Learning hub indeed-what would Steve say?

http://digitalis.nwp.org/site-blog/3pm-library-thoughts-media-technology-sp/5704

Interesting… A library not for books and information inquiry but socializing, technology and constructivism….? What?

‘Maker spaces’? Interesting notion but maybe just a fad? Like Mark Crompton recently blogged, ” “then we need to look at what kind of learning the library is the hub of” . My response? “I believe the kind of learning is driven by the school culture and the kind of hub is the proportional relationship of the library team and their assets and vision. The hub does not work in a vacuum nor does a strong learning school culture thrive without spirited and valued support services including the library program.”

Can KSS implement a ‘maker space’ model in the immediate future? No. Maybe…. Steve Jobs said during a Stanford commencement address, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” He was provoking students to dream and innovate not with clinical business models but passion. Libraries as maker spaces? What role does a library play in any school- never mind the maker movement? So, what would Steve say?

20131028-235909.jpgThe wild notion of the maker movement may not impact us immediately. The learning commons model at KSS evolved organically not prescriptively. High school, like a teenager, has a hierarchy of needs. The role of the library is never an urgent or pressing one. Our library has successful served the needs of our school while adapting educational practice with solid tested pedagogy and some old fashioned trial and error luck. The teacher-librarians over the years have been competent advocates and leaders and faculty were very collaborative. We are the lucky ones. We have a great school. Now the very basis of sound pedagogy is in flux because with social change, now even role of schools is unclear. What’s a library to do? Some schools have no library or no librarian or neither. “They have the Internet, right?” “Kids these days, are computer savvy.” Ya, so? Public school, home school, if children no it all, why do we bother? Of course we know better. School is more than just 3Rs and learning is more than just a bunch of facts on a book or a – screen.

A quality school strives to serve everyone in progressive ways while staying committed to the mandate of curricular standards, exam expectations and graduation concerns. These factors and many more, can squeeze the creative and experimental capacity of educators and our library program is no different. We must firstly support our team while we may nurture innovation when and where we can. This takes time. That said, all our innovations evolve from some unique once crazy lonely idea. Change comes from need and inspiration. Learning and teaching is a complex process of experiences not just technology. Even the late Mr. Tech, Steve Jobs of Apple, said,
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”(Brainyquote)

I wish we would get over our obsession with device driven solutions for everything. It is faulty. Educational best practice is a series actions and relationships developed and enacted with intent. It’s about ideas, skills and the person. BYOD bring your own device should be- Bring Your Own Dialogue, Discourse or Dreams. Libraries are more than books. Libraries are more than spaces. Libraries are environments or biomes of ideas. So perhaps if some 3D printers, modelling clay or green screens were added to the book stacks and computers it wouldn’t really be so weird. I think the hangup is more about control than about having the gear.

With the reality of now having ubiquitous digital content, coming to the library to GET information is not the only role of the space. Information is everywhere. Kids grab raw data from their phone but they need help framing thoughtful questions and probing answers or more questions. Google queries don’t teach you how to read screens nor how to critically think. Finding quality appropriate information that challenges student thinking takes good teaching from the entire team not just access to the Internet. Sticking a laptop or a BYOD in front of a kid and assuming because of his age, the Internet will suffice as a lesson planning makes me ANGRY. It is negligence to not guide students through the reading of digital content and design mindful tasks that empower learning and not just plagiarized regurgitation. We owe them that much. My ideal ‘maker space’ would be a ‘make ’em think’- first.

That is where a learning commons model comes in. Students get coaching all day even when outside of their classroom bell schedule. If faculty and teacher-librarian collaborate and share goals, methods and outcomes, a sophisticated learning hub can exist all day. Older teens CAN function at very high levels of inquiry and creative learning CAN occur in pockets or niches of activity. Quality designed lessons encourage students to reach beyond the teacher and the classroom and challenge the basic information. Investigate deeper for evidence. Students should be guided to create personal thesis statements and document reflections. Perhaps this is where the evolution of classroom, library, digital library, learning commons and maker space is revealed? Outcomes of evidence of learning are expressed beyond the quiz or written answer but in annotated and even constructed 3D models of data and the inquiry process. (Ekdahl)

At the the senior level, the redefining of ‘library’ space is coming whether we design it or fight it. I’m seeing it already- kids want service/access for digital content AND social flexible space. The KSS LIBRARY has organically been a learning commons before experts started calling modern library programs thus. Why? Because we provided multitasking, multipurpose, client focus service with learning, reading and scholarship as the core. If I was to teach another 5 years, I think I could see us implementing ‘maker stations’ rather like we do now with printers, scanners, AppleTV or paper cutters or iPads… IF we have the room? We would need to remove more stacks of useful books and renovate …but it won’t be me… 😉

20131028-211117.jpg(mixed media by Hanna, narrative,topography,mathematics)

A warp in the commons universe I’ve noticed is the incongruence of opinion as to what the library should be. What is it? To a teen who only knows the library as a place to hang out and stay warm, being expected to demonstrate academic rigour or creative initiative now is a shock. To a student who only knows a middle school library as place to quietly read books, a senior high school learning commons is a busy, demanding and yes, sometimes noisy place. Today, I get asked a dozen times an hour, “May I borrow a laptop” or “why can’t I sit here?” Some students now see, a pre-reserved English 11 class, trumping their right to a chair or computer as an injustice! “What do you mean, I have to move or leave? WT? It’s my spare! It’s the library! ” The vast majority of our students though are fabulou, cooperative gems of youth but diverse expectations exist and I’m occasionally seen as the chair or laptop nazi.

When we don’t get feeder students until Grade 10, adopting cultural traditions or sharing community expectations of 2000 people is a huge challenge. If I simply MANDATE unilateral rules across the board, that doesn’t evolve into a healthy community of learning hub. I straddle priorities to serve teacher initiatives and open access for student centered projects like reading, homework or yes, creative endeavours. etc. Some exciting initiatives like ‘maker spaces’ tax space, people, inventory even further. With more kids working on personalized projects or streams, in an an open campus school, the learning commons model is a natural fit-but… It takes a welcoming well-equipped facility, supervision, support expertise and maintenance to keep the facility and clients all happy and productive. An effective learning hub for large schools is a challenge. Not unlike a classroom, on a grand scale, orchestrating all the elements and moving parts in a diverse collection of people and needs is as much art as science and a whole lot of faith.

It’s exciting. It’s busy. Both Sharon (and her temp Jeff) and I have been run off our feet but we really wouldn’t want it another way. Positive change needs energy. Nothing moves without inertia. The KSS Library currently is a healthy learning hub because the KSS admin, community and student culture supports it. Ultimately, success of any program is not about spaces but about people and relationships. Somehow it all just works. Like Steve a Jobs said, ” Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

It’s a nice problem to have- a competition for space and services. It is nice to be challenged by the competing needs of your services. It means the library is valued yet I also feel we(KSS) needs to re-evaluate the role of the school library and the teacher-librarian and design our own road map forward. It takes constant passionate coaching, encouragement and participation by teachers and administrators that THEIR LIBRARY is always focused on learning- a value added hub, as it were. Our Principal, Mrs. Kintzinger, has a goal for our school to be a ‘collaborative learning community’ where ‘ ‘Where All are Valued’. These are organic and people centered visions I would say. I’d say it sounds very much like a healthy library. What would Steve say? Is it hungry or crazy enough?
Again, Jobs was quoted, “Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’ but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’….So what can we do with it?

Works Cited

Crompton, Marc. “Bloom, Makerspaces and the Learning Commons.” Adventures in
Libraryland. N.p., 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
.
Ekdahl, M., M. Farquharson, J. Robinson, L. Turner. 2010. The Points of Inquiry:
A Framework for In- formation Literacy and the 21st Century Learner.
Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Teacher- Librarians’ Association.

Jobs, Steve. Brainyquote.com Oct 28, 2013.

Jobs, Steve RIP. MacRumours. MacRumours, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
.

Kroski, Ellyssa. “A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources.”
iLibrarian Blog. OEDB, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
.
Rebora, Anthony. “Latest Curriculum Craze: Making Stuff.” Teaching Now.
EDweek.org, 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .

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literateowl.com @literateowl
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*******************Al Smith*************************

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Filed under Professional Development, Reflective Learning, School Library, Teacher Professional

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