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.

How to work a PLN

Yesterday, TheCleverSheep made a post where he challenged us to identify the most important thing that we’ve learned from our PLN.  (Personal Learning Network)  In his post, he put a link to a Google Docs survey and made the results immediately visible.

One of his questions was:

“Which tool would you recommend as a starting point to build a personal learning network? ”

It was interesting to see the results.

My first reaction, when I read the question, was to just jump in and nominate Twitter as my choice.  As I moved to the next question, I reconsidered.  The question included the words “starting point”.

Now, many folks use Twitter.  I use it constantly.  In fact, I will have Twhirl or Spaz open on my desktop at all times.

I follow some interesting people and likewise, I try my best to be interesting and productive for anyone who cares to follow me.

I’ve been a real fan of Twitter since joining it.  It took a while, but I now have a pretty good PLN that I’ve developed there.  It’s very comforting to know that I can do a shout out or ask a question or just make a comment and get the response from a segment of the Twitter network.  But, is that for the beginner?  Is it a good starting point?

Upon further review, it isn’t.  There have been lots of folks who create a new account and sit back to watch the magic happen.  But, until you’ve cultivated a following and jumped into the fray, it’s futile.

I decided to opt for Delicious.  Here, you create an account and can get immediate results.  Find a few people and you aren’t looking for the magic to happen.  It already has.  Good Delicious users have already found the answers and contributed to themselves and to their network.  You just have to sit back and reap the benefits.

I think you’ll be off to a better start for the beginner looking for that starting point.

Once they get the knack of things, it’s time to move onto real time interaction and that’s where Twitter steps up to the plate and is so powerful.

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