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Top ten tech trends (expanded)

A week ago I shared ten digital tech trends within the confines of a word count.  Here’s an expanded version with all the links and details.

For a profession situated at the intersection of metaliteracy, education and emerging technologies, forecasting is kind of exciting.

For a profession threatened by severe cuts in educational spending and misunderstood missions, crystal ball scanning is murky business.

Behind the specific trends, this year, are a few opportunities and concerns at the ecosystem level. In keeping with a year in which grit seemed to be a signature value, ALA’s Barbara Stripling’s Declaration on the Right to Libraries newly empowers advocacy for the children we serve. We see new focus on STE(A)M learning and coding.

The SLJ Summit panel Storytelling in Transition demonstrated the evolution of the book in new and glorious formats. We are learning more about the power of sophisticated games to challenge and motivate learners. Free augmented reality applications, like Aurasma. offer new potential for interaction using sound, video, graphics, and GPS. And Google Drive, Apps, and Hangouts have made collaboration and connection like water for many of our schools.

While our digital lives present enormous opportunities for sharing and growing, we recognize the need for boundaries. The national inBloom project database, funded by the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, will chart public school students’ academic progress from kindergarten through high school and store huge amounts of confidential data. Revelations about NSA surveillance, big data collected online by the Affordable Care Act, Topsy’s demonstration of Twitter’s searchability, Google’s shared endorsements, and Facebook’s changing privacy settings bring into question how much personal information citizens (especially young citizens) should reveal in their networked lives.

The Common Core forces us to rethink our contribution to curriculum, our commitment to improving research, writing and communication skills, connecting nonfiction reading, increasing rigor. It also presents us with issues to address–a test-focused culture and budgets, narrowed programs and desktops reserved for PARCC testing.

As a librarian, you had to really work at feeling isolated this past year with TL Virtual Café, TL Chat (live Twitter chat),TL News Night!, Library 2.013,’s webinars and live chats and SLJ’sBe the Change webinar series connecting us. Google+ Hangouts allows us to easily connect our libraries and classes and clubs with authors and experts and with other libraries and classes to model what it looks like to be connected learners.

I continue to be undaunted by obstacles and inspired by opportunities and connections.

Here’s a look at some of the overlapping trends that crossed our TL radar over the past year.

1. One-to-one tablet and laptop deployments and BYOD:

More and more schools are deploying more and more tablet options, including iPads. Google’s Chromebook laptop, loaded with Google Apps, became a popular, portable option.  Increasingly, librarians are called upon to manage and distribute devices, roll out instruction and professional development, and thoughtfully select apps for learning and creating. As we prepare for million dollar rollouts, librarians should have a role in guiding conversations that prepare educators to avoid situations like the LAUSD’s recent hacked roll-out, taking into account how kids realistically interact with personal devices.

We need to lead in developing collection of apps for learners and teachers. Among the new tools for selecting apps are Common Sense Media’s Graphite and AASL’s new Best Apps for Teaching and Learning.

Districts need to prepare for million dollar distributions by understanding how kids are going to use them. Audrey Watters, in her Atlantic post, noted that the real issue was not poor planning and preparation, but a profound lack of vision about how students themselves could use—want to use—these new technologies to live and to learn at their fullest potential.

2. Collection rethink: Every day I am more convinced that collection is less what you buy and own, and more what you use and make discoverable to the learners and teachers you know and serve. Whether you prefer LibGuides, Livebinders, Symbaloo, Google Sites, or your OPAC as your parking lot for curating collection, teachers and learners should be able get to what you choose to curate whether or not those items have price tags.  We have the opportunity to model the building of Personal Learning Environments. We have the opportunity to curate a growing wealth of Open Educational Resources (OER), apps, tools, digital readings, games, etc. Digital Libraries to School Libraries’ Web2MARC tool, allows us to leverage our expensive library software by making those OPACs more gracious hosts of free digital content.  My wish for 2014 is for the OER portals to make it easier for libraries to grab nice big packages of high-quality subject- or grade-oriented records for local use.

3. Curation Tools: For librarians, digital curation is an entrepreneurial opportunity, one you may not have learned about in library school. Curation ought to be a critical activity for TLs in the coming years.  Whether it’s gathering nonfiction readings to support the Common Core or initiating a schoolwide portfolio system for student work, be involved. Do not allow an administrator to outsource these ultimate library opportunities.

I’ve been a big fan of LibGuides as a stable parking lot for my scaling access to instruction, databases, OER, and archives of student work. A recent study, largely of academic libraries found the rate of LibGuide growth astoundingSymbaloo and Pinterest seem to be the free faves of many colleagues. Symbaloo offers kids a safe Launchpad for personalized learning.  An August NeverEndingSearch post featured how Alida Hanson uses Pinterest to promote new titles.  For many of us, Pinterest has become a go-to rabbit hole for professional inspiration.

3.5 Learning playlists: A newish subgenre of curation tools–the playlist–allows us to carefully select, annotate, sequence and collaborate on all types of media resources for learning—formal and informal. These playlists support flipped and blended instruction and are easily embedded in learning management systems, Google Sites, Moodles, etc. Check out:  MentorMob, Blendspace (formerly Edcanvas), and, and Tildee.  I’ve recently discovered Gibbon and I believe Flipboard Editor See how Michelle Luhtala is adopting the tool for her Junior Research Instruction.

4. Flipping strategies: This past year I’ve been flipping our library and helping teachers make use of emerging screencasting and playlist tools.  I’ve aimed to be embedded in the classrooms of flipping teachers. Screencasting tools abound, making it easy to move the lecture part of learning to home while maximizing our face-to-face time for interactive activities.

New platforms for K12 are emerging with engaging features like badges and analytics..  Among them are Haiku Learning, Instructure Canvas, Schoology, Sophia, Edmodo, and MyBigCampus. Tools like Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker turn video into interactive, hyperlinked conversations.   And I’ve just discovered Flipgrid, and it looks like a game changer for blended video discussion and reflection.

5. MOOCs: When I wrote about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) last year, we saw their potential impact on the Academy and we were just beginning to see their applications for K12. This year, the education community debated their effectiveness and the Gates Foundation announced the MOOC Research Hub to explore the potential of MOOCs to extend access to postsecondary credentials through more personalized, more affordable pathways. MOOCs took hold as a serious professional development strategy.  Whether you took them for credit or scanned them casually, MOOCs were available for librarians and educators.  Among the choices were:

Michael Stephens and Kyle JonesHyperlinked Library MOOC

Dave Lankes’ New Librarianship Masterclass MOOC

Digital Learning Transition (DLT) MOOC-Ed.

Metaliteracy MOOC (from SUNY Innovative Information Technology)

Check out NC State’s Friday Institute report on MOOC-Ed: Massive Open Online Courses for Educators

6. Badges for independent learning

Though debated as perhaps an unnecessary extrinsic in the pursuit of interest-driven learning, information-rich, digital badges have become more prevalent. Badges validate the importance of learning beyond classroom hours with gamified incentives. The conversation, in large part is hosted on HASTAC’s Badges for Lifelong Learning site. Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla’s OpenBadges presents a free standard and system for creating, issuing and verifying digital badges. The BadgeOS WordPress plugin allows users to complete tasks, demonstrate achievement, and earn badges. The Khan Academy offers a badge system. This year badges documented evidence of professional learning as well as learning and achievement by kids.  Librarian, Laura Fleming created the local badge system, Worlds of Learning @ New Milford High School to recognize and document professional development achievements.  The National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) Learning Center offers activity and leadership badges. This fall, Connected Educators Month offered badges for nominated colleagues and for participation in the month-long event.

7. Discovery services: Universities have been using them for some time. This year I introduced EBSCO’s Discovery Service, a more Google-like approach, at the high school. My goal was to allow students to quickly search our full collection across its multiple silos and brands—including a significant chunk of Gale and ProQuest content, maximizing use of all digital content—ebooks, journal articles, media and more–across the brands. I love for our students to see the big picture, but because result lists are huge, students are beginning to recognize the need to cleverly use filters, descriptors and why they should artfully construct a query.  Among the Discovery options:

8. Mobilizing: . The March 2013 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, Teens and Technology, found that “smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and that one in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who use their smaller devices as a computer.” There is no reason NOT to create a mobile app/site to make your services, instruction, and resources available to your students, teachers and parents wherever and whenever they choose to use the library.

Even if you do not choose to put your whole library in your learners’ pockets, you may want to offer them free apps created by vendors, like the Gale Access My Library or the one-password MackinVia app.

Try creating an app that links users to perhaps your ten most popular links.  Platform options include using mobile-friendly WordPress plugins like WP Mobile Detector, WordPress Mobile Pack, or MobilePress or, if you are a subscriber, LibGuides offers an add-on that facilitates the creation of a mobile-friendly version of your site.

9. Flexible learning environments/Makerspaces You don’t need a 3-D printer to host a space for making. You do need some open space and flexible, portable, tech-friendly furniture (with charging stations and syncing ports) to encourage easy reconfiguration of space for: reading, collaborating, creating, performing, debating, engaging in studio work, and project-based learning. Interest-driven makerspaces in libraries now support sewing and design, gardening, knitting, crafts, and more STEAM-oriented activities, like coding using MIT’s Scratch, or electronics and robotics using hands-on STEAM type resources like Arduino, Squishy Circuits and Brushbots, and invention tools like MaKey MaKey, Make Magazine inspire creative, invention and personalized learning.  For more inspiration, check out an array of Pinterest Boards.

10. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): On July 1, new FTC rules went into effect adding protection to the law that was put into effect way back in 2000.  The more explicit controls on personal information collected from children under 13 resulted from new concerns over the growing prevalence of mobile technologies, geo-location technologies, online gaming, photo and video sharing, and social media.  Companies with programs aimed at children must now ensure that they will not collect personal information from a child without parental consent.  Librarians who work with children under the age of 13 should seek COPPA compliant platforms and apps.

11. Social Reading:  People of all ages are talking about books on platforms of all sorts. Authors and their readers engage in conversations through hashtags. The free app Subtext allows groups of readers to exchange ideas inside the pages of digital texts.

Using Google Books: My Library, anyone can label, review, rate, and full-text search, a customized selection of books.

Librarians connect readers in virtual bookclubs. For adults and teens, portals like GoodReads, aNobii, LibraryThing and Shelfari connect individuals, book clubs and classes as readers and foster the crowdsourcing and tagging of descriptive content. My teens take the GoodReads and the YALSA Teen Book Finder apps to our shelves as a readers’ advisory tool.

Our OPACs have grown increasingly social, allowing for the creation of lists, and for friending, commenting, and recommending, and bookmarking and annotating our ebooks.

This year, the COPPA-compliant Biblionasium launched, allowing the under-13 set a community for creating virtual shelves and wish lists, finding and sharing reviews, ratings, and recommendations and for earning badges.

An interesting side story is the tracking of social reading to generate big data and provide intelligence.  David Streitfeld’s recent New York Times story, As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You, discusses the potential for use of consumer analytics that would allow writers and publishers to peer into millions of readers’ habits and minds.  How might this data collection impact literary creativity?  How might it exploit/compromise the privacy of digital readers?

12. Augmented Reality Move over QR codes, AR is taking hold in K12 libraries.  When a student holds a smart phone or tablet up to an image it has the potential to come alive with sounds, video, animations, and other interactive elements.   Some of the AR options are: Aurasma, Layar, colAR, and DAQRI.

13. Google Tools for collaboration:  I don’t remember when it happened, but sometime within the past couple of years, Google Drive easily became the center of my digital life.  I don’t worry about platform anymore.  I don’t worry about what lives where.  And I don’t want to worry about whether or not this is a problem.

At school, it’s like water.  When I watch students attack a project, I watch them automatically take notes collaboratively, open and edit documents and presentations together, and organize all those docs into neat folders. Teachers and librarians Googlize their calendars, build and share lessons and rubrics, use Forms for data collection, reflections, assessments and exit tickets.

Back in October, I shared how exciting it is to easily add voice to editing and collaborating on docs with Kaizena.  Right now I cannot even imagine teaching, collaborating, and connecting classrooms without Google+ Hangouts.

14 Inequity: I am profoundly aware and deeply saddened that I write about trends that affect a certain privileged segment of young people. Increasingly schools will not know what good looks like. Increasingly, children will grow up without school library programs, without the influence of a teacher librarian who will introduce them to these resources and how to thoughtfully leverage the emerging information and communication tools of their own time for success as citizens and full participants.  Will we make 2014 the year we wake up our communities to this growing divide?



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


  1. Thanks for the article, Joyce. We think we can help with the selecting apps challenge that many teachers and parents (and librarians!) are encountering as BYOD and tablet implementations increase. Please check us out at for objective, science-based and unbiased reviews of PreK-12 mobile apps!

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