This year the first IT-related professional development push in my new school is with the librarians across the three Qatar Academy schools: Early years, Primary and Secondary. We have three libraries and, including the multimedia specialist, 10 staff. We meet for one hour, the very first hour of the week, and look at turning the information centres of this school into 21st century libraries that are dynamic, thriving and accessible 24/7.
As with any new initiatives in the school there is a vast difference in abilities amongst the existing staff, however there is one thing all the librarians have in common: they know nothing (or very little) yet about Web.2.0. I am really pleased to be starting here with the information hubs. The skills these teachers and assistants will learn and use will permeate throughout the rest of the school so that by the time the students and other teachers come on board with new modes of learning and retrieving and storing information, the libraries will be able to advise, guide and lead them.
So, I have started with a wiki page(s) on Digital Literacy and have mapped out some objectives and a plan of what to cover. I am hoping the motivation of my new colleagues will stay high and we can keep meeting throughout the year. Let me share with you the first 3 sessions. More resources mentioned below are also hyperlinked from the second wiki page on Web 2.0.
Session 1: Social Bookmarking
I played the 'Social Bookmarking in Plain English' video on YouTube.
Then we looked at delicious and explored the concept and practice of folksonomy. I had already set up a Qatar Academy delicious account for my Grade 6 classes and invited participation from the librarians. This was a success as immediately they could see the benefits and applications of this tool.
Session 2: More Social Bookmarking and Introduction to RSS
We reviewed the delicious skills and I foudn out that some personal accounts had been made and maintained over the week as well as the Qatar Academy account. Thought had also been given to sectional school accounts and a Primary school account was activated. We agreed that the information specialists in the school could be responsible for overseeing school accounts, we did not decide if it was a good idea for students to have the ID and PW of these accounts. I have given this information to my grade 6 students for the QA account along with discussion about digital citizenship and responsible sue of shared online resources.
I showed how bundles can be made to reduce tagging overload and also how accounts can be networked together.
The intro to RSS was a little shaky...this is a tough learning curve. I played the "RSS in Plain English' video and We Fryer's 'What is RSS?' and then encouraged the use of personal Bloglines accounts. This was where I lost most of the group. I think opening my current Bloglines....it is in a mess really, although I can see through the mess...discouraged them. The head librarian said to me that once they saw how many of my feeds I was not keeping up with (!!...not enough time!!) they felt helpless and lost.
OK, back to the drawing board, how do I introduce RSS and not alienate my team?? I believe RSS in its practical form is one of the most powerful Web 2.0 concepts and I really wanted them to understand and use it.
Session 3: More Web 2.0 Concepts and More RSS
Over the weekend my luck changed! I was handed a fool-proof way of introducing essential Web 2.0 concepts in a practical and non-alienating way. Thanks to Atomic Learning and Vicki Davis there is now a Web 2.0 Workshop series of videos that covers introductory Web 2.0 terminology and then concentrates on RSS, using NetVibes as the main platform for feeds. We worked our way through the 5 lessons for setting your RSS reader today and then started the section on Feeds and Views. I had a winner here. The team were understanding because the videos were bite-size, user-friendly and on-target to what we needed, and they were understood by people who were struggling to make sense of this new jargon and new methods of information retrieval. All participants were able to setup NetVibes and start to feed through websites etc (they all subscribed to Vickis blog as well!).
A special mention to Joyce Valenza and Judy O'Connell, two information specialists who are out there and who have inspired me, as I am using their work to help inspire the team as well. Today we discussed Joyce Valenza's Information Fluency wiki and "You know you're a 21st century librarian if....." The library head mentioned she was going to take some of these ideas and use them in the new 5-year plan for libraries and media she is putting together...every little bit helps towards moving past the 20th century.
Thank you to all of my revolutionary colleagues who take the time to put online numerous resources via blogs, wikis and video material. I could never have produced the range and quality of resources by myself. This is such a wonderful way to share and help educators around the world develop skills and knowledge.
A quick mention also of a TechLearning eBook I found today called 'Professional Development through Just in Time Learning' hosted by Atomic Learning.
Also, seeing as this blog post is about professional development, check out the new WiziQ virtual classroom (it's free!).
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