Library Moods

library mood 5library mood 4library mood 3library mood 2library mood 1

Library Moods, a set on Flickr.

Here are some photos of our Mood Lighting in the Library Lobby especially for Sara Coleman of the British School in Brussels. We have had this lighting for 7 years now and haven’t had to replace any of the lights yet! It’s been a great talking point for students and has been used to enhance various library promotions and displays. The most successful was our Hobbit Hole last Christmas and although my Library Prefects wanted us to create Smaug’s Cave this year we opted for a Chrsitmas Tree of books instead. :)

Summer Reading Challenge

I’m really excited that 77 students between the ages of 12 and 14 have signed up for our Summer Reading Challenge. I always encourage students to take as many books as they would like during Holiday times as our terms are very busy with little time for reading for pleasure. This year we decided to make a competition out of it and so the Challenge was born. The aim is for students to read as widely as possible trying out different genres and categories of fiction that they might not have experienced before. We have produced a list of 5 different categories – Junior Classics, Thrillers, Fantasy, Real Life and Historical stories and students have to complete a Reading Passport to show they have read 1 book from each category. You can view the list here

Reading Challenge Passport

Spicing it up with SMORE

We are about to launch a loan service of mini Kobo readers alongside our Overdrive Download library and I wanted to let teaching staff in school know about this exciting new development. I usually pass on information to staff through a traditional email list and include a link to click on for more information. However I recently discovered Smore – an online poster/flyer making site. It’s very simple to use and can be embedded into an email so the information you want to convey is shared in a very visual way. There are a number of templates to choose from depending on the type of information you want to share e.g newsletter,event and its very easy to upload photo’s, change font style and format. It also has records the number of views your flyer has had and how long it has been viewed for. Brilliant :)

Catching the MOOC virus

Catching the MOOC virus

Last week I caught the flu virus and not the MOOC virus! This meant I wasn’t able to contribute to the many discussions about the theme of Distopian versus Utopian views of technology. I was, however, able to view the short films and managed to tweet about the one called “Thursday” to another school librarian. #edcmooc

Should I give up?

I pondered what to do. Should I abandon it? It’s only a 5 week course so it means that in effect I’ve missed 20% of it. “Is it worth playing catch up?” I asked myself.

Fortunately I decided to watch the recording of the Google Hangout with the course tutors which I had missed last Friday night and this 1 hour’s worth of interaction gave me a really good taster of what had been going on.

Motivations for completing the MOOC

Each of the “professors” spent about 5 minutes looking at one aspect of what had been happening across the fora and social media spaces. I learnt that participants were discusing two main concerns – why weren’t the course tutors more visible and what should the final assessed assignment be like? This was interesting because I thought the course literature made it clear that the professors weren’t going to be hands on and it was up to the MOOC participants to collaborate in creating a narrative of the week’s learning.  I also found it bizarre that people were worrying about the digital artifact they were supposed to produce at the end of the MOOC. But , for me, it’s always about the taking part and learning as I go when I embark on a course of study.  I don’t need the assessment at the end to validate my achievements although it’s sometimes nice to have it!  It was interesting to hear one of the tutors suggest that thinking about the end product at the beginning was a way for some people to make a strategy for navigating their way through the course. I have never looked at it like that before. For me it’s always the excitement of the journey and the unknown destination – a bit like a magical mystery tour :)

Constraining tropes when talking about digital culture

The discussion about the actual content of the first week was also a great summary of what I had missed. It was interesting to consider the way scholarly writing in the past 20 years had resulted in a binary discourse in relation to technology, culture and educational learning.

Distopia v Utopia
Native v Immigrant
Digital v Non Digital

These are simplistic constraining binaries and we have been greatly influenced by them. It opened my eyes to how my own thinking has been moulded by this narrative.  I’ve always found the  Native v Immigrant description flawed.  It’s quite obvious when working with 11- 18 year olds that it depends on a mix of personality, upbringing and peer group pressure as to how individuals approach the technological world.  I also became  aware of the artificiality of the dichotomy between Digital v Non Digital when I purchased my first iPAd a couple of years ago.  The digital and non digital world has become very blurred for me through the use of this tablet.

However, up until now I hadn’t challenged the cultural constraining discourse of Distopia v Utopia and I shall certainly look to do so in the future.

Constraining Trophes when thinking about Learning

I’m also now thinking about how educationalists  use this oppositional structure when considering young people’s learning.

Facts v Skills

Formal v Social 

Do I need to challenge myself about this simplistic view of the world of learning too?


Starting a MOOC

Starting a MOOC

I’m really excited to be starting a MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) today! A MOOC is a new way of studying online in collaboration with a lot of other participants. The Digital Cultures and E-Learning course is being provided free by Edinburgh University on Coursera. It’s a chance for me to reflect on how technology affects learning. Is it a neutral tool? Does it drive change in education? How can I best understand my student’s use of it within a traditional school environment?

Apparently over 40,000 people have begun the course since it opened online yesterday evening and discussions are taking place across social media….on Twitter using the #edcmooc hashtag, through groups on Facebook and Google+. The interesting thing is that these groups have been started by individual participants rather than the course providers. The facilitators from the Edinburgh University MSC in Digital Education are providing the course content for the next 5 weeks but making suggestions about how individual students can collaborate to share their learning.

I’ve just joined the course and signed up to the “honor” code and will be blogging about my experience on this Learning Log #edcmooc

What to say about Snapchat and Poke?

What to say about Snapchat and Poke?

Snapchat and Facebook’s copycat app Poke are apps that share messages
photos and videos that “self destruct” 10 seconds after being viewed by the recipient. Snapchat cheekily sticks out its tongue to all us e-safety educators and says nnah nnah na nnah – your images don’t have to last forever! Yes you can share a goofy pic or sext and it doesn’t stay on the web for future generations. Yes you can bully someone and unless they’re extremely quick with the screenshot they can’t keep the evidence to show an adult. No you don’t have to “think before you post” anymore! Teens love the fun of Snapchat-obviously.

I love the way the Snapchat inventors have turned the received wisdom about social networking on its head. Facebook seems an old-fashioned establishment institution in comparison. Who’d a thought it?

But what do I say to the students in my PSHCE lessons? Those who know me well know I’m not going to say don’t use these apps. I’m not a party pooper. Isn’t a shared fleeting moment as socially valuable as a considered post? But I can’t say what I usually do – show a trusted adult if you’re uncomfortable about it.