School’s out Friday

Take a few minutes to watch the Improv Everywhere team make a game of mini golf into world championship stuff. Very endearing.

I really hate it when I see the only posts here over the last few weeks being School’s out Friday posts. My reality has been that the last 5 weeks have been quite manic. Finding time to post here about what I’ve been involved in has been too difficult because I’m planning the next thing as soon as I’ve finished the last!

Today I presented at the SLAV Conference at the MCG here in Melbourne. It was a great day and I really felt like a lot of people in the room were open to ideas I was presenting. I could be wrong about that; it can be quite difficult to gauge when you’re the presenter. I’ll try and do the day justice by writing about it, and numerous other events, over this weekend.

It’s early to bed for me now so that I can awaken at 5.30am to see the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games. I love a good opening ceremony so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype. Even if it doesn’t, I like to pay due respect to major events like that by setting my alarm clock to meet the action in the time zone of whatever country is the host. My Olympic Games Opening Ceremony memories extend back to Moscow in 1980, when it seemed that the Russians had used their enormous population to great effect to impress us all with crowd participation. Here’s a trip down memory lane for you.

Have a great weekend. Looks like a rainy one for Melbourne. Hope the forecast is looking better wherever it is you may be. ūüôā

Want to get inspired – listen to Erica McWilliam

(This post exists on Storify, but it seems impossible to embed it here on this WordPress blog, so I’ve copied most of it here. To see it on Storify, follow the link.)

Below is my Twitter stream while I was listening to keynote speaker, Erica McWilliam, present at the SLAV conference here in Melbourne last Friday. The theme of the conference was ‚ÄėCreating collaborative learning spaces: Future school library scenarios‚Äô. Erica’s talk was entitled, The e-shift: What does it mean for 21st century literacy and learning?
Erica is a woman worth listening to – if you ever get the opportunity, leap at it.

So refreshing to hear a learned woman speak at a conference, given the fact that so many keynotes are delivered by men.

Lyn Hay, from Charles Sturt University, also presented a thought provoking presentation about the role of Teacher-Librarians and libraries as physical spaces as we move into an increasingly digital world. Lyn’s presentation has been uploaded to Slideshare and I’d encourage you to take a look at it.

On the day, there were very few of us using Twitter to push the ideas out to the wider world. In fact, most were taking notes using the pen and paper model. Hardly a laptop or iPad in sight. Maybe people were using their phones, but I didn’t see much of anything like that happening around me. In 2011, I’d expect a Teacher-Librarian audience to be wired up and sharing ideas in collaborative spaces. If we are to respond to the ideas presented by Erica, then we better see our profession rise to the challenges of our age. We need more networked Teacher-Librarians to model for our staff and students how we self direct our own learning, and how we can seek out opportunities to make the learning experiences in our schools today reflective of the connected era we are living in.

Network Literacy – the next big thing

I said I’d get back here to reflect on my presentation at the Perspectives on Learning V.2 SLAV conference and our PLP (Powerful Learning Practice) face to face meeting at Toorak College on Tuesday. The week’s been a long one and the exhaustion factor has been high. Hence my slow return!

First up, I’m pretty sure my presentation went well. I received positive feedback and that’s the best you can hope to achieve really! I was really pleased with the slides and as is usual for me, once I start I¬†find it hard to stop. I need to work out how to deliver a presentation in 50 mins rather than an hour so I can field questions at the end.¬†I embedded the presentation here last Monday so ¬†track back to then and you’ll find it if you¬†want to see it.

Our PLP meeting was a wonderful opportunity to share our thinking, projects and ideas for how we continue to change practice in our schools. When you’re hosting the event it’s hard to get perspective on how it’s all going, but my feeling¬†was¬†that it was a positive day that had benefit for those attending. Will Richardson¬†had timely advice for us all and it was a fantastic opportunity to gain from his experience.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

On the Monday night before the meeting we went out to dinner with some of the PLP teams. On arrival, one of the team members said to me something that went like this;

“So, Jenny, what’s the next big thing?¬†It seems like we’ve been talking about these things for the last six months, what’s the next new¬†thing coming along?”

My answer went something like this;

“I don’t think there is any ‘next big thing’. I think the next big thing is how we use these tools to get our students connected. It’s how we get them to start making the connections with others out there.”

What I’ve realised is what I’m talking about is what Will Richardson calls ‘Network Literacy’. This to me represents the biggest shift our schools need to take if we are going to make inroads for the students we teach. Will’s presentation on Monday struck many chords for me and reshaped my thinking about the next steps¬†I need to take in my school.

Will defines Network Literacy as;

The ability to create, grow and navigate personal learning networks in safe, ethical and effective ways.”

He says we need to help students identify their passions and then immerse them in ‘passion based’ learning environments where they can then pursue their interests¬†in Personal Learning Networks.¬† He references the work of John Seeley Brown when he discusses this. ¬†

We have been learning the tools and have embedded some of them into practice, now we need to start assisting our students to reach out and create learning opportunities themselves. How they do is the tricky part for us as educators because we need to have a handle on it first if we are to guide them well.

Will asked educators to consider these questions in his presentation on Monday;

Am I “network literate”?

Am I “Googled well”?

Am I learning with others “out there”?

Am¬†I a “mobile learner”?

Am I reading and writing differently?

Am I collaborating, co-constructing and collectively acting with others?

Am I a learner first, teacher second?

I can confidently answer ‘Yes’ to six of the seven questions.¬†I’ve got to¬† master¬†mobile technologies¬†– this is an area I’m¬† not confident with yet.

The real question is ‘How many of our teachers can answer in the affirmative to the questions Will posed?’ And that is the dilemma facing our schools. How do we bring teachers with us and how do we do this on the scale that is necessary? I don’t know the answer to that question, I know that PLP goes someway towards it, but I do know that¬†I have to start making inroads with the students I teach.

This means teaching them how to write in a hypertext environment. It means lobbying for an elective called Passion Based Learning where I help students understand how they can become self directed learners. It means working with my school and changing thinking about transparency for student writing and allowing our kids to connect with other teachers and learners outside the walls of our school.

It means lots of hard work and an understanding that change takes time. We can’t expect to see things happen overnight. Small steps are important ones and these may have to be the steps taken to have the shift take place.

Thanks Will for helping shape my thinking and helping me define the next steps.

Spreading the good word!

Home now after a long drive home from Melbourne after presenting at the Telstra Dome today.

How do I feel? 

Relieved for one. Glad that SlideRocket came through and worked without the slightest problem. Hopeful that what¬†I said struck a chord with some people. Hopeful that people didn’t leave feeling¬†like it is all too hard to make this shift. Hopeful that some in the audience were inspired by Will Richardson who delivers the message so well.¬†¬†¬†

Thrilled to have met some of my Twitter friends. Jo McLeay was wonderful – she participated in the chat room on Ustream and helped people¬†understand the context of slides when they couldn’t hear audio. She’s just tweeted with a link to my presentation that she recorded on ustream – how incredibly kind of her to do this – my recording didn’t work. Anne Mirschtin,¬†Jess McCulloch and John Pearce were¬†there and it was¬† wonderful to make contact.

Equally thrilled to have some of my O/S twitter buddies participate in the ustream chat. A special thank you to Dennis Richards who emailed me with the transcript of the chat so that I could see the reactions of the watchers to¬†what I¬†was presenting. Some of the others in the room were Carolyn Foote, Mark Spahr, Dean Groom (I think?) Peggy George¬†and connected geek (don’t know their real name!) Carolyn Foote tuned in just as I was showing the slide with her blog post on it. Freaky huh! Mark Spahr was great trying to help me out before the presentation began with the video camera I was using – it was operating in demo mode. He had the instruction book open at his house in Maine and was trying to figure out how¬†to fix it. How cool is that! Help from Maine USA to Melbourne Australia. The audience could see the tweets coming through – a brilliant visual example of how this network operates and the supportive environment that it is.

I’m very tired -the result of the six hours I spent last night fixing up the SlideRocket presentation. Worth it. The effective transitions you can use made an impact. All that effort with the slides was also worth it – quite a few people have requested that¬†I upload them to Slideshare. Not sure if I can upload from SlideRocket – may have to upload the PowerPoint –¬†same slides. I’ll get it done tomorrow – way too tired right now!!¬†