Posted in C21st Learners, CSU, Digital Citizenship, Digital learning space, Digital Literacy, INF537, Library service, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education, website design

5 reasons a school library needs a website


As we continue to travel along the path of re-visioning our iCentre virtual spaces, we have been investigating what a website, Library Management System (LMS) and social media can offer school library services.  Our research has been interesting and we easily agreed that the LMS and social media are vital virtual spaces for our services.  The Library Management Systems we have investigated are web-based, learner-centred, sophisticated and interactive and as such, we have been challenged to consider the question: is an iCentre Website necessary?  Our conclusion is a resounding YES and here are the reasons why:

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-26-pmWe model the literacy of participation

Jenkins et al. argue that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes (2006, p.3).  Crockett, Jukes and Chruches (2011, p.14), O’Leary (2012, para.18), and Seely Brown (2012, p.15) are also among those advocating the necessity of educating for participation because individuals who find themselves lacking such skills are at risk of being on the wrong side of the divide and left behind in academia and the workplace. Many of the skills and mindsets outlined by these authors, require schools to transition from a scholarship practice that uses technology as a tool to enhance research to a social scholarship practice “in which the use of social tools is an integral part of the research and publishing process and is characterized by openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing and transparent revision” (Pearce et al. & Cohen as cited in Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.767).  The iCentre website models this literacy of participation through publishing blogs, connecting with social media, and the open sharing of learning.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-39-pmWe serve a community not just students & teachers

The college community served by the iCentre is broader than the students and teachers on campus.  In particular, parents, as the primary educators, are an important part of our community.  One of the roles of the iCentre is to provide leadership in digital citizenship.  The website regularly curates and publishes information on how parents can assist their children to develop the capacity to build a positive digital footprint that showcases their learning interests, talents, and successes, and enables them to build social skills and cultural competencies.  This content also includes resources that will assist the community to use information and technology safely, legally and ethically.  To this end, an icentre website is a valuable tool because it provides learning experiences that enable the community to engage in positive digital practices that are relevant and timely.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-50-pmWe value networks

Technological shifts have changed the culture of learning to one in which the classroom is now global and provides learners with access to “nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, loc.55).  In this new culture, learning resides in the ability to form networks and learning how to learn, what to learn, who to learn with and when to learn is more important than the mastery of content (Olsen, 2011, p.22).  It is argued that understanding both digital competencies and new ways of learning in order to model digital citizenship become possible when educators take on the responsibility of developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.10).  The iCentre website is one of the tools we use to connect with our colleagues in education – it is part of our learning network.  We have had many instances of professionals from other school libraries making suggestions for our website, contributing content to our website, and contacting us through the website in order to visit and share knowledge.  Such connections have been invaluable to the service we offer our community.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-59-pmWe value Open Scholarship

A trend that has been identified in 21st Century scholarship is an “openness” resultant from developing digital communication and networked technologies (Pearce et al., 2010, p.37).  According to Katz, this trend towards open content, knowledge and learning will offer great opportunities for scholars (2010, p.6).  The Creative Commons movement, which has opened up access to licensed creative content and also allows individuals to license work for others to share, is one example of how openness can lower barriers and democratize learning.  By sharing resources and learning through the iCentre website, we too are participating in a form of open scholarship.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-44-09-pmWe want to share our story

At this year’s Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond has valuable outcomes and the iCentre website has proved a powerful way to share our story.


Crockett, L.,Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. [Epub]. Kelowna, B:C: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robinson, A., J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Olsen, R. (2011). Understanding virtual pedagogies for contemporary teaching & learning (pp. 1-32, Rep.). Victoria: IdeasLAB.

Pearce, N.,Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Ashleigh, M. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: How new technologies could transform academic work. In Education, 16(1), 33-44.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of networked learning. In Personal Learning Networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin, Cictoria: Solution Tree Press.

Seely Brown, J. (2012, November 21-22). CJ Koh Professorial Lecture Series No. 4 in Singapore: Learning in and for the 21st Century Singapore. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58,, 766-774. Retrieved from http://10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001




Posted in Book Review, Books & Reading, CSU, Digital Literacy, English Literature, INF533, Reading, YA Literature

Book Review: Whitechapel Real Time by The History Press

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

Whitechapel real time (@WChapelRealTime) is a historical retelling of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ mystery.  The story, published by The History Press, is delivered via micro-blogging in a Twitter feed and supported by additional content on the publisher’s website and Facebook page.  This project was written in 2013 between the 24th of August and the 11th of November to mark the 125 year anniversary of the first ‘Jack the Ripper’ murder.  The History Press state that all content for the story was thoroughly researched in order to accurately portray Victorian society during 1888 (2013a, para.1).  It can be identified that this story is a digitally originated literary text and due to elaborations in the form of factual information, non-fiction artefacts and links, this text can be categorised as an interactive story (Unsworth, 2006, p.3).  The success of Whitechapel real time is its ability to engage readers through literary devices, interactive opportunities and thoughtful design.

Whitechapel real time is a complex narrative that contains a number of literary elements including a fast-paced plot, character development and an evocative setting.  The content of Whitechapel real time is the result of work by historians, some calling themselves ‘Ripperologists’, who researched primary and secondary sources to produce a historically focused story (Dangerfield, 2013, para.26).  The plot follows events that unfolded over four months in 1888 and is delivered via first-person tweets.  Characters are identifiable by hashtagged names at the start of tweets.  By retelling these events from the perspectives of local people at the time, such as reporters, dock workers and policemen, the feed develops characterisation, allowing the reader to feel empathy for those touched by the crimes.  These tweets are interspersed with photographs and artefacts from Victorian London (as seen in the examples below) that create setting and build atmosphere as the plot progresses.  The use of these artefacts and visuals demonstrate synergy between the digital features and literary elements of the story (Walsh, 013, p.189), and is a strength of the publication.


Whitechapel real time is not the first instance of The History Press experimenting with Twitter to publish a story.  They had previously received praise for the Titanic real time project that was published in 2012 and amassed over 111, 000 followers (Brown, 2013, para.14).  Kasman Valenza and Stephens state that such experimentation with new forms of reading is a trend among authors who aim to appeal to young readers that have grown up surrounded by digital media (2012, p.2).  These platforms promise to engage users by offering them opportunities for interaction and feedback.  Such interaction is evident in Whitechapel real time when the reader is offered the opportunity to follow links to further historical information about the events and people identified in the story.  There is evidence that readers of Whitechapel real time retweeted, replied to tweets and quoted tweets and as such were engaged in the interactive structures offered. Thus, the Twitter steam grants the reader of Whitechapel real time choice and control over the text and provides a space for discourse between the author and reader (Skains, 2010, p.98).

WCRT interaction

Using a micro-blogging environment to tell a story has design implications for the reader.  One such design effect of using Twitter to read a story is the impact of fragmented delivery.  On this point, opinion is divided about the ability of Twitter literature to capture the reader through a narrative that is revealed gradually.  Franklin states that tweeting a story line by line doesn’t work because “attempting to follow a live narrative on Twitter makes readers hyperaware of the down time between tweets (2014, para.10).  Yet, Fitzgerald states that reading a story live on twitter builds suspense because the reader has no control over when they can read them (2013, para.6). Furthermore, Davis argues that the compulsory short, sharp nature of micro-blogging results in works that are “oddly poetic on both a visual and conceptual level” (2008, p.14).  A good design decision of The History Press was to deliver the story of Whitechapel real time via one Twitter handle.  If the story had been delivered via multiple handles or hashtags, readers would have experienced difficulty in assembling the pieces later (Franklin, 2014, para.9).  Interestingly, because of the nature of social media, the experience of reading this book live was only possible during the ten weeks of publication.  Within this reading, the reader was reliant on waiting for new tweets to move ahead in the plot.  Subsequent readings of the story do not necessitate down time between tweets but do require the reader to scroll backwards to the beginning of the Twitter feed and work their way through the tweets. Consequently, the design of a Twitter feed narrative such as Whitechapel real time has different impacts for different readers.

Conclusively, Whitechapel real time is an example of an interactive story published on a Twitter feed.  This story combines literary elements, interactive structures and design features to engage readers in history, in particular the events of 1888 during which the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders took place in Victorian London.


Brown, E. (2013, August 22). ‘Whitechapel Real Time’ Twitter project marks 125 years of multiple murders [Web log post]. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Dangerfield, A. (2013, August 23). Twitter real-time explores Jack the Ripper murders. BBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from

Davis, O. (2008). Twittered texts. Meanjin, 67(4), 14. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from;dn=078749604341308;res=IELAPA

Fitzgerald, A. (Director). (2013, July). Adventures in Twitter fiction [Video file]. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from

Franklin, R. (2014). Character development: It’s been touted as a revolutionary platform for expression, but does Twitter literature really have a future? Foreign Policy, November-December, 104. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

The History Press. (2013a). White Chapel Real Time. Retrieved August 15, 2015, from

The History Press. (2013b). The History Press Publisher [Facebook Page]. Retrieved from

Kasman Valenza, J., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Kasman Valenza, J., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Skains, R. L. (2010). The shifting author-reader dynamic. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 96-111. doi:10.1177/1354856509347713

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

@WChapelRealTime. (2013, August 24 – November 11). WhiteChapelRealTime [Twitter feed]. Retrieved from

Posted in Book Review, Books & Reading, CSU, English Literature, Reading, YA Literature

Book Review – Maggot Moon (multi-touch edition) by Sally Gardner

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

Maggot Moon (multi-touch edition) by Sally Gardner is a dystopian tale that tells the story of Standish Treadwell.  Standish, together with his grandfather, survive under a ruthless, totalitarian regime called the ‘Motherland’.  This brutal and corrupt government his diminished Standish’s freedom and livelihood and is responsible for the disappearance of his parents.  The multi-touch edition of this novel, published by Hot Key Books, contains interactive content including video, images, extracts from the audio book, animated page sequences, political talking points, quizzes and writing prompts.  The addition of multimodal content in the narrative moves this book into the classification of transmedia storytelling (Lamb, 2011, p.15).  This review compares the multimedia edition of Maggot Moon with its printed version and asserts that the digital features result in an altered reading experience, a modified characterisation of the protagonist, and embellishments in the theme of the story.

Since its publication in 2012, Sally Gardner’s young adult novel, Maggot Moon, has received much acclaim and won two prestigious literary awards:  the Carnegie Medal and The Costa ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ award. These awards indicate the story has been judged to contain well-written content of outstanding literary quality.   When the winner of the Carnegie Medal was announced in 2013, the chair of the judging panel, Karen Robinson labelled Maggot Moon as “gripping, moving and exquisitely written, it offers a powerful portrayal of a genuinely frightening dystopia and the unlikely hero that dares stand up to it. It is an outstanding book in every sense” (The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards, 2013, para.5).   Although both the paper book and the digital edition were published in the same year, reviews of the digital edition are not easy to find.  One critique found was by Kirkus Review who stated that the multi-touch edition was full of,  “digital distractions—many of them tangential, at best” (2013, para.1).   Known for being “reliably cantankerous” (Rich, 2009, para.15), Kirkus Review was also critical of the paper edition of Maggot Moon when it was published, saying that it was “a book with a message but no resonance” (2012, para.3). Overall, the literary qualities of Maggot Moon, in both the print and digital editions, can be seen as one of its strengths.

Essentially, the plot of the multi-touch edition of Maggot Moon is no different to that of the printed book, however the multimodal features offered alter the reading experience. As the reader engages in the story of the digital version, they are offered embellishments and interactive content that go beyond the words and images on the static page (Koss, 2014, p.26).  The interactivity of the content is limited to touch, in which the reader can expand a thumbnail of an image or document to a larger version, press play on a video or audio piece and choose from multiple answers in quizzes.  This interactive content is presented in the margins, a design feature that allows reading the text without disruption.  When held in portrait position, the page is a ‘clean version’ of the text with thumbnail images of the accompanying content, while the landscape view provides a larger snapshot of the multimodal content.

landscape portrait 2015-08-25 at 8.15.54 pm

[Access to interactive content is presented in the margins. Images: Gardner, 2012b, p.1]

The reader is told that the purpose of these embellishments is “to mess with your mind  …. [so that you do not accept] what you are told” (Gardner, 2012, p.i) [refer to image below].  This, however, might be seen as a paradox because although the reader can choose to engage or not in these multimodal additions, they are not given an option to choose between differing tenets and are only offered those provided by the author.

warning mess with your mind

[A warning that the content of this book will “mess with your mind”. Image: Gardner, 2012b, p.i]

Sally Gardner has been praised for the “startling clarity” (Moon, 2013, para.7) of her characterisation of Standish Treadwell, the protagonist of Maggot Moon.  It is clear from page three of the novel that Standish struggles with academic learning when he tells us that he, “can’t read, can’t write”, and, “isn’t bright” (Gardner, 2013a). In fact, Standish is dyslexic but this is never once explicitly labelled in the narrative of Maggot Moon and Gardner asserts that, through this character, she wanted to give the reader an insight into the way a dyslexic person thinks.  This, she says, is a gift rather than a disability and is just another way of looking at the world (Hot Key Books, 2012, para.3).  In fact, when reading the printed version of Maggot Moon, unless the reader is familiar with some of the idiosyncrasies of dyslexia, they might never know that this is what plagues Standish leaving them free to imagine his peculiar thoughts and speech, not as a deficit but instead, as a unique quality of his diversity (Hodgkins, 2013, p.33).  The multimedia edition, however, contains no such ambiguity.  This is due to multiple videos of Gardner describing how her own dyslexia is represented in the characterisation of Standish and several animations of how a dyslexic person experiences text on page.  Thus, in the digital edition of Maggot Moon, there is no option but to know Standish as a person labelled with dyslexia.  This didactic element of the digital version is incompatible with Standish’s characterisation evidenced when his friend Hector tells him that, “the best thing we have is our imagination and you have that in bucket loads” (Gardner, 2012a, p.142).  Consequently, the integration of multimodal content affects the reader’s experience of character by diminishing the complexity of Standish’s personality.

When assessing the value of the digital content presented in the mutli-touch edition of Maggot Moon, one might arrive at conflicting conclusions.  On the one hand, some of the digital affordances offered include the opportunity for the reader to express their own opinion by responding to ideas in writing, and to explore ideas in more depth by connecting to information via hyperlinks.  Conversely, some of the digital offerings compromise the themes they intend to develop.  An example of such compromise occurs when the author expands upon political allegories by offering the reader real world examples of hoaxes, interrogation techniques and twentieth century genocide.  The examples presented are prescriptive and over-simplified, and contradict the theme of challenging propaganda and the strategy of presenting facts selectively or lying by omission to further a government’s agenda.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 8.37.47 pm

[Examples of multimodal content that contradict the themes presented in the novel.

Images:  Gardner, 2010b, pp.41, 110, 145, 222]

Conclusively, Maggot Moon multi-touch edition is an example of transmedia storytelling in which multimodal elements have been added to a story written for the page rather than one created in a digital form.  Walsh insists that quality digital literature needs an, “aesthetic synergy between the technical features, the artistic creation of the text and the ideas within it” (2013, p.187).  According to this criteria, the multimodal features in the digital edition of Maggot Moon take the reader beyond words on a static page with mixed success because they alter the development of character and absorbing ideas that are presented in the printed form of the story.


Buckley-Archer, L. (2012, December 29). Maggot moon by Sally Gardner – review. The Guardian. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards. (2013, June 19). ‘Unteachable’ author enters children’s book awards hall of fame: Sally Gardner wins the CILIP Carnegie Medal with Maggot Moon. Retrieved August 16, 2015, from

Gardner, S. (2012a). Maggot moon. London: Hot Key Books.

Gardner, S. (2012b). Maggot moon (Multi-touch edition) [2.1]  Retrieved from

Hodgkins, S. (2013). Dyslexia Discourse: E-book accessibility and the resistance of literacy norms in Maggot Moon. Write4Children, IV(II), 28-36. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Hot Key Books. (2012). Maggot moon: Dyslexia. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Kirkus Reivew. (2012, December 1). Maggot moon. Retrieved August 16, 2015, from

Kirkus Review. (2013, October 2). Maggot moon. Retrieved August 16, 2015, from

Koss, M. D. (2014). Digital children’s book apps: Bringing children’s literature to life in new and exciting ways. Reading Today, (December 2013/January 2014), 26-27. Retrieved August 16, 2015, from file:///Users/stowh/Downloads/Digital_children_s_book_apps__.PDF.

Moon, B. (2013, December 22). Maggot moon, a literary David [Web log post]. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Ramey, S. W. (2015). Hinduism. In World Book Advanced. Retrieved from

Rich, M. (2009, December 11). End of Kirkus Reviews brings anguish and relief. The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2015, from

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Posted in CSU, YA Literature

Getting started in INF533: Literature in Digital Environments


Semester 2 begins and it is exciting to be back into things at CSU and starting INF533: Literature in Digital Environments.

This subject will explore the possibilities that new technologies are offering the book industry and readers.  It is claimed that, in terms of literature, we live in times as revolutionary as the invention of the printing press (CSU, 2015, para.9).  If this is true, we have such a wonderful opportunity to be studying the change in progress.  In particular, I am looking forward to:

  • investigating the trends and developments influencing publishing and literature;
  • considering the future of reading and literature;
  • exploring the debate between those who are resistant to new forms of reading and those who are excited about the possibilities; and
  • examining the context, value and opportunities in using digital literature in the school setting.

The first module of this course (CSU, 2015, para.5), presents the following quote:

“Whether printed on paper,, or stored in servers, [books] embody knowledge, and their authority derives from a great deal more than the technology that went into them” (Darnton, 2009, p.xvi)

I would like to expand on this by quoting Philip Pullman who says that “after nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world”.  I believe this has been true from when we told stories around a campfire, drew them on the walls of caves and hand scripted them on precious parchment.  Surely, this will continue to be true even though stories may now be constructed of bytes?


Charles Sturt University (CSU). (2015). Gutenberg to Kindle, INF533:  Literature in digital environments. Retrieved July, 2015.

Posted in C21st Learners, Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Information Fluency, Social Media, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education

A reading list for digital citizenship in secondary schools


A recent university assignment investigating Digital Citizenship in Education studied in the Masters course, Knowledge networks and digital innovation, being studied through Charles Sturt University (CSU) required students to assess digital citizenship needs within their school environments and make recommendations for future directions. One element of the task was to prepare an annotated bibliography of essential reading for college leadership teams. This is the bibliography prepared by myself and Kathryn Schravemade. It contains some excellent resources for anyone considering digital citizenship priorities for secondary schools.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from

When considering the policy and procedures needed for a DLE, it is imperative to consider the concept of digital citizenship and how this will be managed and taught within the school in question, as this will directly influence the behaviour of staff and students online. The transition from analogue to digital classrooms places great pressure on educators to be aware of the behaviours of their students in digital and globally connected environments and, while constant monitoring of these behaviours is almost impossible, providing them with guidelines and models of how to interact in such environments will assist them in having successful learning experiences online. Consequently, it is imperative that educators and administrators become familiar with the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum as they provide insight into how aspects of digital citizenship can be incorporated across disciplines in a school environment. On this website, beyond the obvious links to digital citizenship and technology use in the ICT Capability, reading the information associated with the capabilities of Ethical Behaviour, Personal and Social Competence and Intercultural Understanding are of particular worth, as they have considerable implications for digital citizenship. The social nature of DLEs in online environments is relevant to the capability of Ethical Behaviour as students must ensure they are aware of the impact their behaviours can have on others and manage this accordingly. This also has relevance to the capabilities of Intercultural Understanding and Personal and Social Competence as students become aware of the differences between cultures in a DLE and be able to act appropriately and ethically in response to this. The General Capabilities must be considered when preparing policy and procedures for a DLE as teachers in Australia are expected to address and assess these across all learning areas.

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C.: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age focuses on identifying the learning environments necessary to facilitate digital learning and methods for implementing these. The authors, Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches have authored and co-authored several books, articles and blogs that focus on educating students to thrive in a time of exponential change. The central argument of this book is that the information landscapes of the 21st century require a shift in the way we teach and evaluate learning. The purpose of this book is to provide an impetus to initiate change and is best used to stimulate questions that challenge traditional pedagogical methods and structures with a focus on relevancy for contemporary learning. The first three chapters build the authors’ argument and the remaining chapters outline a core set of ‘fluencies’ (solution fluency, information fluency, creativity fluency, media fluency, collaboration fluency and global digital citizenship) and provide tools for teachers to use in order to develop lesson plans, create assessment tools and reflect upon professional practice.

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends, 55(4), 37-48. Retrieved March 28, 2015.

Providing an overview of the issues schools need to consider as they set in place the policies and procedures necessary to establish a digital learning environment must address digital citizenship. The article, Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village, argues that student guidance in this area is essential in order to develop a society that is, “defined by effective attitudes and practices in digital decision making, ethical and legal issues, online safety, customer security, consumer security, and technology related health issues” (p.37). The authors qualifications in the field of education and a significant reference list are provided to validate the reliability of their research. The strength of this article is that it articulates all of the stakeholders involved in establishing a shared vision for digital learning priorities in schools. The article also provides evidence of the need to embed digital citizenship into curriculum and suggested methods for achieving this. It repeatedly argues that administrators and teachers need to be role models of digital citizenship as it is impossible to understand the behaviours and mindsets associated with online engagement unless they themselves are participants in the digital world, and this makes it a worthwhile read for college leadership teams.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). ISTE Standards. Retrieved May 14, 2015, from

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provide a set of standards that are useful guidelines for the skills, knowledge and processes needed by students, teachers, administrators, coaches and computer science educators to succeed in the digital age. These standards were developed between 2007 and 2011 and are a very good framework for best practice strategies and an essential resource for establishing digital learning environments. ISTE’s goal is to, “empower all learners in a connected world” and they provide an international conference, website resources, and professional learning communities to achieve their vision. The standards are accessed via the ISTE website, where educators can find connected resources such as the Essential conditions for technology integration and Standards in action which are examples of educators enacting the standards in classroom settings. ISTE’s work is based on peer-reviewed research on effective learning and teaching with technology and is edited by people with expertise in the field of education.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website

Sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century, investigates the roles of schools in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in society. The key argument of this paper is that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes. The paper is thoroughly referenced and the principal author is Henry Jenkins, the Director of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Executive Summary of the paper provides a succinct overview of why schools require policy and pedagogy shifts to focus on building participatory cultures. The remainder of the paper provides explanations of each of the skills required for participation and strategies for building these new media literacies.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Retrieved from New Media Consortium website

Perhaps one of the most valuable resources for administrators and educators considering the implementation of Digital Learning Environments, the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 edition, provides a well-researched overview of emerging technologies likely to impact teaching and learning in schools over a five year period. This report covers the three main areas of: key trends, significant challenges and important developments predicted.   Crucial considerations for the digital age, such as rethinking the role of teachers, the safety of student data and hybrid learning designs are discussed in depth throughout this report and curated links to further reading and practical examples of how these concepts are applied to school settings are given for each area. What is also unique about the Horizon Report is that all of the background materials involved in the report, including research data and preliminary selections, can be downloaded for free on iTunes U. Often as educators we are exposed to research about new technology and pedagogical trends with little evidence of how they may impact our policies and practice, however refreshingly, the Horizon Report discusses the implications for policy, leadership and practice for each of the trends identified. When considering the policies and procedures necessary for a DLE, this report provides essential reading as it provides insight into thetechnology, skills and support that will be needed to remain current in teaching and learning in the digital age.

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know is the work of Mike Ribble and offers an overview of the behaviours, mindsets and skills necessary for successful participation in a digital society. Following this overview, Ribble provides a framework and lesson guides for schools developing digital learning environments that necessitate digital citizenship education. For the purposes of this research task, Section 3: Creating a digital citizenship program is particularly useful for identifying the digital learning issues affecting education. The structure of the book allows easy access for educators to use sections and chapters on an‘as needs’ basis, and as such, provides a useful reference source. Ribble’s qualifications support the reliability of this source and include: the attainment of a Doctor of Education, authoring a number of works (books and journal articles) on digital citizenship education published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and a position as District Director of Technology. Chapter 2: the nine elements of digital citizenship is recommended for school leadership teams to become familiar with the areas encompassed in responsible, appropriate behaviour with regards to technology use.

School Technology Branch, Alberta Education. (2012). Digital citizenship policy development guide. Retrieved from Alberta Education website

The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide published by Alberta Education acts as a guide for educators and administrators who are looking to establish a digital citizenship policy within their institution. Structured around Ribble’s research on digital citizenship, this document provides an overview of digital citizenship policies and practices while drawing from relevant school-based research. Although set in an American context with examples taken from schools in Alberta, the structuring of this guide around Ribble’s Nine (9) Elements of Digital Citizenship makes it relevant to educational institutions universally. The key purpose of this guide is to provide guidance in policy development to ensure the protection of students working in digital learning environments. While the introduction of this publication alone is essential reading in its definition and explanation of the relevance of digital citizenship in schools, each one of the nine (9) elements of digital citizenship are explored in relation to student and educator considerations, organisational requirements and policy considerations through Chapter Four (4). Although the laws discussed in this resource are applicable only to readers in Alberta, the application of digital citizenship policy to these laws provides brilliant precedent and discussions that could be applied to any educational organisation, regardless of its location. This resource is an excellent starting point for readers investigating policies and procedures applicable to Digital Learning Environments as it links relevant twenty-first (21st) century learning standards such as the ISTE NETs for students, teachers and administrators to digital citizenship frameworks. Of particular relevance to education administrators looking to create policies and procedures relevant to DLEs, is Chapter Five (5) Digital Citizenship Process and A Road Map, which draws together policy, outcomes, leadership and stakeholder involvement. The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide was particularly useful when conducting this environmental scan report as it assisted in modelling how frameworks and research can be mapped to establish relevant policy and discussed issues that may be pertinent to a DLE, such as cloud computing and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT).

West, M., & Vosloo, S. (2013). UNESCO policy guidelines for mobile learning. Retrieved from

Developed in consultation with education experts from a range of over twenty countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning provides essential guidelines related to embedding ICTs in school policies and procedures. Aimed particularly at policy-makers and administrators, the document recognises that all new policies within a school must consider the opportunities afforded by mobile technology and digital environments. Thus, these guidelines assist readers in understanding the benefits of mobile and digital technology and how they can be incorporated to improve teaching and learning. The chapter entitled Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning starting on page twenty-nine (29) of the report, assists administrators and policy-makers in understanding and taking-action to include mobile learning in their policies and procedures, including areas such as teacher training and support, optimising educational experiences for students and advocating for safe, responsible and healthy use of mobile technologies. This section also highlights practices that should be examined, avoided and provided in policies and procedures, allowing educators to consider how this would affect a DLE in their own school environment. Therefore, this document is integral reading when considering the policies and procedures needed for a DLE in a school environment.

Zellweger Moser, F. (2007). Faculty adoption of educational technology. Educause Quarterly, 30(1), 66-69. Retrieved from

Zellweger Moser’s research entitled Faculty Adoption of Education Technology provides an in-depth examination of the ways in which technological support provided by the employing institution can influence teaching staff when integrating technology in their teaching and learning. Although Zellweger Moser’s research was undertaken in higher education facilities, it includes several considerations applicable to teaching staff in both primary and secondary environments. Figure One (1) entitled, Faculty Educational Technology Adoption Cycle on page sixty-six (66), is an adoption cycle proposed by the author that incorporates factors such as time commitment, competence development and student feedback that are likely to impact upon teacher adoption of technology use and digital environment s. On page sixty-eight (68) of the document Table One (1) Negative Educational Technology Adoption Scenario and Figure Two (2) Faculty eLearning Behaviour and Support, address the issues identified in this environmental scan report of staff preparedness and buy-in and the role of senior and middle management in supporting a DLE. Zellweger Moser’s finding that level of support given to teaching staff when adopting technology and DLEs significantly influences the success of such initiatives cannot be ignored in the policies and procedures of an intended DLE.

Image Attribution

Nominalize, Social Media Blocks Blogger Linkedin Facebook, Public Domain

Posted in Teaching and Learning

Reasons why school libraries should be using social media

Using social media to enhance service provision can be a difficult prospect for school libraries because there are often a number of hurdles in the way. These hurdles may include:

  • Fear of the misuse and abuse of these technologies – schools have a responsibility to keep students safe and often the fear of students accessing inappropriate information online, unsafe behaviours and cyber bullying results in schools developing policies that restrict technologies and social media use.
  • Fear of academic distraction – keeping classroom disruptions to a minimum is a key goal of teachers and possible interruptions caused by phones, devices, texting and social media is a significant issue that schools need to consider.
  • Giving away intellectual property – schools &/or education systems own the copyright on all resources produced for their context. Some administrators have difficulty in adopting an open source model and may restrict online sharing and collaboration.
  • It’s all too hard – there may be a lack of knowledge, experience and understanding of how to use social media for library services and taking that first step seems just too hard for some.

These hurdles suggest there are many reasons why school libraries are not on social media. Nevertheless, there are many examples of libraries, in and out of the school sector, using social media to successfully enhance their services. Three examples of these are presented in the following infographic:


These examples demonstrate how libraries can use social media. If Teacher-Librarians are going to be persuaded into the social media landscape, however, they will need to be convinced why it is a good idea. Here are some good reasons why school libraries should use social media:

  • Social media can provide online channels for broadcasting library content and drawing attention to the collection material. The National library of Australia believe that these media also provide high-value word-of-mouth marketing and are a successful method of reputation management and brand strengthening (Dellit & Schindeler, 2012, p.3)
  • Through social media, libraries can interact with users and provide opportunities for them to join groups and share ideas and information. When discussing why she blogs, Terri Bennett, a public library director from New York says that blogs “have the power to break down the institutional wall between libraries and their community members” (in Brookover, 2007, p.28). Furthermore, social media can provide opportunities for libraries to respond to feedback, both positive and negative, and to engage in conversation with patrons and better understand their needs (Burkhardt, 2009, para.3 & 5).
  • Digital Citizenship education – Teacher-Librarians are in a great position to be leaders of digital citizenship practices in their schools and teaching social media can be one method of enacting this. Joyce Valenza believes that using social media for learning will open students to:
    • respect for and creative use of intellectual property;
    • operating search tools so they work harder for them – receiving pushed information through feeds and widgets;
    • understanding their digital footprint;
    • building their own Professional Learning Networks (PLNs);
    • connecting with authors and experts;
    • communicating research; and
    • valuing intellectual freedom (2009).
  • Crowd sourcing involves individuals contributing to the collective to create a product that is far greater that the sum of individual achievements (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, olc.767). Wikipedia is a great example of this. Trove, an online library service of the National Library of Australia, is a world leader in crowd sourcing. They believe libraries can use crowd sourcing to facilitate participation and contribution to the work of an organisation, advocating this enriches their collections in ways previously not possible (Dellit & Schindeler, 2012, p2).

For school libraries contemplating going down the path of using social media, there are some important considerations that need to be kept in mind, including:

  • Strategies – a social media strategy is important as it articulates what individual libraries wish to gain from using social media. This will then inform the tools chosen, the types of conversations that will take place and the time and energy invested in these communications.
  • Policies – having guidelines for social media use is particularly important in the school setting where the age of students, institutional values and parental concerns necessitate consideration. Sharlyn Lauby’s blog post, 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy, contains good advice for those considering a social media policy.  If libraries are contemplating patron/student-generated content through crowd sourcing, this also necessitates the establishment a clear set of guidelines. The New York Public Library’s Policy on patron-generated web content is an excellent example of such policies.
  • Licensing – when publishing to social media, school libraries need to adhere to the ethical use of the creative materials they share and attribute sources appropriately. This can be a legal issue as well as role modelling good practices for students. Teacher-Librarians should also consider having a discussion with their school principal about licensing the work they publish and participating in a creative commons culture of sharing information with the view that access to information has always been a core value of libraries.
  • Staff roles – good social media communications take time. When libraries are sure their reasons for using social media mirror their core values, staff roles need to be redefined in order to allocate time in the working day for staff to learn these technologies and then engage in these environments on behalf of the library.
  • Risk & trust – mistakes can be made and when these are online the potential audience is always large. Letting go of the culture of perfect and trusting users to play a role in library services are essential to the successful use of social media which at it’s core must be about understanding, connecting with and involving users (Farkas, 2008, para.16).


Brookover, S. (2007). Why we blog. Library Journal132(19), 28.

Burkhardt, A. (2009, August 25). Four reasons libraries should be on social media [Web log post]. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Dellit, A., & Schindeler, S. (2012, February 7). VALA2012 concurrent session 2: Discovery. In Trove: The Terrors and Triumphs of Service-based Social Media. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Farkas, M. (2008, January 24). The essence of Library 2.0? [Web log post]. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from

Lauby, S. (2009, April 27). Should your company have a social media policy? [Web log post]. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from

New York Public Library. (2015). Policy on patron-generated web content. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Posted in Digital Citizenship, Social networking for informational professionals

PLNs – is there ever too much of a good thing?

In 2008, Jeff Utecht wrote a blog post outlining what he believed to be the stages of Personal Learning Network (PLN) adoption. He observed that when people go about starting a PLN they often move through five stages that include immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance. In this model, stage 3, know it all, can be a dangerous time. At this stage, Utecht says people find themselves spending many hours trying to learn everything they can, they feel like they can’t afford to miss anything posted in networks and even give up sleep to stay connected. The image below was developed by Utecht to illustrate these stages:

Stages of a PLN

Personally, I think these stages do describe my own journey in establishing a PLN and I oscillate between stage 3, 4 and 5. I particularly identify with a comment on the blog made by Nancy that says “I might consider drawing a ’roundabout’ as well since I find myself entering Stage 3, then 4, then 5 and then something happens and I’m back at Stage 3 then going on to 4, etc.” I always maintain a goal of balance but manage to lose this mid-term when I enjoy being connected to interesting people and great ideas to the point of spending too much time on devices. When university studies or the school term comes to an end, I have a break, get some perspective and seek balance again. If balance is a habit that can be achieved through practise and discipline, then my efforts to obtain this will eventually pay off and indeed, I think slowly, I am experiencing more of the balanced periods and less the manic ones.

In the classroom, I am constantly telling students that healthy digital citizenship includes digital down time as advocated by others such as Ribble (2011), Rheingold (2012) and Boyd (2014). I think it is important to ‘practice what I preach’ and apply this principle to time spent in my PLN. I also agree with the comment left by John Larkin in response to Utecht’s post, that states too much intensity in a PLN can lead to burn out and that can be debilitating, personally and professionally (2008). In his book, Netsmart: How to thrive online, Howard Rheingold argues that learning how and when to concentrate on the relevant portions of the incoming tsunami of information is a skill that can and should be learned. He labels this process – infotention (2012).

As part of my studies for Social Networking for Information Professionals at CSU, we were asked to develop a meme map of our own PLN which involves social networking sites, people and organizations. Here is mine:

My PLN is 2015-01-29 at 10.41.04 pm

For this subject, we were also challenged to identify any ‘gaps’ in our existing PLN (ie. areas which we feel we would like to develop further/in the future). Linkedin is one such gap in my PLN. While I have an account and a profile, I have always felt uncomfortable in this environment and avoid updating or participating here. I don’t have a solid explanation for these feelings but something about the platform makes me feel like a “boaster” on one hand and a “stalker” on the other. For the purposes of both the subject and my digital footprint, I have set the goal of becoming more familiar with what is on offer for professionals in Linkedin and improving my participation in this network.


Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education.

Utecht, J. (2008, April 03). Stages of PLN adoption [Web log post]. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from