Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Evolution of a Library


cc licensed flickr photo shared by ConanTheLibrarian

My grandmother was a school librarian who nurtured my love for books. Not so long ago I can remember going to the local public library and looking things up in the card catalogue. It felt good to shuffle through those Dewey Decimal cards, and even better to go to the stacks and rummage through the books searching for treasure. Sometimes I had something in mind, but, more often than not, I loved the unexpected discoveries – those books that for whatever reason I just had to read. I loved both the sound and feel of the book jackets as I placed the finds in my backpack to carry home.

While I still fondly remember my childhood Saturday morning walks past the Chinook bowling alley and into the library, I have learned enough from reading those wonderous books to remain open to new possibilities, to appreciate discoveries, and to remember the value of sharing information.

I still enjoy visiting the library, but find the experience has changed. It has expanded far beyond the scope of books or research materials, and has gone digital. I am lucky enough to teach at a large high school with two exceptional librarians who help guide me and our students through this ever-changing 21st century journey. One of them, Al Smith, was kind enough to take a moment and allow me to interview him about the changing role of the library. Below are the questions I asked Al – if you have a moment pour a cup of tea and listen…

TechTalksPodcast – The Evolution of a Library (run time: about 8 minutes)

In keeping with the ‘media test kitchen’ theme of this blog I edited the audio for this podcast in GarageBand. The opening and closing music stings were created using Magic GarageBand.

1. How long have you been a librarian? What would you say are the most significant changes to happen in the library over that time?

2. What are your favourite “tech tools” to use in the library?

3. How do you use custom search engines?

4. What challenges do you face implementing technology within a public school?

5. Do you use social media, and if so why?

6. Do you have any tech advice you can pass on to the listener – perhaps a favourite tech tip (or tips)?

Presenting Social Media

The following slideshow is one element of a class I created for education undergrad students at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). I was asked to introduce students to the concepts of connectivism and social media. Mike Minions teaches this course  – Education 407 – check out the course wiki.

This is my first attempt using slideshare and embedding it into WordPress – I’m hoping my links have held up.

The Big Picture


cc licensed flickr photo shared by the1secondfilm

I recently approached the administration in my school district about creating a YouTube channel for my media and film production high school students. The purpose of the channel would be twofold – firstly, to showcase student work, and secondly (and more importantly), to allow my students to learn from each other. I’ve always had class sharing of all media or film projects, but they tended to be a “too short class viewing” followed by a quick critical discussion of the work (all within a 70 minute block). While this has worked, it didn’t allow for (easy) repeat viewings that are needed when checking out certain techniques or searching for deeper meaning. Students would now have both the opportunity and the time to see each others films and think about them beyond the walls of the classroom and the minutes of the typical school day.

The idea of a YouTube channel emerged because my students had been requesting it and it was clear to me their voices needed to be heard. It is something that has relevance to their world, but extends to an educational application. Some students even suggested they would be able to link their work to their resumes or post-secondary applications, while others wanted to be able to show their parents our work. Clearly we were heading in the right direction. The good news is the school district has supported this initiative.

When I approached the school district I provided some clear parameters for how we would use this high school channel. I would be in charge of uploading so care would be taken regarding security and privacy issues, and there would be clear quality control – it isn’t simply a matter of every project being posted. Students must use copyright free, or cleared material only (I’ll cross the mash-up and re-mix bridge when I get to it!). Students who appear on camera must have their parents sign a letter giving permission for this. We are still sorting out what to do with the credits, but we’ll start by only including students’ first names and last initials. I am hopeful this can be expanded to full names as we get a better sense of the cyber implications. If other issues arise we’ll keep all stakeholders informed and make decisions accordingly. It has been my experience when embracing new technologies that it works well to start slowly and then expand boundaries as understanding grows and the needs change.

One of the first projects we’re going to try on the channel is to experiment with one story told using a variety of web tools. This idea originates with Alan Levine (aka “cogdog”) who explored over 50 web tools to tell the story of his dog Dominoe. Not only will students learn the tools, but they will also figure out which ones worked better than others and why. The students have agreed on the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” because the story has a universal theme and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. We are just getting underway on this project so stay tuned for updates.

And now for the big picture!

I have discovered by using social media and web tools myself, that, in turn, my students share their similar interests. Out of this emerges a valuable dialogue that centres on creating a digital identity. Most of my students had never really given much thought to their digital footprint before (other than avoiding posting inappropriate photos on Facebook or elsewhere), and have welcomed the chance to talk about it. This discussion has led them to realize that creating their digital identity and managing their reputation is something they have a lot of control over, and it is both valuable and increasingly necessary in the world. Indeed, they begin to see both the forest and the trees.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Timo Kirkkala