Libraries are changing!

How we interact in libraries is changing due to technology. One of the biggest changes seen is the library’s physical space. As more resources and books become digitalized, the library’s physical space is evolving. This evolution of the physical space is seeing the library become the ‘hub’ of the school in a way previously not envisioned. I have discussed Maker Spaces in a previous blog but feel it is an appropriate example of how libraries are changing and being utilised. It is no longer a place filled with silence where teacher-librarians walk around saying ‘shhhhh’. It is a place to meet and be involved in collaborative research, work, clubs and activities.

These physical space changes and the way students are interacting with the library have also led to distinct furniture changes. Libraries are embracing designs that allow for a more flexible use of space. Comfortable chairs, bean bags, reading nooks as well as green screen, media rooms, conference rooms and technology labs are all being incorporated into library designs. The changing space in libraries is allowing students and youth to engage in the library in ways that foster digital and 21st century skills.

These changes bought about by technology means students will probably rely more and more on electronic resources for their research and reading. Modern libraries need to provide information services in a digital environment, as this is a defining characteristic of the “Information Age” and quite natural to the “digital natives” born into this era. This means that libraries will need to undergo continuous improvement of their information landscape.

A way that city and state libraries are embracing and leading change is with their digital borrowing services is BorrowBox. BorrowBox is an award winning Australian App that enables library members to browse and borrow bestselling eBooks and eAudiobooks on their Apple or Android device for limited periods, through this digital loans system. BorrowBox is a FREE download solution. Once you are signed in you can borrow or reserve up to 4 eBooks or eAudiobooks for a 2 week loan period. All you need to get started is a library card.

Whilst the school libraries I work in have been a bit slower to get their eBook collection started, it is starting to gain momentum. More and more schools are investing money into digital books making the information more readily available for students using iPads or a BYOD program. Having this information readily accessible for students is also helping to prepare them for future library use, as their learning and education continues.

15 - 1

Image Source: Own image from a school in Cairns. Image of selection of eBooks for borrowing.

Having more digital information certainly doesn’t make the library or print materials redundant. In fact I believe it makes libraries and those working in them more essential than ever. Print-based information will always be important especially in the primary sector as that’s where students are learning to read. It’s difficult for staff and students to try and keep pace with rapid developments in technology and the way information is accessed, shared, communicated and stored which is why our libraries and librarians are fundamental in this evolving landscape and equipping youth with necessary 21st century skills.

Fandom – Can it be used in primary education?

Fandom is not a new phenomenon, however with the coming of the digital age it has radically changed. Previously if you wanted to get together with some fellow fans, you couldn’t just Google the location of the nearest convention. The same if you wanted to write something to share with fellow fans you had to know which “fanzine” to send it to for publishing. Now, reaching out to fellow fans is much easier.

Unlike the individual fan, whose peer group or colleagues may coincidentally include like-minded film lovers, organised fandom involves fans specifically seeking out those who share their tastes. Thereby becoming involved in a range of social, cultural, and media activities that take this shared fandom as their starting point. Fandom can involve participating in online discussions, posting to sites, joining clubs or groups or producing one’s own fan magazine or “fanzine.” Being part of organised fandom – whether for a certain film or star – is, first and foremost, linked to values of participation and production.

Fandom’s participatory culture is always shaped through input from other fans and motivated, at least partially, by a desire for further interaction with a larger social and cultural community. This participatory culture gives those involved a collective experience. Part of this experience is that those with more knowledge can pass it on to those with less knowledge, allowing the group to learn from and with each other.

So knowing the above is it possible for primary school teachers to involve students in fandom? I have seen a teacher set her Year 3 classroom up ‘Harry Potter’ style. This teacher ‘sorted’ the students giving each table a house group from Harry Potter and had them focus on the qualities they represented. She also changed the current reading strategies from ‘chunky monkey’ and ‘lips the fish,’ which she felt were too childish by using Harry Potter icons. This engaged the students with reading and made the reading strategies ‘cool’ because students could relate to them. The students in this class were definitely involved and participating, using and producing Harry Potter material in the classroom. So is this fandom in the primary school setting or just bringing popular culture into the classroom?

I have seen another teacher set up a class reading blog. All the reading activities and questions to do with their class novel got posted to the blog. Students were able to make comments about the reading and share them with the class. This teacher found that some students really engaged in some interesting and in depth conversations about what it was they were reading. The blog stimulated conversations and students were sharing knowledge, information and insights. As the blog began to take on a life of its own and the students were in control of the conversations and comments, could this be viewed as fandom in the primary classroom?

Lastly I have seen a teacher-librarian begin a Minecraft club. Students could bring their own devices and sit with each other after school learning from each other. Students would bring their Minecraft books to share new information and cheat codes with other like-minded individuals. The students/club were all participating together and involved in producing and building on the Minecraft game. Although fandom in the primary school setting may be more limited than what the older high school students can do, I do believe it can be used in the primary setting. I believe fandom is an important component of social understanding and communication and those teachers willing to embrace it see the benefits and engagement it brings to their students.

‘Augmented Reality’ – What is it? Why should we use it?

Augmented reality is a new technology combining physical and virtual worlds. Can you imagine being able to make paintings come alive and be interactive? Using augmented reality (AR) means you can create an atmosphere like that for your students. AR is a digital technology enriching the real world with digital information and media. AR creates 3D models and videos, overlaying in real-time the camera view on your smartphone, tablet, PC or connected glasses.

The first time I experienced AR I was blown away, but it wasn’t until I started using it more that I could see the educational implications. AR can be used by teachers to create interactive, three-dimensional objects for studying purposes. Teachers using AR can add digital content with lot of information as well as geographic locations about a place or object. Digital information appears on the screen when you scan any object or place using your tablet, phone or smart devices with AR technology. Using AR systems students interact with 3D information, objects and events in a natural way.

The first AR app that I used with students was called Quiver. Is a virtual app, where objects and images on the page come to life and the parts which the student physically coloured in, appear in colour on the screen. Although colAr is fun and engaging, teachers need to consider what the educational benefit is. I have personally incorporated AR, specifically colAr, in the arts curriculum area, as a large focus of visual arts is on art appreciation. ColAr could also be used as an introduction into 3D clay modelling to highlight the various dimensions students need to consider before they design, make and create their clay model. AR allows teachers to enhance students learning of art through virtual information. Many AR apps are available for students to use when discussing an artist’s work or going to an art gallery. I believe this in turn would foster creativity and curiosity.

Video: Quiver Augmented Reality (2013, May 29) Quiver Augmented Reality – Trailer [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmfXgvT9h3s

This augmentation of the real world by engaging an ordinary place, space, thing or event allows teachers to offer learners’ seamless interaction between the real and virtual worlds. Of course it is up to teachers to combine AR interfaces with educational content. However, those teachers who embrace and use AR can enhance the attractiveness of teaching and learning for their 21st century students. It can engage students in written content, 3D models and videos thus appealing to different types of learners. There are also hundreds of AR apps already available that you may be able to use in the curriculum without creating your own.

If there are teachers or collegues interested in incorporating AR into their classroom Aurasma is a free app you can use. I think the beauty of this app is not only is it free but there are a lot of online (YouTube) tutorials you can use, to assist you to create AR in the classroom. The app has many applications not only for the classroom but also for the school. Some schools are using it to welcome visitors to the school or show students how to use sports equipment properly. The possibilities seem to be endless.

Magid, L. (2011, April 8). Aurasma Demo [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBKy-hSedg8

The Maker Movement

There has been a lot of talk about the Maker Movement in education. This approach is about the learner being a producer rather than a consumer. The Maker Movement allows students to be in control of their learning, as the end product is meaningful and has a purpose. The idea of the Maker Movement is that students learn by constructing meaningful things.

I think there are many advantages for students if teachers embrace this movement and allow students to produce and create items that are both meaningful to them and have a purpose. Students gain experience as problem solvers and get to engage with a variety of technology and textiles. As educators we are already aware that students learn by doing and the Maker Movement gives students the opportunity to do just that. It is a student-centered approach that can engage learners of all ages.

The possibilities of what can be made by students taking part in the Maker Movement is limitless. The Maker Movement sees tools and technology as essential elements for solving unsolvable problems. To makers, a 3D printer is not for learning to make 3D objects. Instead it is the raw material for solving problems, History classes can print artifacts for closer examination or Biology students can study cross-sections of hearts and other organs. The Maker philosophy prepares students to solve problems we as teachers never anticipated, with technology we can’t yet imagine.

3d-791205_1280

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/3d-printer-printing-technology-791205/

The Maker Movement and specifically 3D printing is an emerging technology that can be applied to a range of subjects within the curriculum including; English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science and Design and Technology. Classrooms that celebrate the process of design and making, which usually includes overcoming challenges, produce students who believe they can solve any problem, a valid 21st century learning skill.

There is certain knowledge and skills students learn that is important in the Maker Movement. Most significant is that students learn by making. It allows students to take ownership of their learning. Students become problem solvers and overcome challenges that can be faced when designing and making. There is also a huge online addition to this movement that allows students to share their ideas, codes and designs globally. Makers can share their expertise with a worldwide audience, thus allowing collaboration, sharing and even the extension of ideas. Even though the movement has global implications the making still happens at a local level meaning all students are able to participate even if they don’t have access to the internet.

There are many different ways the Maker Movement can become part of the classroom as the movement provides numerous opportunities for design, which can be integrated across the curriculum. There is affordable materials and technology available for schools and educators that makes learning by doing a realistic approach. There are many reasons why I believe the Maker Movement should be implemented in schools. I believe it will help to prepare students for future careers as well as giving them the knowledge and skills they need to move forward in the 21st century.

Building Engineers in Primary School

lego-286231_1280

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/lego-toy-pieces-building-creative-286231/

Lego building has come so far from when I was a kid, yet it’s just as popular now as it was then. I think the reason lego has remained so popular is the companies ability to change and recreate how we interact with lego. I’m talking about lego robotics!!

I’m lucky enough to work in a school that has a robotics program for Year 3 to Year 6 students. Students love this time and enjoy building and creating; then being able to interact with what they make by programming it on a computer. Robots can be programmed on PCs or Macs, and can be controlled via Bluetooth, downloadable apps or voice commands. It’s this ability to program their robot to move and complete tasks that is bringing lego into the 21st century. The skills involved give students the opportunity to use technology in ways that are meaningful to them whilst also teaching them valuable skills.

The skills students are engaged in foster creativity and problem solving. When students are involved with building lego they are designing, planning, constructing and most importantly reconstructing. Lego robotics is allowing primary school students to engage in the skills of an engineer. Lego has also created a way for novices to learn the basics of structural engineering: bracing, tension and compression, loading constraints and building to scale.

There are many names given to robotic lego, the latest one is Mindstorm. Mindstorm puts no limit on students’ creativity. There are up to 17 different robots you can make and the creators of Mindstorm always encourage users to come up with their own unique robot. If the education system wants to really bring about change and tap in to student potential and engagement then using Mindstorm or robotic lego is the way to do it.

The Mindstorm lego has a 3D building brochure that comes with it or you can download the app. Seeing students engage in 3D building brochures really allows them to visualize what they need to build. I also believe this helps students with spatial awareness. Students are required to view objects from different perspectives and often need to visualise shapes or objects in their mind when completing mathematics problems.

Although the downside to this technology is the cost involved, it is certainly proving to be a worthwhile investment at the school I am working in. Robots definitely get students engaged with something they find interesting, exciting and challenging. Using this technology has many benefits and positive pedagogical implications. Robots and building creatively can also be seen as part of the “maker movement”.

Lego-Robotics

Image Source: http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu/4-h/2013/10/03/new-4-h-robotics-club/

Dan Haesler – Guru for Modern Education

After listening to Dan Haesler speak at a conference I immediately wanted to know more. He captured my interest as he discussed changes he feels need to happen in education. Dan touched on many points that resonated with me. In particular his comment stating ‘Why is it that children fail over and over again in computer games and return to it but fail once or twice in maths and give up?’ (Haeslar, 2015)

His discussion and the insights he shared were all too brief for me. He mentioned that he had a blog and I went home and looked it up that night. Dan’s blog is probably the first blog I have really read and his blog was arranged into topics that I could quickly navigate. He has blogged on different issues including; youth, wellbeing, tech and social media, social justice, social commentary, media, leadership, engagement and motivation, education, change and chatting with John Hattie.

Dan’s blog continues that spark he ignited for me as he discusses the short-comings of education and changes we as educators can make to help redefine the education system. I think he is such a powerful speaker as everything he said related to education and practical implications for teachers.

His focus or the catalyst for this change he believes is technology. He discusses how technology can help to change, motivate and engage students. He further discusses and challenges ideas of how we as teachers engage students. Dan raises the question, when we talk about engagement do we mean compliant. Dan speaks of autonomy and letting students explore and find the answers out for themselves.

When we have people like Dan living and working in Australia, I consider how he is as an advocate for change. Dan advocates 21st century skills and the use of technology in the curriculum. As a teacher I can see how the youth of Australia will ultimately benefit if we listen to Dan and embrace change. So how do we get his message out? How can we be the change the education system needs? How do we incorporate technology into education to engage and motivate our students?

My belief is we need to start talking about the leaders we have here in Australia for education, Dan Haesler being one of them. We as teachers need to embrace change instead of being unaware that it is happening around us. Teachers and schools need to embrace technology not just use it a substitution for something else but as a tool that allows us to redefine what we are doing in the classroom. Dan pointed out that students are willing to fail multiple times in video games but not at school. As teachers engage with the youth of today we need to embrace what they are doing in their leisure time and find a way to create that same motivation in the classroom. To colleagues reading this Dan Haesler’s blog is definitely worth a read if your looking for inspiration and engagement for the students in your class.

Link to Dan Haesler’s Blog

Haesler, D. (2015, March 30). Dan Haesler – Educator/Writer/Speaker [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD0IecnxCEA

My First Blog

I’m very new to blogging and this will be my first blog and post.  I’m quite a private person and don’t post much about myself online or even use Facebook all that often.  I find that I share my thoughts with friends or family and usually in person or on the phone, not in public domains.  I’m the same with photos.  I use Instagram to post photos but very rarely put any on there.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy popular culture.  I definitely do!!! I love to have the latest gadgets or play the latest games.  Has anyone else found themselves addicted to Clash of Clans? I watch TV on demand and listen to podcasts when I go walking.  I also enjoy engaging students with popular culture in the classroom as it often makes the lesson more engaging.

What I’m hoping is to learn more about blogging this Semester and then take what I have learnt and create one for the students in my class.  I would ideally like to set up a class reading blog to begin with.  Hopefully that will give me more confidence with using one because then I would like to take it further and set up individual blogs for the students.

lady-921863_1280 (1)

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/lady-abstract-design-blue-921863/