How technology has changed our idea of ‘knowledge,’ and what this means for schools

Before the internet existed, humans had a very different concept of what “knowledge” was.

Before the internet existed, humans had a very different concept of what “knowledge” was, says researcher David Weinberger. This concept was defined by the physical properties of the dominant medium for sharing information back then—paper—and the limitations it placed on this process.

For instance, we’ve tended to think of knowledge as something that was orderly: organized neatly into chapters and books, and sorted on shelves in the library according to a rigorous classification system. We understood it as something that was filtered, with writers, editors, publishers, and curators making conscious decisions about what to include and what to leave out.

We saw knowledge as a canon of generally accepted wisdom, Weinberger says, with less room for any difference of opinion: Think of the way a traditional textbook was laid out, with a shaded box set apart from the main text to explore alternate points of view. And we viewed knowledge as a system of artificial “stopping points”: Although footnotes could direct us to further study, eventually books—like all good things—must come to an end.…Read More

Five key roles for 21st-century school librarians

School librarians, with their specialized training in collecting, organizing, preserving, and disseminating information, now must teach their patrons to perform these tasks.

According to Joyce Valenza, teacher librarian at Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania and author of School Library Journal’s “Never Ending Search” blog, this is the golden age of librarianship.

Co-presenting a session at educational technology leader Alan November’s 2012 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference on July 19 with Shannon McClintock Miller, district librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Schools in Iowa, Valenza outlined five areas in which K-12 schools should turn to their librarians to empower learners with valuable 21st-century college and career readiness skills.

“Librarians are in the sweet spot of education,” Valenza said.…Read More

New project aims to transform the ‘first five days’ of school

The First Five Days project aims to start an international conversation about how to make the start of the school year the best it can be.

While there is general agreement that the first five days of school are “absolutely essential” for establishing a culture of learning that will set the right tone for the rest of the year, there is very little research or discussion about how to make these first five days the most relevant and productive they can be, said ed-tech thought leader Alan November.

Kicking off his Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference in Boston July 18, November announced a new project to change that. Called “First Five Days,” the project aims to start an international conversation about how to make the start of the school year the best it can be, to foster the greatest chance for success.

November invited educators to share their ideas and experiences on the online professional development community created by his consulting firm, November Learning. To participate, go to http://blc.vxcommunity.com, click on “Register,” then click on the “Five” tab.…Read More