Collaboration: The Library Media Center and Educational Technology

Article excerpt

VALLEY CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS (VCS) STUDENTS ARE NOT YET USING THEIR CELL PHONES TO SUBMIT LASS ASSIGNMENTS NOR ARE THEY SENDING THEIR TEACHERS QUESTIONS VIA TEXT MESSAGING, BUT THEY ARK USING OTHER EMERGING INTERNET AND WEB TECHNOLOGIES

We agree with Farr (2009) From Mad Magazine to Facebook--What Have We Learned? reprinted on pages 30-32 of this issue, that fighting students' access to technology is pointless. Instead of fighting access, as the VCS Education Technology (EdTech] coordinator and Library Media Specialist, we have found success in opening access to existing Internet technologies by finding harmony between teachers' instructional needs and the students' desire to use the technologies to which they already have access.

Learning 2.0 is the unofficial EdTech theme of the 2008-2009 school year; all teachers at VCS are direct-teaching using Tablet PCs and LCD projectors. Laptop carts roll from room to room for computer-based student activities, and an increasing number of teachers use online Web 2.0 tools for collaborative learning opportunities. Elementary science students map bodies of water in shared Google Maps. Junior High history students co-create comics on ToonDoo. High school English students discuss books on Blogger.

The implementation of these projects has resulted in numerous and rather revealing insights during the collaboration between EdTech and the Library Media Center (LMC).

THE EDTECH COORDINATOR'S VERSION

VCS considers access to Web-based technologies a critical element in fulfilling our duty to prepare students for higher education and the 21st Century workplace. In fact, equipping students to become leaders who positively affect their communities and the world is a key component of the VCS mission statement. Our expected school-wide learning results (ESLRs) require graduates to demonstrate technological skills for effective communication, draw conclusions based on research, and demonstrate the interpersonal skills needed to work cooperatively with others. Therefore, restricting access to educational Web 2.0 sites and tools would hinder progress toward the goals and school-wide expectations we set.

Of course, we do not provide Internet-wide, unrestricted access. Certain tools and sites are not suitable for student use. Rather than swing open the network, though, we have actually experienced more success in allowing the instructional needs of teachers to drive the demand and accessibility of technology. Each of the aforementioned Learning 2.0 activities started with sound instructional methodologies and Web 2.0 tools were then carefully selected to match the lesson.

For example, when an elementary science teacher shared her Bay Area water sources lesson with me, as EdTech Coordinator, I suggested her students view and place-mark those water sources in a shared Google Map. After seeing an example and a demonstration of the tool, the teacher decided that Google Maps was a great fit for the activity. It even meant the lesson would meet additional ESLRs. Like so many Web 2.0 tools, Google Maps is free, easy-to-use, and students enjoy it. Also, the tool is available for use on the school's network.

In this case, and more often than not, VCS has the technology available to meet our teachers' instructional needs. However, if a tool is inaccessible because of our web content filter, the school's administration and Information Technology (IT) department are always willing to consider teacher needs. After all, the administration promotes technology as an integral part of our educational methodology. They encourage all teachers to integrate technology into their teaching techniques. In fact, teachers who enhance students' learning experience with new applications of technology are rewarded.

The IT department does a fantastic job of equipping VCS teachers with the tools and the support they need to effectively integrate technology. …