Does deep reading matter?

Written on 6:54 PM by Margaret

When I talk to my students about how much they read, they say "all the time". They read Facebook, twitter, tumbler, blogs, online newspapers.


In an age where students are reading more than ever, have we missed the fact that not a lot of that reading is deep reading. Reading that engulfs you, that involves you and reading that stays with you for years. Linear reading which keeps you focused an allows your mind to not jump around like it does when you are twittering, facebooking and tumblering ...

In our wider reading sessions at our Senior Library we try and encourage and promote deep reading. Something with an overarching theme, something with characters or people who develop and it doesn't matter if it is a novel that they have read in the past. Students just need to be engaged. Deep reading isn't about reading for an academic subject. It involves wondering what will happen to a character, putting clues together and formulating a hypothesis about the story or character. If you have read the book before, then a second or third read will reveal things about the book that you didn't pick up on before.


All we ask for is 10-15 minutes a day and we encourage students to identify a space that appears regularly in their day. That space of time waiting at the bus stop. That space of time before the dinner is on the table. Once you start looking for those spaces of time, they become more apparent. Encourage students to carry a book/ebook with them "just incase".



But does deep reading matter? Research would argue that it does. But what seems to matter more is that if your child, student or impressionable young adult can see that you value deep reading as well. Michael Pryor wrote a great blog post about things that you can do to build that reading culture. Not just parents, but teachers as well. 

Do you have any good ideas for encouraging "deep reading"?

5 things to consider if you are an emerging Librarian

Written on 11:23 PM by Margaret

I was fortunate last night to attend an event at the performance space at the new Docklands Library in Melbourne.

At a time in history when Libraries are closing down and librarians are losing jobs, City of Melbourne has decided to take a risk and open a $23 million dollar state of the art modern library with over 100,000 accessible resources.


Run by ALIA, the networking event for Library Students brought together four librarians who have had different experiences within the profession to talk about how to position yourself in this changing employment space. Here are some of the ideas that resinated with me.

  1. As a librarian, you need to have sales and marketing skills. You need to sell your services as no-one is going to trumpet your cause as much as you can. This can be confronting if you are an introvert, so you need to fake it! Information Services people with sales experience know how to deal with customers and focusing on their needs. Libraries are all about people and connections, sales people tend to do well in this space.
  2. Work out what your edge is.
    Is it database management skills? Is it social networking? Is it marketing? You need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. What is your specialty? Someone from Box Hill mentioned that their Information Services course is "database" heavy. You might not be directly maintaining the database but you need to understand how it works. Do you have experience in event or project management? These skills are highly sought after as well.
  3. Information Services is a small industry.
    Everyone knows everyone else and you need to remember that when applying for jobs. Do not rant online, no-one likes a ranter .... at the same time network your boots off. And again, if you are an introvert -  fake it!
  4. 80% of academic library resources are digital.
    This impacts on the way that people use them, how they access them and what they do with them (copyright and intellectual property). So the role of the library has changed from handling physical resources to electronic resources (that still need to be processed and managed!).
  5. The new niche for Information Services is Copyright and Intellectual Property.
    The digital resource space has opened up these hot topics and librarians with the pedant for understanding the ethics and legalities can position themselves quite nicely in the changing employment space.
It was great to talk to so many different Information Services students from RMIT, CSU and Box Hill. All studying something a little different to what my focus is, but with similar challenges. A large percentage were women and Information Services was their second career.

A big thank-you to the Docklands Librarians who kept the Library open past the closing time and allowed us to network in their (bookable) performance space with breathtaking city views. It was a challenge to get us all out at a decent time and they were very gallant despite having worked a whole day on their feet!

Have you ever had a Blind Date .. with a book?

Written on 8:49 PM by Margaret

Have you ever just picked up a book and started reading? Most of us will look at the cover, read the back blurb and then decide. There has been plenty of research which shows that the book cover makes a big difference when people are choosing a book to read.


Teenagers seem to display lots of anxiety when you ask them to read something that they haven't created an emotional or quizzical bond with. So creating the environment for students to have a blind date with a book is liberating for them, encouraging them to take risks where they might not normally engage in this behaviour.


February 14th is "Library Lovers Day" and last year our school ran a "blind date with a book" initiative and students had the opportunity to borrow and read a book that they might not normally read. We chose large and small books from across a wide range of genre's and when students borrowed the book they got a little love heart chocolate. For some, the chocolate was used to close the deal, tempting them to look at something that they might not have looked at before.

Some local libraries have even used their "banned books" as a blind date.


How to make it happen in your school library
  1. PromotionAdvertise that Blind dates are going to occur. Tease your audience with "have you ever been on a date with a ..." statements. Engage your staff and your students. "I went on a Blind Date with a spy last week" (Ian Fleming book). Marketing is the key and the more people who know about your initiative in your school library, the higher likelihood of success.

  2. Communication Media
    Think posters, bookmarks, school web site, twitter. How can you leverage the tools that you already have and focus it onto your promotion. Can you use romantic music in the library to create an atmosphere? Aromatherapy? Chocolates?


  3. DeliveryLast February we ran the blind date initiative for a week coinciding with Valentines Day "Library Lovers" celebrations. At the end of the week we took the display, but students still asked for blind dates afterwards. How can you incorporate this initiative into wider reading circles or English classes. Can you tee it up with book reviews for prizes?

  4. Maintain the momentum
    Last February year we put 10 books on a custom display and then spend every day covering another 4 or 5 books for about a week to fill the display up again. Next year we might cover up to 50 books before hand so that we are not taking up that valuable time. How can you promote the Blind Date books that your students have read? Can they upload a picture, a selfie of them and the book to your library web site?

  5. Measuring your success
    How do you know that your Blind Date initiative was successful? Evaluate both from a quantitative (increased borrowings, book reviews, physical traffic, electronic traffic) and qualitative feedback ("I loved that book, "yes I will recommend it to others"


At my school, we asked the students to give the book 100 pages or 3 chapters, whichever one came first.  Majority of students finished the book and then recommended it to others.

Overall our initiative was a success and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.

Will you be putting together a Blind Date library promotions campaign? If so, let me know!
---

Do you enjoy my writing and my topics?
I need to know! Re-tweet, Facebook link or comment on this article to let me know
that my efforts are not all in vain ....

Changing Business Practices in Libraries

Written on 11:58 PM by Margaret

When you tell people that you are training to be a Teacher Librarian the first thing that they mention is the books. Books and then coffee. 

Peoples "idea" of what a library was and what it has become is very different. To many the sole purpose of a library is to conserve and organise collections. The key focus was to meet the needs of people who held a Library Card, or a borrower. 

University of NSW, archival stacks

In the era of MBA's and Venture capitalists, we now talk about the "client". It is not unusual for a "client" of a library not to borrow any resources, but to use them onsite or online. Libraries have started discarding the draconian overdue late slip in favour of focusing on those people who do use the library resources.

This change in focus comes as Library funding is dramatically changing from a system that was "given" or relied upon, to one which takes into consideration Key Performance Indicators which are supported by checks and measures normally reserved for more traditional businesses.

Defining the Client

Clearly defining the client seems to be an important factor in the perceived success of a modern 21st Century library. My memories of doing undergrad History at the University of Melbourne brings back sensory memories of the old books that I needed to reference to complete my essay's on the French Revolution. Visiting the University of NSW Library was a cultural shock.  Their client wasn't the confused undergrad needing lessons on research, but the post-grad doing research. I heard about the fact that the USW was part of the Group of Eight universities Australia wide, who have a very different focus to a TAFE environment. The UNSW Library had a different client focus to what I thought. Their foyer, rather than serene and calming was a hustle and bustle akin to the Genius Bar in an Apple store. Most of their traditional information literacy services have been abandoned and replaced with servicing the post-grad and teaching staff. Their focus is laser sharp on supporting the greater goals of the organisation, rather that the humble library.

For ABC Sound and Reference Library in Ultimo, Sydney their focus was the Producers and Reporters for the ABC. Again, another example of a library focused the goals of the greater business. Activities that would normally be just nice for a library to engage in are removed from the environment if it doesn't make an impact on the bottom line.

For the library romantics out there, it sounds like blasphemy.

One of the two schools that I visited on my Sydney Study Visit was Santa Sabina College. Again, removing the romanic ideal that a school library is all about books and warmth, their focus was on the bottom line; student achievement results. Whilst, the library provided space for books and warmth, their driver and reason for being was to support teaching and learning at the college, they defined their client as the teachers not the students. Through the teachers, they improve the learning environment.

Defining clearly the core client clarifies the role of the library and librarians within the organisation and provides a driver for decisions to be made and processes to be improved. In this day and age, Libraries can’t be all things to all people, we only have limited time and resources.



Defining the Vision and Mission of a Library

After defining your client or stakeholders, a mission and vision should support what you intend to do directly. A small library focusing on Genealogical resources would have a different vision and mission than one of the "Group of Eight".

Due to recent budget cuts, the TAFE sector is in turmoil. TAFE NSW Library is one such organisation going through vast changes due to a changing funding model pushed by the Group of Eight Universities that derive the majority of their funding through research means. 

Rather than the Library leading the change with innovative services, organisational changes are being driven externally by legislation and when talking with the librarians you can hear the nervous distrust in their voices as they talk about an institution which is slowly being eroded. 

Having previously read about UNSW throwing their books out, it was with great interest that I listened to the presentation by Janet Fletcher about the role of the main Library on campus. Similar to the State Library of NSW, the change of focus has resulted in a business-focused department that places the key research needs of the University first rather than information literacy needs of the undergraduate student.  They have analysed their clientele and decided that their time is best spent assisting the University to access funding for research rather than teaching researching skills to students who should probably already know how to research if they have gained a position at one of the Group of Eight Universities.

The mission and objectives of TAFE NSW is so different. Their clients having English as a second language and students studying a technical or hands-on study, their business model can't be driven by the same factors. It is hard to create a Key Performance Indicator for the overseas students in your client group and whether their english has improved. 

Out of all of the Library models that I studied on my Sydney Visit, the TAFE NSW Library felt more like what I experienced in the 80's and 90's rather than what would be regarded as a 21st Century Library. Does this library model make their library any more or less relevant?  Should we be funding all tertiary libraries under the same rules if their clients are dramatically different?

It will be interesting to see what happens to TAFE NSW, as their funding model changes to a voucher based system, rather than an enrolment system.

Changing Business Processes

One of the more profound concepts that I was exposed to when I did my Library Study Visit was the widespread use of outsourcing(another article). But surely the librarians need to know the collection? Cost/Benefit analysis says "no".  At my school Library most of the resources are processed and shelved in-house, everyone including the Teacher Librarians shelve, do book returns and tidy the library. At University of NSW, their processing and returning of resources to shelves is outsourced. The books arrive barcoded, stamped and ready to be shelved by the "casual shelvers" that come in a few times a day to do this task. Therefore freeing up the staff to focus on the core business of the Library. This of course has a knock on effect on employment within a library. When searching for my Library Placement, I spoke to a lot of Librarians who communicated that the changing business practices in this area make it hard to accommodate the new library or information services students coming through. Businesses will outsource tasks and then no-longer employ qualified librarians, but Library Technicians or Assistants.

A stark contrast to a School Library where the expectation that all staff involve themselves in these tasks so that they "get to know" the collection. But is that hour of shelving and sorting each day better spent on activities that directly service the key stakeholders and meet organisational goals? It was an interesting topic to unpack with the other Teacher Librarians!

Is it right to engaging the use of professionals for tasks that were not related to their key measurable objectives? The University of NSW use copy cataloguing, students for shelving and automatic purchasing and processing of resources to free up full time staff to concentrate on their core business. Unfortunately smaller libraries such as the Society for Australian Genealogists are not in a position to engage in a lot of outsourcing due to funding constraints. 

What do you think about changing business practices in Libraries? Good, bad? Or taking things a bit too far?

Does using a pen and paper make me less of a technology leader?

Written on 5:25 PM by Margaret

A few people have pointed and made reference to the following article:
Why I just asked my students to put their laptops away


I wanted to take the time to comment as this topic has been weighing heavily on my mind as a result of both teaching students with learning challenges and the emerging realisation that my own child will find most of his life intellectually challenging.

Firstly, I started teaching some 20 years ago, right on the cusp of the 1:1 Laptop movement in Australian Schools. I was fortunate enough to work at Methodist Ladies College for a few years and there I met several pioneers of 1:1 computing including Dr Gary Stager.

Secondly, I love technology! I am fortunate enough to live in an age were technology permeates every square inch of my life. I can leverage it for good (and evil) and the educational benefits are enormous.

So some of what the article talks about resinates with me personally. On my recent CSU Study Tour to Sydney I only took my notebook a pen into each observation. I knew that if I had my laptop and/or iPad with me, I would go off on excited little tangents and perhaps miss the real message that the presenters were trying to make. The tactile notes allowed me to focus my thoughts and add to them, highlight them, post note them without the risk of skipping out onto the internet to check something.

Does this make me any less of a learner or technology leader?

At a recent conference, two of my colleagues attended. One had a tablet device in front of them the other a notebook and pen. The traditional notebook person commented that the tablet user spend their time surfing the internet and they perceived them as not paying attention. The iPad user commented that the traditional notebook user didn't even have an iPad to check things on or participate and perceived them as being not interested in what was being spoken about.

Who is right? 

Are students mature enough to say "I can't focus with my device in front of me, give me pen and paper?" or is this an outdated view of learning in a 21st Century? Are we skilling our students with the skills to make these decisions? Should we be?

There is increasing research appearing about how students can find it hard to focus in a multimedia environment. For example, reading on a single focus device is likely to result in a greater quality of recall.

There doesn't seem to be many long term studies being done in this area, but as educators what we are doing in our classrooms should be continually evaluated. So that we are meeting our learning goals. We shouldn't have to wait until the Naplan results are released to realise that our students can't concentrate within a paper based environment.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Does deep reading matter?

When I talk to my students about how much they read, they say "all the time". They read Facebook, twitter, tumbler, blogs, online newspapers.


In an age where students are reading more than ever, have we missed the fact that not a lot of that reading is deep reading. Reading that engulfs you, that involves you and reading that stays with you for years. Linear reading which keeps you focused an allows your mind to not jump around like it does when you are twittering, facebooking and tumblering ...

In our wider reading sessions at our Senior Library we try and encourage and promote deep reading. Something with an overarching theme, something with characters or people who develop and it doesn't matter if it is a novel that they have read in the past. Students just need to be engaged. Deep reading isn't about reading for an academic subject. It involves wondering what will happen to a character, putting clues together and formulating a hypothesis about the story or character. If you have read the book before, then a second or third read will reveal things about the book that you didn't pick up on before.


All we ask for is 10-15 minutes a day and we encourage students to identify a space that appears regularly in their day. That space of time waiting at the bus stop. That space of time before the dinner is on the table. Once you start looking for those spaces of time, they become more apparent. Encourage students to carry a book/ebook with them "just incase".



But does deep reading matter? Research would argue that it does. But what seems to matter more is that if your child, student or impressionable young adult can see that you value deep reading as well. Michael Pryor wrote a great blog post about things that you can do to build that reading culture. Not just parents, but teachers as well. 

Do you have any good ideas for encouraging "deep reading"?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5 things to consider if you are an emerging Librarian

I was fortunate last night to attend an event at the performance space at the new Docklands Library in Melbourne.

At a time in history when Libraries are closing down and librarians are losing jobs, City of Melbourne has decided to take a risk and open a $23 million dollar state of the art modern library with over 100,000 accessible resources.


Run by ALIA, the networking event for Library Students brought together four librarians who have had different experiences within the profession to talk about how to position yourself in this changing employment space. Here are some of the ideas that resinated with me.

  1. As a librarian, you need to have sales and marketing skills. You need to sell your services as no-one is going to trumpet your cause as much as you can. This can be confronting if you are an introvert, so you need to fake it! Information Services people with sales experience know how to deal with customers and focusing on their needs. Libraries are all about people and connections, sales people tend to do well in this space.
  2. Work out what your edge is.
    Is it database management skills? Is it social networking? Is it marketing? You need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. What is your specialty? Someone from Box Hill mentioned that their Information Services course is "database" heavy. You might not be directly maintaining the database but you need to understand how it works. Do you have experience in event or project management? These skills are highly sought after as well.
  3. Information Services is a small industry.
    Everyone knows everyone else and you need to remember that when applying for jobs. Do not rant online, no-one likes a ranter .... at the same time network your boots off. And again, if you are an introvert -  fake it!
  4. 80% of academic library resources are digital.
    This impacts on the way that people use them, how they access them and what they do with them (copyright and intellectual property). So the role of the library has changed from handling physical resources to electronic resources (that still need to be processed and managed!).
  5. The new niche for Information Services is Copyright and Intellectual Property.
    The digital resource space has opened up these hot topics and librarians with the pedant for understanding the ethics and legalities can position themselves quite nicely in the changing employment space.
It was great to talk to so many different Information Services students from RMIT, CSU and Box Hill. All studying something a little different to what my focus is, but with similar challenges. A large percentage were women and Information Services was their second career.

A big thank-you to the Docklands Librarians who kept the Library open past the closing time and allowed us to network in their (bookable) performance space with breathtaking city views. It was a challenge to get us all out at a decent time and they were very gallant despite having worked a whole day on their feet!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Have you ever had a Blind Date .. with a book?

Have you ever just picked up a book and started reading? Most of us will look at the cover, read the back blurb and then decide. There has been plenty of research which shows that the book cover makes a big difference when people are choosing a book to read.


Teenagers seem to display lots of anxiety when you ask them to read something that they haven't created an emotional or quizzical bond with. So creating the environment for students to have a blind date with a book is liberating for them, encouraging them to take risks where they might not normally engage in this behaviour.


February 14th is "Library Lovers Day" and last year our school ran a "blind date with a book" initiative and students had the opportunity to borrow and read a book that they might not normally read. We chose large and small books from across a wide range of genre's and when students borrowed the book they got a little love heart chocolate. For some, the chocolate was used to close the deal, tempting them to look at something that they might not have looked at before.

Some local libraries have even used their "banned books" as a blind date.


How to make it happen in your school library
  1. PromotionAdvertise that Blind dates are going to occur. Tease your audience with "have you ever been on a date with a ..." statements. Engage your staff and your students. "I went on a Blind Date with a spy last week" (Ian Fleming book). Marketing is the key and the more people who know about your initiative in your school library, the higher likelihood of success.

  2. Communication Media
    Think posters, bookmarks, school web site, twitter. How can you leverage the tools that you already have and focus it onto your promotion. Can you use romantic music in the library to create an atmosphere? Aromatherapy? Chocolates?


  3. DeliveryLast February we ran the blind date initiative for a week coinciding with Valentines Day "Library Lovers" celebrations. At the end of the week we took the display, but students still asked for blind dates afterwards. How can you incorporate this initiative into wider reading circles or English classes. Can you tee it up with book reviews for prizes?

  4. Maintain the momentum
    Last February year we put 10 books on a custom display and then spend every day covering another 4 or 5 books for about a week to fill the display up again. Next year we might cover up to 50 books before hand so that we are not taking up that valuable time. How can you promote the Blind Date books that your students have read? Can they upload a picture, a selfie of them and the book to your library web site?

  5. Measuring your success
    How do you know that your Blind Date initiative was successful? Evaluate both from a quantitative (increased borrowings, book reviews, physical traffic, electronic traffic) and qualitative feedback ("I loved that book, "yes I will recommend it to others"


At my school, we asked the students to give the book 100 pages or 3 chapters, whichever one came first.  Majority of students finished the book and then recommended it to others.

Overall our initiative was a success and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.

Will you be putting together a Blind Date library promotions campaign? If so, let me know!
---

Do you enjoy my writing and my topics?
I need to know! Re-tweet, Facebook link or comment on this article to let me know
that my efforts are not all in vain ....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Changing Business Practices in Libraries

When you tell people that you are training to be a Teacher Librarian the first thing that they mention is the books. Books and then coffee. 

Peoples "idea" of what a library was and what it has become is very different. To many the sole purpose of a library is to conserve and organise collections. The key focus was to meet the needs of people who held a Library Card, or a borrower. 

University of NSW, archival stacks

In the era of MBA's and Venture capitalists, we now talk about the "client". It is not unusual for a "client" of a library not to borrow any resources, but to use them onsite or online. Libraries have started discarding the draconian overdue late slip in favour of focusing on those people who do use the library resources.

This change in focus comes as Library funding is dramatically changing from a system that was "given" or relied upon, to one which takes into consideration Key Performance Indicators which are supported by checks and measures normally reserved for more traditional businesses.

Defining the Client

Clearly defining the client seems to be an important factor in the perceived success of a modern 21st Century library. My memories of doing undergrad History at the University of Melbourne brings back sensory memories of the old books that I needed to reference to complete my essay's on the French Revolution. Visiting the University of NSW Library was a cultural shock.  Their client wasn't the confused undergrad needing lessons on research, but the post-grad doing research. I heard about the fact that the USW was part of the Group of Eight universities Australia wide, who have a very different focus to a TAFE environment. The UNSW Library had a different client focus to what I thought. Their foyer, rather than serene and calming was a hustle and bustle akin to the Genius Bar in an Apple store. Most of their traditional information literacy services have been abandoned and replaced with servicing the post-grad and teaching staff. Their focus is laser sharp on supporting the greater goals of the organisation, rather that the humble library.

For ABC Sound and Reference Library in Ultimo, Sydney their focus was the Producers and Reporters for the ABC. Again, another example of a library focused the goals of the greater business. Activities that would normally be just nice for a library to engage in are removed from the environment if it doesn't make an impact on the bottom line.

For the library romantics out there, it sounds like blasphemy.

One of the two schools that I visited on my Sydney Study Visit was Santa Sabina College. Again, removing the romanic ideal that a school library is all about books and warmth, their focus was on the bottom line; student achievement results. Whilst, the library provided space for books and warmth, their driver and reason for being was to support teaching and learning at the college, they defined their client as the teachers not the students. Through the teachers, they improve the learning environment.

Defining clearly the core client clarifies the role of the library and librarians within the organisation and provides a driver for decisions to be made and processes to be improved. In this day and age, Libraries can’t be all things to all people, we only have limited time and resources.



Defining the Vision and Mission of a Library

After defining your client or stakeholders, a mission and vision should support what you intend to do directly. A small library focusing on Genealogical resources would have a different vision and mission than one of the "Group of Eight".

Due to recent budget cuts, the TAFE sector is in turmoil. TAFE NSW Library is one such organisation going through vast changes due to a changing funding model pushed by the Group of Eight Universities that derive the majority of their funding through research means. 

Rather than the Library leading the change with innovative services, organisational changes are being driven externally by legislation and when talking with the librarians you can hear the nervous distrust in their voices as they talk about an institution which is slowly being eroded. 

Having previously read about UNSW throwing their books out, it was with great interest that I listened to the presentation by Janet Fletcher about the role of the main Library on campus. Similar to the State Library of NSW, the change of focus has resulted in a business-focused department that places the key research needs of the University first rather than information literacy needs of the undergraduate student.  They have analysed their clientele and decided that their time is best spent assisting the University to access funding for research rather than teaching researching skills to students who should probably already know how to research if they have gained a position at one of the Group of Eight Universities.

The mission and objectives of TAFE NSW is so different. Their clients having English as a second language and students studying a technical or hands-on study, their business model can't be driven by the same factors. It is hard to create a Key Performance Indicator for the overseas students in your client group and whether their english has improved. 

Out of all of the Library models that I studied on my Sydney Visit, the TAFE NSW Library felt more like what I experienced in the 80's and 90's rather than what would be regarded as a 21st Century Library. Does this library model make their library any more or less relevant?  Should we be funding all tertiary libraries under the same rules if their clients are dramatically different?

It will be interesting to see what happens to TAFE NSW, as their funding model changes to a voucher based system, rather than an enrolment system.

Changing Business Processes

One of the more profound concepts that I was exposed to when I did my Library Study Visit was the widespread use of outsourcing(another article). But surely the librarians need to know the collection? Cost/Benefit analysis says "no".  At my school Library most of the resources are processed and shelved in-house, everyone including the Teacher Librarians shelve, do book returns and tidy the library. At University of NSW, their processing and returning of resources to shelves is outsourced. The books arrive barcoded, stamped and ready to be shelved by the "casual shelvers" that come in a few times a day to do this task. Therefore freeing up the staff to focus on the core business of the Library. This of course has a knock on effect on employment within a library. When searching for my Library Placement, I spoke to a lot of Librarians who communicated that the changing business practices in this area make it hard to accommodate the new library or information services students coming through. Businesses will outsource tasks and then no-longer employ qualified librarians, but Library Technicians or Assistants.

A stark contrast to a School Library where the expectation that all staff involve themselves in these tasks so that they "get to know" the collection. But is that hour of shelving and sorting each day better spent on activities that directly service the key stakeholders and meet organisational goals? It was an interesting topic to unpack with the other Teacher Librarians!

Is it right to engaging the use of professionals for tasks that were not related to their key measurable objectives? The University of NSW use copy cataloguing, students for shelving and automatic purchasing and processing of resources to free up full time staff to concentrate on their core business. Unfortunately smaller libraries such as the Society for Australian Genealogists are not in a position to engage in a lot of outsourcing due to funding constraints. 

What do you think about changing business practices in Libraries? Good, bad? Or taking things a bit too far?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Does using a pen and paper make me less of a technology leader?

A few people have pointed and made reference to the following article:
Why I just asked my students to put their laptops away


I wanted to take the time to comment as this topic has been weighing heavily on my mind as a result of both teaching students with learning challenges and the emerging realisation that my own child will find most of his life intellectually challenging.

Firstly, I started teaching some 20 years ago, right on the cusp of the 1:1 Laptop movement in Australian Schools. I was fortunate enough to work at Methodist Ladies College for a few years and there I met several pioneers of 1:1 computing including Dr Gary Stager.

Secondly, I love technology! I am fortunate enough to live in an age were technology permeates every square inch of my life. I can leverage it for good (and evil) and the educational benefits are enormous.

So some of what the article talks about resinates with me personally. On my recent CSU Study Tour to Sydney I only took my notebook a pen into each observation. I knew that if I had my laptop and/or iPad with me, I would go off on excited little tangents and perhaps miss the real message that the presenters were trying to make. The tactile notes allowed me to focus my thoughts and add to them, highlight them, post note them without the risk of skipping out onto the internet to check something.

Does this make me any less of a learner or technology leader?

At a recent conference, two of my colleagues attended. One had a tablet device in front of them the other a notebook and pen. The traditional notebook person commented that the tablet user spend their time surfing the internet and they perceived them as not paying attention. The iPad user commented that the traditional notebook user didn't even have an iPad to check things on or participate and perceived them as being not interested in what was being spoken about.

Who is right? 

Are students mature enough to say "I can't focus with my device in front of me, give me pen and paper?" or is this an outdated view of learning in a 21st Century? Are we skilling our students with the skills to make these decisions? Should we be?

There is increasing research appearing about how students can find it hard to focus in a multimedia environment. For example, reading on a single focus device is likely to result in a greater quality of recall.

There doesn't seem to be many long term studies being done in this area, but as educators what we are doing in our classrooms should be continually evaluated. So that we are meeting our learning goals. We shouldn't have to wait until the Naplan results are released to realise that our students can't concentrate within a paper based environment.