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EdTech Update





A better question?

…technology is an accelerator of greatness already in place, never the principal cause of greatness or decline. – Newsweek, April 29, 2002

At a conference last week, Mark Weston from Dell computing stated that asking the question, "Does technology improve student learning?" is the wrong question.

The question should be, "Does technology support the practices that improve student learning?"

Is this a semantic trifle or is it actually profound? What are the implications for technology deployment and evaluation? What drives your tech planning? Should it be initiatives like these?

The direct link between information technologies and learning does not exist anymore than the direct link between a good stove and a good meal; a good automobile and a good vacation; a good word processor and a good book; or a good camera and good art.

This view, of course, has been expressed many times, in many ways. My own Tech Upgrade is one way; my advocacy for looking at best practices in the content areas, another. But I rather liked the simplicty of of Weston's alternate question.

Now if educators could only agree on what actual practices contribute to student learning, it would make the tech director's job a good deal easier.

And shouldn't all educators' efforts be bent toward that sole purpose?


Facilities planning survey

Last Saturday, I posted a general student survey about library programs to the Blue Skunk. It was desparately in need of updating and I appreciate the suggestions for its improvement I received. It is still under revision (actually I was hoping to get more feedback) and I will share the final results sometime later this week.

In the meantime, I worked up the survey below that has a more specific purpose - to elicit ideas about how students use the physical library itself in hopes of guiding the design for a new or remodeled space.

My general feeling about surveys is generally "more is less" and at 30 questions this one is too long. What can be dropped? What should be added?

Oh, for those interested, I did a series of blog posts on the fundamentals of library design last spring. Been trying to think how the "world 2.0" and other changes may impact the fundamentals....


Facility Planning - Student Survey
Doug Johnson, March 2009

Please rank each of the following items on a 1-4 scale with 1 = unimportant to 4 very important.

Facility Access
1. The library needs to be available to me throughout the school day.
2. The library needs to be available to me before and after school.
3. The library needs to be available to me evenings and weekends.

Information Resources

4. Print books and magazines to meet the needs of school assignments.
5. Print books and magazines to meet my personal information and recreational needs.
6. Internet access to meet the needs of school assignments.
7. Internet access to meet my personal information and recreational needs.
8. Wireless connectivity in the library for use with either school or personal computing devices.

Productivity, Creativity and Communications Resources
9. Facilities, equipment and resources that support the creation of original products such as word-processed documents, desktop published documents, edited video productions, digital slideshows, edited audio recordings, and webpages.
10. Facilities, equipment and resources that support my creativity, knowledge creation, and problem solving abilities.
11. Facilities, equipment and resources that support projects that allow me to interact and collaborate with students from other locations – including international students.
12. Facilities, equipment and resources that support live presentations to others.

Learning Environment and Climate
13. A welcoming, safe and comfortable and comfortable environment that allows me to read and study.
14. Working in the library independently.
15. Working in the library collaboratively with a small group.
16. Working in the library with my entire class.
17. Working in the library in informal seating (upholstered chairs, sofas).
18. Working in the library at a table.
19. Working in the library in a study carrel.
20. Architectural design, color coordination, and style of furnishing that create a positive learning climate.

21. Using the library to access technologies for either finding or communicating information.
22. Using the library to find print materials for academic use and personal use.
23. Using the library doing research with my entire class.
24. Using the library as a space to meet with my peers for collaboration on schoolwork.
25. Using the library as a space to meet with my peers to socialize and work on non-school related activities.

Open ended
26. List the most important activities you would like to be able to do in a new or remodeled library.
27. List any shortcomings of the current library facility.
28. How might a new library’s design support your work and study habits?
29. How might a new library design improve your total school experience?



What do you get when you take free will and solitude out of education?


At least according to this highly articulate young man:

Listen carefully to this. Great points about how libraries differ from classrooms in their approach to reading - and why, for bright kids like this one - those differences are critical.

I wonder if this young man is up for adoption?

Thanks to Walt Crawford for pointing me to the Liminal Librarian Blog that links to this video.