Image by Colette Cassinelli via Flickr
Thank you Greg for bringing light to the whole idea of virtual space and our new learning commons in your latest podcast. Letting go of traditional views on how classrooms will look on the inside and outside, along with how our new cyberspace identity will embrace Christ like qualities, is so REFRESHING and EXCITING!
At HCOS we are dealing with a blended library this year as we incorporate brick and mortar HCS school with HCOS online school. Having a physical space is exciting because we can use this base to dream BIG, on how to blend both libraries while incorporating two student/staff bodies. Originating in a cyberspace our online library has had to reinvent itself to take on 21 century learning. This has been challenging in some ways, but thrilling in others, as God helps us understand the makeup of our school, the different and fluctuating needs as we grow in discipling the next generation.
First and foremost we need to set Jesus and his gospel of Love and Service as our motto in all we do and share. We need to uphold our goal in the library which is "to transform young people across the globe by means of a Christ-infused resource based library. Recognizing that HCOS has been given an extraordinary opportunity to provide a distinct online educational framework, one that will impact youth in BC and around the world. Our goal is to prepare our students to become lifelong learners, who can disseminate information consistently, and research effectively online, while actively engaging in their world from a Christian world-view, through discipleship-based Christian Education."
Image by doug88888 via FlickrI loved Mark Daley's call for our school at the recent Christian Educator symposium, which included: "What is the most ethical space for Christian education?.” At least in part, we are answering this in two senses. First, it is humanizing (don’t you just love that our faith tradition started all that good stuff). But second, it must also be life-child-voice affirming."
So how do we go about creating a new learning commons era, which includes both physical and virtual space, with Christ firmly before and behind us in everything we give voice to?
1. We need to recognize that we are all life long learners, and that having a teaching or a librarianship degree does not make us sufficient in all. We need to keep reading our Bible along with reading and learning what is new in 21 century classrooms and pedagogy. This means taking some professional development where necessary, so we can grow in utilizing technology for the right reasons and to uphold our next generation who are already leaps and bounds ahead of us. We need to recognize that our students can be a huge resource in building our 21 century classroom, and we need to listen to their suggestions.
2. Our library team are more than just book "shelvers", and keepers of the quiet revered library space. Hard cover books are being replaced by E Books, and the dissemination of information becomes even more seamless as new technological innovations become available. Libraries will no longer be storage repositories but places to meet, greet, learn and share technology and literacy. Our blended library consists of Claire (Subscriptions), Shandra (physical school campus HCOS and HCS Blended Librarian), Eirena (HCOS Librarian) Shelley (HCS Librarian) and Natalie (Resource Consultant) and myself (Teacher Librarian). In God's eyes we are all blended learning information officers in His library creation. Wow, we are so blessed to have this amazing team of library staff.
We want to generate VOICE in our library and we invite teachers, parents and staff to come along and share with us how they see the library developing in this regard. How do we establish professional collaboration on a regular basis, when we don't have a staff room or physical entity to call home. Despite this non-entity our staff is generating voice on numerous issues in Outlook where we share our email. We are beginning to collaborate on many different issues from helping each other out, sharing stories and providing educational resources in cyberspace. We are holding Elluminate sessions for online courses, private tutoring and book clubs, creating wikis and documents to store for future generations. We would love to see that VOICE continue to establish community online.
How do we bring cyberspace classrooms and brick and mortar classrooms together to utilize all that the library has to offer? God has provided us with so many wonderful digital and non digital tools, and yet some of our users are not actively using the library for it's full potential. How do we encourage our teachers and parents to bring their students into the library to take full advantage of its resources, instead of remaining in their own virtual and physical space?
3. We redefine the library into a learning commons arena, where students can come and meet and greet and chat about books, and concepts they are learning in online courses, along with teachers who are collaborating using Google docs, wikis and other technology.
4. Picture the old library you grew up with, full of musty old books collecting dust on tall, grey and shaded shelves. Picture hard, uncomfortable chairs , bad lighting and no handheld technology or places to collaborate freely. Now picture the 21 century learning commons, where virtual and physical space come together with comfortable lightweight furniture, relaxed seating for group meetings, digital space for meetings, creative use of light, laptop corners, E book readers, along with adaptive technology for special needs. We need to create group and individual spaces for meeting so that students will come in just to hang out.
Then bring it all together with a meeting place including our library website which offers Christian resources, databases, technology tools, place to chat (this is something we are working on creating in the coming year in the way of a forum or wiki), and professional development and staff collaboration. AND you have a new reinvented library which is INVITING and CELEBRATORY of all the amazing creations our students, and staff are experiencing. Take away the vision you have of a librarian as a silly, old, lady with bun on her head and steel rimmed glasses, and you have VOILA the New Generation Learning Commons Informational specialist.
Image via WikipediaAs a library committee we are not only concerned with the domain of books, even though it is still a crucial part of the information world, but we are also savvy users of all types of technology, from online article databases to YouTube, subscriptions to e-book readers, etc. When library information is efficiently transferred to its users then collaboration can happen and learning evolves! Parents can step back and watch learning transform their students into new digital leaders with Christian perspective.
5. We can merge our computer lab with the library to make the two run simultaneously, so that technical expertise is encouraged with students sharing audio and video production and leading the way. My son is already ahead in this area, and I learn from him how to do most things that are techie!
6. Let us encourage social networking and multimedia tools in our own homes, as well as in the classroom. Many of our teachers are already working on blogging, using wikis, Twitter, and Google docs, and many parents and students have made E portfolios a way to embrace the future. Let us work on creating fenced blog sites for younger students, like Kidblog to get them used to interacting on the net safely before releasing them to the world wide web. Let us teach our students about safe practices online, by using the resources we have available at our library. Let us encourage our students to be risk takers by role modeling what it means to be risk takers in Christ. BUT let us create safe boundaries for students with frameworks for how to behave online, just like you would in the home. Monitor your students' behaviour on the net and allow for communication guidelines. Allowing students to have VOICE via social networking is LIFE affirming because they are being heard. Let US hear their VOICE instead of leaving it to their generation.
7. Let us be brave new children in Christ and experiment with technology to find LIFE affirming ways of collaboration, and as Greg Bitgood shared, help our students create safe digital footprints.
Let us find ways to encourage virtual conferencing space for collaboration, spaces to highlight student work, news feeds, student and staff blogs, etc. We are already doing this on our library website but more can still be done. This space should focus on the educational goals of the school, and it should include opportunities for those goals to be met. It can also serve the experimental purpose of the learning commons as it can be a place to test-drive new technologies and ideas. If our library website can become the one stop shop for all of our learning needs, then let us start the collaboration sooner rather than later!
8. Where is GRACE in this picture? We recognize that we cannot do this without God's provisions,vision, timing and forgiveness when we make mistakes. We need to relax and hold firm to His promises.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone be found boasting. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10
We welcome your thoughts as we begin this new journey transitioning to a new learning commons in 2012. How can we help support our staff, parents and students in this process?
Blessings to you