What a great treat it has been to be here in Hawaii at the state librarian’s conference to present, listen, share and learn! I presented three times today, which was a bit exhausting, but it was also a lot of fun. I was able to take in several fantastic sessions given by others too. The after-dinner presentation by noted Hawaii filmmaker Edgy Lee was awesome. She gave me permission to record and share as a podcast her presentation, but as I left the iRiver USB cable back home (and don’t have another one to borrow) I’ll work on that as well as other podcasts next week after I’m back home. A presentation I missed but was able to record (and will also share as a podcast, with permission of course) was Victor Edwards’ preso “Webcast, Podcast, Sakai and the Millenial Student.” Victor is at UC Berkeley and heads up their IT group, which is heavily into webcasting. I really enjoyed visiting with Victor at dinner last night along with Aaron Schmidt, who is presenting tomorrow on “Meeting Teens on their Own Terms: Games in Libraries.” Aaron is the author of the Walking Paper blog. Michael Porter (shown below during his preso today) was quite inspirational and thought provoking on the subject of flickr and librarian “digital social networking.”

I really enjoy hanging out with librarians and listening to the issues they care about, because librarians really are at the center of the technologically-wrought changes our educational systems seem to be chafing under. Like classroom teachers, I perceive many librarians are not aware of some things that may be taken for granted here in the edublogosphere– WikiPedia, wiki technology, RSS, etc. The key is that the librarians here are LEARNERS and they’ve come to expand their ideas and instructional repertoire.

The discussions I’ve had online and offline the past few weeks regarding the digital native / digital immigrant dichotomy have definitely changed some of my perceptions and the messages I am sharing in presentations like those I gave today. It is not very helpful to convince an audience they are “digital immigrants,” while the students we teach are “digital natives,” because this often does become an excuse for not attempting to be fluent in new digital technologies. The key is that we are all LEARNERS, and we all have the capacity to grow and learn together in the use of digital technologies as well as anything else.

I was delighted to be able to skype with Cheryl Oakes, Jen Wagner and Graham Wegner during two of my sessions. Each one of them added fresh perspectives on the topics we were discussing, and I am so grateful for the connections which web 2.0, blogging, and the Internet in general has and continues to enable. I also invited Cheryl to explain and share a plug for Women of Web 2.0 as well, which is a group few of the librarians in attendance at my sessions had heard about previously.

I read with interest Will Richardson’s post tonight “So What Do We Do Now?” I think the answer to this is pretty straightforward: We continue the conversations. We continue to empower students to create digital media, to discover and share their own voices, and learn how to use digital tools to think deeply, ask and answer questions that are worth exploring. We also strive to engage leaders at all levels in discussions about what it means to teach and learn in the 21st Century. I am wanting to really work in the coming year in Oklahoma on initiatives that get our educational and political leaders to recognize the high quality, digitally powered work our students are doing and can do. Focusing on the leadership and political piece of the web 2.0 puzzle is undoubtedly challenging, but I think ultimately “the answer” lies with continued dialog and conversations with a wide variety of stakeholders. Heck, my own school district in Oklahoma still formally blocks all staff and student access to blogs by board policy. I’m hopeful that will change in the not too distant future, but if it does I’m confident it will be the result of conversations around student work and student literacy development.

On the subject of “digital natives,” Victor, Aaron, Dave Brier and I had some good discussions last night about the need to recognize a “corporate agenda” when it comes to a lot of the rhetoric surrounding “millennials.” Who profits from this? One could argue many technology companies who produce both hardware and software do. We need to remain wary (as Larry Cuban encourages us to do) to NOT fall prey to technolust and blind evangelism for all things digital. I was asked today following my final preso if I had read Neil Postman, and the person asking the question specifically cited two of my favorite books by Postman: “Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology” and “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.” One of the reasons I think I am such a strong advocate for the use of voice technologies (like podcasting, YackPack, Bubbleshare, etc.) is because these technologies have potential to help learners focus on CONTENT and COMMUNICATION, rather than being distracted by technological bells and whistles. I do love all the options in iMovie, but in many cases I think learners can get easily distracted by the choices and get off track in the basic goal of digital storytelling: To share a compelling narrative.

Great discussions here, and what a beautiful place to have a conference. I just miss my family. 🙁 Maybe next time I am able to come on a trip like this, they’ll be able to come along! 🙂

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One Response to Reflections on librarians, web 2.0 and educational change

  1. Cheryl Oakes says:

    Wes, it was a treat to attend the conference. I loved the questions I answered for your group. I hope they continue the conversations online with all of the participants. When I went out to dinner last night someone asked where I had been, I was a little late, I said in Hawaii presenting with a friend. The wonders of technology!

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