Engaging with the possibilities of forum discussions

Finally, in week 9 of 14 of my first session of my Master’s degree in teacher librarianship, I have had a taste of the possibilities for discussion and discourse in the online subject discussion forums. In an earlier blog post, I lamented the difficulties of online learning – especially how much I missed the back and forth of in-class discussion in a face-to-face class delivery format. This week I have had a little nibble of that experience on the Module 5.1 forum discussions in ETL401.

I think that the definition of the task helped:

Write a 300 word commentary on what you have learnt so far and post on Forum 5:1. Read at least 2 other posts and provide feedback to your peers.

I believe that setting a word count helped to discipline our responses. This helped tp encourage posts that were meaty enough to give the reader something to respond to but targetted enough in their scope that other students didn’t get overwhelmed with the task. Setting an expectation of reading and responding to at least two posts aided in getting the conversational ball rolling.

I was pleased to engage with someone regarding my own commentary, and also was able to use some of the thoughts that I had prepared for another activity to engage with other students on the topic of multi-modality and ended up getting a reference to an interesting article on transliteracy.

In general, I still find it difficult to engage effectively on the forums, especially in classes with 100 – 150 + students enrolled. This positive experience, however, has given me hope and encouraged me to take the initiative to harness the possibilities fro rich interaction that the forums have the potential to offer.

So, what is literacy anyway? An initial attempt at a definition.

To start off our module on Information Literacy, we were presented with a series of readings and resources that defined literacy and a variety of newly coined compound-literacy terms (such as information literacy, digital literacy, multi-literacy and the like). We were then asked to reflect upon these and come up with our own definition. This is my initial attempt:

I think that literacy is a continuum of effective inter-personal communication skills, primarily through verbal and textual modes but also including other sense modalities. I think that a key area of misunderstanding is the misuse if the terms “literate” and “illiterate” to refer to particular discrete points on the continuum when what is meant is something more like functionally literate or academically literate. I also think that context is important and that people can have different levels of skill in different components, modes and contexts of communication. But to be honest, I am feeling more confused than clarified about the topic at the moment.

I really enjoyed reading the definition given by a fellow student, Gretha Wocke in her blog post titled Information Literacy – a Commentary:

“The word literacy describes man’s competence with the social constructs of his environment. To be literate means man has the capability and knowledge to access and internalise text, oral and other representations of ideas. It includes the ability to engage with, interpret and understand ideas in a particular context, use it, and re-purpose it. It refers to the capability and skills needed to communicate these ideas, in multiple formats and delivery modes, with the competence. Literacy enables a person the interaction needed for integration in the social environment” (2018, April 26, para 1).


Wocke, G. 2018. Information literacy – a commentary [Blog post]. Retrieved April 30, 2018 from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/04/26/information-literacy-a-commentary/

Reflections on collaboration

This is my response to a stimulus from Module 4.2 of ETL401. The readings on collaboration were a real challenge for me because I love the ideal, but my recent experience has left me short of hope on experiencing the practical reality in action.

Think and reflect
What possibilities arise for collaboration between teachers and the teacher librarian?
In what ways could you begin to develop collaboration with teachers in your school?

I liked Patricia Montiel-Overall’s (2005) breakdown of levels of collaboration between teachers and TLs: coordination, cooperation, integrated instruction and integrated curriculum. I think that the ability to progress along those levels is partly under the control of the teachers and TLs – being approachable, making connections, offering suggestions, making themselves available for planning times, etc. In order to reach the highest level of integrated curriculum and perhaps even integrated instruction, however, requires a school-wide culture of collaboration as described by Linda Gibson-Langford (2008). A key item that both Gibson-Langford and Montiel-Overall mention as key to collaboration is the concept of a safe space to disagree and critically debate ideas. I think that while teachers and TLs have a role in negotiating their participation in debates on new ideas and practices, the administration and executive of a school play a great role in supporting this in schools. I have participated in discussions in school environments that gave lip-service to collaboration and shared creation, but where the culture of debate was sabotaged by executives or administration either resolving conflict in an authoritarian manner (Montiel-Overall, 2005, p. 28) or manipulating agreement through groupthink (Gibson-Langford, 2008, p. 35).


Gibson-Langford, L. (2008). Collaboration: Force or forced, Part 2. Scan, 27(1), 31-37.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaboration, School Libraries Worldwide, 11(2), 24-48.

ETL503 Module 2.5 and 2.6 Selected Reflections and Activities

Due to my schedule, I skimmed some of these sections in my preparation for the first assessment task and did not thoroughly work through the activities. The sheer amount of time and effort involved in completing both the annotated bibliography and the assessment task for ETL401 ended up putting me somewhat behind schedule. I am working on catching up now and, while I see the benefit of some of these practical exercises, I think they will be more relevant with more of a particular context. I am putting off completion of some of them until I have more time and will continue to make progress with the modules so that I will be prepared for the final assessment task.

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ETL401 Module 3 activities and reflections

Activity – Read and reflect
As you are probably aware, Australian teachers need to meet the Australian professional standards for teachers. As teachers, teacher librarians will be required to meet these standards too, over the coming years. Browse the AITSL standards linked on the image to the left, and ONE of the following documents, produced by ASLA to encourage teacher librarians to begin to gather evidence of their achievement of AITSL standards.
Australian School Library Association (2014) Evidence guide for teacher librarians in the highly accomplished career stage
Australian School Library Association (2015) Evidence guide for teacher librarians in the proficient career stage.
In Discussion forum 3.1 AITSL standards, suggest ways in which you could use one of the Evidence guides?

The evidence guides could be used to:
* give you ideas for how to demonstrate how you meet various criteria for maintaining accreditation or when applying for a job
* generate ideas for things to actually DO as a TL
* set goals, such as annual PDP goals
* identify areas where you want to target professional development.

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Are teacher librarians an endangered species?

In Module 3.2 The role of the TL, we were asked to do the following activity:

Watch Karen Bonanno’s speech at ASLA, 2011 conference: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan.
Read Bonanno’s 2015 A profession at the tipping point (revisited)
In your Thinkspace, consider Karen’s points and summarise in 100 words what you see as the ‘take home message’ with regard to answering the question:
Are school librarians an endangered species?

I believe that Bonanno’s main message was that teacher librarians are not an endangered species, but that they could find themselves on the watch list if they do not take action to establish a clear idea of their role and value in the consciousness of stakeholders in the school community. Bonanno clearly sees incredible relevance for TLs in the digital age, but she also recognises the tendency of the position to virtually invisible in schools. She gives a clarion call for TLs to take responsibility for raising their profile in their school communities by creating a reputation, finding their area of focus, building their brand (demonstrating the unique qualities they bring to the table), building relationships and highlighting all of the little things they do that count.


Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2011) A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. Keynote presentation, Karen Bonanno . Retrieved from https :// vimeo .com/31003940

Bonanno , K. (2015) A profession at the tipping point (revisited). Access, March, 14-21
(126 words)

ETL503 Module 2.4 Activities and Reflections

Select a curriculum topic of interest.
Select one of the online communities or resource sharing services listed in this section, and spend some time searching for tags, hashtags, lists or communities of relevance to your topic.
Share a link to a relevant online resource found from that community in Forum 2.5 and discuss the pros and cons of this community as a recommendation source.
You might also like to browse some other curation tools to see which best suit your needs.

Curriculum area/topic: Technologies –

Online community: OZ_TLNet

Search process:
* put “technologies” into search bar
* Did not get much of any use
* Put in “computational thinking”
* Got one hit for a PD course
* Put in “food technology”
* Got nothing
* Gave up

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ETL503 Module 2.3 Activities and Reflections

If you are new to Scootle, watch the promotional video produced for a non-teacher audience.
Register and access Scootle:
  • Teachers within Australia should register for and access Scootle using their school email address.
  • If you do not have a school email address, you can register as a Charles Sturt University student.
  • Scootle is not available outside Australia. Can you identify an equivalent education repository from your jurisdiction?
Search Scootle for a resource related to critical thinking. In Forum 2.4 share the strategies you used to refine your search results.

* Scootle main search box used term: critical thinking
* On sidebar, deselected all but K-2 -> 53 results
* Deselected Teacher resource, Assessment Resource and Dataset, -> 6 results

Resource found:
Exploring traditional and contemporary Aboriginal Visual Arts – TLF ID M019567

http://www.artsedge.dca.wa.gov.au/resources/Pages/Visual-Arts.aspx DoE collection of links to resources

https://japingkaaboriginalart.com/education/ (a specific resource link)

I chose that resource as strengthening my resource base and skills in incorporating the Cross Curriculum priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Histories and Cultures is something I would like to focus on in my personal development goals for this year.

An interesting side-note to be cautious about, though, is that the resource I found did not really focus on K-2 as I had requested in my search limitations.

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ETL401 Module 2.3 Activities and Reflections

The information society

Defining the information society: terms and labels/Definitions of the information society/Technological

Task: Think and reflect
A major issue relating to this technological perspective of the Information Society is the question of determinism. Who/what is driving technological change? Is it the inhabitants of the landscape or the technology? Has it reached a point where the technology itself drives the agenda or is society in control? Does society determine the rate of change, or is society still trying to catch up?

I believe that people are driving technological change. Until technology is sentient, people, with all of their cognitive and emotional motivations, will drive the development of technologies and social constructs. Technology is still a tool. It may be a “tool that directs the user” but that direction comes from programming designed by humans. I think that people can drive technological and societal change at a rate that they then lose control over, but that control doesn’t pass to technology. Control passes to other humans or to an entity made up of humans (an organisation or society) or is lost altogether. These questions also beg the question of what is meant by society. I am not sure that society, as a whole, is in control of anything – rather, I think there are smaller entities within society that exert control over various facets of life. That, however, is a philosophical question that goes beyond today’s reflection.

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ETL503 Module 2.2 Activities and Reflections

2.2 The balanced collection
Content vs container
“Developing collections” by Peggy Johnson (Chapter 4 in Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management).
This provides an overview of the broad range of resources published and how different libraries categorise these resources to facilitate selection and management.

Think about which categories are most relevant to school libraries now and in the future.

I think that the useful categories for school librarians to think about in terms of selection are: format, fiction/non-fiction, diversity of subjects and appropriate diversity of age levels. I think that looking at open source digital collaborations will be key to the school library going forward.

“E-book acquisitions and devices” by Sue C. Kimmel (Chapter 7 in Developing collections to empower learners)

There were a number of good points raised by this chapter, but also much that was frustrating. I felt that the introduction was misleading in how it presented eResources – benefits were stated in a way that was not balanced or reflective of reality. For instance, the assertions that multiple people can access eBooks simultaneously and that free eBooks exist are not universally true. In the detailed sections later in the chapter, she does provide a more balanced view of these assertions, but encountering the bald assertions in the introduction had shaken my confidence in her credibility. The other assertion from the introduction that was never really addressed was her statement regarding the miraculous lack of wear and tear on eBooks. From my understanding, a major issue in current library and archival future-proofing concerns is the preservation of born digital resources. (Neal, 2015) The State Library New South Wales (SLNSW) suggests that degradation and corruption of digital materials can be a greater problem than with paper and ink materials. (SLNSW, 2015) Later in the chapter, when she argues for the consideration of eReader devices, she has a flawed argument. She equates the cost of devices to the cost of printed reference materials and mentions the reluctance of librarians to then circulate the devices. She argues for treating the devices like a circulating hardcover book because damage to the device only requires replacing the device, not the content. This argument avoids reality because reference books – and therefore devices – are typically more expensive than a standard hardcover book. Many libraries do not, in fact, circulate reference materials so her reasoning is flawed.


Neal, J. G. (2015, May 28). Preserving the born digital record: More questions than Answers [Blog post]. Retrieved from American Libraries Magazine The Scoop blog website: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/05/28/preserving-the-born-digital-record/

State Library New South Wales. (2015, June 24) Digital preservation [Webpage]. Retrieved from State Library New South Wales website: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/public-library-services/digital-practice-guidelines-public-libraries/digital-preservation

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