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My 2.0 day and the response/rant about our cover argument

The one thing that I have seen over the years that hasn’t changed is that when students come into the library media center today….just like 40 years ago, they still want a friendly face, a helping hand, and the path of least resistance. I wonder where it all all be in another 10 years.
(Arthur Kevorkian, in an email to me and Doug Johnson)

I believe Arthur is absolutely right about those things that never change.  But his email also caused me to look back at my day yesterday and recognize how much my days really have changed.  And how much I can’t even imagine going back.

In addition to the smile and the hand–which I find I now offer both on- and offline–my days look so different than they did even three years ago. 

And had I the ability to transport the Joyce from three years ago into her school library of just yesterday, she would have been mightily confused by what business as usual looks like now. (Another reason for this reflection were the responses Doug Johnson received in his Blue Skunk blog to our SLJ piece: Things That Keep Us Up at Night.  More on that in a minute.)

First, my day:
Some things are constant.  I woke up and got dressed in my usual confused way, happy to find an outfit that didn’t quite match. (I work on creative mismatching each morning.) Then I ventured downstairs.

I checked our library Google Doc calendar to make sure I knew who was coming in during the day. 

Then I checked email. My Diigo groups come through again in my alerts. As usual, I had at least five amazing resources to immediately share with our teachers via email and at least ten more to add to a variety of wiki and PageFlake pathfinders during the course of the day. Because I was running a bit early, I got some of that done while watching the weather before I left for school.

Once I opened the library and greeted the early birds, I checked my Twitter network for news and mentions and to see if I needed to respond to anything critical.  Of course, I found more to add to my Pathfinders and a new search tool to add to my search tools page. I also discovered a few webinars I wanted to attend and posts I needed to read.

A math teacher stopped in before homeroom to learn more about mathy-type resources on Safari Montage, Discovery Education Streaming, and to explore our Streaming Video pathfinder.

I checked on the GoogleDocs script that was updated last night by students in the our Theater II class.  The class generously volunteered to help me (and actually star in) my K12Online keynote.  This collaborative process has been an incredible learning experience and my students are delighted that their performance, and the learning they share, will this time have global audience. Our film production kids are also beginning to jump onboard. They are waiting for the final script and will begin storyboarding the video. In fact, I just sent their teacher a new Google storyboarding template I discovered this morning on Twitter.   (Much more on this in a later post!)

Eighth grade social studies students visited to continue work on their wiki museums of world history.  I shared strategies for creating tables and introduced Glogster.edu as a tool to organize their pages and make them more interactive.  The students are using Wikispaces for Teachers to host their museums. they are searching for images and artifacts in our databases and on Creative Commons portals, and they are using NoodleBib to document and annotate their gallery exhibits. Based on their growing historical knowledge of the periods they are studying, they are beginning to compose letters written by historical figures and conducting You are There-type interviews.  We’re hoping to film some of their interviews using our Flip cameras and store them somewhere in the cloud–either on our library Flickr account or on our video Ning before embedding them in the wiki museums.

I checked in with three classes of our seniors who are making progress and the projects they are all maintaining and organizing in wikis. Last week, we introduced ways to embed media and RSS feeds into those research containers. Their wikis are now filled with (mostly) relevant feeds, podcasts, pdfs, and video. Because wikis make the process more transparent and interactive, we can easily monitor the students’ progress and avoid research disasters.

I began removing remnants of last year’s book (The Soloist) from our OneBookOneSpringfieldNing, and started to populate it with content relating the our upcoming discussions on The Glass Castle.  Casey, my assistant, is using PaperbackSwap to exchange extra underprocessed copies of The Soloist for needed new titles.

I checked in with another group of eighth graders creating Animoto trailers for their summer reads and yet another eighth grade class using VoiceThread to describe the ways medieval castles functioned. The teacher was having a problem because the last version of Adobe Flash player was not loaded on his laptops.  We are working to resolve that.

My last period senior volunteer, Caroline, completed our genre Wordles for Mystery and Romance, and began work on an Animoto video focusing on our school’s core values. We will post that video on our Virtual Library. Last week, Caroline helped me create our new HealthPageflake.

Our meeting relating to Middle States goals relied on a Google Doc again as a collaborative writing tool. And I planned the next Skype meeting of my AASL Technology Subcommittee using Doodle.

After dinner, the seminar in Second Life I was hoping to attend was postponed. I watched Glee instead.

That’s what my typical work day looks like.  Much of it was filled with energy and excitement and play and discovery and yes, a certain degree of joy.

And now let’s shift gears and return to the responses to Things That Keep Us Up at Night on Doug’s blog. 

Doug reprinted the comments of Beth, who likely represented the feelings of many. Beth points to the one-sidedness of our argument:

Of course, those of us who have PLNs are likely going to be moving along in the same mindset – we engage in conversations on twitter and elsewhere with people who believe, more or less, in social media. Again, we only hear one side of the argument.

Yes, there are people in our profession who resist change. This is true in all of education. But outside of our blogging-tweeting-2.0 professional circles are librarians who are concerned about things like basic internet access, aging collections, fixed scheduling and no paraprofessional support. In my district, our high schools often have over 3000 students with two librarians. Test scores dictate instruction. Money to travel to conferences no longer exists. Filtering reigns. In many cases, the librarians are advocating for the immediate issues at hand: Basic access to information. Flexible scheduling. Updated resources. They may face administrators who don’t support them, teachers with no time to collaborate, and few obvious opportunities to develop whatever a PLN is.

You say that there is no perfect library anymore. I agree. But there certainly seem to be many unacceptable ones in your view. I think we can all do better. We can all push for change. Maybe it is, instead of judging the person who does not tweet or have a webpage, taking an afternoon to sit with them and walk them through setting up a twitter feed or google site. Just because someone doesn’t incorporate tech doesn’t mean they are opposed to it. It is hard, as a professional in the world of schools, to admit you don’t know something or don’t understand it. I don’t think our profession makes this easy either. Sometimes one-on-one mentoring can help. There are all kinds of opportunities to transform our profession if we take time to listen. The tone of pieces like this, in my view, may do more to drive people out of the conversation than invite them in.

In the end, we need to know what is going on with everyone. What barriers do they face as information professionals: material, professional or otherwise? Many librarians are not given autonomy. We operate within a system that has many many problems that affect our practice. I think if we created opportunities for librarians to share these stories we might better understand why they do what they do. I think we still have to listen to the "yeah, buts" – but that can’t be the end of the conversation. We can’t dismiss them, but instead open a dialogue and try to strategize through it with everyone’s input. Then the transformation of the profession continues with more buy in than we have now, we hope.

Our brand really can’t be social media. It can’t be databases. It can’t be 2.0. Not only will these things fade away, they exclude large parts of our profession from participation. I’d rather adopt our brand as "cultivating curiosity." That will stand the test of time. And it’s something we can all gather around the table and talk about pushing toward.

Doug responded:

So, excoriate or sympathize with our colleagues who do not push the professional envelope? Were Joyce and I too harsh, too out of touch with the "real" world of libraries? (Do remember Joyce is a practicing library media specialist and I am practicing library/technology director.) Do we owe an apology to those who struggle in silence? How can we give a voice to those who choose not to network?

Interesting comments, Beth, and I am guessing you speak for more folks than you realize. Thank you for writing.

But would you write the same eloqent defense of dentists who continue to practice their craft as though it were 1975?

And my response?

I get it.  I get the challenges. I’ve fixed or left situations where I couldn’t work or contribute or grow.  (In this economy fixing seems to be a wiser approach than leaving.)  I have never walked into a position where things worked. I made the change I wanted to see and sometimes it was a very challenging effort. 

But in my experience of 33 years I’ve learned that you either stare at barriers or you work towards removing them.  You focus on the obstacles or the opportunities.

And I see many of these new free tools as the very solutions we’ve been waiting for–as ways to approach issues of equity, and aging collections, streamlining procedures, and limited budgets for professional development. 

And as for opportunities for librarians to share these stories, there has been no better time.  Join a Ning, start a blog, comment on someone elses, SHARE!

Am I pointing fingers? Yes.

And I don’t want to apologize.  And I want my colleagues to lead, not complain.

Should everyone drink the Twitter Kool-Aid?  Do our choices have to have the brand names Twitter or Web 2.0?

No.  But my personal feeling is that everyone should find some way, some very immediate and real-time way, to network. Don’t wait for the professional journal to be published or the workshop to be organized and published.  Build a PLN today.  It will change everything.  Choose it right.  Learn to leverage it and it will absolutely improve your practice.

Things are really happening fast.  In my mind, librarians who opt out of new information technologies and new ways to tell stories, opt out of their jobs and opt out of their responsibilities to learners.  It may not be Twitter tomorrow, but it is likely to be something even better.

This 2.0 stuff is not part of some educational bandwagon that will be replaced by another bandwagon next year.

These improvements in the information and communications landscapes reach way beyond our little K12 worlds and change the way the world does business.  We cannot ignore them. Our world is driven by the transfer and sharing of information.

What about those who cannot network?

Face it, you may not be able to clock these hours. You may have to do your learning and planning at home on your own time. There are so many webinars and online conferences and blogs and feeds to help you learn. (I’ll do a post on that subject very soon!) 

If you are going to ever make the case for these tools as an intellectual freedom issue, you must know your way around them yourself first.

Can everyone be a first adopter?

No.

So pick just a few things to learn this semester.  If I had to create a short list, I’d learn about widgets and RSS feeds for research and professional development, and I’d be using wikis and GoogleDocs as collaboration and publishing tools.  (Although I am sure there are at least 100 different approaches to where to start.)

Sorry.  I won’t apologize for believing that this shift is profound and universal and that our response is urgent.  I won’t apologize for believing that librarians can and should lead.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

Comments

  1. denise says:

    I think some of you all totally missed Beth’s and Mary’s point. No one asked anyone to apologize for using technology. The point is, how can we reframe the discussion to INCLUDE more people rather than disparaging those who are currently excluded for whatever reason.

    The point is not you’re doing badly because you’re doing a lot. The point is how can you help others do as much as you?

    The point is not “look at me, I’m awesome.” The point is how can you help all members of the profession to be awesome?

    If we are truly in education for the sake of children, we are not doing it only for the sake of our OWN children – we hope to impact all children. And we do that by not saying “I’m doing it right and you aren’t so get out.” We do it by asking “How can I help?”

  2. Sue says:

    In some places around the world, we are facing difficult times. In a school board where approximately 90% of the Teacher-Librarians have been deleted over the years, I know I feel the pressure of performing. Don’t get me wrong – I love what I do (or else I would not be doing it) but I also see the reality that I have to prove that my position is important in order to survive as a Librarian.

    That being said, I think learning about technology can be daunting, especially to those who are already stressed for extraneous reasons (such as the ones I’ve previously mentioned and others that I’m sure others are aware of) or those who are not naturally technologically inclined.

    I’m lucky that I am not one of those people – I was very fortunate that my path started off teaching technology (in the days before Web 2.0) before I moved in to the Library. I absolutely love integrating technology into my work with students and staff.

    Though I am tech-inclined, however, I do find a bit daunting when I look at what others are doing as many of those skills and applications I have yet to master. Like Erica, I am taking “baby steps” each month to master something new.

    I was talking about technology with an older teacher and she said she felt overwhelemed. I told her that I put my blinkers on and looked at no more than 3 new applications at a time, worked with them until I felt confident in my use of them, then proceeded to take on another three. I think taking those smaller steps are key to mastering things in the big picture.

    I do think that tackling technology allows us, as librarians (and teachers) to be better equipped to help our students learn in this ever-changing world. I think it also helps us to act as a conduit between other teachers, who may need assistance with this learning curve, develop news means of working with their students. I also think it helps to re-insert ourselves in the forefront as a valuable asset to our school community. I must admit I was thrilled when I got an email this weekend from one of the school administrators, asking me if I could teach her how to make a form using Google Docs because I know it means that she been listening to the things I have been doing and that she sees me as an asset to help her accomplish her own goals.

    I hope my post does not seem like a ramble. Like everyone else who is a stakeholder in this discussion, I think there are a number of different elements to be addressed. I think it is a deep and complex issue and I would love if we could develop a forum in which we could look at this issue.

  3. Karen Kliegman says:

    Beth,
    1. Most of the 2.0 tools do NOT require anything more than a computer with Internet access; in fact, the purpose of most of these tools is to create an even playing field, where users do NOT have to invest in expensive software (such as word processing, photo editing, telephone accounts; web hosting, etc).
    2. The hardware required is a computer. Are there still schools without at least a few computers in the year 2009? Are there still librarians who do not have access to a computer to invest their own time in learning and staying current and informed about what is happening in our profession?
    3. To bring up “electricity” as a roadblock to learning is ridiculous. No further comment required.
    4. Support: never in our profession has there been more ideal time for getting support from your peers.
    5. “Time to implement” – OK, where do I begin… we have to make time to implement, no one is going to hand it to us, i.e., “OK today you don’t have to teach so you can implement a new learning tool.” Ask Joyce, ask Cathy, ask Buffy, ask thousands of us, and we will tell you that we made the time, that we put in the time, that it was at 5 in the morning or at midnight, or all day Saturday, or whatever, we MADE THE TIME – we made the time to try something new, to reach out to others for help, to share what we learned, to network with experts and learners, to read and to write.

    I agree that money has dried up for going to conferences for almost all of us. But because of Web 2.0, there are many, many FREE online webinars given by leaders in the field – for example, PBS Teachers® and Classroom 2.0. Most leaders in our field share their presentations online, in wikis, in nings, etc., so really, let’s stop with the excuses! If you want to learn, if you want to grow, there is nothing to stop you but yourself.

    The storycorps idea bothers me. Why do we need another platform for whining and complaining? Let’s get with it, people. Put in the time and effort to stay relevant. Start slow, take baby steps, but get in the mix. Start by reading Joyce’s blog, join the Teacher-Librarian Ning, read our prof. journals – all of these resources will get you started on your journey to being a 21st C librarian.

  4. Karen Kliegman says:

    One more thing…The comment, And we do that by not saying “I’m doing it right and you aren’t so get out.” We do it by asking “How can I help?”, bothers me as well.

    I repeat, never in our profession has there been more help available. Never, to my knowledge, has there been more of us willing to help, to share, to put everything we know out there on the web for others. This is NOT AT ALL about “Look at me…” (and trust me, I despise ”Look at me” type people), it is about “get on the bus” and here is the road map that I want to share with you to guide you on your trip.

  5. denise says:

    These statements: “The storycorps idea bothers me. Why do we need another platform for whining and complaining?”

    and

    “This is NOT AT ALL about “Look at me…” (and trust me, I despise ”Look at me” type people), it is about “get on the bus” and here is the road map that I want to share with you to guide you on your trip.”

    bother me. My belief is that listening to people is not giving them a platform for whining. It’s learning to understand them better so we can help them. Saying “get on the bus” and “here is the road map” implies that everyone is taking the same trip. There are just as many differences in librarians as they are individual people (b/c in fact librarians are people first).

    Each of us are in a different place professionally and for different reasons. Even though the destination may be the same, the trip toward it will be different for each. There is no universal map as there is no universal journey.

    Listening to their voices and truly finding out “where people are,” can help us guide people to new places.

  6. Anne V says:

    It’s fun to see my son get braver and more experimental as he works in Joyce’s library ;-) I’m working with a brand-sparkling-new librarian this year and it’s so much fun to sit with her for a few minutes at a time and see how she is, what she’s working on, and how I can help out. Wikis, ThinkQuest, book-talks and research – it’s such a pleasure to work with her!

  7. Connie Williams says:

    There are many free online 2.0 tutorials- chack out those put out by the California School Library Association 2.0 Team [csla.net].
    The beauty of 2.0 stuff is that it can be done at home, in jammies, at midnight or noon. It’s all about creating…and using the new tools that allow us to create beyond our wildest dreams – at school and at home. Whether we like it or not, our students live in a different world from that in which we grew up. We have to be the leaders for their sake. They still need guidance, they need instruction and they need our leadership.

  8. Jackie Siminitus says:

    Wow, I’d love to see the Wall Street Journal carry Joyce’s 2.0 Day, followed by a definition of what a 21st Century Library Program looks like and research on how strong school libraries increase student achievement. Most principals, parents, and policymakers do not really know what a 21st Century library looks like or should look like. We need to define it, and when we do, it would be a good idea for teacher librarians to already know and showcase their web 2.0 library and curriculum connections.

    Let’s get real. It is a rare school or district that will call for an immediate infusion of web 2.0 professional development for all teachers. It is up to each individual to make it a priority. Three years ago, when the Learning 2.0 (23 Things) tutorials were introduced, I jumped at the opportunity and spent several weekends on the discovery learning adventure. Lots of California school librarians and staff worked through School Library Learning 2.0 over the summer, then started teaching Classroom Learning 2.0 to teachers. Many librarians still have the tutorial on their “to-do” lists — there is no time like the present!

  9. Judi Moreillon says:

    Joyce, Doug, and All,

    This is the note I posted to Sunday’s announcement for LS 5443: Librarians as Instructional Partners, the course I am teaching this semester at Texas Woman’s University. Students are using Web 2.0 tools to create persuasive presentations related to using research models or inquiry processes in classroom-library collaborative lessons:

    “Integrating and modeling the use of Web 2.0 tech tools is essential. Remember: Our goal is to become comfortable with these tools so we can lead students and teachers in using them for instructional purposes—when they are the best tool to meet the instructional objectives.”

    In the spirit of sharing what steals my sleep (related to school librarianship), these are the fears that keep me up at night:

    1. There are many teacher-librarians who are using Web 2.0 tools who do not effectively integrate these tools into classroom-library collaborative lessons because they haven’t considered when these tools are appropriate to meeting the learning objectives.

    2. There are many conversations about Web 2.0 tools that do not mention the word “instruction.” As educators, we must remember that all tools used in schools need to be considered in relationship to student learning outcomes.

    3. Teacher-librarians’ leadership in schools evolves from first addressing the perceived needs of administrators and colleagues.

    4. Would-be change agents who run roughshod over the culture of the learning organization in which they serve will not succeed at reaching their ideals, no matter how noble or righteous. There is no “one-size-fits-all” for change agentry.

    5. Every year, there are fewer and fewer state-certified, library science-educated school librarians serving in our nations schools.

    The need to stem the erosion of our actual existence is the number one concern that keeps me awake in the night. Whether or not you use Web 2.0 tools in your teaching or for your own professional development, a site council or unenlightened administrators or legislators or just plain hitting the budget wall can mean the end of a school library program in a school, district, or even an entire state.

    “Literacy is not just about reading and writing; it is about respect, opportunity, and development.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

    More importantly that posting a daily tweet or reading the many posted by others, I want to make a commitment to doing something concrete every day to preserve our profession. Then, I will be able to sleep at night…

    Sincerely,
    Judi

  10. 55nk3 says:

    What I am seeing as I return to a school library setting is eye-opening. My older teachers are resistant to learning technology for the reason stated above that it’s simply overwhelming. Many shut down when I send them an email with additional resources. My students skills vary from learning control commands and identifying what is a login name to click, click, click types. Even knowing what I know about the internet and tools available, I didn’t follow some of Joyce’s 2.0 day which opened my eyes as to how my teachers must feel. However, my day is spent helping with book choice selections for seven hundred students, no collaboration with teachers, no collaboration with other librarians, no collaboration with administrators. Where is the balance when there is no clerk or additional help? Extra personal time is spent shelving and doing administrative work. I have 33 computers available in my library yet I feel my hands are tied. I feel that each and every day I have helped hundreds of students go home with a book they will embrace and enjoy and I feel accomplished, but prehistoric.

  11. Kim says:

    There are some really amazing comments here to digest! But honestly, if we as a profession are not taking the time to learn or even become aware of what is happening around us, how important are we? Granted we can’t possibly know everything, but who among us does not feel a tad bit nervous every spring? Every one of us who can get an administrator, board member, community member, or student to notice what we can do for them benefits all of us. We have to be our own advocates. Unfortunately, there are not many out there who will do that for us.

  12. Jeremy Mellon says:

    As a former Springfield Township High School student and a current teacher I am very glad I stumbled across your blog. I am just at the beginning of learning & using all of these web 2.0 tools. In our grad class at Penn State, Dr. Fritz has told me that you are one of the experts in this area so I certainly look forward to reading your blog post and learning as much as I can from you. We have been learning, studying, and using ning, wiki spaces, twitter, blogs, diigo and I am beginning to really understand how all of these (if tied together) can really help me in my professional online life. I look forward to reading your post and learning as much as I can!

  13. joycevalenza says:

    In what year did you graduate, Jeremy? So nice to meet you! Welcome aboard.

  14. Camilla Elliott says:

    I echo Kim’s comments above and without knowledge of the politics simply say – stay strong Joyce and the many colleagues who share your vision. This is about vision. It is about taking the time to reflect and see the library service through the eyes of the school learning community. We are no longer the only option and we believe we know our potential value.

    Do we still see ourselves as the significant educators or have we joined the ranks of the learners with a preparedness to share the learning and the teaching with the students who constitute approx 95% of our school population? Joyce’s description of her day is an example of co-learning, getting things done, learning with the students.

    We will each have an individual response to our own role, so let’s critically examine it’s relevance to every teacher and student in the school. At a time when the very institution of ‘schooling’ is being questioned and reinvented, school libraries need to critically examine the use of every minute of their day. The web resources now available have changed our jobs dramatically or should have and the support available is abundant. Australia has a reputation for cutting down tall poppies. Unfortunately I can see we don’t have it on our own!

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