Can a school library be a tech hub?

School Libraries, Media Centers and/or learning spaces are different ways to call the library but the purpose is not changing. We guide our school community on their journey through information. In a world overwhelmed by fake information, we need to develop research skills, learn to curate information avoiding fake news, developing critical thinking, as well as academic honesty;  because  IB students shall become a lifelong learner.  Obviously, it’s not possible to do it on isolation. As Hanna Byrd Little explains in her article on Knowledge Quest about the future of libraries,

“… once they find the information we should collaborate with the classroom teachers to teach students to think about the information critically. We should offer space for teachers and students to create new things. We should provide ways that students and faculty can share with the community. As librarians, we need to be masters of collaboration and we need to anticipate information and literacy needs. And for all of this, we need a flexible space to meet these current and future needs”

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School libraries at the heart of transformation by AASL

As professionals, our role is also changing as well as our designation. We are moving from school librarians, teacher-librarians to digital mavens? instructional technology facilitators? Actually, the expertise in technology and the open-mindedness to innovate, both are the main characteristics of the 21st-century school librarian profile.

If libraries are integrating more technology in their spaces and our roles are changing in our schools,  are we ready to lead the change?

Some steps school librarians can follow:

1.School strategic plan

The library goals shall be aligned with the school strategic plan. Otherwise, the library will be a ghost inside of the organization.

2. Find allies

First, we need the support of the Superintendents, Heads, Directors, Coordinators to reach the library goals. If they believe in our projects and vision of integration of technology at the school library, it will be easier to collaborate with teachers.

3. Working together: cooperation, collaboration, co-teaching?

Our relationship with teachers is not always the same. Some are open and enthusiasts about working together. Those are opportunities to suggest and enrich the learning experience of the students. Depending on the culture of the school, informal meetings can be more productive than the official ones. On the other hand, other teachers prefer to work on their own. These teachers will be our challenge!

I totally agree with Alex’s Macmillan‘ s first rule: built relationships. A strong relationship with the faculty, it’s the key to success. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of a school library if it’s not meant for them. Point 2 and 3, are also relevant because, at the library, we are in the middle of both worlds (Faculty-Admin). Good advice, listen carefully and do not take sides, be neutral.

4. Purpose

Most of the time, I work with PYP teachers. We share about their units, central ideas, lines of inquiry and their plans. So, I align them with the  AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Standards that will fit better for the purpose of the unit.

At the library, we empower students to become creators of information and ideas. We are transforming the space in order to move from the traditional concept of a place to read; to the concept beyond their walls (physical as digital) to promote exploration, innovation, and collaboration to empower students and teachers.

5. Find your way: different paths for a common goal

Going through the readings, I was introduced to the SAMR model by Kim Cofino. I also found a common idea with all the authors: focus on learning (concepts to be transfer) and curriculum. Technology will be the vehicle to help the students to build their understanding and demonstrate their learning. The product will be the expression of the learning experience. I also find real-world task-relevant because students will find them meaningful and useful. I especially like the ways of sharing student’s learning on the web. I have seen people believing that they have to showcase instead of think about ways to contribute to a global community, promote ideas and, who knows, make a difference!

When I was reading Kim Cofino’s design cycle, I immediately connected with the ‘Project-based learning’ ideas of A.J. Juliani ‘s blog. Also with an interesting article about PBL ‘ Seven essentials for Project-Based learning‘ by John Larmer and John Mergendoller. I found Cofino’s stage of inquiring & analyzing, as a deep exercise of the first stages in which students shall define their topics, purpose and support their ideas. Also, as a phase to experiment with tools. Students expose to provocations and these provocations can turn into questions, and questions into problems. The reflection after each stage, it’s an opportunity of self-assessment from the beginning.  Not at the end of the inquiry cycle, that sometimes because of the pressure of time, it can be done in a hurry.

Looping back to my original question, can a school library be the tech hub of the school? I will say yes! but it requires a lot of effort, hard work and passion to make it happen!

What do you think?

Technology and library.

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