Learning 2.011 Reflection
September 8-10, I attended the Learning 2.011 Conference hosted by Shanghai Community International School just outside of Shanghai, China. This conference had been on my radar for nearly a year and a half prior, having heard about it as other international educators signed up for the 2010 conference, tweeted their way through the actual conference, and then followed up with blog responses to the entire thing. I knew then that I really wanted to make an effort to attend this year.
The conference was set-up was quite unlike anything I had experienced before. There were the regular keynote address (which were far from ordinary). There were a plethora of workshops on nearly any technology concept that you could imagine. There were the traditional breaks with some good food. But then, unlike other conferences I’ve attended, there were cohorts and unconference sessions.
This cohort gave me the opportunity to meet and dialogue with a number of other teacher-librarians in Asia. As a group, we decided to focus on 4 aspects of school librarianship:
- Personal Learning Networks
- E-Books in Libraries
- The Library Program
- Workshop Tool & Book Recommendation Swap
Out of these discussions, I came away with some of these insights, hopes, and ideas for my library:
- PLNs – I joined SILCAsia, a yahoo! listserv serving school librarians throughout Asia. While it is not an incredibly active group (a post every week or so), it is obviously being closely monitored. I put out a plea a week ago for examples of Curricular Request Forms and within 24 hours, I had three responses with some great ideas. There was one shared Google Doc, one school website-hosted form, and one Google Form. I will likely be creating a modified version of the Google Form to use in my library.
- Ebooks – I’ve been thinking a lot about how to start getting ebooks into my library. I still don’t have a definite answer but I have a much better idea about what I would like to see on whatever device we decide upon. One idea that came up was purchasing non-fiction in a digital form. This makes even more sense with how much weeding we’re currently doing in our non-fiction section. Digital content has the potential to be updated whereas our hardcopies are stuck in their publication year.
- Ebooks – Wheelers is definitely a possibility as an ebook provider for us here in the Philippines. I like that they are not married to a certain device but can work on Apple products, Android devices, and a variety of other e-readers.
- Library Program – Databases were a big topic of conversation. They are so expensive and many of us wonder whether we are actually getting enough use out of them. One librarian talked about a 300% increase in the use of databases when she started running reports, individually working with teachers, encouraging teachers to require a variety of resources, and then supporting teachers when they came into the library. This is already a method that I’m using but I know that I could see improvement if I was able to spend more time teaching the databases to the teachers prior to their needing it in class.
- Library Program – I also came away with a desire to increase our online presence in the library. We will likely be creating a Library Homepage for our library computers before next school year. I’d also like to develop a Facebook Fan Page for the library to get the word out about new books and new initiatives in the library.
- Tool Swap – Wow! Joyce Valenza’s LibGuides are a work of art. The word-use of the librarian as a curator is a bit new to me but I’m completely on-board with the concept. I doubt that we will use LibGuides simply because of the expense, but we also looked at scoop.it, a free option.
The keynotes at this conference were among the most engaging that I’ve heard. Nearly every presenter used technology but in a way that was supportive and did not distract from the overall message. Each presenter was also facing an audience armed with devices. Nearly conference attendee had a laptop, tablet, or smartphone powered up. Some were taking notes on Google Docs, some were tweeting, and others were conducting a back-channel chat.
Kevin Honeycutt started us out on the evening of the first day of the conference challenging us with two phrases that I have been playing around with in my head since September 8:
- L2L2L – Learn to Love to Learn: How many of my students love the learning process? How am I encouraging or facilitating this love for learning? Do my assignments promote that love for leanring or do they encourage students to simply tick the boxes?
- “You are as good as how fast you can learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – This is a powerful statement in how we approach technology (or perhaps anything) in education. Flexibility and a desire to continue to learn is absolutely necessary for the world we live in.
Jabiz Raisdana treated me to my very first live Pecha-Kucha presentation. To introduce us to part of his Personal Learning Network, he spent 20 seconds on each of his 20 slides. Although slightly out of breath at the end of his presentation, he told us the story of his learning transformation in the last 3 years and the people who have been a part of that process. One very cool aspect of his presentation was his slides. He didn’t spend any time searching for images or creating them. He asked those 20 individuals to take a picture of themselves with a picture of him in the photo. Some of them green-screened their photos into wild destinations. Some held up a picture of Jabiz to a webcam and took the photo. Some “hid” him in the photo.
WORKSHOPS AND UNCONFERENCE SESSIONS
Throughout the course of the three days, along with the keynote and cohort sessions, I attended 7 workshops and unconference sessions. The topics were broad but have already been so helpful to my teaching. One of the most helpful sessions was titled as a workshop but definitely felt more like a dialogue.
Jabiz Raisdana (Pecha-Kucha guy) facilitated a conversation about design and how it does indeed matter. We talked about everything from color wheels to the rule of thirds to fonts and then spent a lot of time on Creative Commons work. It was incredibly insightful and I’ve used much from that session as I collaborated with our Grade 7 English teacher on autobiography projects. Some fun CC resources that I learned about were:
- MultiColr Search Lab – search for CC images based on your choice of a color palette.
- TinEye – reverse image search.
- Blue Mountains Flickr – interesting images from Flickr based on keywords.
- CompFight – Another nifty Flickr search tool.
One of the unconferences that I attended was on the idea of a Flipped Classroom. I had heard the concept a couple of times through blogs and such before I got to the conference but I wanted to ask some questions and dialogue with those who are actually doing it. I had a fascinating conversation with a science teacher from another international school here in Manila who is experimenting with the flipped model this year. Rather than hearing a presentation, I asked questions and tried some of the tools that he’s working with.
Although I wish that I had written this reflection while things were still fresh in my mind, I’m finding as I’ve gone through my notes that I’ve already implemented a number of things that I took away from the conference. Those were the things that were immediately helpful. I’m also re-discovering things that I’d like to work on implementing in the future in my library setting. (I even shot off the fun CC tools to a couple of people in the middle of writing this!) Definitely some good things to keep in mind as I continue to L2L2L.