Trends to watch- how should educators respond?

I was reading an online article today from eweek.com called ‘Five trends to watch in 2009’.  Their focus audience is small to medium size business. The five trends to watch as they saw it were;

1. Cloud Computing.

2. Virtualisation

3. Notebook/Netbook adoption

4. Open Source Software

5. Online Social Networking

My question is, are we as educators onto this? If we are going to effectively prepare our students for the workplaces they will be entering, shouldn’t we be incorporating some of these applications into our teaching environments and curriculum?

I work in a 1:1 school, but as we see the cost of computers and wireless air devices reduce I could envisage students fronting up in both private and public education with their own computers with internet access at the ready. I’m wondering if schools are prepared for this?

* Update –  Many students today have phones with internet access – don’t know why I didn’t think of this when I was writing this post. Just dim sometimes! Once again though, many schools take the no phones in class policy when they should be capitalising on the incredibly powerful tool students have at their disposal.

I know that this year I intend to make greater use of the cloud and create and store more of my documentation using online applications. It just makes sense. It’s something I intend to share with my students and will be encouraging them to use Google docs and notebook.   

These are ideas we need to keep at the forefront of our thinking if we are going to best prepare our students for the workplaces they will be entering.

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Libraries and our changing world

Over the weekend I was in Perth with my husband and had the opportunity to meet up with people involved in blogging and Web 2.0 thanks to the organisational efforts of the remarkable Sue WatersJane Lowe, Tomas Lasic, Kathryn Greenhill  and Jo Hart and her husband were there also. There were others but I didn’t catch everyone’s names so I apologise for not mentioning you if you happen to be reading this. Thanks Sue Waters for making the effort for me – I very much appreciated it.     

The discussion was lively and my husband was very tolerant. (He was surprised that he could keep up with the discussion; that comes from him listening and being interested in what it is I’m doing. I’m very thankful for that.) It was wonderful that Kathryn Greenhill was there. She is a Librarian working at Murdoch University and she has a great job  working as their Emerging Technologies Specialist.  Towards the end of the afternoon we shared some ideas about the future of libraries and I was very interested to hear her thoughts.  I’ve been mining her blog since my return and am very impressed with her insights. This to do list of Kathryn’s echoes some of the things I have been planning to investigate this holiday break;

WHAT TO DO?

On my own “to do” list?

  1. Find out more about new publishing models and licensing structures.
  2. Find out more about reading-dedicated devices – kindles and illiads and Sony readers and screen technologies that make it easy to read in bright sunlight.
  3. Find out more about the “reading” functions on converged devices (like the iPhone and mobile phones). Is it really possible to comfortably read a whole book on one?
  4. Educate myself more about Digital Rights Management and which e-books can be read with which e-book reader software on which machines.
  5. Investigate models for academic texts that involve library-provided materials that can be read off-line.
  6. Find out more about what the University of Michigan Library is doing with their Espresso Book Machine.
  7. Think even harder about “last copy storage” projects  and whether they make sense for Australian academic libraries.
  8. Think about preservation / archive vs accessibility issues with e-books.
  9. Ask some people under 30 what they think about books vs e-formats.  (If you are under 30, please let me know in the comments ).
  10. Try reading a fiction e-book from start to finish. (I have bought two that use the Mobipocket, and have been irritated that I can’t flip the screen to portrait so I can hold my eee 1000h like a “real” book. Fuddy Duddy me. )

There are things on that list I know very little about -obviously I need to know more! I can see Kathryn’s blog is going to be a must read for me, especially considering she has received funding to visit the United States and Canada  in April and investigate alternative discovery layers and open source library management systems. Open source library management systems are very interesting and I’d love to know the viability of having them replace the systems we are using today.  Looking at Kathryn’s blog she seems to share so I will be watching with interest.

Thank you Kathryn. Already I am learning from you. That’s the wonderful thing about this network. Connections are formed that impact on your ability to understand new ideas. You don’t need to learn in isolation and you can help one another navigate new territory. As far as Libraries go, the new territory has been laid open. Time to discover what lies within. 

Open Source alternatives – check out osalt.com

I have a great team of people working in our School Library who all contribute to our collective learning about Web 2.0 and new ideas for learning. Chris is our AV tech and he has been a real find – he’s young and uses these tools in his everyday life so knows his stuff. He was using GIMP today to alter a PDF document (an amazing poster created by one of our students for our Project Global Cooling concert. It needed a couple of minor changes.) Today he alerted me to osalt.com, a website that provides you with open source alternatives to programs you have to purchase. They’ve just introduced a new category in their software directory for open source alternatives for educational and science software. Here’s what they have to say about this;

“The software listed will be for students as well as school administrators. Also there will be software that focuses on elementary school and high school (k12), college and university. Simulation software and educational games will also be included in the new category.”

They’ve just launched this with four products: Moodle, Sakai, Flight Gear and Octave. They provide clear, detailed outlines of what the software offers and have a ratings system so that their readers can provide input.  No doubt this list for education will grow. One to watch and add to your delicious or diigo account.