This past Wednesday, I attended a live webinar on edWeb.net about open educational resources. I truly believe that OER is a big part of the school library's future, along with digital texts and other digital resources. I was excited to see what Andrew Marcinek had to say on this topic and where he saw K12 schools fitting into the OER picture.
First of all, I loved the live features. I've watched plenty of recorded webinars and webcasts, but I don't think I've ever attended one live, as it actually happened. I participated in the chat with the other attendees, I sent the moderators a question (that they actually addressed!), and I was able to take advantage of the resources attendees were sharing. It was awesome, and I'll definitely make more of an effort to attend live webinars in the future.
This webinar also gave me a lot to consider. OER is a huge topic with many moving parts, and its implementation within any context will be a time-consuming and arduous process. Right now it seems that school districts who are pursuing OER in favor of traditional text books are asking their teachers to be responsible for curating content and vetting its quality. I think there are big pros and also big cons to that approach. But however districts get started with OER, it's nice to hear that Andrew Marcinek envisions media specialists playing an important role, especially when it comes to finding information, curation, and quality. I agree that the SLMS is definitely prepared to step into that role.
We'll see how this topic evolves over the next few years. I'm excited to step up!
I decided to use RebelMouse to set up my professional learning network. I love how easy this tool is to use and and how it allows a user to incorporate dynamic content (like social media accounts and RSS feeds). It's also great for organizing different types of resources into separate categories.
I consider Twitter to be the most useful part of my professional learning network. I made a conscious decision when I set up my account a few years ago to use Twitter primarily for professional purposes; I rarely (if ever) use it for personal reasons. I love how this intentional focus allows me to get only the "good stuff" in my Twitter feed. I follow people and organizations that are tied to libraries, educational technology, and broader education topics. If I'm ever looking for new material or just want to get inspired, the first thing I do is check Twitter. With hashtags and other search options, it's pretty easy to find great articles, resources, and professional connections.
I attended the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC) on November 4, 2015. I only attended for one day, but it was still such a great experience! I was thankful for the opportunity and really felt like I walked away more informed, better connected, and totally inspired.
I attended four sessions after the opening keynote address from Angela Maiers, and I also spent one session block visiting exhibitors' tables and the student showcase projects. The first session, Information Literacy in a Web 2.0 World, was presented by Ru Story-Huffman. She discussed how to map AASL information literacy skills to web 2.0 tools, mainly using the Big 6 framework. I loved how she used a Padlet board (below) to curate resources related to her talk.
Will Richardson spoke during my second session. His presentation, Educating Modern Learners, was a really big-picture, inspirational look at the state of education in today's schools. He argued that technology integration and 1:1 initiatives aren't really changing how kids learn. We're doing the same old things, just with new tools. Instead of looking to technology to improve student learning, educators should be seeking a paradigm shift to more authentic, contextualized, inquiry-based projects in their classrooms. I was happy to find that I had heard most (if not all!) of these ideas already in my ITEC classes at Georgia Southern.
My third session was presented by Carla Gregory, a media specialist at Smitha Middle School in Marietta. In her talk, Ssshing Not Allowed: From Media Center to Media Commons, she discussed how she transformed her media center from traditional and limited to 21-century and ultra-functional -- all on a very small budget. She suggested a 10 step plan and gave suggestions on how to practically approach setbacks. Her presentation materials were really helpful to me after I returned to my school.
My final session, E-textbooks in K-12 Education: Fact of Fiction?, was presented by Sheila Cartwright. I find this topic -- digital textbooks and their benefits/challenges -- extremely interesting, so I was pretty pumped to attend her session. She talked about other countries' approaches to digital textbooks and why the U.S. seems so far behind. It's a complicated issue, and even though digital textbooks are definitely on the educational horizon, we still have a ways to go.
I really enjoyed my experience last year and think conference attendance is such a great way to hear new ideas and get plugged in. I just got word last week that I'll be going back to GaETC this year and that I'll be presenting a session of my own! More on that later...
I've been a member of the American Association of School Librarians (and therefore the American Library Association) for a few years now; I joined when I first started working in the media center in the fall of 2014. I think belonging to this organization is essential for practicing media specialists. After all, the AASL publishes the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and sets the industry standard for practice in our profession. The ALA and AASL also advocate for school libraries across the country, champion intellectual freedom for all readers, and lobby Congress for legislation that supports library policies and funding. I also frequently visit the AASL website to use the standards crosswalk and to browse its best apps and best websites lists.
I'm also a member of the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE. ISTE also publishes a set of standards for students as well as a set for teachers, administrators, coaches, and computer science educators. While I have referenced these standards occasionally, I don't rely on them as heavily as the AASL standards. However, I have been able to get more involved with the ISTE Librarians Network, a special interest subgroup. I've posted on their discussion boards a few times, and I even had an article published in the March 2015 issue of their professional newsletter. The piece was titled "Teach by Example" (viewable on pages 9-11 in the embedded newsletter below) and discussed a one-on-one approach to digital citizenship.
I also belong to Georgia Independent School Librarians. GISL is a small organization for librarians and media specialists working at private, independent schools in the state of Georgia. They have several meetings throughout the year, mostly at metro Atlanta area schools, and run a very active listserv. I've made several contacts through this organization, some of whom invited me for a school visit when I was looking for ideas on how we plan for future library renovations. I like how this organization specifically caters to the needs of independent schools.