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EdTech Update





IMSA’s 21st Century Information Fluency Model – Take a Look

I get requests to look at quite a few websites related to libraries, technology and information literacy skills, and I usually at least take a grudging peek at them. But once in a while, I find one that’s worth sharing with others. The The 21st Century Information Fluency Project (21CIF), developed by Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (headed by a long-time colleague, David Barr) is one of those sites.

While information literacy/fluency models are fairly abundant, the 21CIF strategy focuses on using digital information sources and the unique skills it takes to locate and evaluate them. The site contains “Wizard Tools” designed to help the student (or I supposed struggling adult – like me) tackle each step of the process, tutorials, lesson plans and “tips.” Kudos to the web designer for a clean, easily-navigated, and appealing user interface.

IMSA also is offering a wide range of free training events including online classes and webinars, alas, only for Illinois educators.

Here’s my thought: AASL’s ICONnect effort to offer online courses for its members seems to be languishing. Do I sense there might be a way to for AASL and IMSA to work together to take some of these training materials nationwide?

I know I could use the training!
1 Comment »
Doug, kudos on the Blue Skunk. I enjoy reading pages with voice and personality…and your pages do all that and more. Is Gonzo Librarianship a genre? A quick glance at your blogroll seems to say yes.

Thanks too for your efforts to spread the word about our project. We’ve been building tools, creating curriculum, doing workshops, and teaching online classes for the past four years. It was time to rebuild the website to make it easier for the casual visitor to find the goodies. (It’s ironic that so few web visitors actually use the search box on the home page.) Traffic is up, the redesign seems to be cooking. It’s a bright new fall…8)

Most recently we’ve been talking about where our work fits in the landscape of research skills. We’re definitely digital. You take a long thoughtful stop after hitting the Big6 and we’ll be there. Our attention is split between the close up work of promoting library media’s place in all this by delivering workshops, online classes and webinars, and the new effort to reach a national audience of educators with our website and information fluency tools.

It’s tough to get folks’ attention. (By the way, we’re ready to open the doors on our webinars & online classes for tipping point folks from other states. We’d like to package our content for online delivery around the county. Iconnect sounds like a great idea.)

We’re working to detail the ksd’s of the ‘info fluent student’ (that has a ring to it) with a new document that describes student core competencies for search, evaluating, and ethically using digital information. (

All this is foundation work that we count on when we’re making more light hearted learning exeperiences like the search challenges. The first one is online at: . We’ve got a half dozen more in the chute. We’re hoping these flash based pieces capture the elusive attention of educators already bombarded with info.

Thanks for the help Doug! Everyone on the team appreciates it.

(It’s a 21st century trick that I can work full time in Illinois and still live in the Sierra Nevadas.

Comment by Dennis O'Connor — September 19, 2005 @ 10:26 am


Showing Up, Bathroom Reads, and other Idle Weekend Thoughts

Seems like it as important to rest one’s brain on the weekend as it is one’s bod, so just few small ideas, perhaps less professional than the norm.

1. We really should heed Woody Allen’s observation that “eighty percent of success is showing up.” I thought about this statement this morning as the LWW and I participated in the school’s annual “Run for Education” fundraiser. This is the seventh year it’s been held, and I haven’t missed one yet. (I walk.) While the event is fun and good exercise, it is also a chance to “show up.” Ed the superintendent, a couple school board members, some community leaders, and of course quite a few teachers, principals and parents are there. It’s a chance to be associated (no matter how subliminally) with something positive. Also one feels justified eating the large breakfast at the local pancake house afterwards.

2. Perhaps it is a guy thing, but I like having handy reading material near the “throne.” Magazines are good and poetry anthologies are OK, but books with short little chapters are even better. I’m currently enjoying Why Do Men Have Nipples?, a collection of answers to questions you’d be too embarassed to ask unless you had a few drinks. While I have not yet read the answer to the titular question (pun intended), I do now know that I can swallow my gum without health risk.

3. There’s been some back and forth about the benefits or lack thereof of gripe sessions among librarians. I suspect such things are healthy so long they are among friends, rather than just acquaintances or co-workers. One thing I try NOT to do is ever start a grip session with my boss. Richard A. Moran says, “Never go to your boss with a problem that doesn’t have a solution. You are paid to think, not to whine.” Whining, if one needs to do it, should be done to one’s spouse or cat (and if you don’t have one or other you really should for no other reason). There is an old riddle told in principals’ circles: “What is the difference between a puppy and a teacher? The puppy stops whining when you let it in the door.” Ouch.

4. Would someone please explain “9 Chickweed Lane” comic strip to me? I have yet to find anything understandable, let alone humorous in the panels that have been running for about the last three weeks in the paper. Thank you.

5. David Warlick’s 2 Cents Worth blog has a recent entry on the amount of television that is being offered today - something like 29,000 hours per week. Here’s the irony: When I was a little boy growing up on the Iowa prairie, we had two channels that didn’t start programming until Sunrise Semester at 6am and ended with the National Anthem at, what, 11pm? But I was still a TV fiend and would have watched TV all day had I more understanding parents. As it was, I’m sure I watched more than today’s kids’ average of 3.5 hours a day. Currently I sometimes catch the Daily Show - that’s it. I am not trying to be a snob, but I can’t find a single other thing to watch that is worth sitting through commercials for. I guess I’d rather spend my leisure time reading David’s thoughts than hearing Homer Simpson’s. (Damned by faint praise?)

Tomorrow I spend preparing for my visit to Encylo-Media in Tulsa, OK, next week. Sooners are great folks, but I always feel intimidated knowing that librarians from Norman may be in the audience. Outside of southern Minnesota, these folks are the best school librarians I know. I better be on top of my game.
1 Comment »
9 Chickweed Lane — was *originally* a strip about 3 generations of women in 1 household (4 if you count the cat), each with very distinct personalities and story-lines. Within the past year, however, the creator seems to have shifted the focus to concentrate on Edda and her adventures as a ballet dancer in NYC. If you know the backstory, the strip is still good; if you’re new to it, it may be less appealing/understandable.
FWIW, take a look at some of the ‘history’ of this strip, at

Comment by Alice Yucht — September 19, 2005 @ 12:16 pm


Keeping Up?

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that! Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Librarian par-excellance Dian Chen from Nashville recently posted to the AASLForum and LM_Net lists this most excellent set of questions:

Recently I was discussing trends in librarianship with new school librarians (former teachers with no training YET but beginning school). They were amazed at the number and depth of issues facing them in this new field. An interesting question they posed- paraphrased by me- was, “How can you keep up with the new trends in the profession while you are doing the practical?”

While I listed many of the same things immediately darting through your mind, I’d love to open this discussion to an even broader context. How can library educators and administrators stay current with the daily practical needs of school librarians and how can practicing school librarians maintain the breadth of new technology and professional issues on a larger focus than the building level?

Conferences, professional organizations, virtual groups like, blogs, listservs, professional journals, and professional books are immediate partial answers. Yet is this enough? Haven’t you met the library educator who spouts policy and has no clue how this can be implemented practically? Or, haven’t you tried to discuss issues such as filtering, legislation, protecting patron’s privacy, and advocacy with building level school librarians who dismiss this with “I don’t have time for those things?”

How about those school librarians who live in rural areas and can’t continue taking classes or afford access? What about those young professionals beginning families who choose between professional dues and childcare or medical expenses? What creative ways can we brainstorm to bridge this divide?

I hope you, blogreader, aren’t expecting any miraculous solutions from reading this. Most days I feel just like the Red Queen who informs Alice that it takes all the running you can do just to keep in the same place.

I was encouraged a bit, however by library guru Debbie Abilock’s sage strategy: “I’ve become a skimmer of some things and a digester of others but, more importantly, I’ve learned to focus my own learning to align tightly with my goals. For example I wouldn’t “keep up” with information about library content management systems all the time, but when I’m in the market for a new online catalog, I read widely, ask experts, going to workshops, etc….so that I understand federated searching, open URL, folksonomies…the trends that impact my decision. For other new trends I’m skimming quickly, using alerts and respected experts, so that I develop a shallow awareness of horizon possibilities which can act as a basis for future learning when and if I’ll need it.

Here are some thoughts:

1. I’ve come to terms with the plain fact I can’t ever keep up, that others will always know more than I do about almost everything, but that I can still hold my head high. Being ignorant is forgivable, and is a great deal different from being stupid or incompetent. I am awed by the expectations that we have of librarians who are to be “specialists” in literature, technology, information literacy, project-based learning, etc. Are we doing ourselves any favors by spreading ourselves too thin?

I’ve just plain abandoned any claim to expertise in some areas. Regretfully, I’ve almost stopped reading children’s and young adult literature, although it was a passion of mine for many years. I DO however, try to keep up on how good library resources can have a positive impact on reading abilities. I tend to focus very tightly on issues related to libraries and technology and how they can actually have a positive influence on MY school district. Like Debbie suggest, I practice information triage all the time. I do a lot of just-in-time learning. I rely on having an understanding of many things, but no real depth of knowledge, knowing I can tap on experts when the need arises. (I know what a DNS server does, but I don’t need to know how to configure the damn thing.)

3. While I appreciate Diane’s worry about the great unwashed group of librarians who don’t seem to be able to keep up, I think we need to keep the “Circle of Influence” and “Circle of Concern” attitude I expressed in my August 19th blog entry “Picking Your Fights.” If I remember from Sunday school, the Bible says, “The poor shall be with you always.” I’d add, “So shall those who just don’t give a damn.” While it’s good to do what one can through our professional organizations to reach these folks, I will spend the bulk of my efforts in reaching those who are actually within my reach – my own district librarians, teachers and administrators. (I am excited this year that we have funding to establish a Professional Learning Community for our librarians.)

4. Ms Chen also worries about the library educator or administrator, “who spouts policy and has no clue how this can be implemented practically…” I rather think there is a place for educators who are idealists and pound into students the basic principles of the profession. I am glad Mildred Laughlin and Fran McDonald both instilled in me the high ideals of intellectual freedom, student privacy, copyright, etc. Were I designing a library school program, I’d have half the classes taught by our ivory tower professors and the other half taught by cynical, wiley adjuncts. A person needs a balance to be truly educated.

Ok, this entry is far too long. Folks, help Diane and me out with your ideas about some of these issues: How do we keep up? How do reach those who don’t seem to care if they keep up? How do we effectively educate new members in the profession?
Lots to think about here. I too am feeling like the Red Queen. There is SO much to keep up with. Here are some things that I do:

1. I use Bloglines to subscribe to RSS feeds of interest. I skim the summaries everyday. Sometimes I read the whole post. Other times, I use the “clip this” feature to save articles for later. I also use to save articles from web sites that cannot be “clipped” with bloglines.

2. I maintain a plastic bin divided up into sections so that I can throw print information under topics of interest to me.

These 2 things probably just make me feel better about the superficial knowledge I acquire from skimming. The folders are sort of like that pile of books that I plan to get around to reading someday…….

3. Pick something of great interest and see if your district will let you use your Professional Development time to pursue it. Our district allows us to choose a professional development plan and pursue it for 2 years in lieu of more traditional administrative observations. I like to pick a new idea that I want to know more about and figure out how I can use my students as “guinea pigs”. Poor little things…. But the district plan requires that I show concrete evidence that the study benefits real students. The last plan I did was “evaluating and citing information - particularly web information”. I was able to develop a lot of practical materials to use with my classes as a result of my research and the imperative of needing something concrete to show the principal at the end of every year for 2 years. I reap the benefit of that plan daily. My students regularly use the web citation slips I developed. I have web evaluation activities and powerpoints that I use at all grade levels. And I have a rubric to evaluate the quatlity of information in student works cited lists.

I have another 2 year project planned with blogs and rss. Not sure what “concrete products” might come out of it. But - there will have to be something or my end of the year evaluation will be pretty sad….

I think it is very helpful if administrators can find ways for educators to follow their own interests/passions. We acquire a lot of superficial knowledge about a lot of important and interesting educational trends. And yet - we seldom get much time to develop those ideas and make them our own.

Comment by Jacquie Henry — September 16, 2005 @ 5:25 pm |Edit This

Terrific ideas, Jacquie - so many districts are very accommodating to teachers who want to pursue a variety of topics for Prof. Dev credit. I think I am ready for that! I think my problem was sort of from the other direction from what the people Doug quoted talked about. As someone with an MLS doing the “career switcher” alternative certification process, I was up on a lot of professional issues but desperate for Lesson Plans, classroom mgmt ideas, etc. I was my own student teacher! I was my own lead teacher! I didn’t have a clue. Now, in my 4th year and with a 6 week old teacher’s certificate, I’m getting some balance. One book I like is Keeping Current published by ALA. I think the author is Cohen. A valuable quick read. I like it so much I may actually buy it (after paying 7 days worth of late ILL fees.)

Comment by Melissa Techman — September 18, 2005 @ 6:44 pm