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EdTech Update





Services for the slow moving

What we need is not more and swifter express lanes, but more dedicated Extremely Slow Lines. These would be lines for people who create massive bottlenecks because … they’re not prepared when their turn comes or they’re just not in a hurry like the rest of us.

Many people calibrate their daily routines so they can avoid the line at the bank, the queue at the restaurant or the scrum at the doctor’s office. Most of us still wind up stacked in a holding pattern, fuming in lines that move … too … slowly.

The experienced line judge scans for potential dawdlers. That includes people fumbling with their wallets, squinting as if they had just emerged from a decade or two of hibernation. Millennials glued to their smartphones should cull themselves into those slow lines because they’re distracted. Shoppers who write personal checks for merchandise or groceries — 1987 calling! — belong in the Extremely Slow Line.

If the members of the SloMo Brigade were herded into a line where they could take their time, dither, daydream, fish for checks or cash, or jabber on their smartphones, then everyone else would be free to move briskly through whatever lines remained with a minimum of waiting. FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

How many kids are in ourclassrooms feeling stuck in the slow line?

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Revisiting the non-ebook plan

While I believe the verdict is still out on whether reading in print or on an electronic device impacts comprehension, what seems to be an emerging consensus is that reading snippets, shorter works, and lighter fare works just fine on a screen; longer works that require more focus and study are better accessed via print. Naomi Barron makes this case in two guest posts for The Digital Reader blog: What happens when you try to read Moby Dick on your smartphone?,  July 20, 2016 and Do Students Lose Depth in Digital Reading?, July 22, 2016.

Barron's findings seem to validate the digital conversion "plan" I've been espousing for quite a few years for the disticts in which I've worked.

The E-Book Non-Plan (October 2010) suggested schools and libraries start the digital conversion with works that readers engage with for short periods of time - reference materials and non-fiction used primarily for research. But I was less certain about...

... longer narrative works – fiction, biographies, and popular non-fiction.  This kind of “e-book” is truly a technology in churn. As a public employee/educator I don’t want to buy a technology that makes choosing BetaMax look brilliant by comparison.

The error, as I see it, is that we look at "the book" as a single experience when we engage with books in many different ways. Especially length of access. The plan that grew from this deliberate selection of book "types" looks like this:

  • Build “out” the e-resources from reference, books used for research, anthologies, easy readers, etc.
  • Purchase only device “agnostic” and multi-user books
  • Support these programs: ELL, Reading intervention (RtI, differentiation), Materials for CMS, 1:1 program
  • Consider community-wide reading program resources like MyOn Reader.
  • Spend 25% of library materials budget on e-materials with 50% funded by curriculum $$

The plan still makes sense to me.

As I have written before, e-books are inevitable. Humans will adapt, if given enough practice, to comprehending long, deep. complex materials on screens. But in the meantime we can be stategic about how we roll this format out.


BFTP: To see ourselves as others see us

When kids go to the mall instead of the library, it's not that the mall won, it's that the library lost.

They (kids) need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

...the people who run this library don't view the combination of access to data and connections to peers as a sidelight--it's the entire point. Seth Godin - The Future of the Library

"O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us", wrote Robert Burns. These lines run so loudly through my mind whenever I read a post that is absolutely dead-on about libraries, but more often than not, written by a non-librarian. Godin's Future of the Library post, echoing so many of the themes of library conferences, is such a post. Read it, read it, read it.

When I read about school librarians in Los Angles and their interrogations about whether or not they are real teachers, I hear Burns's lines again. While I'm not that concerned about whether librarians take attendance, I certainly am convinced that librarians must own the duties associated with teachers if they want to be regarded (and paid) as such (1, 2, 3). Are we just shrinking in horror that our value is being impugned when we read these stories - or are we actually learning something about ourselves and asking tough questions?

Oh, I've always wondered why librarians work so hard to stay in the ranks of teachers, instead of working toward being considered administrators or directors. Do we have a innate inferiority complex?

Original post May 16, 2011.