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My Digital Footprint

John Seely Brown

The web has just begun to have an impact on our lives. As fascinated as we are with it today, we’re still seeing it in its early forms… My belief is that not only will the web be as fundamental to society as electrification but that it will be subject to many of the same diffusion and absorption dynamics as that earlier medium.

The Linking for Learning Blog


A Learning Commons Journey

The recent School Library Assoc of Victoria conference focussing on school library design and change was an opportunity to share our 10 year library transition at Mazenod College. The physical transition has been from a 1970's style library, through to a revamp that breathed in new life and flexibility, until finally in March 2018, moving into a competely new building.
Whilst the physical transition has been complex. Before anything could be achieved we needed to have all library staff on board for the journey. This commenced in 2010 when I introduced the concept of School Library as Learning Commons and the idea of changing the day to day library philosophy to a student centred approach. Library in name but with a Learning Commons philosophy. (See writing on this topic).
Bringing staff on board is an essential first step with any change. When a school library transitions, the first step is development of a shared vision and, in our instance, an understanding of the role of the library in the life of the student. The change required involved a commitment to professional learning and growth for each staff member.
This is often an overlooked first step and as a consequence, the library building changes, is refurbished and renewed and the libray staff remain the same. The outcome of a focus on building over staff results in dissatisfaction, resentment and a lack of ownership. 
A new library building is wonderful but the foundation of success in the construction of that building is an involved and committed library team equipped to offer a vision of school library appropriate to today's society.  Be informed, be involved, be ready.



Stephen Fry on the future of technology

The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales UK.  It attracts a crowd of 85,000 people over 10 days who come together to think, discuss and listen to discussions that re-imagine the world and contribute to new thinking and ideas.   

Stephen Fry speaks brilliantly about how technology and the internet is reshaping us and our world.  See other presenters on the conference website and The Hay Festival Youtube Channel




Clouding the ebook sales story



Source:Digital Book World Report 2017

How often do we hear it said that digital publishing is just not taking off?  eBooks are dying before they've really begun and young people are adamant that they prefer the feel of a paper book in their hands in preference to digital.

Whilst some of this feedback is real experience, it's necesssary to look at the statistics from a range of sources  to realise the reports being presented on a regular basis only tell part of the whole story.  As the articles below show, ebook sales statistics are usually taken from data presented by the Big 5 Publishers.  The huge rise in digital publishing, on the other hand, is the Indie and self-published market whose figures are not included in mainstream publishers data.

  • Self-published indie authors are verifiably capturing at least 24% – 34% of all ebook sales in each of the five English-language markets; it’s not just a US-only phenomenon. When you also include the uncategorized authors, the vast majority of whom are also self-published, the true indie share in each market lies somewhere between 30% – 40%.
  • Indies are competing particularly well in the Canadian and Australian ebook markets, nearly approaching the level of dominance they currently hold in the US.
  • The Big Five, on the other hand, are letting themselves progressively get squeezed out of nearly every English-Language ebook market. They make up only 38% of Canadian ebook purchases, and that’s the country where they are holding their ground best; in the US, the Big Five now account for barely 26% of all ebook sales.  (

So, rather than being an ebook vs print book debate, like television vs radio, we are finding there is a place for both formats, plus audiobooks which is another story again!  Articles that tell a different story:

From - February 2017 Big, Bad, Wide & International Report: covering Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo ebook sales in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

From: Print vs Digital, Traditional vs Non-Traditional, Bookstore vs Online: 2016 Trade Publishing by the numbers

From - Has the print book trumped digital? Beware of glib conclusions by Nick Earls

From - No, e-books sales are not falling, despite what publishers say by Mathew Ingram


Screen time for children - finding balance

Managing the screentime of children and adolescents in a society saturated with digital devices is a concern for parents and carers endeavouring to do the right thing by their children.  The official guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommend 2 hours per day were last revised in 2001, well before smart mobile devices.  The guidelines are under review, however, in the meantime they are being used to make judgements that don't fit with the reality.

Earlier this year, The Conversation reported on research reflecting the inadequacy of these screen time guidelines:

A recent online poll of 18,000 children by ABC children’s program Behind the News found that 56% of respondents exceed that two-hour daily limit.

survey of 2,620 Australian children aged eight to 16 years had similar results. The study showed that 45% of eight-year-olds to 80% of 16-year-olds exceed the recommended less than two hours per day limit.

Australian recommendations from the eSafety Commissioner use the Department of Health physical health and sedentary behaviour guidelines but the recommendation for 5-17 year olds of less than 2 hours per day is still unrealistic.

Options for parents therefore fall back on personal judgements.  Common Sense Media, (US based) recommends that parents make those judgements by identifying four main categories of screen time:

  • Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
  • Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
  • Communication: video-chatting and using social media
  • ​Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

The Australian Office of Children's eSafety Commissioner offers Managing Online Time which includes an excellent series of videos from child psychologists who speak directly to specific parental concerns.  For an Australian audience in particular, they are recommended.

Finally, this infographic makes a distinction between educational and recreational screen time and provides an overview for families to manage screen time quality and quantity for young people.  Family involvement and sharing of responsibility is the most recommended approach and, in the meantime, we look forward to an update of the guidelines that are used as benchmarks that influence media reporting of the issue.



Education, PISA & the state of play

Change is one of of the constants of the 21st century and a commitment to be observant of changes occurring in our daily lives and applying them to the classroom is a must for every educator.

In this video Use data to build better schools, Andreas Schliecher, OECD Education Directorate provides an explanation of the role of the PISA 2012 results which reported the educational competencies in reading, mathematics and science of 510,000, 15 year old students across 65 countries.  It proves clarification of many of the arguments surrounding the PISA testing and cuts through the rherotic to place a clear emphasis on why our education system has to change.

Change is not an option.

Dirk Van Damme in his post The global talent pool has taken on a dramatically different look states that by 2030, China will be home to 27% of the global pool of highly educated people, and India to another 23%. The United States would follow with only 8%. And of the emerging economies, Brazil and Indonesia would follow with 5% each. Together China and India would be home to half of the world’s highly educated youth.  Access to education worldwide is increasing and the traditional balances of an educated population are shifting. 

Andreas Schliecher's presentation The high cost of low educational performance is was recorded in 2010.  It provides an overview of the reasons for educational change and the trends that were apparent at that time.  In his article the The case for 21st century learning he stresses the need for educational innovation, saying

Education today is much more about ways of thinking which involve creative and critical approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. It is also about ways of working, including communication and collaboration, as well as the tools they require, such as the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies, or indeed, to avert their risks. And last but not least, education is about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as an active and engaged citizen. These citizens influence what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, and it is this that shapes the role of educators.

He closes by saying "Success will go to those individuals and countries that are swift to adapt, slow to resist and open to change".  We really must look at education broadly with a worldwide perspective to see the real state of play in the world.