Opening up ‘The World is Open’

May 4th, 2010 llcowell Posted in reading, reviews, teaching & learning No Comments »

Curtis Bonk’s book, The World is Open in print or for your Kindle takes Friedman’s ideas in the World is Flat and transposes them into a theory of learning that is inspiring, to say the least.  Bonk explores a number of emerging concepts in education and applies them to a scenerio of lifelong learning…and in doing so, speaks to the heart of what libraries are all about. Consider some the the key ideas he lays out in light of the existing and developing role and function of libraries in our schools and in society:

  • Professional educators will serve as “e-mentors” or “e-coaches,” their expertise focused more on helping learners to navigate the multiple pathways available to them via technology, rather than on subject area content.  The number of teachers will actually increase, rather than decrease, as more 1-to-1 support is demanded.  Pay structures will alter significantly.  As library professionals, we stand at the forefront of this movement, already trained to facilitate the individual learner through reader advisory, broad-application research skills and technology integration.
  • Formalized learning will last longer, but be a less structured experience. Learners will self-determine and customize the  learning experience, making  it more exciting and more relevant to the individual learner.  Learners will have access to information from anywhere, anytime via mobile devices.  They will be connected to and collaborate with others across disciplines, across classrooms, across schools, and across cultures.  Learning spaces will become less contained and more free (both intellectually and economically). This will lead to a greater openness between people.Libraries, of course, have represented this type of “life-long” learning since before formal universities first emerged.  In this new world of learning, libraries should not only maintain, but magnify their role as “idea labs,” where learners meet, discuss, collaborate and customize their knowledge, both physically and virtually.
  • Authentic learning experiences will emerge in the form of simulation, gaming, virtual worlds, and real-time activities. These “super blends” of learning, which mix learning content and learning contexts via technology will make categorization of media, delivery platforms, and even subjects less likely. This is where a challenge lies for many library professionals.  Trained to categorize and standardize, we must seek new paradigms by which to recognize, organize and access information that are in keeping with the blended nature of today’s emerging media.

Take time to familiarize yourselves with Bonk’s ideas.  They offer us insight into the roles we will continue to play in a learning society.  You can listen to an interview with Bonk on the podcast Mission to Learn (Episode 5) and follow Bonk’s Blog at

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Mapping Google’s NewsMap

September 28th, 2009 llcowell Posted in reviews, web 2.0 tools No Comments »

There’s never enough time at the beginning of the school year for writing. After a month of back-to-back freshmen orientations and current events skills…I’ll be looking to squeeze in a few posts before the hustle of homecoming week hits. First semester has a great rhythm (with occasional breaks to keep students enthusiastic about school).

30 sessions (2 lessons x15) too late, I have been turned onto Google’s NewsMap. Here is news presented in a way that will connect to today’s YAs — global, visual, spacial, interactive, customizable. Check out NewsMap for yourself.

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The Machine is (Changing) Us – Michael Wesch

July 22nd, 2009 llcowell Posted in multiple literacies, reviews, social media No Comments »

I’ve admired Wesch’s work since I was first introduced to it a couple of years back. His digital ethnographic studies are facinating and address the crucial changes that are occuring in our culture (and should be occuring in our classrooms). His youtube presentations include Web 2.0…The Machine is Us/ing Us, A Vision of Students Today, Information R/evolution, and Twitter and the World Simulation. Wesch spoke this spring to to Wisconsin educators at WEMTA, and the following, from the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum reiterates much of what he presented to us. I look for opportunities to share these ideas…and hope readers here will too.

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Can’t Take It With You…

May 14th, 2009 llcowell Posted in reviews No Comments »

Not all media occurs in a technology setting.  Performance is the original alternative to text.  High School theater productions remind me that one of the perks of working with young adults is the opportunity we are given to witness their talents and their learning outside of the classroom.  The play You Can’t Take It With You (by Moss Hart and George Kaufman) first debuted  in the late 1930′s, but the comedy is fresh when interpreted by young actors…and the message remains the same.  Keep your head and your heart open to the possibilities before you!  On the eve of their opening performance, visit the  preview gallery (dress rehearsal) of it’s performance at HUHS.

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Duck Duck Go…..Web 2.0

April 28th, 2009 llcowell Posted in learning spaces, reviews, uncategorized 1 Comment »

There isn’t generally much “new” about a new search engine, at least when it comes toGo Duck Go Web 2.0 their appeal among young adults. Google, with it’s images and broad/deep search extras reigns.

But wait… Duck Duck Go turns out to be more than just another search engine. Aside from it’s slick interface and fast results, the engine is embracing Web 2.0 by sporting a handy little right-hand dashboard that lets you search popular social media sites with a simple click. Take time to play with this one.

No competition for Google…but since I’m looking for content to on Facebook, Twitter, and a slew of other app sites, it’s worth the time to stow this in my toolbox.

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On reading “the Reader”…

March 3rd, 2009 llcowell Posted in observations, reviews No Comments »

In the past week I’ve read the book “The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink, and seen the movie. The tagline of the marketing surrounding the movie release asks: “How far would you go to protect a secret?” Some secrets in the movie are easily revealed to the viewer: Hannah’s illiteracy, Michael’s youthful obsession, Hannah’s role in the atrocities of the Holocaust. Still, there are secrets in this book that are less transparent: most notably, the collective guilt and the internal struggle that the children of the perpetrators (along with the survivors)endured (even embraced) in order to bring the horror to light.

There were 6 other viewers in the theater with us. Each was of an age that they would have some memory of the time and events in the film. I wanted to crawl into their minds. I was at the same time bothered and relieved that there were no young people in the audience who might be insensitive to the thoughtful silence in which these older viewers sat through the entire reel of credits (no bloopers here), and exited the theater, quiet and somber.

I found a file at work, just the other day, that revealed a challenge made to the book by a parent in our school just a few years ago when the Oprah list ushered the titled into our school library. How sad it is to know that the eroticism in the early part of the movie–necessary to the character development–will keep this film version out of our schools, where it would undoubtedly spark thoughtful dialog around not only the issues of action/inaction faced by people in the aftermath of WWII, but also which face us today. (Also published on LiteracyRemix and HistoryRemix)

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