understanding of how a vision statement for a school library in the 21st century must incorporate the significant role of technology as a tool for teaching information literacy skills and to support curriculum learning outcomes.
A video by Virtualstrategist (2008, July 9) titled “How to write a vision statement that inspires”, was essential to my understanding of the important characteristics of a vision statement and how to begin creating one.
A website by Jisc (2014) included a section titled “Defining and articulating your vision, mission and values”. The information in this resource impacted on my understanding and knowledge of what makes a good vision statement.
In my future practice as a TL, I intend to ensure that any school library I work in has a vision statement as part of a strategic framework for the future of the school library service. If one does exist I will ascertain how long ago this statement was created and decide if it needs to be reviewed and updated.
“Library Space” by Marie-Lee Walker Created with Tagul.com
Critical Learning Point # 4 – The creative use of space in libraries: Meeting the needs of the community
During the ETL507 Study Visit I was given the opportunity to experience and observe how different libraries used the space within the library to best meet the needs of the community they served. One library visit that left a lasting impact in regards to how the library space was utilised was the Sydney Institute of TAFE – Ultimo College Library. There was a real sense that this library was a space for the learning community and a clear demonstration of the benefits of using the library space creatively. This library’s approach to the use of the library space was strategic, creative, flexible, dynamic and responsive to its users needs. Some examples of the creative features used in this library space included free Wi-Fi (BYOD), meeting places, specified quiet areas, beanbags, jigsaws, Sega (computer games), a fashion space, iPad’s with magazines and Chinese newspapers. All of these creative features addressed the specific needs of the diverse range of learners and staff at this TAFE community.
This learning experience has impacted my knowledge and understanding of how important it is for school libraries (and the broader library context) to creatively use the library space to meet the specific needs of the community they serve. I have a deeper understanding of how important it is for the library to offer spaces for different learning styles, areas for collaborative projects, quiet reading and research areas, areas for play and areas just to relax (Engel Lesneski, 2012). It is also imperative that school libraries are designed to meet the needs of disabled users (Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals & Museums Libraries and Archives, 2007, p. 4).
I have gained a deeper knowledge and understanding of the strategic planning that is needed to accomplish a vision for a library space. Taking into consideration budget constraints that my limit what means a TL has to design and create an ideal library space; it is something that can be worked towards with strategic planning and a clear vision for the future of the library. TL’s can be creative in the use of the library space by having a flexible space that supports different learning and teaching styles (Sullivan, 2011, p. 27). A flexible space caters for collaborative and project-based learning and the use of mobile technologies. It is important for the TL to plan for the infrastructure (e.g. adequate power outlets) that will support a flexible space and the increasing use of mobile technologies (Sullivan, 2011, p. 29). I have a better understanding of the importance of using technology as a tool for teaching and engaging students in their own learning (Engel Lesneski, 2012, para. 3).
My learning was impacted by an article titled “Divine design: How to create the 21st-century school library of your dreams” by Margaret Sullivan (2011) This article highlighted some key principles and practical examples to creating a flexible space for the school library to meet the needs of the school learning community in a 21st century environment (pp. 27-32).
A video by NationalLibraryNZ (2013, February 25) titled “School libraries: Excellence in practice at Amesbury school”, provided me with an excellent example of a purpose built school library that had created a flexible space for the school community to learn, investigate, research, read, collaborate, relax and incorporated the use of technology and mobile devices for teaching and learning. This school library has created a space that is meeting the needs of its school community.
“School Libraries: Excellence in Practice at Amesbury School” by NationalLibraryNZ is licensed under CC BY 4.0
In my future practice as a TL, I intend to stay abreast of current ideas for library design by continuing to read about different examples and ideas and ensure that any school library I work in is doing its best to create spaces that meet the needs of the school community. Visiting other libraries is another way to gain creative ideas about effective library design and use of space.
Critical Learning Point # 5 – Dewey Decimal Classification scheme in practice
During my ETL507 Professional Placement at Lismore City Public Library I had the opportunity to learn about the practical application of the Dewey decimal classification (DDC) scheme and how individual libraries may tailor this system to meet the needs of their users and the context of the individual library. This professional placement helped to clarify my understanding of the DDC scheme in conjunction with the Assessment 2 for ETL505.
The Lismore City Library is one of twelve branches that falls under the umbrella of the Richmond Tweed Regional Library. Lismore library is one of the largest library branches with one of the largest collections. During this placement I was able to observe the nuances of using DDC for different branches. I learnt how the physical size of the library and the collection may influence the call numbers used or location devices that are added to reflect the needs of the community and to assist in the exact location of materials.
An example of this was the different call numbers used for the same book in two different branches of the library. The book titled “Leaf Litter” by Rachel Tonkin was placed in the Junior Non-Fiction collection of the Lismore library and assigned the call number Q 577.3 TONK. The ‘Q’ represents Quarto, which is larger format books; where the spine measures 27cm high or more. While in a much smaller branch of the Richmond Tweed Regional Library, this book was placed in the “Easies” collection and given the book number EASY TONK. As the smaller library branch has a much smaller physical space and smaller collection the DDC scheme is not always the most effective for classification of materials. To assist users to effectively retrieve this particular book it was placed with the picture books. In the context of the larger Lismore library, use of the DDC scheme provided effective retrieval for users.
The impact of this learning experience was to give me a deeper understanding of how individual libraries (including school libraries) must decide what classification scheme or what local devices need to be added to DDC numbers within the library catalogue to reflect the organisation within the collection and to assist in the precise location of materials.
An experimental website titled ‘Classify’ (2014) which has been created by the Online Computer Library Center, Inc provided me with access to classification numbers and indicates the most common DDC applied to a particular resource.
The Glossary for WebDewey was helpful in assisting me to understand the definitions and technical terms used in the DDC scheme. For example the definitions for Book number and Call number.
In my future practice as a TL, I intend to become more familiar with the DDC scheme and the use of WebDewey. It is important for me to understand the nuances and modifications that the Schools Cataloguing Information Service uses in regards to DDC, this involves becoming very familiar with the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry. As a TL, I need to be aware of and make decisions about what location devices need to be added to SCIS call numbers, to best assist the school learning community successfully retrieve the information resources they need.
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Appleton, M. (2011, July 6). Dewey decimal system poster [Flickr image]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/appletonmaggie/5907672591/in/photolist-a13neZ-7NL66K-9LkZMr-9LoHKw-9LoHMN-9LoHQS-2Pz3n8-xueUG-6mBQsE-62GnZm-4THCux-62GpXJ-62Ge3L-62Gcao-62BX3v-3hyb1R-as5GTx-as8kns-29KoWz-8BNPUz-dWBfA6-8CBVJt-dWBfuK-dWGTps-dWGTt7-MXNpy-95JSyh-viJ1w-63tR79-8BRV8C-8BNQdp-8BNPLc-e1fr7o-63pyRZ-8BNQ66-63pz4M-63tNXy-63tGVC-62BYNi-63tHLw-63pAmF-63pxcT-62GiPC-63tJ25-95JSUQ-8BRVz5-8BRVeQ-8BRVrE-8BNPY4-8BRVH5
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Bundy, A. (Ed.). (2004). Australian and New Zealand information literacy framework: Principles, standards and practice (2nd ed.). Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).
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Walker, M. (2013, September 13). ETL501 topic 5 Web 2.0 and the school library [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com/2013/09/
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Waters, J. K. (2012). Turning students into good digital citizens. The Journal. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/Articles/2012/04/09/Rethinking-digital-citizenship.aspx