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Saturday
Apr192014

BFTP: Continuum of library change

A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post March 3, 2009. (I added a couple lines inspired by comments to the original post.)

How are the ways students are using libraries, especially in the secondary schools, changing?

Accessing print .......................................................................... Accessing electronic/multimedia

Filtered Internet .................................................................. Open Internet (with social media)

Solitary work.................................................................................................... Social work

Directed use............................................................................................. Independent use

Information consumer ............................................................................... Information producer

Academic research ........................................................................................ Personal research

Static needs, resources, tasks ............................................... Rapidly changing needs, resources, tasks

And how might those changes reflect on library facility design?

Study carrels ................................................................................................... Study rooms

Tables ..................................................................................................... Upholtered chairs

Computer labs ............................................................................................. Production labs

Reseach stations ....................................................................................... Wireless notebooks

Print shelving and storage .................................................................... Collaborative work spaces

Fixed spaces ................................................................................................ Flexible spaces

Pencil sharpeners ............................................................................ Charging stations

Ethernet ports ........................................................................................................ WiFi

Desktops ............................................................................................ Portable devices

 What are the changes of library use you see and how do our physical libraries need to change to meeting them?

Thursday
Apr172014

Is accuracy enough?

This is my route from a walk I took last weekend as mapped by MapMyWalk on my iPhone.

 

I am stunned by how accurate this map is. The little red bumps where the arrows point are where I strayed from my regular route - by about ten feet in each instance.

When I look at my house in GoogleMaps, the blinking blue dot is on the left when I am in the family room and on the right when in the bedroom. Somehow the technology, bouncing a signal from cell tower to satellite and back a few times, knows precisely where my phone - and by extension - I am.

Increasingly we have data on our students that can pinpoint their skills location as well. In reading, writing (or writing mechanics anyway), and math, we test our students using NWEA MAPS assessments - up to three times a year for some kids. Making sure labs are ready, students are entered into the tracking system, and training proctors are all part of the tech department's job - and we do it well and with a smile on our faces, being good team players.

But I have personal concerns. Since we have so much and hopefully such accurate data on these very basic skills, will we be content in assessing only what children will one day find on the ACT or SAT? The assessments that quantify how many "right answers" can be mustered? 

Angela Duckworth, among others, study and report on "grit" as a more accurate predictor of student success, than ACT/SAT scores. But can we say we value characteristics like grit (and creativity and innovation and problem-solving and critical-thinking and transliteracy and artistic/athletic talent and ...) when all we measure is readin', writin' and 'rithmatic?

The program that generated the map above also showed me my gains and losses of elevation, my speed in one mile increments, how far to the .01 of a mile the distance I traveled, and even how many calories I burned. And I have no reason to doubt those number were any less accurate than the path it showed I walked - including the pit stop. 

But the data did not show if the sky was blue, if I saw a rare bird, or if the visit I had with my neighbor was pleasant. They don't tell if the 2.89 miles I walked was a challenge for me or simply a slacker's stroll. The data don't predict if walking is something I do out of joy or compulsion. 

When I read of kindergartens dropping play time so they can spend more hours on "pre-literacy" activities, elementary schools eliminating recess to gain time for test prep, and secondary schools closing computer labs for weeks on end to accommodate online testing, I shudder. I want another educational environment for my grandchildren - and yours.

Thursday
Apr172014

Join a learning safari this fall

I am extremely excited to be a part of this learning adventure in Addis Ababa in September. Learning 2.0 conferences describe themselves as:

... not a static “read-only” conference with experts presenting to attendees. The intention is that participants are actively engaged and contributing to the learning that happens at the conference. The name also reveals that it is not technology or tools that is the focus, but learning and teaching. Learning 2.014 website

There is an amazing group of facilitators joining this conference, including my friends Jeff Utecht and Kim Cofino with whom I had the pleasure of working in Bangkok a few years ago. I am also very pleased to see many educators working in African schools leading "extended sessions" as well. 

Registration is going well already with participants from three continents. 

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This is will be my fifth trip to Africa - the first since the AISA conference in Nairobi in 2010. That conference, while more traditional in terms of keynotes, breakout sessions, etc, was absolutely fascinating. I've never encountered a more compassionate group of teachers, librarians, technologists, and administrators working under some very challenging conditions. 

I also used to the trip to do a little sightseeing - an 8 day hike up Kilimanjaro. If anyone is interested, I plan to extend my stay in Ethiopia a week after the conference to do some trekking again (less taxing than Kili). Let me know if you have an interest forming a group to see some history and do some day hiking.