Getting Everyone Up-to-Speed
Abram, Stephen, Multimedia & Internet@Schools
It is clearly one thing to plan to develop 21st-century learning strategies and goals, but another thing--a big leap, in fact--to demand that all teachers, students, librarians, and administrators be prepared with the skills needed to implement this vision!
IN this month's column, I thought I would show you some great initiatives, lead by librarians and educators, that attempt to help bring everyone up-to-date and up-to-speed on the latest in learning technologies and even create learning experiences for these technologies and concepts. It is clearly one thing to plan to develop 21st-century learning strategies and goals, but another thing--a big leap, in fact-to demand that all teachers, students, librarians, and administrators be prepared with the skills needed to implement this vision!
And that is what I find exciting about these efforts: They're not just for librarians. They can be used by teachers of any stripe, subject, or experience level, as well as by administrators such as principals and superintendents. The courageous could also involve their local public libraries to orient them to some of the issues involved in modern 21stcentury curricula delivery. I can even see a role for using these concepts as orientations for parents, tutors, and caregivers to assist with homework and learner support. These programs can be customized to fit your ILS and licensed databases as well as the initiatives being undertaken in your strategic priorities. You can align the training with the state's or school board's agenda.
Does that capture your interest? I should mention that these things are not easy to accomplish and that these pilots are the result of much effort and vision, plus the support of great leaders in our profession. The good news is that you can use them as a model and get a great head start!
INFOHIO'S 21ST-CENTURY PROGRAM
Less than a year ago in 2009, and on a shoestring budget, INFOhio, the Information Network for Ohio Schools (www.infohio.org), accomplished an amazing feat. Traditionally providing resources and OPAC/ILS support for more than 2,400 school libraries in Ohio, the team determined that they wanted to move beyond just that accomplishment and have an even greater impact on the future success of their state's learners and colleagues. Ohio and its governor, Ted Strickland, have recently committed to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (www.21stcenturyskills.org) as the 14th state member. As you already know, this is a huge commitment and challenge.
Terri Fredericka, executive director at INFOhio, and her excellent team quickly identified several key things that INFOhio could contribute to this vision and rapidly planned a training program that was scalable, focused, and fun. The result was the 21st Century Learning Commons, including the 21 Essential Things for 21st Century Success program (http://learningcommons .infohio.org). They launched it in early 2010 and have already welcomed more than 1,000 participants!
21 Essential Things for 21st Century Success is a self-directed program created for Ohio educators to explore and engage in Web 2.0 technologies and 21st-century learning skills. The 21 things are a suite of self-directed lessons for participants to complete through exploration and experimentation. Opportunities are also offered to develop creative ways to use these resources to engage learners, collaborate with other classroom teachers and librarians, and develop a personal learning network. All it takes is a simple registration, and then you can work through the "things" with no deadline to meet. You can participate for your own enjoyment or to earn credit, certificates, or continuing education units from INFOhio's partnerships with several institutions like Ashland University, Muskingum University, Bowling Green State University, or the NorthWest Ohio Educational Technology Foundation. Here's the list of their 21 essential things (of course, you can visit the site to see more):