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Just released: Horizon Report K12 (and how we’re leading these changes!)

As school leaders, you’ll want to dig into the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K-12 Edition.

The annual K12 Horizon Report regularly identifies and profiles six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in educational technology likely to impact teaching and learning.

This year, especially, you will find many opportunities for connections to our own mission and practice. But while this year’s K12 report practically screams school libraries to me, it does so rather quietly in PDF.

This chart from page 9 presents, in summary, the 18 topics selected by the report’s expert panel.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.22.15 PM

Let’s take a look at the 10 highlights–big picture themes of educational change–the report identifies in its Executive Summary. And, how about we examine some easy evidence of librarians leading change in these directions?

On my desk are stacks of recent issues of the journals of our profession that address nearly all of those big-picture themes.

But we needn’t go much further than a scan of the work and thinking of the practitioners and LIS educators who regularly contribute to AASL’s Knowledge Quest blog. Their posts document how school librarians exemplify these themes of educational change on a daily basis.

1. Advancing progressive learning approaches requires cultural transformation. Schools must be structured to promote the exchange of fresh ideas and identify successful models with a lens toward sustainability — especially in light of inevitable leadership changes.

Mark Dzula addresses Library as Incubator and his conviction that

Libraries fulfill their promise when they feed curiosity, nurture passion, and encourage experimentation. In this way, school libraries can serve as natural incubators for innovative programs, thus extending their institutions’ capabilities.

Check out the Professional Development category for many more leadership ideas, including Sedley Abercrombie’s School Libraries and their Influence on School Culture

2. Learners are creators. The advent of makerspaces, classroom configurations that enable active learning, and the inclusion of coding and robotics are providing students with ample opportunities to create and experiment in ways that spur complex thinking. Students are already designing their own solutions to real-world challenges.

On page 41, the Horizon Report looks to the Dawson Library at St. Columba Anglican School in Australia, which is

home to the continent’s first permanent makerspace in the K–12 sector. The space is dynamic and constantly updated; students are exposed to the latest technologies as they emerge, learning to use Oculus Rift, Goldieblox, Alienware computers, and more. Dawson Library also melds the physical and digital realms with virtual spaces that enable students to connect and collaborate with peers from other schools.

And, among her many other posts, check out Diana Rendina’s How to Build a Maker Culture in Your Library. Also, browse the many other student-as-creator themed posts in the Makerspace/Learning Commons category.

3. Inter- and multidisciplinary learning breaks down silos. School curricula are increasingly making clear connections between subjects like science and humanities, and engineering and art, demonstrating to students that a well-rounded perspective and skill set are vital to real-world success.

School librarians always make connections with a big-picture lens across curricula and so much of that is implied in the KQ posts. Tom Bober examines the power of Pairing Picture Books with Primary Sources, using photographer Dorothea Lange’s images to inspire historical inquiry. In Monday Means Leadership: Supporting Electives and Specialists, Deanna Harris shares that some of the best teaching she can remember involved partnerships with her arts teachers:

integrating research, inquiry and critique writing with dance classes; creating and implementing interdisciplinary lessons with visual arts and language arts classes; researching and creating audio projects with music classes.

4. The widespread use of technology does not translate into equal learner achievement. Technology is an enabler but does not alone compensate for gaps in student engagement and performance attributable to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender.

Daniella Smith writes about Equity, Access, and Individualization: 16 Ideas. She introduces an extremely helpful strategies chart with a statement that clearly resonates commitment to core library values:

While the schools we serve may reside in districts representing various socio-economical levels, equity and access continue to be a defining factor in the education of our youth. We are familiar with individualizing learning, ensuring equity, and providing access to information. As society changes, different situations arise that cause us to redefine the meaning of equity and to think of creative ways to safeguard access.

5. Continuously measuring learning is essential to better understanding learners’ needs. Analytics technologies are providing teachers, schools, and districts with both individual and holistic views of student learning, informing strategies for serving at-risk and gifted populations.

Elizabeth Burns addresses analytics in Articulating an Impact on Student Learning and suggest librarians measure the impact our programs have on student learning throughout the school and the curriculum.

6. Fluency in the digital realm is more than just understanding how to use technology. Learning must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others.

Of course, we are about fluencies and literacies of all flavors, across devices and platforms and that dedication is prevalent across KQ posts. Check out posts widely spread across the topics, but especially in the areas related to Collection Development and Student Engagement/Teaching Models.

7. Authentic learning is not a trend — it is a necessity. Hands-on experiences that enable students to learn by doing cultivate self-awareness and self-reliance while piquing curiosity. Virtual reality and makerspaces are just two vehicles for stimulating these immersive opportunities.

We’ve been about authentic learning as long as I’ve been around libraries. Check out Ashley Cooksey’s Just Let the Kids Do It. Maureen Schlosser gathered a list of Citizen Scientists: Resources to Find the Perfect Project.

8. There is no replacement for good teaching — the role is just evolving. No matter how useful and pervasive technology is, students will always need guides, mentors, and coaches to help them navigate projects, generate meaning, and develop lifelong learning habits. School cultures must encourage, reward, and scale effective teaching practices.

Mark Dzula offers a thoughtful piece on the social dimensions of learning with School Libraries as Space for Situated Learning. Check out the wide variety of teaching strategies addressed in the Student Engagement/Teaching Models category as well as the involvement of librarians in transforming teaching in the Professional Development area.

9. Schools are prioritizing computational thinking in the curriculum. Developing skills that enable learners to use computers to gather data, break it down into smaller parts, and analyze patterns will be an increasing necessity to succeed in our digital world. While coding is one aspect of this idea, even those not pursuing computer science jobs will need these skills to work with their future colleagues.

Check out Daniella Smith’s Beginner Tips for Coding with Students as well as many other posts in the STEM/STEAM Category as well as ALA’s Google sponsored Ready2Code initiative.

10. Learning spaces must reflect new approaches in education. The pervasiveness of active learning pedagogies is requiring a shift in how learning environments are being designed. Emerging technologies such as making, mixed reality, and the Internet of Things are requiring more flexible and connected plans.

In A Peek into the Future School Library, Hannah Byrd Little considers new directions for her space and collection. Becca Munson describes the excitement students experience as they Explore the World with Google Expeditions.  For more, check out the KQ Blog’s Technology Topic.

While page 18 of the Horizon Report acknowledges libraries are leading in the area of new approaches to learning, I take exception to the phrase least utilized, as well as the use of the word purging:

New pedagogies that leverage technology are impacting the design of learning spaces. Blended learning includes a variety of activities such as small-group work, hands-on activities, and individual work on computing devices. . . School libraries are also at the nexus for rethinking learning spaces because they are the largest yet often least-utilized spaces. Experiential learning through robotics, 3D printing, and virtual reality often occurs in the library media centers, requiring the purging of some reference items to create more room for these activities.

When the Horizon Report comes up in your faculty meetings this fall (or when you bring it up), consider sharing the ways your practice already addresses the identified themes and trends and think about how you might amplify and accelerate your impact in leading a positive response to what’s coming down the road.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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