Blog Archives

What’s On the Horizon for 2010? Peer Into the Future with the Horizon Report 2010 Preview

The New Media Consortium recently released the Short List of Horizon Topics for 2010 and the Horizon Report 2010 Preview.  These documents, which you can view by visiting the Horizon Report Wiki, are the result of the rounds of discussions and voting by the Advisory Board members.  The final report will be officially released on January 20, 2010.

The report preview organizes topics by “time to adoption” and  includes a description of the topic; the relevance for teaching, learning, and creative expression; examples of how the topic is being applied, and suggestions for further reading.  In addition, the preview version of the report includes a section called “Critical Challenges” as well as a section for “Key Trends.”

Consider the six final topics:

Where are we as K12 libraries in preparing to utilize these technologies, particularly that of mobile computing and open source applications?  How can we as school librarians help lead the way for the integration of these tools not only into our libraries but also in our school classrooms?   What are K12 vendors doing to help school libraries prepare to adopt and integrate these technologies effectively?

I also find the “Critical Challenges” particularly interesting and encourage you to read the details of each challenge.

  • The role of the academy—and the way we prepare students for their future lives—is changing.
  • New scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching continue to emerge but appropriate metrics for evaluating them increasingly lag behind or fail to appear.
  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key 21st century skill, but there is a widening training gap for faculty and teachers.
  • Institutions increasingly focus more narrowly on key goals, as a result of shrinking budgets in the present economic climate.

These challenges leave me with many questions:

  • Will it be school librarians who lead the resistance and coup d’etat, against the test driven school culture that is diametric to 21st century learning that values inquiry, creative expression, and collaboration?
  • Are we teaching our students and teachers about new forms of scholarship?  How do we redefine authority and find new ways to evaluate and assess authority?
  • How do we help posit new literacies (media, digital, transliteracy) as mainstream literacies for students and for teachers?
  • How do we as school librarians turn budget crises into innovation?
  • How do we tap into emerging technologies to create even more effective programs in the face of financially challenged circumstances?

What might happen if we as school librarians formed inquiry circles with public librarians, academic librarians, teachers, technology personnel, administrators, students, parents, and vendors to explore these questions, challenges, and trends?  How could we work together to find inventive and meaningful ways to harness the powers of these technologies?  What might learning look in both K12 and higher education if we engaged in inquiry and problem solving together?

Although these documents represent the “preview” and not the final draft of the report, please read the draft forms and put these ideas on your radar if they aren’t there already.  What is your response to the report preview?  How do you see K12 libraries meeting the challenges outlined in the draft?  How do you see the key trends impacting the 21st century school library and our practices?  I have cross-posted this entry on the AASL blog; please share your responses there as well as here.

Buffy Hamilton, Ed.S.
School Library Media Specialist
Creekview High School, Canton, Georgia

Bookless Libraries

Cushing Academy in Massachusetts has set off a firestorm with the decision to remove all print copies of books from its school library.  James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing, says, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.”

Headmaster Tracy believes that the purchase of 18 eReaders and additional computers will meet the reading needs of their student body; others, however, do not share that optimism.   The school is spending over $500,000 to create a “learning center” in place of a library; while the official name for this new conceptual space is not yet finalized, it will feature three large screen televisions, study carrels designed to facilitate laptop use,  and a $50,000 coffee shop.    It is not clear which school stakeholders other than Tracy were involved in this decision or how this decision was made other than Tracy’s concern that the books were taking up too much space for the current library facility.

In a May 14 speech to the Noble and Greenough School,  Headmaster Tracy stated:

“I no longer see the point of maintaining this huge warehouse of underutilized space that we call a library.  Better to free up that space while at the same time expanding by many orders of magnitude the school community’s access to information, literature, art, music via terminals that I term “Portals to Civilization.”  Rather than libraries becoming obsolete, we can transform them into vibrant centers of learning, giving ready access to everything humans have achieved, from every civilization, across an ever-expanding universe of culture.  At the same time, we can use the space now freed up from books to build convivial areas where students and teachers are encouraged to interact – yes, even talk –  about ideas, so it becomes a place of interaction…”

Apparently, Headmaster Tracy doesn’t realize that school libraries are more than a “warehouse” and that they can indeed be places of authentic learning, interaction, and conversations; in fact, they already are in schools across our country!  While I respect and applaud  his desire to incorporate 21st century learning tools and to increase access to more books,  Tracy lacks a fundamental understanding of how school libraries should function  and that they can reflect all the qualities he desires without creating an “either/or ” situation on his campus.   Why not weed outdated or little used titles and keep the print copies that are essential, popular, and supportive of the school curriculum while adding the ebook options instead of making ereading the only option?

What is especially troubling to me is the absence of any discussion in the article about the role school librarians play in cultivating information literacy skills.   People like Headmaster Tracy assume that all one has to do is present access to the information, and that is enough.   No mention is made in the Boston Globe article of who will facilitate this space or how this “learning center” will enhance students’ information literacy skills.   If the certified school librarian is not to be leading this “learning center” how will students master the skills set forth in the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners or NETS for Students ?

As you can imagine, the blogosphere is abuzz with debate over the pros and cons of this radical decision.  Here are a few blog posts (and ensuing comments) to consider for reading:

What are your thoughts on this issue?   Please share your ideas here!

Buffy Hamilton
Teacher-Librarian
Creekview High School, Canton, GA

*crossposted from the AASL blog*