Friday, October 08, 2010

Building Digitally Literate Communities, or, what I learned at IASL/SLAQ 2010


"Building literate communities"
and  "Supporting the digital education agenda" were two of the four strands of  the IASL / SLAQ (Int'l Assoc. of School Librarianship / School Library Assoc. of Queensland) 2010 conference held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Sep. 27 - Oct. 1.

Over the course of the week the two themes merged into an essential question for me:

How to build digitally literate communities?

Our school is embarking on a "21st Century Teaching & Learning" program (aka iLearn) over the next two years, part of which will involve going 1:1 with Apple laptops in Grade 6 and above (and 2:1 below that) -- and designing new library/information spaces.

Presentations by two academics - one an education/business/think-tank professor and the other a education/futurist -- gave me some interesting concepts and phrases to play with -- re people and spaces that will support the digitally literate community we want to become.
  • Michael Hough, Professorial Fellow at the Univ. of Wollongong -- Keynote: "In Schools that Face the Future, Libraries Matter" -- & Session: "The Role of the Teacher-Librarian in Developing Leadership Capabilities in Staff"
  • Erica McWilliam, co-leader of the Creative Workforce Program at Queensland University of Technology -- Keynote: "High Standards or a High Standard of Standardness?"

>>> See a vodcast and accompanying slideshow for each keynote<<<


Both explored the e-learning shift underway and confirmed the need for 21st Century Teacher-Librarians (see Joyce Valenza's Manifesto for the definitive description of one), with Hough claiming librarians should become the C.I.O. (Chief Information Officer) of their schools.

He highly recommended the recently published book -- Developing a Networked School Community -- and cited Chapter 9 (most of which you can read via GoogleBooks) by Lyn Hay (who was one of my online professors -- I wrote a paper on Gaming in Education for her back in 2005...)

Hough particularly liked her concept of the iCentre, which she defines as 
"the central facility within the school where information, technology, learning and teaching needs are supported by qualified information and learning technology specialists.  It is a centre that provides students and teachers with a one-stop shop for all resourcing, technology, and learning needs on a daily basis."
(See also the slides from a recent keynote by Hay: "21st Century Teacher-Librarian: Rethink, Rebuild, and Re-brand".)


McWilliam provided an interesting variation on the idea, by surveying the culture of the coffee house from raucous 17th century London up until erudite 20th century Vienna.  A home away from home, a place you want to go to. She argued Hogarth's coffee house was an antecedent of the lifelong learning space -- a round table of communal resources (both liquid and intellectual) -- and that librarians would benefit from considering the various skills and dispositions of those distant coffee house landlords (arbiter, assembler, gossip provider, business manager, service manager, social broker of relationships, etc) over time. 

She suggested today's online model might be nings, an iCafe for shared passions. I think Twitter is a fitter descendant.

#slaqiasl2010 was the Twitter tag for the conference -- and others in my personal learning network were far more adept at typing up the passing thoughts (special thanks to Stacey Taylor, Marita Thomson, and Jessica Jorna for their quick minds and fingers. You allowed me to concentrate on my own more expansive note-taking.)

The whole conference was a community experience, with an overlapping of school librarians, international school librarians, IBO school librarians, and academics.

In line with the same "building communities" theme, Barb Philip, the junior school teacher-librarian at Tanglin Trust School here in Singapore, and I did a presentation on "Building Internationally Literate Communities", based on our library network's efforts to expand the reading experiences of our students.


More blog posts re learning and connections made at the conference to follow...


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