Beyond the Classroom Archives - Page 14 of 14 - Education Matters Magazine

School libraries supporting 21st century learning

School libraries

Libraries have existed for millennia. Their purpose has always been focussed on knowledge acquisition and sharing for the development of society. In the 21st century, school libraries are re-engineering themselves to focus on learning, curriculum and the skills needed for 21st century learning.

The evolution of school libraries into flexible, dynamic, high-tech learning centres designed to prepare students as responsible digital citizens to function effectively in a complex information landscape is dependent on visionary leadership and strategic planning to reach this level of functionality. “School libraries provide a common information ground for supporting learning across the school and fostering the development of deep knowledge through the provision of accessible resources, and the development of sophisticated information and technology understandings and skills” (Hay & Todd 2010a, p. 30).

The Student Learning through Australian School Libraries study (2004-2006) highlighted the value students placed on the technology, services, environment and support provided by their school library. The study found that flexible access to computers, printers, internet and other resources, including teaching expertise, before school and at non-class time was valued highly by students (Hay 2006). In 2010, one principal stated, “When I enter my own school library I see a social network – students and teachers doing all manner of things – everything from reading, promoting, quiet games, social skilling, researching, working on the computers, group planning, the list becomes quite endless. I see a thriving centre of learning – and something that is integral to the way the whole school functions” (Hay & Todd 2010b, p. 5).

The concept of a knowledge commons or learning commons becomes the physical and virtual catalyst for inquiry, imagination, discovery, creativity and innovation. The school library becomes the hub for networking, information access, digital literacy instruction, learning and knowledge creation – a shared space for all students and the school community. The advantage of a ‘commons’ approach is it provides an opportunity to re-engineer the school library into a place/space that brings together the library, information technology and a qualified team of information, technology and learning staff whose combined knowledge, skills and expertise collectively support the integration of 21st century learning into the curriculum.

The report of the School Libraries 21C online discussion, commissioned by the NSW Department of Education and Training, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit, identifies a set of principles underpinning 21C school library design as an instructional zone within and beyond the school. In summary, the following points are identified:

  • A facility which features fluid library design that allows for the customisation and personalisation of learning.
  • A blended learning environment which harnesses the potential of physical learning spaces and digital learning spaces.
  • A learning centre whose primary focus is on building capacity for critical engagement – giving emphasis to thinking creatively, critically and reflectively with information in the process of building knowledge and understanding.
  • A centre of learning innovation where teachers and teacher librarians are involved in creatively designing learning experiences.
  • A learning environment that demonstrates the power of pedagogical fusion where pedagogy underpins the decision making behind a school’s information architecture.
  • A facility consisting of seamless search interfaces.
  • A facility which seeks a balance between print and digital collections and which does not privilege one format over another.
  • A centre that supports literacy learning.

(Hay & Todd 2010b, pp. 15-16.)

The new mission of teacher librarians is a return to the original purpose of libraries, that is “to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” (Lankes, R. D.).

As identified in the Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 edition, there are three major factors driving role changes for all educators:

  • The increasing amount of resources and social networks available for learning;
  • The increasing ubiquitous nature of mobile devices; and,
  • The increasing need for digital media literacy so that students can utilise the above resources and mobile access for learning and knowledge creation.

“The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators” (Johnson, et al 2011, p. 4.). This key trend highlights the importance of why school libraries need to function effectively in the school community.

The abundance of resources adds to the complexity of the information environment in which students work. It highlights the need to continue the highly effective practice of collection development undertaken by teacher librarians to support the curriculum across different platforms on which resources are available. As an example, in an always-connected world, the recent announcement by Apple to introduce iBooks 2, iBooks Author and New iTunes U (Apple Events 2012) identified that there are already 20K education iPad apps and 1.5 million iPads in education institutions. Teacher librarians know which apps are free and trustworthy and can then recommend these to staff and students. The same collection development skills used to evaluate “traditional” resources to determine which are current, relevant, authentic and authoritative, are also applied to online databases and web sites.

The mobile devices students use to access these resources are multi-functional and make it easily accessible via the Internet. As indicated in the Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 edition, “Mobiles have moved to the near-term horizon because of the rise of a new class of devices, led by the category-defining blockbuster that is the Apple iPad” (Johnson, et al 2011, p. 14). The multifunctionality of tablet devices heralds the convergence of several technologies that lend themselves to educational use. With always-on internet it is imperative that the skills required to assess the relevancy and credibility of information, and to then make sense of this information, is paramount.

“Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession” (Johnston, et al 2011, p. 5).Digital media literacy can be defined as the ability to locate, access, organise, understand, evaluate, analyse and create content using digital media (Wikipedia; Australian Communications & Media Authority). Even though this level of literacy involves knowing how to use technology it is “less about tools and more about thinking” (Johnston, et al 2011, p 5.).

The general capabilities in the Australian national curriculum, especially “critical and creative thinking”, provide a vehicle for teacher librarians to be active in the delivery of digital media literacy skills through inquiry based programs. For example, research pathfinders encourage active engagement in the interactive information seeking process. Pathfinders provide a starting point for the generation of questions, discussions and identification of suitable and relevant resources. Collaborative knowledge building environments such as wikis can facilitate the inquiry based activities that allow students to engage in collaboration, construction, knowledge sharing and creation. The school library is an ideal environment to engage in conversations about digital citizenship, the impact of a student’s digital footprint, ethical use of information and social responsibility in an always-connected world.

The vision is to go beyond school libraries being perceived as repositories of information artefacts to being flexible, dynamic learning environments; “centres of inquiry, discovery, creativity, critical engagement and innovative pedagogy” (Hay & Todd 2010b, p. 40). To make this vision a reality is a challenge for school leadership so that the best learning environment, resources and learning is available for all Australian students.

References

Apple Events 2012 Apple special event January 2012, Viewed 21 January 2012.

 http://www.apple.com/apple-events/educationjanuary- 2012/

Australian Communications & Media Authority 2009 What is digital media literacy and why is it important? Commonwealth of Australia.  http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311470#=

Hay, L 2006, ‘School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories … that’s what Aussie kids want’, Scan, 15 (2), pp. 18–27.

Hay, L & Todd, R.J. 2010a, ‘School libraries 21C: the conversation begins’, in Scan, 29 (1), pp. 30-42. Viewed 22 January 2012.  http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/21cexsum.pdf

Hay, L & Todd, R.J. 2010b, A school libraries futures project: school libraries in 21C, NSW Department of Education and Training, Curriculum K-12 Directorate, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit. Viewed 22 January 2012.  http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/21c_report.pdf

Johnson, L., Adams, S. and Haywood, K. 2011, The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 edition, The New Media Consortium, Austin, Texas.

Lankes, R. D. The atlas of new librarianship: companion website. Viewed 22 January 2012.

 http://www.newlibrarianship.org/wordpress/

  Wikipedia 2012 Digital literacy, Last modified 21 January 2012. Viewed 23 January 2012.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_literacy

Be Super Savvy

Super Savvy

For most Australians, superannuation is one of their biggest and most important financial assets, often second only to owning their own home. But as you generally don’t see your superannuation until you retire, it often seems to be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As a result, most people are not saving enough to have the lifestyle they desire during retirement. According to the peak body for superannuation in Australia, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), longer life expectancies mean many people now spend over a third of their lives in retirement – but often do not plan accordingly.

“Currently most people are retiring with superannuation savings considerably lower than they need to support a comfortable standard of living in retirement,” Pauline Vamos, CEO of ASFA, said.

ASFA Retirement Standard figures show singles will need $21,587 a year, and couples $31,263 a year, to live even a modest lifestyle in retirement. And this assumes home ownership.

For a comfortable lifestyle, which includes extras such as international travel from time to time and better quality clothing and household goods, singles will require $39,852 a year, and couples $54,562. The average retirement balance of a person with an accumulation superannuation account (the kind most people have) is about $140,000.

“Fifty per cent of men are currently retiring with less than $90,000 in superannuation savings, while 50 per cent of women are retiring with less than $55,000,” Vamos said.

For those on defined benefits, the picture is slightly different, with an average super balance around $180,000 at retirement. Although most are now closed to new members, some educators are members of defined benefit (DB) schemes and have been for some time.

As they take length of membership into account, DB funds can provide a more substantial retirement benefit than standard accumulation schemes receiving only employer contributions.

Even so, most Australians’ final balance remains well below what is estimated to be needed to live comfortably in retirement. But there are plenty of things people can do now to take control of their superannuation now to ensure they reach their desired retirement lifestyle.

“To get the most out of the magic of compound interest, it’s best to start early and take advantage of all the tax breaks, rebates and Government schemes offered to help Australians build their retirement balance,” Vamos said.

The Government is also looking to increase the compulsory superannuation contribution rate from nine per cent to 12 per cent.

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) modelling, Australia’s current super settings will generate relatively low retirement incomes by international standards.

ASFA research shows raising the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent would provide an extra: $36,000 for someone on a wage of $30,000; $61,000 for someone on a wage of $50,000; and $121,000 for someone on a wage of $100,000.

“An increase in the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent will deliver substantially more adequate outcomes for individuals and households,” Vamos said.

ASFA’s top 3 tips for getting the most out of your super:

  1. Consolidate your super accounts and look for lost super.
    For most people, it doesn’t make sense to have multiple super accounts, unless perhaps the low-cost provided by some funds is important to you. By rolling all your accounts into one, you could save more than $100 a year in fees. If you’re not sure where all your super is, try the ATO’s SuperSeeker (at www.ato.gov.au or call 13 28 65) or contact your previous employer/s.
  2. Start contributing early and contribute what you can, when you can.
    The earlier you start building your super balance, the more time you have to take advantage of compound interest. If you have left it till later and your balance needs a boost, ask your employer about salary sacrificing a percentage of your wage (before tax) into super.
  3. Take advantage of the Government Co-contribution.
    If you’re eligible and make a voluntary contribution to your super account, the Government will match those personal contributions up to $1,000. The $1,000 limit is reduced by 3.3 cents for each dollar of income over $31,920 and phases out at $61,920.

Careers

Australia has the fourth biggest superannuation savings pool in the world, with close to $1.4 trillion. And this number is only set to grow as Australians entering the workforce benefit from almost a lifetime of compulsory superannuation savings.

ASFA provides a range of superannuation and financial services courses across Australia from introductory courses right through to specialist training. For 21 years, ASFA’s Superannuation Principles course has been the benchmark industry course for graduates and new super professionals looking to advance their skills.

ASFA Learning also offers:

  • Diploma of Superannuation
  • Advanced Diploma of Superannuation
  • Diploma of Financial Planning
  • RG 146
  • Traineeships

New online safety resource from Cybersmart

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released Cybersmart Networking – a new online safety resource for students aged 12 to 14 years.

Cybersmart Networking uses a realistic online environment to teach young people how to stay safe on social networking sites, without exposing them to real risks.

Using the message ‘Private Lives in Public Spaces’, Cybersmart Networking teaches children about social networking in a protected environment.

Cybersmart Networking has been tailored to provide new social networking users, and those who will shortly be venturing onto this space, with real experience of the potential issues and how to manage them,” said Sharon Trotter, Manager of Cybersmart Programs.

Students work online and in real time to solve an internet-based problem from the safety of their school. Cybersafety experts including police, education, government and child welfare advocates, New online safety resource from Cybersmart act as guides to help students navigate through the scenario.

The activity is part of the ACMA’s suite of Interactive Shared Learning activities that are designed to educate and empower students so that they can manage cybersafety issues, discover what information is safe for them to post online, and negotiate the balance between their private and public online lives.

The 50-minute activity is provided free of charge to schools across Australia. It is accompanied by comprehensive lesson plans reinforcing the learnings from the activity itself, and instructions for students and teachers.

Thirty-thousand students nationwide have already participated in Cybersmart’s online Interactive Shared Learning activities. Cybersmart Networking has been tailored to provide new social networking users with real experience of what can go wrong and how they can stay safe. It complements Cybersmart Detectives, which addresses online grooming and protecting personal information, and Cybersmart Hero, which addresses cyberbullying.

Sign up your school to participate in Cybersmart Networking by completing the online form.

Schools wishing to participate in upcoming events can email  isl@acma.gov.au or register your school at: www.cybersmart.gov.au

Spotlight on Cybersafety

eSmart Accreditation (Alannah & Madeline Foundation)

eSmart helps schools effectively manage cybersafety and deal with cyberbullying and bullying. The national roll out of eSmart to all Australian schools is under way, following the successful pilot in 2010.

The Telstra Foundation funding supported The Alannah and Madeline Foundation to work with RMIT University’s School of Education Consultancy and Development Unit to develop a framework schools could use to implement strategies for improving cyber-safety and wellbeing.Schools progressing through the framework would be ‘accredited’ for the cyber-safety practice.

Telstra Foundation funding assisted with the pre-development research, the work to write the framework, build the supporting eSmart website and run the intensive trial with 28 schools to test both the framework and the website. Late into the project, the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) saw the potential of eSmart and decided to invest $3 million to pilot eSmart in 150 schools around the country. In 2010, the the Victorian Government committed $10.6 million to roll out the program across more than 1,800 Victorian schools and 2011 the Queensland Government announced implementation of eSmart across Queensland schools.

Website: www.esmartschools.org.au and www.amf.org.au/eSmart

 http://www.amf.org.au/Assets/Files/eSmart_ SchoolsDL_web.pdf

Superclubsplus (Intuitive Media)

SuperClubsPLUS Australia is a fully moderated social learning network that teaches six to twelve year old children how to be safe online. While the website is both fun and educational, it also teaches children how to keep themselves safe online, with 95 per cent of kids on SuperClubsPLUS learning and practising ‘safe online’ behaviours no matter where they go on the internet. Students can upload media, publish articles, build personalised web pages, run their own clubs, complete projects, join discussion forums, chat with friends, and participate in ‘Hot Seats’.

In 2010 SuperClubsPLUS is partnered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) so that all ‘superclubbers’ achieve their advanced ‘Super Cyber Smart Badge’ and Certificate, and become fully accredited by ACMA.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $1,044,462 over two years to September 2010, with a further $498,052 to December 2011.

Website:  http://www.scplus.com

Project evaluation (2010): http:// www.scplus.com/d/sites/default/files/superclubsplus_eval-fullreport_v25_final.pdf

Developing Ethical Digital Citizens (Centacare Loddon Mallee Cyber Safety Project)

The Developing Ethical Digital Citizens project conducted by the Centacare Sandhurst Loddon Mallee Cyber Safety Project surveyed students, teachers and parents to examine factors relating to cyber-safety. The data now assists schools and community groups to inform policies and practices.

The project recently conducted focus groups with senior students to explore the issue of internet pornography on adolescent relationships, and from their responses created the film “Impression that you get”. Student feedback has indicated that the film captures the culture that exists.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $270,000 over three years to December 2011.

Project overview and online version of final reports: www.cybersafekids.com. au/2011/05/welcome-to-the-loddon-malleecybersafety- project/

Cyber Friendly Parent’ Project (Edith Cowan University)

Part of a world-first study into cyber-bullying, the Cyber Friendly Parents’ Project highlights the need for a whole of community response to increasing cyber-safety and reducing cyber-bullying among young people.

Exhaustive research undertaken by the Edith Cowan University’s project team determined the most effective ways to engage parents to increase their own knowledge of cyber-safety and assist their child to prevent and respond to cyber-bullying. Research included a review of current cyber-bullying literature and resources, parent surveys and focus groups, and consultations with students, including two Cyber Friendly Student Summits. The resulting resource materials are underpinned by the research findings that a collaborative and coordinated response that is consistent between students, parents and school staff is key to success.

Parents involved in the project had access to a range of resources including a purpose-built website, www.cyberfriendly.com.au, to help them understand and engage with cyber-bullying issues. Materials included family newsletters explaining digital reputations, cyber-bullying, cyber-safety and the law, and the use of friends lists on social networking sites. A Family Quiz Activities booklet was also developed and used in conjunction with the website, which houses the latest research findings and articles regarding cyber-bullying and cyber-safety.

Parents also took part in student-led workshops that looked at forms of cyber-bullying, statistics and definitions for bullying and cyber-bullying, parent responses to cyber-bullying, preventative strategies, and how to communicate with young people about cyber-safety. The final step in the project has been to empirically test the suite of parent resources to assess their relevance and usefulness as a practical tool to assist in a whole of school approach to cyber-bullying prevention. The findings will help drive the broader Cyber Friendly Schools Project, which is currently underway.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $341,000 over three years to December 2011.

Website: www.cyberfriendly.com.au

Cyber Friendly Schools Project (PEET) evaluation report: http://chpru.ecu.edu.au/ assets/documents/Cyber-Friendly-Schools- Project-(PEET)-Final-Report-May-2010.pdf

Smart Online Safe Offline – SOSO (Napcan)

The Smart Online Safe Offline (SOSO) program’s website and resources are successfully educating children aged nine to 14 about the dangers of disclosing too much personal information on social networking websites and how to counteract online ‘grooming’. The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’s program also provides cyber- safety education and support to parents, teachers and the community.

SOSO is a unique social initiative that brings together community, government and the digital media industry as partners to deliver online campaigns.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $534,000 over three years to December 2011.

Website: www.soso.org.au

Technology Roundtable (Inspire Foundation)

Co-chaired by the Telstra Foundation and the Inspire Foundation, the Technology and Wellbeing Roundtable brings together over a dozen key influencers in academic, corporate, non-profit and government sectors across Australia.

Established in 2008, the roundtable presents a unique forum to discuss, investigate and promote evidence-based and best practice approaches to young people’s engagement with technology. Participants also advocate for increased access for young people to the resources, social supports and learning opportunities delivered through technology.

A recent survey revealed that participation in the roundtable has opened up and strengthened sector networks. In all, eight of the 15 core members reported that their participation had led to partnerships with fellow member organisations.

Greater access to current research and best practice approaches to delivering programs has also been experienced. Additionally, through Roundtable meetings and informal networking opportunities, the roundtable has opened new communication channels between sectors, for example the Australian Research Council funded Project Young People, Technology, and Wellbeing Research Facility led by the University of Western Sydney and the recently established Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing.

Telstra Foundation commitment: $145,000 over one year to December 2010.

Website: www.inspire.org.au

Benetwise (Berry Street)

Berry Street’s BeNetWise program supports a proactive approach by welfare agencies in addressing the digital divide experienced by the children and young people in the out-of-home care and alternative education sectors who have a lack of access to digital technology.

Extensive consultation and research around digital technology and cyber-safety has given Berry Street a significant knowledge base to share with staff, carers and educators, as well as young people themselves.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $206,750 over one year to December 2011.

Website:  www.berrystreet.org.au/BeNetWise

Websmarts Project (Student Youth Network)

SYN’s websmarts project has explored how increased digital literacy and media education can assist young people in navigating the online world. Findings highlighted the need for young people to be actively engaged in new media channels and to be allowed to facilitate a flexible discussion around issues that young people can identify with. As part of the project, SYN also produced a series of online resources focusing on social networking; online legal issues, online communities and internet crime that were broadcast on radio and television and made available online.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $80,000 over two years to December 2010.
Website:  http://syn.org.au/program/websmarts

Sustaining Cybersafety in Schools

One of the most challenging aspects of implementing and sustaining any whole-school program is changes in staff personnel and responsibilities, especially at the start of a new school year. The anti-bullying coordinator who is now a head of department and struggling to find the time; the eLearning leader who is now part time; or perhaps, the deputy principal who was amongst other things: head of curriculum, coach of the first XI cricket team and an enthusiastic and active advocate for the new visual arts program…is now employed as a principal at another school.

Cybersafety and digital citizenship programs are no different – they require a whole-school approach that needs to be regularly re-assessed and updated, as well as have the ongoing support from staff, students and parents.

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart Schools Framework (the Framework) guides schools through the key actions for creating and sustaining a positive school culture, that works to reduce bullying and cyberbullying, and promote the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies.

The Framework is made up of six domains, none more important than Domain 1: Effective school organisation.

Term one is a good time to ensure a school’s cybersafety program still has an effective organisational structure, and that the program is functioning properly with the buy-in from key staff and community members responsible for its success.

While this domain can be a starting place for the journey to establishing a cyber-safe school, setting up committees, defining roles and responsibilities, it is just as important to regularly re-visit this starting place, no matter how advanced a school’s cybersafety initiatives. Situations change, and the dynamism and forward-thinking that once existed in the program may have faded, or the governance may have become dysfunctional.

From the Planning stage right through to the Sustaining stage, the eSmart Schools Framework prompts staff to regularly review their wellbeing and cybersafety programs.

A comprehensive suite of guiding questions, resources, practical tools and advice assists the eSmart Committee through each stage of the eSmart journey. Recognising the eSmart Committee as the key driving force, the Framework assists the committee to reflect on its practices and methods, and provides evidence-based resources for doing so.

In its very design, the Framework acknowledges that sustaining the success of a whole-school program is not a simple matter, and that a roadmap and support is of great benefit to school leadership teams.

This roadmap and comprehensive support within the Framework carries through all six domains, from Effective school organisation (Domain 1) and School plans, policies and procedures (Domain 2), to Partnerships with parents and the local community (Domain 6).

All whole-school programs require ongoing review and maintenance, regardless of how well planned or implemented they originally were. A key factor in the ongoing success of a whole-school cybersafety program, like eSmart Schools, is its organisational structure. Who is actually driving the initiatives? How are they being carried out? Does the rest of the school community feel connected to the aims of the program and prioritise and support them?

The start of the new school year brings with it changes in staff and their responsibilities, new students and parents, and a vision for the year ahead. Including cybersafety and digital citizenship as part of this ongoing vision will ensure a school community prioritises wellbeing and the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies.

Further information:

Developed for Australian schools, eSmart Schools is a behaviour-change system to help schools to improve cybersafety and deal with cyberbullying and bullying.

Registering your school can provide you and your school community with assurance that you are accessing evidence-informed practice, policies, resources and activities.

Visit the eSmart Schools website for further information and to register your school www.esmartschools.org.au