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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


Graphic novels as a choice for adolescent readers

The reading habits of today's teenagers have changed but does this mean that they are reading less? Recently I conducted an investigation into the online reading habits of our students having observed them accessing and sharing online graphic novel sites within the library during recess and lunch breaks. While some students read alone, reading and sharing ‘good reads’ is an obvious social activity. 

We already know that these students are avid readers of hard copy graphic novels, so the purpose of this exercise was to establish what they read for recreation online and how this fits with what we provide as a school library.  Do they read online instead of borrowing from the library or is reading online a supplement to their current reading practice?  What is the attraction to reading online?  

The results of this investigation showed that students do not rely on the school library for their recreational reading and that it is worth taking note of their interests when considering collection development.

In addition to the resources included in this investigation are other graphic novel resources on this site. 


Library 2.013 - 2 days of collaboration


Over the past 2 days Steve Hargadon and the team at Library 2.0 have facilited the third annual worldwide conversation about the future of libraries via the Library 2.013 Worldwide Virtual Conference.   Held entirely online, around the clock, in multiple languages and time zones, it's been a fabulous conversation.  I only caught parts of it but am looking forward to catching up on those missed via the Session Recordings.

Alignment of the Conference Schedule to each time zone made keeping track of sessions simple e.g. the Melbourne Schedule.  All sessions were broadcast via Blackboard Collaborate. Twitter hashtag was #lib2013.

I was particularly pleased to attend Virtual Learning Commons by Dr David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin who have applied their extensive knowledge of learning and libraries to provide a framework that can be adopted by any school library.  Having spent the day with Carol in Toronto last year, this was a wonderful opportunity to further consolidate knowledge of the Learning Commons concept.

Kelly Gardner from State Library of Victoria, coordinator of the SLV/ School Library Assoc of Vic (SLAV) Personal Learning Project (#vicpln) presented Delivering Library Learning Online.  Kelly described how the concept of the VicPLN is now being applied to other services within the State Library.  A clear indication of the flexibility and opportunities offered via the online format.

The variety is astounding with presentations from experienced and highly qualified library professionals across the whole range of public and academic libraries.  Sprinkled with the experiences of developing African libraries, social media, knowledge management and MOOCs, this is a truly valuable resource.

Thanks again Steve H and team for making this collaboration and learning possible.


Student ICT leadership - Tapping into the Talent

Presented at the ELH Conference, Lorne, Victoria, August 2013, this presentation shared the journey of the iSupport Team at Mazenod College since its inception in May 2012.  

The premise of the iSupport Team builds on that fact that students are the largest group of users of technology within any school, representing a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm, yet their voice is largely unheard in relation to ICT planning and deployment.  Formation of the iSupport Team in 2012 has given Mazenod College students a voice.  It has brought like-minded students together under the umbrella of a shared passion for technology and a willingness to act as mentors and guides to others.  The Team provides a network of students across the school identified as ‘ICT experts’.  Students who can assist teachers in the classroom or on a one-to-one basis; support new staff and students; provide feedback to the IT Department, inform college families about safe use at home and coordinate the introduction of gaming experiences such as Minecraft within the college.

Inspired by the successful GenYES program and its president Sylvia Martinez, the iSupport Team is a service model of leadership whose members support the growth of digital literacy skills and confidence in the use of technology by all members of the school community. 

Lead by the Year 12 iSupport prefect and senior students, the Team meets fortnightly, and between meetings keeps in touch via social media.  Tapping into this talent at Mazenod College has been an empowering experience for all involved.  Students have gained an authentic role representing, not only their own peers but all members of the college community.  As they discuss, translate and transfer knowledge and ideas about the technology in their daily lives its more than an information process, it’s empowerment. 


Neil Gaiman - Why fiction is dangerous

What is the value of a strong culture of recreational reading within a school?  In this presentation by author Neil Gaiman at Book Expo America 2013 he explains why the value of reading is critically real and important.  Coming from a successful writer of science fiction, it illustrates what is happening in our minds when we, and our students, are reading.  

You can cut straight to the chase at the 23:46 minute mark of the presentation, although having started there, I know you will go back to the beginning to hear what he says about his own writing, specifically his new books: The Ocean at the end of the lane and Fortunately the milk.

In speaking of writing he says:  'Writing is like driving at night.'  Not knowing what's ahead but recognising it once it's lit up with your imagination.  

In speaking of reading, specifically, Why fiction is dangerous, his words are from the heart. He says, fiction is dangerous because it lets you into other peoples' heads; because it gives you empathy; it shows you that the world doesn't have to be like the one you live in.

He explains this through recounting an experience while attending the first science fiction convention in China in 2007 when he asked a party official what had brought about such a change of heart that the government was now hosting such a convention.  While not illegal, science fiction had been frowned upon in China for a long time.  It was regarded as subversive.  What had changed?

The official explained that in China they are good at making things people bring to them, however, they don't invent.  They went to America and talked to innovative tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple asking them what they read as children to be capable now in their adulthood of such innovative and creative ideas.   They all said they read science fiction; they read fantasy.

This is a powerful expression of not only the value but the NEED to take our students into a world that, in many cases, is only available through their English teacher, teacher librarians and passionate librarians.  It doesn't have to be science fiction but we are the ones who give students the opportunity to ignite their imagination through reading.  It is dangerous.  As Gaiman says, it develops creative thought; 'It shows you that the world doesn't have to be like the one you live in.'  Dangerous, but essential.

Focus on the development of creativity has been a priorty for the Chinese government since Gaiman's encounter six years ago.  Much could be said about the complexity of China, however, hosting a Science Fiction Convention was an early step in acknowledging the value of creativity and imagination.

Bibliography: The New Livestream (2013). Neil Gaiman - from BEA Live 1. [online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 13 Jun 2013].




Science teaching solving real world problems

At King Middle School, Maine, USA students take an integrated approach to learning science through real world problem solving.  The closing student comments speak volumes about the learning expectations of today's students - "science is building, science is doing, science is creating ........ usually in school you learn about the things in the world that are bad, .......I think that school shouldn't be just about learning about problems, it should be about solving them."

Thanks to Bob Sprankle for sharing

Maine School Engages Kids With Problem-Solving Challenges


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