Two Posts About Real and Significant Change

I ran into two really good readings that should make anyone stop and think.  There are so many people talking about being on top of things and understanding the latest and greatest.  In this case, it’s Digital Textbooks and Learning Commons.  Absorb these  and be prepared to challenge anyone who comes along and uses the terms in a conversation to see if they are talking about real change or just saying the words.  After all, you can put lipstick on a horse, but it’s still a horse.

The Future of Digital Textbooks
Andrew Campbell’s latest post challenges the notion of what a digital textbook should be.  He addresses some important concepts.

  • Reliable Interconnected Devices
  • Customizable Content
  • Personalized Interface
  • Interactive
  • Facilitate Personal Connections
  • Integrated Assessment

These are certainly major things to consider and should help differentiate between a digital textbook and a text converted to PDF so that it can be easily shared.  My only issue that will require much further thinking is the concept of Integrated Assessment.  At this point, I’m concerned when we take assessment beyond the teacher’s personal toolkit and hand it over to a publisher or external agency.  Nobody knows a class better than the classroom teacher and there’s a real danger of one size fits all stepping into the picture.  So much for personalized learning.

Open School Learning Commons
Follow the link above or enter Dr. Charles Best Secondary School library site here.  In vogue is the term “Learning Commons” and I think it’s at its worst when it’s just a replacement for “Library” and nothing else has changed.

This site features one of the best descriptions of an open Learning Commons appears in the About page.

To be a “real” learning commons, we have to do more than add the latest devices and loosen the no talk, no foodrules of the traditional school library. The spirit of a commons – is a commonwealth of resources shared by a community.  You can call us a School Library or a Media Resource Centre or a Learning Commons, a Learning Community, a Personal Learning Network, but what is the difference?

A commons is open and generous, collaborative, cooperative, transparent and democratic. Public libraries and schools are good example of commons; treasured institutions that are the foundations of our democratic society, open to anyone who wants to learn.

Read on to get the full picture.  I think that the site describes and demonstrates just what a Learning Commons should be in philosophy and design.  It’s much more than just changing the sign over the door.  A Learning Commons is essential to a school.  It seems to me that, if you want real change within your school, you need to start there.

Thanks to both for the blog post and the web resource.  They both made me do some serious thinking.

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1 Comment

  1. Doug, I agree with your points about digital textbooks. I am researching them right now and most of the research supports what you are saying. Integrating them helps boards (students and teachers) move forward when the eBooks are interactive and personalizable. PDF versions have some advantages over paper but to really support 21st century learners, they need to offer a whole lot more. Our board currently only offers the PDF versions of some of our core texts that work with text-to-speech software. A handful of teachers are taking advantage of mobile devices and trying some open source resources out there as well. It’s an exciting time with all of the iPads being tested out in schools. Perhaps we will hear more in the nxt year or two about better digital texts available for iPads.

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