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Define that for me

Sharon Grimes, Library Director for the Baltimore County Public Schools, sent a long critique of the new AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner to LM_Net recently. She makes some good points and has forced me to do a couple things.
First, I'm taking some time to really study and try to internalize these new AASL standards as well as the new ISTE NETS standards, trying to figure out how the sets are aligned and how they differ. More on that in a later blog entry, but for now, let me just say that a one-to-one comparison is proving to be challenging. (And you all know how it hurts my head when forced to think too hard.)

The other thing that Sharon's e-mail made me realize is just how sloppy I am with terminology in my own area of "expertise." She writes:

Another factor that might serve to marginalize the importance of our profession in the eyes of others is the move, clearly evident in Standards 1 and 2, from problem-based to inquiry-based learning.  The implications and potential outcomes of this shift are many and varied:

  • One important distinction between problem-based and inquiry-based learning is that inquiry-based learning explores questions in much more depth for a greater period of time, possibly an entire semester.  Given the time constraints imposed by the test-driven environment created by NCLB, are we ignoring reality?
  • Inquiry-based learning may or may not result in a product that can be evaluated which has clear implications for assessment.  In an era of data-driven decision-making, the lack of clearly quantifiable data marginalizes what we do in the eyes of administrators and other decision makers.
  • Many of the information seeking process models in wide-spread use, like Big6, are problem, not inquiry-based.  As a result, new models will need to be created and/or existing models modified to include inquiry-based learning.  The question then is who will do this and when will the model(s) be available?
  • The distinction between inquiry and problem-based learning is not clarified in the standards, nor is the level of inquiry-based learning (clarification/verification; structured inquiry; guided inquiry; or open inquiry) the standards hope to inspire.
  • NETS -S is clearly problem-based so the alignment that existed with ISTE's standards is now tenuous at best.  NETS-S is also clearly aligned with the requirements of NCLB and national curriculum standards.  The alignment between AASL's new standards and NCLB, national curriculum standards, and NETS-S is only evident at the skill indicator level, not at the standard level.

Why not a more realistic statement that it is not an either/or; both inquiry-based and problem-based can form the basis of valid information-seeking process models?

Hmmmm, I do believe I've been using inquiry-based and problem-based somewhat synonymously. My bad. And as I think about it, there are quite a few related terms that I am not sure how specifically I could define, who the authority for the definition might be, and how they are all related in a Venn diagram-ish fashion. Here are some:

  • Problem-based
  • Project-based
  • Constructivist learning
  • Authentic learning
  • Inquiry-based
  • Information literacy 
  • Information literacy process
  • Information fluency
  • Research
  • Information problem-solving

You can probably add a few related terms yourself.

In asking Sharon a source of definitions and information about this, she kindly sent a list of resources:

Chris Harris suggested John Barell's Developing More Curious Minds as a resource as well.

OK, readers, what are the distinctions and just how important are they when talking about these models or philosophies of learnin' kids good? 

From Alice Yucht: Sharon's essay is now posted on the AASL Blog, where comments are welcome (and archived).



Guide to media re-mixing

rrr.jpgRecut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video from American University's School of Communication looks to be an understandable guide to what all our wanna-be Ken Burns re-mixers can and can't do with copyrighted material in their own videos. There is a link to a good video clip from the Chronicle for Higher Ed on the page as well.

The basic idea here is that "fair use" is broader than usually interpreted, especially in the areas of parody and criticism. There is a great list of examples in a variety of categories of fair use, including Satire and Parody, Negative or Critical Commentary, Positive Commentary, and Quoting in Order to Start a Discussion.

Maybe it's time we started teaching kids more about what they CAN do with copyrighted material than what they CAN'T do with it if we want avoid raising a bunch of scofflaws?

(Thanks to Bill DeJohn at U of M's Minitex for the head's up.




My 2008 Wish List

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. - Mother Goose

If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass when he hops. - probably not Mother Goose

After reading several blog posts of New Year's predictions, concerns, and accounting, I've decided to take the safe route and simply list some wishes (rather than predictions) for 2008. Just assuming everyone already wishes to end world hunger, to assure democratic governments through world conquest, and to lose weight, I'm restricting these to education-library-technology areas.

I am not holding my breath, but ya just never know...

  1. I'm still wishing for a practical student laptop. The ASUS Eee and OLPC XO are exciting, but not there yet.
  2. I'm still wishing for a new library catalog worth the cost of upgrade.
  3. I'm wishing for a clearly written guide for students (and teachers) about what is legal, what is illegal and what we don't know about fair use and copyright, especially digital content rights. (I am not the only one confused. So are Joyce and Jeff.)
  4. I'm  wishing for a single set (or at least coordinated set) of Student Skill Standards from ISTE and AASL that are both visionary and understandable to the non-librarians and non-techies.
  5. I'm  wishing for a broader view of what constitutes "evidence." That professional experience, common sense, good anecdotes, and intrinsic goodness still count in educational decision-making - not just numbers which are as easily misinterpreted as meaningful.
  6. I'm wishing Google weren't turning evil and privacy weren't necessarily a thing of the past.
  7. I'm wishing for a comprehensive, longitudinal survey of library media staffing to see if the profession is actually losing, gaining or staying steady postion-wise. Why is the school library field crying both about cuts and the lack of certified staff to fill positions?
  8. I'm wishing I wouldn't feel guilty about not liking Twitter, Ning and other very-social, social networking sites. Is there an "anti-social" web somewhere for me?
  9. I'm wishing my elementary schools will abandon Microsoft Office and go with OpenOffice/NeoOffice this year.
  10. I'm wishing any revision of NCLB includes mandated IL/IT skills for all students.
  11. I'm wishing this election year will result in an awareness by teachers of how important Web 2.0 tools are for engagement in political discourse. And why closing the digital divide - however defined - is more important than ever.
  12. I'm wishing more educational bloggers would develop a sense of humor, show more online civility, and see comments as problem-solving opportunities, not pissing contests.
  13. I'm wishing everyone's "out-of-the-office" e-mail notification would just stop working.
  14. I'm wishing never to read another document with 21st Century or 2.0 in the title. (Although The 21st Century Blue Skunk Blog 2.0 has a nice ring to it.)
  15. I'm wishing a school library media specialist gets elected to the ISTE Board this spring.
  16. I'm wishing Miguel Guhlin a successful career as a real writer.
  17. I'm wishing Second Life would get more stable, less bandwidth intensive and easier to use (and the LWW would be less suspicious of the cute avatars within it.)
  18. I'm wishing that all of us remember that collaboration is a method for achieving a goal, not the goal itself.
  19. I'm wishing schools would figure out a better way to individualize the educational experience for both kids AND teachers.
  20. I'm wishing Blue Skunk readers would contribute some of their own wishes in the comment section of this entry.


The Wart Fairy - one of many intriguing winged creatures at the Wings Picture Gallery at Freaking News.