Library Connections

Entries Tagged as edtech

Educators, What would you change? (Part I)

April 25, 2012 · 118 Comments

A few weeks ago some colleagues and I were talking about our libraries and how long we had each been in our positions and where we had worked before when we started talking about the changes we all had made when we first walked through the doors of our different library jobs.

Invariably we each first looked around at the physical space and measured the changes we’d make right away usually centering on making the space “ours”. That would mean moving desks, creating bulletin boards, and even changing the arrangement of shelves when they weren’t bolted down to the floor.

It was in mid-discussion that someone asked “what if we were to walk through our doors today – as if we were the brand new librarian. What changes would we make today?

I thought of this as an incredible challenge to take back with me to school the following Monday because while I have made some great changes, I knew that it still wasn’t where I’d like it to be yet.

And so…what if I were just hired - what would I see and what would I change right now to make this library say what I want it to say about learning, teaching, searching, creating, and inviting students and teachers to join in on all those things?

So in unlocking the door on that ‘first’ day and walking around I noticed that the librarian’s desk was sitting in a back room, the shelves were placed in a very neat row but were totally uninspiring, and the chairs are way too big.

Why is this so important in this day and age when we are more often taking the library into the classroom and into other learning spaces. I absolutely applaud this trend and value it as an extension of the physical space we call ‘the library’. But that human need to gather together for social, emotional and educational engagements demands, in my mind, that we create and nurture a space for these activities to take place. The library, with all it’s resources and most importantly, the librarian there to participate as a teacher in those social, emotional, educational and creative pursuits indeed makes the library the most important classroom space in the school.

Our job is to nurture that space in such a way that every time we walk into a classroom to work alongside our teaching colleagues we ‘bring the library’ with us. And when it’s lunch time, or study hall, or tutorial or after school time, students and teachers know that they can congregate in the library to continue their studies, ask the questions, create their presentations, and build their skills with the help and guidance of their librarian.

I’ve started working with a local company to make a new reference desk out in the middle of the room, we’re creating new bulletin board displays; we’re purchasing an interactive whiteboard for easier instruction. These are the first ‘new steps’ we’re taking to make changes to our space. Next up: taking a look at our instruction.

BTW: Anyone want to buy some 1 ½ size chairs?


Connie Williams is a high school librarian and an advocate for school libraries.You can contact her via email, or leave a comment below. 

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118 CommentsTags: edtech · library-classroom connection · Inquiring Minds in the Library · library advocacy · technology and education

Welcome to the Sophomore Year for Emerging Tech

August 04, 2011 · 5 Comments

edWeb.netAs the founder of, a professional social network for the education community, I was struggling with how to build active and engaged communities on our website.

Then I attended Michelle Luhtala’s presentation at CoSN in March of 2010 on “Using Web 2.0 to Embed 21st Century Learning,” and I got an idea. Why not use Web 2.0 tools to spread the word about this to other school librarians?

Michelle (Head Librarian at New Canaan High School and winner of the 2010 School Library of the Year Award) uses many social networking tools and free collaborative technologies that are often banned in schools. After her presentation, I approached her with the idea of extending her presentation into a series of free monthly webinars embedded in a social networking community on She loved the idea.

We launched “Using Emerging Technology to Advance Your School Library Program” in July of 2010, and could tell right away that we were onto a good idea. In spite of our initial technical challenges with the webinar platform, the librarians in the webinar would say, “Hey, this is just what happens at school!” Michelle is a fabulous presenter with so many innovative ideas. Members love connecting with her, and with each other every month.

We found the right tool ( so we can incorporate video, text chat and polling so Michelle’s presentations are very personal and interactive. Each session includes lots of time for participants to text questions to Michelle, which she answers “live.” After the webinar, the conversation continues online through our community discussion forums. Emerging Tech creates a sense of community and connectedness that you rarely get from webinars – and even from online communities.

Over the past year, Emerging Tech has grown to 2,400 members. We hear from members all the time about how much they appreciate the program. The archived webinar recordings are a great feature of the program. Librarians can join the program at any time and catch up by watching any of the past programs.

Our members asked for CE certificates for participation, and we’ve been amazed at how valuable these certificates have been even though we are not an accredited program. If teachers could receive accredited CE certificates for participating in online Web 2.0 programs, we know the use of this kind of Web 2.0 technology would spread faster.

Emerging Tech would not have been possible without the support of Follett Software Company. Their offer to sponsor the program for an initial trial of three months and willingness to support our Web 2.0 experiment was truly visionary, and we can’t thank them enough! Two months into the program, Michael Campbell, the Director of Marketing, called me to say that Follett wanted to sponsor the program for the full year, and now Follett is sponsoring the sophomore year of Emerging Tech.

When Michelle started a discussion thread in Emerging Tech – “What do you want on the syllabus next year?” she received 80 posts of requests for topics to address! In July, we launched Year 2 – the Sophomore Year of the program. And it looks like we have enough topics to keep this going for quite some time. Emerging Tech has become a model for other Web 2.0 PD programs we are offering on

Any librarian or educator is welcome to join Emerging Tech and can sign up at We hope to see many of you there!

Lisa SchmuckiLisa Schmucki is the founder and CEO of, a professional social network for the education community. is free for all educators and schools. Join edweb at

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5 CommentsTags: edtech · Professional Learning Communities · Social Media Tools · edweb · learning · library · school libraries · social networking in education

Social Media in Education

June 06, 2011 · 10 Comments

Social media brings excitement and interest to learning and empowers students to grow as global and digital citizens. One obvious example of an educator who is embracing this technology to engage students is Van Meter Community School Librarian Shannon McClintock Miller (@shannonmmiller). We were fortunate to have Shannon present her ideas on the Positive Effects of Social Media in Education at our New Leaf in Learning Conference, which took place in March. It was a standing-room only session that illustrated how this trailblazer's confidence in social media as a constructive learning tool is paying off.

The session was recorded and is embedded below – if you can’t see the video, click here.

As she makes clear in the video, teachers and librarians don't need to fear social media—they need to encourage kids to use it to advance learning and show them constructive ways to utilize the tools. Using social media in her school allows Shannon to connect with other teachers and classrooms well beyond her district, and her students are sharing, publishing, discussing, creating and collaborating with peers and other teachers around the world.

"Social media brings excitement, currency and engagement," she told us. "It gives kids a voice and enriches their learning experiences by letting them connect with individuals, groups and experiences around the world."

As audience members expressed concern about kids wasting time texting from their cell phones and reading Facebook posts instead of participating in class, this enthusiastic educator pointed out that a driven instructor can steer students toward using social media productively, so that they don't have time or desire to use it in the ways many teachers and parents fear. She also described how the administration at Van Meter was 'on board' with her use of social media because everything is transparent—there are no secrets—and she takes the time to teach etiquette and literacy so all students strive to use social media wisely.

But don’t take her word for it. During the session, Shannon made it easy for everyone to get ideas and see social media in action by letting her students do the talking. As a group of students appeared on the screen live via Skype, each student greeted Miller enthusiastically then told the audience about their individual projects using Animoto, Skype, Facebook, iMovie, YouTube, Flickr and others. The audience immediately saw the power of social media through the students' own stories.

What positive effects are you seeing by using social media in education? Share your stories below!

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10 CommentsTags: edtech · library-classroom connection · Professional Learning Communities · Social Media Tools · library · library advocacy · school libraries · social networking in education · stories

6 Destiny Districts Recognized by NSBA for Ed Tech Leadership

April 11, 2011 · 8 Comments

When the National School Board Association’s Technology Leadership Network unveiled its most recent “20 to Watch” list, we were proud to note that no fewer than six of the innovative educators honored work at districts that are Follett Software Destiny customers. The “20 to Watch” honorees were singled out, according to the NSBA, because “they are finding different, effective and exciting ways to engage students through the use of technology.”

Buffy Hamilton, media specialist/teacher, Cherokee County School District, Canton, Georgia. Buffy uses a wide range of Web 2.0 tools to engage students at Creekview High School in literacy activities. Her school library, which she has named The Unquiet Library , emphasizes inquiry and a participatory approach to learning. For her efforts, Creekview has been honored as the Georgia High School Media Program of the Year. Among Buffy’s proudest accomplishments has been the introduction of Media 21, a participatory, transliterate learning environment for research projects. It has helped earn her a Cutting Edge Service Award from the American Library Association's Office for Information and Technology Policy. 

Paul Andersen, teacher, Bozeman Public Schools, Bozeman, Montana. To date, Paul’s “Bozeman Biology ” podcasts have been viewed more than 280,000 times. Anderson also shares his knowledge by holding weekly “Tech Junkies” meetings for teachers and students who want to learn more about technology. He recently was named the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Debra Howe, superintendent, Rochester Community Schools, Rochester, Indiana. Debra spearheaded the creation of the first New Tech High in rural Indiana. Not only are high school students learning in a 1:1 technology rich environment, but also all K-12 classrooms have interactive white boards, SMART document cameras, laptop computers and digital cameras.

Ryan Hurley, English teacher, Warren County Schools, Warrenton, North Carolina. Ryan has turned his classroom into a paperless learning community using a wide variety of free online resources. Working with a high number of impoverished high school students, Hurley goes beyond his curriculum to teach students how to use classroom technology.

Jeffrey McMahon, academic technology officer, Indianapolis Public Schools, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jeffrey led the development of a 1:1 laptop model, which put laptops into the hands of more than 2,500 students. The program involved a Problem Based Learning Curriculum, in which students had to use their laptops to identify and solve real and significant problems in their communities.

Terri Simpson, teacher, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, Sulphur, Louisiana. Terri is a 21st-century teacher who believes in diving fearlessly into new territory. She has led efforts to incorporate GoogleDocs, iPods, Palm hand-helds, digital cameras, iPads, student-response systems and one-to-one computing at her middle school, and has secured grants and other funding to help bring this technology to the school. 

Follett Software congratulates all the honorees, as well as their districts, for giving these creative educators the tools they need to work magic with technology and inspire so many.

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8 CommentsTags: edtech · library-classroom connection · leadership · library advocacy