Monthly Archives: March 2014

Teaching Ethics in the Age of Technology

Wow, what a timely post in light of all of our conversations on technology and ethics. A lot of things talked about here that I was referring to in class as teaching moral-reasoning with online spaces. Great read and resources if you have time!

User Generated Education

Ethical decision-making should be included as a 21st century skill (overused term but don’t know of an alternative).  Some would profess that ethical decision-making has always been a needed skill.  But we are living in the most complex era of human history.  Information access and abundance, and emerging technologies are advancing, and being developed and disseminated at rates that the human mind often cannot comprehend.  Now more than ever ethics should be integrated into young people’s educations.

Society is a dynamic system. It must, by nature, evolve in order to survive. As we develop the new definitions of appropriate behavior in the online environment it is imperative that many members of society be engaged in this ongoing dialogue. An informed community and active discussion of ethical issues will enable society to determine civil and just manners to deal with the nuances of technological advancement (Rezmierski, 1992). By opening this dialogue…

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Ethics & Intellectual Freedom

Knowledge Quest 39(1) articles I read:

Everyone Does It: Teaching Ethical Use of Social Technology by Annette Lamb

Internet Filtering 2.0: Checking Intellectual Freedom and Participative Practices at the Schoolhouse Door by Barbara Jansen

This week we are talking about Intellectual Freedom and Ethics. The Coatney chapter on Intellectual Freedom was a nice overview of the different parts of intellectual freedom you run into in schools. Adams addresses collection development, reconsideration of library media material, school filters, privacy, and advocating for intellectual freedom with in the school. In particular I liked the quote she pulled out on filters, “Filter a website, and you protect a student for a day. Educate students about online safety in the real world environment, and you protect your child for a lifetime” (p. 54). That quote elegantly summed up my feelings very well.

A lot of times when I think about Intellectual Freedom, my mind usually jumps from copyright to ethics, to online life management skills. I am particularly interested in the latter, especially with teenagers. I feel that they need to not only feel trusted by their school, but they also need help, and a place to discuss issues that come up in an online setting. Real life, and online life are not completely transferable, therefor, sometimes it is like comparing apples to oranges. I believe schools have a responsibility to their students to not only provide access to Web 2.0 tools, but also to teach them how to think and act ethically.

The two articles I read from Knowledge Quest focused a lot on this idea of needing to make sure students can access Web 2.0, and by denying them access, we are denying them their right to free speech, and free expression. While at the same time, it is necessary that students have a place where they learn more about ethical practices, and ways to think ethically. Lamb’s piece had a very Piagian thought behind it, focusing on where your students are developmentally. Students in elementary school are going to differ from teenagers on how they think about ethics. Teaching ethics is not so much about what is right and wrong, but more helpful to help develop moral reasoning.

Lastly, these readings reminded me that I wanted to read It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd. I think I’m so interested in this topic of moral reasoning, and teenagers use of Web 2.0 partly because the teenage years are a vulnerable time, and I feel that social media may in some ways increase that vulnerability. I also feel that from my own experience, my generation, and before me, we all had to learn the ropes of the Internet and Internet safety on our own, and as things change. We didn’t talk about online life management. While I’ve made it, and in high school already felt I was thinking outside of “Everyone is doing it” mentality, I think it could be a powerful addition to students’ curriculum.

beyond technology

I enjoyed our last class meeting, especially about how to use technology as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Once we have students engaged with material through technology, we must expand. It’s not just about how glitzy students can make their projects, but rather, it’s still about content and mood. If anything, I think students face a new challenge of presenting material than I ever did as a K-12 student. We just had to write papers, now we are asking our students to create multimodal projects, and still give us the same amount of content we would expect in an essay. Clearly, they’ll need help. Giving them a website like Glogster to use, or flashy PowerPoint animations alone is not enough.

This class reminded me of the importance of talking about, and exploring visual storytelling with students, of expanding students’ use of technology. It also reminded me of a conversation I had with a school librarian at a private high school last semester. She was talking about how a student had to make a project for French class, introducing their family and then themselves, like hobbies and interests. She said the project was beautiful, and so professional looking but lacked any real content, except sparse French sentences here and there. She said it was all glitz, and no grit. (Funny enough, their school motto is “Grace and Grit”). As a teacher-librarian, I want to help my students to have the glitz and the grit. I want to use technology to help us tell and convey our stories, not just be the story alone. Just like in writing, every word and way a sentence is structured matters and has meaning… so does visual storytelling. I want my students to be able to tell me why they chose that color, or why they chose for their head to rotate every minute during a video they made for class. I want my students to know their stories and work are important, and the thought in how we use technology to convey those stories is also of importance.

I think we saw all of this last class in the student work. We were all fairly unamused, and very unimpressed. I think we all have high standards for students, and I think that’s a good thing. If we have low standards for what students are capable of, then what’s the point?

The last thing that has been on my mind is the idea of creativity and innovation. Using pre-made graphics, and placing them on a page is really neither of these things. So, how do we help to promote creativity and innovation using these Web 2.0 technologies? When our students feel limited by what they can use of pre-made graphics, feeling they want to use something in a way that the program is incapable of doing, or have a different vision of how a graphic should look than the original graphic designers, are they reaching a point of creativity/innovative thinking? How do we harness that and move forward? I have some ideas …

Lastly, I’ve focused a lot on visual storytelling, but I’m also curious about the use of things like Twitter for school assignments. What if students were charged with choosing a day in history, and they had to make a Twitter account where they then acted as a news reporter or as someone living in that time, tweeting throughout the day of events and what they are doing (a la NPR’s Twitter account @todayin1963) as if it were in real time. The amount of work that the student would need to research, and in depth research would be incredible! Or what if English classes used Twitter as a way to do creative writing or poetry, limited to 140 words or less. Or what if we used Instagram for science classes to document wildlife and plants found in the area, or environmental degradation happening? The possibilities are incredible, and I’m excited to be entering the profession at this time.

Elevator Speech

I chose to base my elevator speech on “Learning that Lasts” by Jennifer Stanbro. Stanbro discusses how our tools, and physical space are taking different shapes, our mission is still the same, to help students. Here’s that speech I have ready for that awkward ride up an elevator with that one teacher who is never really sure what my job is … (I think I’ll keep taking the stairs). As they comment, “My the library sure has changed since my school days!”

Yeah, it has changed, hasn’t it!? Although, our mission as teacher librarians has really remained the same. It’s still about how we help students learn, explore, and share, no matter what medium we’re talking about or how the physical space is set up. We’re here to support students and teachers, to provide new experiences for them that will help shape new knowledge, and maybe even awaken new passions. You and I really have the same mission, except you’re in a standard classroom, and I’m in the library. But we’re both here to work with wonderful colleagues each day, students and teachers alike, to help make a difference.

The Technology Talk

I know a lot of you are book lovers, and I do love books… but I really love technology. Like a lot. Fiddling around with computer programs, websites, or new devices is my bread and butter. So, I am very excited about this week. I’m also very much in agreement, and appreciative of the wise warnings to not just buy the new shiny thing.

One thing I loved about Pride and Prejudice and Technology Leadership, well there was a lot, but one I thing that really stuck out to me was the idea that it’s not necessarily about the tool, but what the tool needs to do. Also, the technology needs to be good for the user, not the user adapting to the technology. A fun activity I like to do is think of ways to use free software, or common software in schools and at home, that can be used in different ways than necessarily intended for. Kristin knows of my PowerPoint stop-motion mini-project, where I used  a poem to create a moving visual with just PowerPoint. Discovering new things, like video, and photo editors online make me excited. I usually want to show someone right way this cool new toy I’ve discovered.

I believe self-expression is important for everyone. We all need ways to express our feelings, and our thoughts. The multitude of modalities that we are able to do that, and then share with a community, is incredible! But I also am a strong believer in needing to understand the critical aspects about technology, and technology use. I like the ISTE standards, and I like what they call for teachers to do. We’re not using technology for technology’s sake. We’re using technology to help foster student learning. Our world and technology is going to keep changing in ways that we won’t know, but if we can use these tools to help students learn to think critically, engage with material more deeply, and interact with one another respectively … that is incredible.

Lastly, I enjoy the Woolls, Weeks and Coatney book due to its stark practicality. As this course has progressed, the idea of technology plans has been in the back of my mind. Particularly on how these are initiated, created, and implemented. I think they bring up some great points to consider. I was surprised though at how much they were discussing how to be careful with things like filters, creating personal websites, making sure parents sign permissions slips for internet use, and hackers making their way onto the Wi-Fi. While I understood all of these concerns, in someways these felt almost outdated. However, I go to UMSI, with a strong understanding of the Internet, and the ethics and practices that come along with it. I know how to protect myself, and how to help others protect themselves. So maybe, I’m blurred by my own assumptions that every SLMS knows the same amount about technology. I do have a question with that being said, What if a parent doesn’t want their child to use the Internet? What do you do?

Creativity and Divergent Thinking

This post has nothing to do with our readings but just two things I wanted to share.

My friend group from high school, and undergrad that I’m still close with is full of creatives. So, Sir Ken Robinson is a common person that comes up in discussion. I saw this TED Talk a few years back, but the more I learn about education, the more I love this. I wanted to share:

In the same vein of creativity, Edutopia had an article on divergent thinking, (“thinking outside the box”) and how a student’s ability to do this will quickly decline throughout their school years.  Interesting article on how to help your students keep up their divergent thinking! Wanted to share with you all:

638 Smorgasbord

I think Templeton the Rat would have loved our class yesterday with all of the juicy topics to sink into, and eat up! Yesterday was a real hoopla of I of a large amount of topics we have discussed so far this semester. I’m happy we took this time, especially near the middle of the term to come together, collect, reflect, and tie up some loose ends.  It was nice to see your all your wonderful faces again!

So what do I remember that  was on the menu?

The Entrees:

  • Edmodo with a side of Online Learning
  • Advocacy served with a piece of humble pie
  • PR with sparklers and sprinkles, fireworks optional
  • Mission Statements served cold on a white clean plate

The Desserts:

  • Branding, the best every time
  • Collaboration, created together, the outcome can be questionable
  • Facilities, eye candy with a dallop of awesome

What seemed to stick to my ribs the most was the idea of advocacy that Kristin presented.  Advocacy is when someone is speaking on behalf of someone else. When we advocate it is done by 1) Advocating for students/teachers and 2) Community members advocating for you.  I think from the readings we got more of the feeling of advocating for oneself. Which we definitely were not on board with, nor does such advocacy really work. We also touched on “We” people vs “I” people in this discussion. Part of me thinks, there needs to be a balance. You need to take ownership for what you do, how you do it, and why you do it, but also give credit where credit is due.  So, I’m becoming more comfortable than I previously was after this class with the idea of advocacy.

The second thing I want to explore some more is mission statements. Especially, I would like to delve into this idea that Kristin brought up of librarians saying, “We’re a classroom too!” but “We need our own mission statement”… Yeah, that definitely is confusing signals we’re sending.  The more I think on it, the more I find I want to align with the school community. I don’t want to be an extra entity, but rather apart of the school community.  I’d much rather have the school’s mission statement, be mine as well, and from there I can create specific connections of how I can help attain this overall mission.

I was also thinking about, what if the school doesn’t have a mission, or has one, but for lack of a better word, sucks? What do you do?

Maybe this is a foot in the door of being involved in bigger things outside of the library. Maybe bringing the idea to the attention of colleagues you could start to help nurture and support change and growth in the community.

Thanks for indulging in my food-references. I’m really hungry.

P.S. Just wanted to say again, it was great to be with you ladies! You all are wonderful!

Mission Impossible to Possible

copyright: Randy Glasbergen from

copyright: Randy Glasbergen from

The majority of this week’s readings were about the necessity to have a mission statement for your library (and school). The Zmuda reading in particular focuses on the library media center in how it can help complete the mission of the school. Zmuda also stresses that school staff (including the school librarian) should have “candor”, or be able to speak openly of where their our gaps in instruction that are causing the mission of the school to be unmet. Zmuda makes clear and understanding points of the importance of knowing the mission of the school and playing an active role in the school community.

I felt her article focused most on just the overall school’s mission, and how the library can adapt to it. rather than the library itself creating one. I’m currently wondering what it would look like if each classroom, or space of the school had their own mission statements that feed into the over arching mission. Would that be too much? Or would help people focus on the goals, and clearly see how they have achieved these goals?

I found the article on how to write a mission statement to be the reading that stuck most with me this week as I’ve been pondering mission statements, philosophies, and goals. I have often seen very flowery, non-direct, and just plain confusing ones. I enjoyed this article because it discussed the importance of make direct concrete mission statements to help the organization stay on track. Well, that sure makes sense and seems a little obvious. They also stress the need on this idea of not so much a focus on feel-good feelings, but more on actions.

So my mission statement (a work in progress):  Students will leave with skills and understanding that will promote lifelong learning, and be active creators and collaborators in their communities.

The two essays that resonated with me from School Libraries e-book were: You had me at “Hello”, and “One special teacher”.

I enjoyed the You had me at “Hello” because of the importance it stressed on how grabbing the attention of your students at the beginning can make all the difference. It reminded me of the class we had on the presidents, when we read the article on Grover Cleveland, and then developed topics to search. It also reminded me of discussions I had with Jane during my practicum on this very idea.

I also enjoyed One Special Teacher, because I felt it was a helpful way to get your foot into the door to collaborating in your school, especially when you’re new, not only to the school but also the profession. I found the advice helpful.

Edmodo Wrap Up

It seems the general consensus from the last class discussion on advocacy, that we neither dislike nor reject advocacy completely. We all seem to have the sense of understanding the necessity of advocacy, yet I think we’re all hesitant. Our hesitancy seems to come from a variety of places. From how do I do it when I need to be doing other things to how do I do it without sounding pretentious? I think our hesitations are understandable. I also see that we recognize we’re uneasy with the idea, but are willing to discover ways we can advocate in our own way. The discussion reminded me of how thankful I am to work with you all each week. The sensitivity, and attention to detail, along with understanding the larger picture you all bring is not only comforting, but also refreshing. So while we may still feel a bit wobbly on how to advocate and what that looks like, I think we’ll all get there.

My thoughts on Edmodo. I think online learning, and online learning environments are fascinating, but I also find that for myself, they are difficult to become fully engaged in. I think Edmodo has it’s time and place to work effectively. Edmodo allows you to think deeper on topics, and respond. But I found for me personally, that sometimes I had trouble of actually writing my thoughts. Writing seems so much more concrete and everlasting, then just verbally having a conversation with classmates. So when exploring new ideas, and thoughts, I find it sometimes more difficult to have a conversation in writing, than in a face-to-face real time interaction. Overall, however, I’m interested in learning more about online learning and how other students view its effectiveness and use.