Not So Distant Future

technology, libraries, and schools

Not So Distant Future

Edcamp DOE summed up

August 30, 2014 · 1 Comment · Web 2.0

(Better late than never–sharing my experience at EdCamp DOE!)

Getting started

What happens when an EdCamp happens at the U.S. Department of Education?   That was the unknown question when fifty educators came together in Washington, D.C. in June for the first ever EdCamp DOE.  Thanks to the efforts of the Edcamp crew, Emily Davis, and Director of the Office of Ed Technology Richard Culatta, among others, the challenge became a reality.

IMG_5623We didn’t know if the DOE would actually be sending staff to participate in the Edcamp itself, and didn’t quite know what the day would look like or what it would accomplish.  But since I felt so fortunate for the opportunity when my name was drawn, and because I think of myself as both an educator and a librarian, I was eager to go and find out.

First off, for those of you wondering how we got there, the names of the attendees were randomly drawn from a call for participation on Twitter and elsewhere. And while there was a preponderance of attendees from the Northeast, there were educators from as far as California and Texas there as well; attendees included doctoral students, librarians, administrators, teachers, and even teachers’ aides and first year teachers.   So while the geographical diversity wasn’t entirely the best, (given the nature and timing of the event), the diversity of attendees was pleasing, especially with that small of a group.

Emily Davis, who helped coordinate details and is a Teacher Ambassador to the department, did a good job of reminding us to extract some “what next” items from our conversations throughout the day.  And Secretary Arne Duncan popped in briefly to look over the EdCamp scheduling board and learn a little about the process.  And Richard Culatta who was sadly unable to be there, sent a great video greeting.


Secretary Arne Duncan studying the Edcamp board

 What I was most hopeful about (having staffers participating en force throughout the day) didn’t entirely happen;  the fact that this group of teacher leaders from all over were gathered within their building to talk “education” seemed like such an amazing opportunity for staff and policy makers at the Department to just listen in or even participate in our conversations.    However, Emily did a good job of pulling policy people into appropriate conversations at times.


I was part of four very different but interesting conversations–the last one on testing being the most dynamic and impactful.   (The four I participated in regarded teacher quality, learning spaces, libraries, and measuring education).

As always, the respect that educators have for one another’s ideas, and their passion to come from all over the country on weekends to meet with one another and learn together is inspiring.  (And I think, according to staffers at DOE, it surprised some of them the idea that people come to learn on their own time, for free).

edcamp doe convo testing

In typical EdCamp fashion, all of the notes from the entire day are stored in Google Docs for your perusal.   Here are notes from the learning spaces session which I facilitated and the “how schools should be measured” session, which doctoral student Kristine Larson led.  It was fascinating to hear perspectives from so many different types of participants, too — representation from everything from Department of Defense schools to project based schools to traditional school settings.


My biggest takeaway — if in the course of so many of our education conversations throughout our personal learning networks, we identify some “actionable” items, then we will help move things forward more effectively.   How can we reframe some of our conversations so that they become more like “problem solver” sessions?

EdCamp DOE also gave the attendees and edu-staffers a glimpse of how difficult it is to disseminate information so that it sticks.   There are many channels, but even so, sometimes it is still very difficult to cut through the general noise and communicate, and that applies to both policy makers and to building level PLN teachers.   I also hope that the policy makers who did attend got a real sense of the passion, knowledge, and ideas of educators on the “ground” level.

Thanks to the Department of Education for opening its doors to the Edcamp process–that meant a great deal.   And here’s to hopes that at the next EdCamp DOE, more policy makers will be participants, too.

photo by Joe Mazza

group photo by Joe Mazza

Lastly, this event was the culmination of a pretty amazing set of experiences for me personally, for which I am so grateful.  From the White House Champion of Change recognition in November, to the ALA Future of Libraries Summit in May, to Edcamp DOE in June, I felt so gratified to have experienced the serendipitous cross connections between all of these events and dedicated educators and librarians.   It has been an amazing growth experience and I am so appreciative of all those who made it happen.

Here’s to moving conversations forward!



Librarians Sharing New Ideas across Globe

July 25, 2014 · 1 Comment · Web 2.0

(Note:  This is cross posted on the White website in honor of Champions of Change.)

Providing our students opportunities to be prepared for the future is crucial.  Across the nation, thousands of dedicated educators and librarians are leading the charge to help students investigate, create, collaborate and communicate effectively, and to reach beyond the walls of their own schools.

I am honored to represent a large community of connected librarians across the nation who play a uniquely significant role in assisting teachers as they become comfortable with new technologies, and who link teachers and students with the tools and resources that help them become “connected” learners.  While librarians have always been resource mavens and curriculum specialists, our roles have broadened to include the technology tools and strategies that prepare our students for an always connected future.   That can mean connecting our ASL students via Skype so they can teach a Canadian student sign language, hosting a robotics makerspace in the library, building a list of web resources for our Vietnam memorial project, or discovering new devices that will aid student research.

When tablets entered the commercial marketplace, for example, I was eager to pilot them in the library in order to determine their efficacy for our teachers and students.  As an early adopter, I began with just six tablets to gather information on their usefulness for student learning both within the library and the classroom.  Three years later, with the dedication of a tribe of people, we are now a one-to-one tablet district k-12 and are entering our third year hosting an annual conference for tablet users across the country.

As a librarian (in concert with technology staff),  I supported the initiative in many ways:  redesigning the library to include a tech “help desk”, building lists of appropriate apps, developing projects with students and teachers, and documenting our initiative on a campus blog.  I have networked with librarians around the country as they grapple with similar issues from e-books to library redesign; even when we redesigned our own library six years ago, many of the future-friendly features that make our library a vibrant hub were inspired by other colleagues online.

As a librarian, I play a vital leadership role with my unique expertise about research and literacy.  But I and other librarians cannot develop our skills in a vacuum. Wired librarians across the globe have banded together to build resources for one another, like the Teacher Librarian Virtual café.  This program, led by volunteers, hosts monthly online programming and supports weekly Twitter chats.  I also engage with Texas librarians during the weekly Texas Library Twitter chat and network during national events like the Connected Educator month with Secretary Arne Duncan, and the free K12online Conference, which gave me the first thrilling taste of connecting with educators globally.

These ongoing connections have imbued my own practice with the most empowering professional learning I have ever been a part of; I can wake up chatting with educators in Australia, connect with colleagues on campus during the day, and go to bed having chatted with colleagues on the West Coast.  Rather than work alone, librarians have grown wide networks of colleagues that both support and challenge us, and we, and our schools, are better for it.  For me, this incredible honor to be named as a Champion of Change is a recognition not only of my own work as a “technolibrarian”, but more importantly of all of my connected colleagues and their incredible dedication to better our profession.   We care fiercely about educating our students and about moving our schools forward.  And these connections make our work much richer.   Thank you for recognizing that “connecting works” and thank you for this honor.


Libraries from Now On– Summing up the Summit

May 7, 2014 · No Comments · Web 2.0

Continuing with the liveblogged notes–

Consultant and future-thinker Joan Frye Williams closed out the conference by summing up the themes she heard emerging throughout the Summit.   Throughout the two days, she circulated through the tables, looked at the brainstorming boards, and gathered some threads together for the closing statements of the Summit, and discover “what is the library ‘from now on?”

Below are my liveblogged notes from her discerning comments:  (many of these are direct quotes…or my summary of her words)

Summit is an opportunity to frame and reframe questions/conversations — it is an evolutionary process which involves rebalancing and rethinking and some movement

So what is the point?

Questions about what value libraries will add, what business we’ll be in, etc.   Williams believes that from now on, we’ll be engaged in a Human Enterprise; involves knowledge; knowledge based.

  • “It’ is likely to be aspirational and transformational — a desirable change happening
  • likely to be shared/community centric
  • F2F is a strong pathway for libraries.  In this library, the role of “us” is active, not reactive, collaborative and developmental
  • Developmental — an arc of learning, an arc of relationships, a long term arc of moving things forward
  • Transformational experiences which pay off is later.   Are we with people for the transformational experience of their lives or just for the transaction at the moment?.
  • Developmental relationship natural in a teaching environment, not so natural in an adult-relationship environment.  Sometimes when happens betw adults has been very condescending.  (i.e. “help the heathens”).  We don’t always know what is best for them.
  • Threads is that libraries will be a relationship-based enterprise, not anonymous.  Would you let someone who wouldn’t tell you their name cut their hair ?  We’re asking people to trust us with their development but we need to be in relation with them.(public)  (me :  that is much less an issue for school libraries than public…)

Relationship must be trust-based.  Have we leveraged that trust?
With trust comes responsibility–trust increases that level of responsibility.   Our success will be measured by other people’s outcomes.  If they are successful we are successful.

Innovating is a non-linear process

  • process will be messy;  too quick to dismiss messy projects or how promised; give things time to sort themselves out in the library–one of our adjustments is to adjust to messy processes–how well do we as a profession accommodate a shift to messy?

We ask the least useful questions–like “did you like us?”   It’s nice they like us but we need audacious questions and to  generate and triage new ideas.

We need to build capacity in designing, evaluating the results of meaningful experiments and research.     Sometimes we don’t go looking for fear of what we’ll find out.

Need to create capacity in creating rich environments, abundant environments for people to learn and achieve.  The through line of childhood story is abundant.  Libraries = abundance
To do better–providing incentives and inducements and excitement for reading/learning;  passive about getting readers (me:  schools, again, are most active in doing this…)

When we do outreach, we go out and talk about ourselves instead of finding out how it works for the customer.

Facility in creating new spaces and curating human connections that can ride alongside the data.   Broaden our notion of what we curate. (Curate ideas, people?)

Developing skill in analyzing user behavior.  We don’t look at patron behavior due to privacy but….balance between privacy and using data to make decisions.

The more scenarios the better.

Develop capacity in supporting a DEVELOPING enterprise which is different than supporting an established institution.  We need a different set of skills than if we are just managing to retain what we’ve always done… need both capacities.

Need capacity to think about decoupling things….How knowledge is managed, curated and distributed….are those all going to emanate from same place?

Where can we stand out?  What part of the power grid are we?  Which kinds of libraries are which part of the power grid, too?

Decoupling of services and delivery….sometimes actively resisted because we aren’t good at working through other people.   librarians not trusting others to “do it right”

We’re serving people in our community in phases, not all at once  – there are relationships we need with our communities but we are ignoring them because we are focusing too much on the transactions (check outs).   We need to build relationships so we’ll be there when needed — that is more than just the immediate transaction.   We belong to our whole community and I am strengthened when they are strengthened — need to trust others…

Issue of skills is going to be important going forward..

Is one size fits all for our communities fair?  What entry points do we need to provide?

Issue around value.    We have acted as we are the sole arbitor is what is important about libraries and then act hurt if others don’t agree.  Have to get beyond that and negotiate that.

What does success looks like…How do OTHER people know we are successful   — Word she heard which troubled her — the word “allow”

We need to be thoughtful about unpacking principles, opportunities, outcomes and techniques when what we are doing is risky.

Change is not a process we are going to do once and be over with.  It is a messy process and we have to develop the ability to be okay with that.


So, that concludes the summit…where to now?   For me, it will be one more blog post, pulling my thoughts together specifically about schools/school libraries.   For ALA, it’s establishing a Center for the Future of Libraries to be a think tank or innovation central, and the experience at the Summit will help guide that.   Next blog post to come….


Library Summmit Day Two — closing in on a vision?

May 5, 2014 · No Comments · Web 2.0

Gathering this morning to hear DaVinci Institute’s Thomas Frey and  excited to be sitting at a table with some icons in the field and Maureen Sullivan, former President of ALA this morning.

Questions in the innovation area this morning:

–Give  a new library story that would capture the library of the future?

–How will library of future assess itself?

–In the future, what will our constituents NEED that they don’t even know they need now?

–As a result of the summit, what are you inspired to do differently?    What would you like the Center for the Future of Libraries to Do?

photo(3)Thomas Frey — from the Internet of Things to the Library of things

“All information we come into contact with is always history.  We are walking backwards into the future.
Future will happen with or without us participating;  the future is in control.

If your next project is not aligned with the problems, needs, and desires of the future, the future will kill it. ”

What systems do we use today that are the equivalent of Roman Numerals (which wasn’t a good system, due to lack of decimal capabilities?)

People base their understanding today based on what they think the future holds.  But really, “the future creates the present.”   So we have to change how people think about the future to change the present. (yes!)

What are the big things that still need to be accomplished in the world?

What is future of library?

Catalytic Innovation creates entirely new industries…. like electricity, cars, airplanes…

Bell curve –
for example peak industry demand–like steel–now we are developing new products
Peak employment decline will predict peak industry decline; comes before the industry decline

Have we reached peak employment for libraries?  and When will we reach peak demand for libraries?

Wake up call quotes:

Clayton Christiansen — by 2019 half of all k12 classes will be taught online
Chris Anderson — 3D printing will be bigger than the internet
Over 2 billion jobs will disappear by 2030–Thomas Frey

We don’t have systems in place for rebooting jobs as fast as we need to.

All stemming from the “level problem” — now that you have the level app, you don’t need to buy a level, which means you don’t need the manufacturer, etc.    Every time we download an app, we are eliminating thousands of jobs.  But we are freeing up lots of human capitol.   Just because we’ve run out of jobs, doesn’t mean we’ve run out of work to do as a human race.

“A library is just a library until it isn’t.” (not sure that is the best wording–does he mean libraries are evolving into diff services/roles?)

What forces are driving change for libraries?

Andreson — Software is eating the world.  Projection by 202 we will have 50 billion things connected to the internet.  So what are the things?    Estimate we will reach 1 trillion sensors by 2037.

Innovation is being parsed in smaller ways.  Convergence of digital and physical.  (smart homes, smart cars, smart clothing, smart shoes)

Smart homes, smart door locks, smart chairs, DoorBot, Smart Pet doors (recognize your pet), Biometric coffee maker knows how much caffeine you should have (LOL); smart plant wall that tells you when they need water; future restaurant electronic menu  tailored to what you like to eat; Google testing out contacts that monitor diabetics

17 forms of information competing with books



Maybe it’s not about books, maybe it is about IDEAS.  Ideas can be stored in many formats?
Are we archiving ideas?  How do we help the most significant ones rise to the top?
Does it make sense to have robots archiving our communities?  

We are all in search of the ultimate interface.

We struggle to find information since it can be stored in so many formats.   Frey proposes every library create an Iron Man Room (pulls stuff out of air)

Trend #2  – What is role for libraries is the sharing economy — the just in time economy?

Libraries were the original sharing economy     We are transitioning from “just in case” economy to “just in time.”  YES  (borrowing Smart cars, homes, etc.)

Trend #3:  Transition from Consumers to producers

Chris Anderson — when tools of production are available, everyone becomes a producer

3d printing — we can print in all sorts of materials, liquids, plastics, cement, etc.   NIO Robotics – Zeus is a 3d printer, scanner, fax machine–they can print it out at other end.   3D printed cars, bicycles already, clothing, casts, concrete, ceramics…(concrete pumper pushing the concrete into the machine

Can already print houses in China for $4800,  in future print exoskeletons, print pharma, (Belgium already does that); printing organs, printing heartvalves (in Colo)., food printers; 3D sugar printers

Trend # 4:  Education is about to be redefined

Micro colleges — more people having to reboot their careers (DaVinci Institute  – has a micro college)
Immersive forms of secondary education done in short periods of time

Colleges in present form are ill fit for retraining quickly.

Our need for teacherless education –have huge global shortage of teachers–places teachers don’t want to go.  How are we going to deliver education without teachers/professors to places that need it?

Trend #5: Quantified self

Can we monitor our thoughts …creating a hyper individualized marketplace

Walk into a library; a device does an assessment of our needs–and then gives personalized recommendations…

internet drone race– solar powered drones Ascenta bought by Google and Titan bought by Amazon; way to offer broad internet coverage

in the next 20 years, infrared signals will be developed enough to track particular individuals.  This idea of staying anonymous…do we need a place for people to go for anonymous information?

Trend #6

Business colonies–groups of talents, hire from freelance pool
premium services
Libraries have a “search command center” — photo of someone at command desk

Seed library
haunted history tour
Tailgate party
Borrowing an expert, a pet, a stage, a musician, a park
Mini theaters or planetariums in libraries
check out a gym or walkstations
Recommendation–an Expert Series– people feel uncertain what about the future they should be paying attention to.

Have we reached peak employment?  Future libraries are waiting for us to reinvent them?

(One of my takeaways–if we change the future, what can libraries do?  Can we harness the power of our communities to solve big problems?  Could a library take the lead in that?  Exciting thought.)

photo(2)Table discussion of Thomas Frey presentation:

Pushback at our table about the Future “talk”

What things fit needs, and what are pie in the sky future things that we won’t develop.  Change is incremental …. and some changes we discard because they don’t work (librarian sharing example early microwave promises — baking cakes in microwave, tasted awful…but they serve our needs in other ways)…

What do we do to help the 99%  instead of the privileged?

Future of the autodidact in library…same as before?

Important need for paradigm shift in libraries as creation spaces versus warehouses


How will libraries integrate the use of future technologies?

How do we know what will “stick”?  –tools that will make it into every kitchen versus tools that only make it into 1%  kitchens

the technologies that solve the problems of THEIR patrons;   but patrons may not know what they need next…

Eli N.  experimentation…Experimentation is hard for libraries.

Maureen–we need to have more capacity in our field in our libraries to monitor trends and engaging with the community;  we can transcend the building ;  what role does library have in capturing experimentation… We need more libraries that have created a culture of innovation.

School libraries may be able to be more experimental–less bureacracy and management, can be more agile

me:  Could the “library” in the largest sense of the word become the nation’s researcher–gatherer of trends…informing the country.  The ALA list of TRENDS for example….  not directed towards librarians, but for the nation.

Will the avid readers take care of themselves?  Who do we need to take care of?  Eli

Should libraries seek settings that are more integrated rather than separate buildings? (my example–public library I first worked in was located in a shopping center, rather than a separate destination–more integrated in a community?)   Or build spaces that have a sense of place…like Library of Congress–can we build libraries that have a sense of place that people want to be in?

We have so many summits on future of library…how can Center for Future of Libraries coordinate that better and capture that?

To end the summit, we are going to hear from Consultant Joan Frye Williams, who has monitored all the table talk throughout the conference and pulled all of the themes she’s heard together.  My next blog post will summarize her remarks and my own impressions of the Libraries from Now On Summit…..  stay tuned…


Library Summit “Future from Now On”

May 2, 2014 · No Comments · Web 2.0

library of congress ceiling In honor of transparency, I’m liveblogging my notes from ALA’s Libraries From Now On Summit.  At a later date, I’ll interpret and process some of these notes.

We’re gathered in the member’s room of the Library of Congress to listen to a variety of provocational speakers today at the Libraries From Now On Summit, and are playing round robin tables in order to foster discussion of future trends we are identifying.

Barbara Stripling welcomed attendees with a  fitting Dr. Seuss quote – “My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends.”  Love that as a start to future thinking!  And following her inspiration, Dr. James Billington, THE Librarian of Congress, exhorts  us to be “sherpas” as we chart the future of libraries;  this event is like “base camp.”

Purpose of the Summit:

To gather ideas from thought leaders to inform the development of a Center for the Future of Libraries

–How do we think differently about libraries

–What are the societal, educational, and technology trends that impact libraries?

–What do these trends mean for libraries?

stephen dubnerSpeaker OneHow to Think Like a Freak — Stephen Dubner

We’ll be doing some thought experiments today — Dubner likes thought experiments — cheap!  Learn stuff!

First one:  How is a public library like a keg party?

Do a thought experiment– you just discovered the idea of a library tomorrow.  How would you get it started?  How would you convince publishers to go along with the idea?  It’s not pre-ordained that people care now or in the future.   We need to think about libraries a little more rationally and thoughtfully.

Solving one problem, gathering data is really hard.  His new book with Stephen Leavitt (Think Like a Freak) deputizes the reader to take on problems.

Dubner posits that the  hardest words to say — “I don’t know” or ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out.’

To think like a freak:

1)  Be able to say, I don’t know but I’ll find out.   Be willing hard to figure out what you know and what you don’t know.  Work hard to get the data and feedback you can to ask questions.  Run a lot of experiments.  Put away your moral compass temporarily, because you obliterate some solutions before you begin.  If you think honey bees dying from global warming, you might not look to see if it is a virus, or bacteria or anything else.  Prevents problem solving.    If you think you already for the solution, you don’t go looking for answers.

2)  Be able to think more like a child.  Conventional wisdom is that children are latent visions of ourselves.  If you look at data about children with an unbiased view — they are better at things like creativity, ideas, asking questions (they are less afraid of reputations, etc); sheer cognitive perception, plasticity,

Being more educated — better you are at finding information to consume that verifies what you already believe.

How to persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded–

1.  Don’t pretend your argument is foolproof.
2.  Don’t pretend that their objections don’t have merit.
3. Power of story — Stories are resonant.  We place ourselves in the story.

Data can be cherry-picked so the power of story is important.

Dubner demonstrated the power of story by telling us about Kobi the champion hot dog eater from Japan who won the Nathan Hot Dog eating contest.  What we learn from the story?

1)  He redefined the problem he was trying to solve.  He tried to figure out how to eat one hot dog faster, not all the dogs.
2)  Limits — do we choose to accept the limits placed before us?   (time limits, social acceptability, artificial limits set by institutions?)  Being willing to discard artificial limits is useful.
3) We should soak our buns in warm water ;)

Speaker two:  Joel Garreau

What are Libraries Good For?   Garreau

-The future of libraries isn’t about the books, or the computers
it is in the building of cities

Best way to predict future is to invent it yourself.

Garreau is showing us a series of photos of buildings, like a grocery store.  What will be the use for this building in the future when things can be ordered/delivered?

Is there any reason you’d want to to go to a grocery store?   Audience and Garreau think it’s about community; about face to face contact.  Why do we go to farmer’s markets?  They aren’t always cheap–but it is a face-to-face with people in your community.   Look at grocery stores like Whole Foods–they are embracing that concept with restaurants where people can eat with others.

Asking about universities–if people have the money and the choice, learning face to face is preferred for many.

Cubicle or an office — why do you need to go to an office?  The time hanging out at a printer–the informal, unplanned activity where we make connections.  That doesn’t mean you need an office every day.   (Libraries/spaces in school libraries serve that function).

Why would we go to Chicago or any city?  To see things together; to attend sporting events (face to face)–it’s face to face interactions (or in my case, face to food interactions).

Increasingly we’re not limited by the daily commute anymore?  How does this apply to/impact schools?

Migration and growth patterns show that midsized cities are growing; people can telecommute, they can live somewhere sunny and more midsized with a town square and a community.

Future of human nature:

Curve of evolution of industrialization and change is accelerating (in same way Moore’s law does) — Garreau terms it “radical evolution”.

Telekinetic monkey–mind probe that controls activity around the monkey.  We are asking what happens to libraries with Google.  What happens to libraries when we have telekinetic functionality?

Google Glass–what if Google is wired into our brains?

Garreau — so, what do we need libraries (or any places for?)

What makes people tick is community.

To prevail  is the humanistic solution Garreau is rooting for.  Suppose there is not one curve of change but there are two.  Suppose there is a second curve of change in which our human responses are coming up with imaginative ways to change along with the external changes, and how can we grow that?

Real question isn’t what computer will become, but what PEOPLE will become?  As librarians we start to take control of our own evolution. 

Instead of doing predictions, Garreau does scenarios — Build a disparate collection of stories looking forward, and look at where that takes your institution.

Education in the Future–Anywhere, Anytime  Dr. Renu Khator;  University of HoustonKhator

If you view Univ through business analogy-

Four divisions–we create knowledge, we store knowledge, we teach knowledge, we x knowledge

From Business point of view–
—There’s a market, supply and production.
–Our production model twenty years from now will be different;  things are changing at a faster speed–we can be in front and define the change or the change will define us.

BRICKS countries — Brazil, India, China, etc. — desire for knowledge is strong;  building world class universities

–29% of graduates –plenty of supply but supply and demand are mismatched.
–Demographics mismatch — 8th graders from 6 years ago–80% are enrolled in a community college, only 41% of Hispanics are enrolled in college.  What kind of society are we building?  You can import talent, but how much can you import?
–Expectation mismatch — we are preparing students who can be successful, but way we are evaluated is a mismatch

4600 institutions of higher education in U.S.
Why is production is broken?

Imagine a restaurant — beautiful, etc.  you don’t serve meat
Movie — beautiful theater, but no movie.  Okay, it does have a movie but only shows half a movie.
Plane –upgrade to business class, four bags, but plane doesn’t fly anywhere.  Or plays half a movie.  Is that okay?

With university production, the core mission is not being met.  Students come with a dream that they will leave with a degree.  So only half are graduating from there.  She actually visits all the classes;  and asks students to email her personally if they are planning to drop out and she promises she will try to solve the problem in three days.

Mission creep: Why are we all defining our excellence by being something different than what we are?  We are taking our eyes off of core mission.   In next 10 years, 1/3 of schools may no longer make it if financial bubble bursts.

Technology changes–
Delivery (for example MOOCs)  – they probably won’t be the tech that comes but they have challenged our assumptions.
Job market — w/in one quarter Kodak went bankrupt w/ 145,000 employees, and Instagram with 13 employees was bought w/millions of $
Market is expanding globally

People are looking to the U.S. for solutions for their countries
Global demand is growing so fast, but short supply of professors — a tremendous worry;  how long will it take if we don’t value our own education and educators.  Univ talent may go away even though univ buildings stay.

Trends for future:

  • Content and delivery may become separated in future — the McDonald’s effect may force it
  • Decoupling of learning from credentialling — who says what college degree will be?  The minute that piece breaks, higher educ will fall apart.
  • Tailor made learning – Delinking of professors with a “following” from their universities–they can set up their own shops

Universities will remain because 18 year olds will need a safe place to experiment with life, but the role of universities needs to be agile

What will keep you afloat?  You have to provide something of value not provided by somebody else?
Can you provide convenience?
Can you provide discipline?

Education may become free.  Corporations may partner in order to get employees, for example.

What about role of university in sports ?  That affinity is important.
Virtual football teams?   Some new virtual sport?

The biggest change she sees is the 120 credit model.  Many of new instructors coming in are adjuncts in order to fill the professor gap.

Dr. Khator–my job is to prepare my organization to be flexible,open,to have a culture of continuous innovation.

photo (4)Summing Up

After each session today, we’ve been engaging in table talk about how these trends and concerns apply to libraries of the future, or writing our thoughts in the innovation area.  The conversations have been pretty engaging — though I would like a little more freedom with exploring the questions.  But it’s so helpful to have the mixture of librarians at the table as everyone brings different perspectives (I do wish more of my school colleagues were here as we are a major piece in the library and educational ecosystem).

Lots of food for thought…and more notes to come once I process all of them.  More tomorrow!


Asking the questions — Libraries “From Now On”

May 1, 2014 · No Comments · Web 2.0

flickr:  A. Currell

flickr: A. Currell

I’m very excited to say that I’m headed to the Library of Congress tomorrow for a Summit convened by ALA, entitled “Libraries From Now On.”  The Summit is  a think tank event  where we will be doing some deep pondering about how libraries are developing into the future.

Attendees range from representatives from Google and the MacArthur Foundation to various agencies in DC, like the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the National Archives, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, to public and academic librarians from all sorts of institutions,  and a couple of school librarians.  (I’m thrilled to see a representative from nearby in Texas (San Antonio Public Library) and that Julie Todaro, Pat Smith, And Shaula O’Connor, all Texas librarians, were involved on the planning team.)

We  have been asked to arrive with two words or phrases that we relate to libraries, and to leave with two words or phrases (that perhaps will change over the course of the event.)  I’m one of only a couple of school librarians at the Summit, so I am hoping to get ideas from you as well.  What would be your two words?

We  will be inspired/provoked by four speakers about future trends:

“How to Think Like a Freak” -Stephen Dubner — co-author of Freakanomics
What are Libraries Good For? ”   Joel Garreau — author of Radical Evolution and Nine Nations
“Education in the Future:  Anywhere, Anytime” – Dr. Renu Khator — chancellor of University of Houston
“From an Internet of Things to a Library of things” – Thomas Frey — Executive director of the DaVinci Institute

The Summit organizers also prepared a hefty reading list for participants, which I’m sharing below for those interested in following along.   Recommended-reading-list-for-Summit-with-annotations–FINAL-4-16-14

Some of the readings I’ve already done have been pretty thought-provoking.    In  The Cities We Want (Slate), Witold Rybczynski shares some thought provoking ideas about what Joel Garreau calls the Santa Fe effect (check his articles in the readings list), the desire of Americans to move to more medium sized communities which serve them throughout their aging process.   This movement has been allowed by the ubiquitous nature of technology, since people can live anywhere more easily.  But, the author points out, “ Laptops, personal digital assistants, and cell phones are held to be the tips of a great dispersal iceberg, but the migration of work to the motel room and the home office has been accompanied by a countervailing trend: the need for face-to-face contact. ”   That desire for shared spaces, Danah Boyd reflects in It’s Complicated, is partly what compels teens to use social media more — she posits that their overscheduled lives mean that connecting from home is one of their more feasible options.

All of this speaks directly to libraries and makerspaces as places where human beings can go to connect, and work separately but together and that the human need to gather is still vital to our communities.

Another interesting story that I stumbled upon about how many hotels are incorporating small libraries into their environs made me ponder whether stand-alone library branches are the way to go in terms of library services–and what pop-up libraries might look like out in the community in conveniently used locations.

The Arts Council of England’s Future of Libraries manifesto also provides some interesting trends–again, embedding the library into the community more, and maybe even blending it with other services to the community–their ideas are well worth a good read.  And what do all these ideas mean for school library “future thinking?”  That will be my most immediate focus during the Summit.

I’m looking forward to taking a deep dive into these ideas and more from the speakers and readings — I invite you to take a look at the readings, and I’ll share more of the Summit via Twitter at #libfuturesummit and here once I return home.

Onward to the future….



Where is student voice at SXSWEdu?

March 12, 2014 · 1 Comment · Web 2.0

studentssxswDuring SXSWEdu, I heard a fascinating panel with Adora Svitak and Nikhil Goyal, along with Charles Tsai and David Cutler .  They were both articulate and passionate, and many participants crowded around to talk to them after their panel(not that they didn’t deserve that attention and interest).   It struck me how often we treat students who present at conferences as celebrities, or like a novelty.

And yet students are the very individuals that we are at SXSW Edu (or any ed conference) to discuss, presumably.   As teachers, we often resent it when administrators or the legislature makes decisions about what is best for teachers or education without including our voices.   But are we, at conferences like SXSWEdu, including student voices?   Not as novelties but as a central part of the wheel of attendees?


Nikhil Goyal

When we only have a few students doing presentations, I’ve noticed they become like celebrities with audience members crowding around them, following their tweets, etc.  We do need to hear their voices and support students who are making change efforts.  But is the celebrity level of attention that fair to those students as young people?  Are we so eager for a new voice that we fetish-ize them?

If we as adults are excited about their work, are we giving it so much attention that we squelch what they are doing or hold them in some kind of “statis”?    How do we be mindful of them as people who are growing, and as students, just like students who might be in our own classrooms?  Are we practicing an ethic of care?


Jack Andraka

That being said, it seems like one path to addressing the issue(aside from being more mindful of our own reactions as educators) is to increase the student presence at conference like SXSWEdu.

What can we do?

Zak Malumed, (founder of Student Voice) and I debated a few strategies for increasing student voice at SXSWEdu on Twitter.  As a community of educators, there are things we can do to make student presence the norm, not the exception. (and this is true of other conferences as well, like ISTE).

–1.  Reach out to the board of directors of SXSWEdu.  Zak tweeted, “How about getting students on the advisory board?”  Excellent idea, but I think we need multiple students, including a few from the Austin area.   Having just one student who is of “celebrity status” may lead to the same elevation of status.  So while even one voice would be better than none, I think it is important to be sure that a diversity of voices are present on the SXSWEdu advisory board and in sessions.

–2.  As educators, propose panel sessions for SXSWEdu  that include both students and teachers.   We had a panel from our district three years ago that included a student as just a natural part of the panel to share feedback on our iPad implementation and having the mix of student/edtech/teacher feedback made it a richer panel.

–3.  Encourage students we know to submit presentation proposals for SXSWEdu.

–4.  Host a brainstorming Twitter chat session or some Google Hangouts exploring what we as attendees would like to learn from our students and what would our students like to share or contribute or learn?  Maybe a #stuvoice chat or #edchat could explore these questions to help refine the sorts of sessions that would be beneficial.

–5.  Because SXSWEdu specifically brings in a blend of entrepreneurs and policy makers and educators, considering how the student voice fits into that mix might be an issue the advisory board could study/contemplate.

–6.  Consider adding a student “startup” camp/session for students to attend, or a LaunchEdu type of session specifically for students.  Contemplate having more students invited into the Playground area, possibly.

–7.  Consider how students can participate in vendor lounges or sessions as well, because their input on products can be very authentic.  The Google lounge had students participating in a few sessions sharing how they were using Google Apps.  While it has to be carefully constructed to honor the independent relationship of the students, it is another possible way students could be involved in subtle ways.

Just like SXSW film fosters student voice with their film contest, and SXSW music embraces voices from startups to corporate names, SXSWEdu has a significant chance to involve the most important voice in the education conversation — that of our students.





Designing a space? First figure out your intentions.

February 11, 2014 · 1 Comment · Web 2.0

imagination sxswMany of us are reconsidering our library/learning spaces and how they can better fit the needs of our students and schools.   But before we start buying furniture or retrofitting our rooms, we need to establish our intentions for the space.   A well-designed space works because all the pieces of it serve intentional purposes — purposes that are matched to those who use the space.  It means, in a classroom or library, meeting the many “intentions” that make it flexible throughout the given day or year.

As we rethink what we want our classroom instruction to look like or what we want our libraries to do, unearthing our needs and intentions is critical.  What if we were designing for curiosity and “wonder” as Christian Long and David Jakes pondered at Educon 2.6 in Philly, for example?  What does that intention look like?

At TCEA recently, I shared some resources that can help us unravel those intentions and needs more clearly.   Many are gathered from the excellent work of Cannon Design, Third Teacher, Fielding International, and Edutopia.

Using critical friends to come in and observe our space in action, using sticky notes to identify obstacles in our rooms/libraries, including students in visual brainstorming, or interviewing students are all strategies that help us expand our thoughts on what our learning space can accomplish.  What are other ways to listen to our students?  Michelle Cooper, a librarian in Henderson ISD gave her students blank paper and had them sketch what they thought their library space could be;  our middle school teacher Tana Fiske listened to student concerns and set them on the real world task of redesigning their classroom.

As we approach reinventing our spaces, Melanie Kahl, from Edutopia’s REMAKE project, asks us, “How can we channel the optimism of a designer, the resourcefulness of a hacker, and the playfulness of a maker? I love the word optimism here–we have to suspend constraints and believe in the possible in order to allow our creativity to blossom.  We have to be able to be playful in our approach to reinventing our spaces.

At the end of the TCEA session, we added to a Google Doc list of resources that have inspired me by crowdsourcing a few more.   Feel free to add resources that have inspired YOU to the Google Doc as well!  And be sure to check out the Edutopia REMAKE classroom redesign video for an inspiring example of how intentions lead to a beautiful (and inexpensive) classroom redesign.

How do we dig deep into what our intentions (and our students’ needs) are?  Hopefully these strategies and sources of inspiration (below) will help you begin that journey.


Intention and Learning Space …

More PowerPoint presentations from C Foote


Celebrating 10 years of Edublog awards!

December 1, 2013 · No Comments · Web 2.0

The Edublog Awards are here and it represents a decade of celebrating educational blogs.   Why are the awards important?  Because in the days when we used to have to fight to have blogs even allowed in our schools, Edublogs was there, encouraging us to write.   And now students and teachers and librarians are blogging and celebrating sharing their work and ideas, and Edublogs has helped nurture that community.  So thanks, Edublogs!

Awards_350px_02-1dcdiipI only have time to make a few nominations but I want to recognize the work of some of my colleagues:

  • Best individual blog –Buffy Hamilton– The Unquiet Librarian–Buffy’s work delves deeply into issues concerning librarians and teachers, and she has been a leader in sharing best practices with others in a deep and reflective way.
  • Best class blog–Lisa Carnazzo’s class website – At Tech Forum, I heard Lisa’s first grader’s share how they are using Twitter and technology in their classroom–quite an inspiration.
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog — TechChef4U — not just because I work with Lisa Johnson, but because her site shares tools and techniques galore
  • Best library / librarian blog — Joyce Valenza– NeverEndingSearch – Joyce shares what’s new and how to incorporate it into instruction faster than anyone;  her work is of such value to the library profession
  • Best individual tweeter — Kathy Ishizuka —  constantly shares resources for librarians, edtech links, and more.
  • Best twitter hashtag — #tlchat
  • Best free web tool — Thinglink
  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series  – TL Virtual Cafe library webinar — has encouraged so many librarians to join the online community.
  • Best educational use of a social network  –  Edchats in general have become a great way to converse, meet other colleagues–my favorites–#edchat #txed #tlchat #txlchat
  • Best mobile app – Subtext – allows you to embed conversations into a text
  • Lifetime achievement–Joyce Valenza– NeverEndingSearch  — Joyce provides constant leadership, creativity, and support for other librarians, and has been a real leader in edtech for the field, and deserves many kudos!  She’s blogged, create wikis galore, led the creation of the TLVirtual Cafe, holds unconferences and constantly asks why and how.  She is very deserving of the recognition.


A day at the White House

November 22, 2013 · 4 Comments · Web 2.0

presidential photoWhat I want to say here is one simple word….yoweeee.  But for those of you who would like to know what a day is like when you get honored as a Champion of Change by the White House, here goes.

Sitting in the airport in Atlanta on the way to Washington, I overheard the President’s speech at the Kennedy Honors.  He spoke of Kennedy’s love for the human spirit, both those “heralded” and “unheralded.”  It struck me that the Champions of Change program is all about honoring those who might be unheralded, who do the daily work they do.

Teachers–be they librarians or in the classroom, are too often unheralded.  So while the Champions of Change acknowledges the work of some of us, we really represent the hard work and dedication of so many teachers and librarians around the country (and the globe) who are trying to afford their students the opportunity to dream, explore, and create.

Any one of us can lead–any teacher– any librarian–any administrator and any student, by believing that we individually have the power to make a difference and that we have a voice.  I believe that being a connected educator gives us that voice, amplifies that voice, and is a great democratizer.

The work we do is important, each of us.  So keep at it.

Mental Snapshots

Touring the White House for the first time
Bumping into honorees Bud Hunt and Todd Nesloney in line and taking each other’s photos next to the White House
Seeing the “first dogs” in the hallway
Looking at the views from the White House, the Kennedy painting, the White House easter eggs
My nephew hanging out on the floor at the White House because he was tired from our flight delay (I brought my school-aged nephews and my sisters, and of course Gregg, as guests)
Awesome hot chocolate to wake him up at Hamilton’s
Lining up to enter the Eisenhower Executive Building

and other memories–


Taking a photo with and meeting Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s right hand woman
Meeting Gene Sperling
Hearing Bess Evans, who organized the event, say that we are having an unusually special guest, the President of the United States
(The President evidently rarely is able to attend this event, and this was the first one where the Press came.)
Hearing President Obama speak
The President inviting us on stage to meet us and take a photo
The President inviting all the students there on stage and him shaking hands with my nephew!
Him telling me he loves Austin (we Austinites know that!)
Being on the panels and listening to the other panel because it is cool how many diverse things we are doing
Taking photos by the Presidential Seal afterwards with Bud Hunt and his wife
Wandering our way out of the building, finding bathrooms, and then suddenly dumping out on the street in the real world, dazed
And then all of our batteries dying (six phones, no batteries left) just as the first tweets were arriving
Finding the Woodward Table where the bar has plugs beneath the counter and finally charging up and getting to hear from friends and see photos
Having donuts to finish the day and then a long walk on the Mall

DC night view Vision Matters

It does mean a great deal getting honored.  Sometimes being connected is so much a way of how I do my life, that I forget the years of effort that have gone into it.   And it has meant so much the support of my colleagues and I appreciate that more than I can say.  I was worried people would think, why her?  And maybe some did.  But all I can do is just be here as one representative of the work of so many people.   But it also felt so incredible to be honored for the work I have done.  There have been obstacles and email debates but also great support and inspiration from within my own district and it is really about the tribe that moves things forward.

It also meant a lot to me hearing the encouragement that  FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel gave connected educators, as well as that of Celia Munoz, Domestic Policy Council director, who sincerely encouraged us to get even more people connected.  They and Gene Sperling and the President seem to “get it” in terms of the great gift that access and tools can provide for our students and that IS a key to moving our schools forward.

Some words of thanks

I appreciate all of my colleagues (my staff holding the fort down back home, all of our teachers, and the vision of our leaders and awesome instructional tech department).

I had decided to bring my nephews and three Musketeers sisters(Thanks Nancy and Joanne)  because I thought this could be an experience of a lifetime for them.  I think it turned out to be just that.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me.  And though this sounds like I am speechifying, I did want to thank my parents for always showing me that it is never too late to learn new things.

And last of all, while I am doling out thanks, I really want to thank my husband, Gregg La Montagne, who tweets right alongside me, supports me, is friends with my colleagues, and supports the time I spend blogging and writing and hanging out online, and whose idea of a fun evening is a glass of wine and learning how to play Space Team or fantasy football together.  Thanks for tweeting me across the living room of (3)photo (2)blurry president group

portrait champions