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Wednesday
May132009

The essential question?

Form follows function.
- Louis Sullivan

ISB student "using" the library, May 13, 2009

The question our team was to help answer was supposed to be: How can the MS/HS library program and facilities be improved to support student learning and achieve the ISB Vision for Learning?

But somehow it changed in a meeting with school officials this afternoon to: Does a school need a library when information can be accessed from the classroom using Internet connected laptops?

The new question is uncomfortable, messy, and incredibly important and not restricted by any means to one particular school. It is one to which all library people need a clear and compelling answer.

I've been addressing this question in articles since, well, for a long time, including:

Do you have a good response? What part does a facility play in a ubiquitous information environment? How does the librarian's role change? How do we assess our impact if physical visits become less frequent?

Your answers?

Monday
May112009

Jet lagged but H1N1-free

View from the fifth floor of the Nai Lert Swissotel on Wireless Road, Bangkok, May 12, 2009

Greetings from a severely jet-lagged but excited blogger from Bangkok. I hit my hotel room at about 1:00AM this morning and was wide awake again at 5AM. Flights were long but uneventful except for the hour and a half our flight spent sitting at Tokyo's Narita airport while surgical-gowned and face-masked characters from the Andromeda Strain walked up and down the aisles of the plane scanning passengers with a heat detecting camera looking for anyone with a fever (and a curly tail who is given to making oinking sounds.) I caught my connection, but it was close. And I must not have the swine flu or I am sure I would be deep in some contagious disease ward in Japan, never to be heard from again.

Ann Krembs from ISB Mumbai and I are here on a site visit to the International School of Bangkok. The school is building a new secondary library and we are here to help to provide some insight into the following questions:

How can the MS/HS library program and facilities be improved to support student learning and achieve the ISB Vision for Learning?

  1. What is the school’s vision for the role and function of the library?
  2. How can the MS/HS library best support ISB’s Vision for Learning?
  3. What is ISB’s vision for Literacy Learning?
  4. Who will this library serve?
  5. What are their needs now and in the future?
  6. How can we best serve these needs?
  7. What impact does and will Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 impact learning and what implications does this have for future library program and facilities needs?

Given the high-power staff already on board (bloggers Kim Cofino, Rob Rubis, Jeff Utecht and others), I am guessing that I was asked to participate because of my good-looks alone. (Or not.) Some great surveys and studies have already given Ann and me useful data and the focus groups over the next few days will add to the information.

Anyway, I am really excited to be involved with such a group of thoughtful, future-oriented, and student-centered educators.

I'll keep ya posted.

Monday
May112009

C.R.A.P. and other reasons why teachers grow cynical

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Eccl. 1:9

Ever feel like the same educational trends re-appear ever so many years with different authors and terminology. There is a name for this phenomena*: CRAP which stands for:

Continually
Renaming
Academic
Practices

Add the "This too shall pass" mindset that most time-pressed and skeptical educators hold, the lack of credible, non-biased applicable research on best educational practices, underinvestment in thoughtful staff development, and societal pressures for schools remain unchanged, one can see why resistance is often considered the only sane approach to new programs and methodologies by practicing teachers.

One of my favorite commercials visualizes trying to build an aircraft while it is in flight (a spin on changing the tires of a moving car):

I suppose a studied, deliberate and measured approach to new methodology will always be wishful thinking since educators don't have the luxury of closing school for re-tooling either, but do we ever give any new approach enough time to determine if it actually works? Or do all those who advocate for change suffer from ADD?

* I picked up at NHEMA.