Sunday, April 1, 2012

The end is here!

This is it, my friend, the final post.
Thanks for helping, you mean the most.
The things I have learned from the great big web,
The good, the bad, continue to ebb.
This isn't good-bye but so long for now,
I will see you on the web, somewhere, somehow!

While I continue on my learning journey as a teacher-librarian, I have embraced my inner geek as technology becomes an integral part of the learning process for teachers and students alike. As the definition of “21st century learning” continues to shift and change, I know that I need to be a leader in understanding and adopting new technologies to guide teachers and students along this new educational path (Naslund, 2008; Valenza, 2010). LIBE 477 is therefore, perhaps the most relevant course I have taken thus far at UBC.
The inquiry project for LIBE 477 has been a challenging yet fun journey. I began the journey with great gusto, stumbled around a bit in the middle and finished with a flourish. At the start of this project, I classified myself as an “intermediate” technology user. With the inquiry project, I was hoping to advance my level of technology use and understanding. Specifically, I was looking to:
  • try out some Web 2.0 tools I have not used before
  • discover some Web 2.0 tools that would be appropriate to use with elementary aged students
  • use a Web 2.0 tool with a group students in the library
  • better manage online information flow

I have investigated a number of Web 2.0 tools including: Facebook, Twitter/TweetDeck, Diigo, Pinterest, Kidblog, Blogmeister, Voki, Glogster, VoiceThread and Storybird. I have used these tools personally and evaluated them for use with students and teachers at my school. I have been working with students and teachers to incorporate Web 2.0 tools into their learning. I have also developed a better system for managing online information flow.

Where was I and where am I now?
I began this project as an intermediate technology user and have definitely moved forward and advanced my level of technology use and understanding. Although I was comfortable using technology when I started, I was mostly a consumer of this technology. I am now an active participant who is comfortable using social media and online platforms for myself. I am also continually looking for ways to guide teachers and students, allowing them to take advantage and learn with these technologies as well. While the Web 2.0 tools available for online learning will continue to change, I feel I now have a solid foundation to move forward with. Of course, as much as I learn and become comfortable with these technologies, I will always remain a “digital immigrant” (Prensky, 2001). I will therefore never become an “expert” technology user, even though my level understanding and use has progressed immensely.

Some highlights
☆  “the blog”
Part of the inquiry process was the creation of a blog. I saw this blog as a journal of sorts, chronicling my journey in Web 2.0 as I have chronicled things for other library courses. It was not until I received feedback from my instructor that I understood the real task at hand - I was to become a blogger. The blog was not to just keep track of what I was doing and keep my own personal comments on things, I was to create a blog that might actually be interesting to others! After about a week of pondering came the change in my blog; I needed a catchy title and some kind of theme to run through the blog. Titles need to be interesting and so do the first few sentences if people are to read any further. I then went back and revamped my whole blog so that it became the type of blog that I would want to follow. Richardson (2010) says “we (teachers) must become connected and engaged in learning in these new ways if we are to fully understand the pedagogies of using these tools with our students” (p. x). It is through the creation of my own blog that I was able to experience this change. Of course, I could have pushed the experience farther by tweeting my blog posts, but I am not quite there yet. Alas, perhaps the biggest learning experience came from where I least expected it; I did not realize that the blog creating was part of my inquiry!

☆  Facebook
It is kind of ironic that Facebook is one of the tools I chose to investigate for this inquiry project. Facebook, the social media phenomenon that everyone uses - except me! How could I be so technologically adept yet shun Facebook? I think it might be because of the timing of it; Facebook came out in 2004 when I was home with a three year old and a one year old. I was not spending a lot of time in front of the computer, but was hearing the horror stories of photos posted by “friends” and slandering reputations. My administrator husband kept me aware of the problems students were getting into using Facebook. It sounded like your whole life was, well, an open book! Most of my friends embraced Facebook, though I continued to avoid it, even as I begun my foray into online learning and my technology integration skyrocketed.
A huge part Web 2.0 learning involves the social aspect of online applications. Richardson (2010) claims that it is “the conversations, the links, and the networks” that come out of using Web 2.0 tools “that really show us the profound implications for lifelong learning” (p. 9). As of 2011, there were 500,000,000 active Facebook users (Hepburn, 2011). I am now one of those active users. I am will continue to use Facebook to connect with friends, near and far. Sharing day to day events as well as larger moments with friends who I may not talk to each day is enjoyable and social.  As I am sitting by myself on my couch trying to finish my course work, I can still feel a part of the world!

☆   TweetDeck
Using Twitter for the past year, I realize its value in developing my PLN, but have frequently overwhelmed with the amount of information coming in (Pearse, 2011; Smith, 2009). TweetDeck has really improved my use of Twitter. Having columns with different subject/hashtag feeds makes it much easier to keep track of the latest information coming in. During the BCTF annual general meeting, I added a column with the hashtag #bctfagm so I could keep up to date on what was happening and kept it on my opening page. I have since removed that column as the AGM has finished. It is also very convenient that TweetDeck is just a tab away in my Chrome browser and also contains my Facebook feed.

☆   Voki
Although I had seen Vokis in the past, I had never ventured to the website or tried to make one before this inquiry project. I was interested in Voki particularly because of the ability to use it with my students in French or English. It was really easy to use and it is also fun! Because students can record their own voice, without typing or spelling,  Voki can be used in many different ways for various aged students, also allowing for differentiation based on learning styles and abilities (Huebner, 2010). The students love the crazy guy with the pink hair that welcomes them to the library website and are really hoping that they will get to make their own. Right now, I am still working out the logistics of having 24 students talking into their computers at the same time.

☆  Storybird
I think Storybird is my favourite web application that I explored for this inquiry project. I was able to create a free account that can host up to 75 students without email addresses, it is very simple to use, can be used in any language and the results are beautiful. Just this week, I have introduced two classes to Storybird. It was fairly straightforward to get the students going with the platform and they were very excited as they began to create. Some students went home and created numerous stories on their own and I hear feedback from parents about how excited their child was to create their own story. Being able to produce a quality book, published online is very empowering (Richardson, 2011). Storybird also presents the opportunity to collaborate in the creation of books, something we will try once students have mastered the application.

⬇  Social Bookmarking
My exploration into social bookmarking was really frustrating. Although I use Diigo to keep track of things for myself, I really wanted to find something that I could use for students in the library. I was very disappointed to find the settings in the Diigo Educator’s Account inadequate for our needs at an elementary school. The access students had to other individuals and bookmarks was far too “open” for our elementary students. While I suppose this is part of the “social” aspect of social bookmarking, a “closed” social network consisting of only the students would be more appropriate (Kist, 2011).

Pinterest was another disappointment. While I like the visual nature of Pinterest and think this would be particularly useful with students, the copyright issues are downright scary (Shontell, 2012). As a teacher-librarian, teaching students and teachers about fair use and copyright is important (Valenza, 2010). I just do no not see how I can use Pinterest right now.  As the issues surrounding Pinterest and copyright are worked out over the coming months, perhaps I will feel ready to give it another try.

How will I share my new learning?
I am constantly sharing my new learning with others. I send the teachers at my school emails with links to interesting ideas and information. I have my own two sons create their work using Web 2.0 tools and submit them to their teachers; this gives their teachers and the other students a taste of what is out there that is interesting and fun. For example, one son did a Prezi for his presentation on resources while the other submitted a Storybird as his writing. I create things for teachers to show them what can be done. For example, I just created a Jog the Web for the Grade 3 students who will be studying planets in the coming weeks; perhaps this will become the bookmarking platform I am looking for. I created a screencast for the teachers at the school to show them how to sign out library books for themselves if I am not there. The library website I created is full of fun links and tools. I use various Web 2.0 tools to illustrate school events on the website; I have created Animoto videos, a Glogster poster, a Prezi and Voki, to name a few. I have had all the students from Grade 2 up create DoppleMe avatars to use as their image as we venture into using Web 2.0 tools. 
I also share my learning with my friends. I post samples of my children’s work on Facebook. Just last night, I was showing my friends at Book Club how to make a Storybird and we also had a discussion about Facebook use by teenagers. I introduced my mother-in-law to file sharing site so she could send us over some videos.


Hepburn, A. (2011, Jan. 18). Facebook statistics, stats & facts for 2011 [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Heubner, T.A. (2010). Differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 67(5), 79-81.

Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom: Teaching in the new media age. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Naslund, J. (2008). Towards school library 2.0: An introduction to social software tools for teacher librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 14(2), 55-67.

Pearse, F. (2011, March 7). The power of the PLN [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. Retrieved from,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Smith, K. (2009, May 5). PLN: Your personal learning network made easy [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2010, October). Manifesto for 21st century school librarians. Voice of Youth Advocates. Retrieved from

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