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Reflections on the SLAV learning with Web 2.0 Program

I was asked recently to write a short piece to be part of a larger article where a number of participants would reflect on the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program.  Here’s what I wrote, although not exactly – it struck me as I wrote that there was little point in hyperlinking to the various sites I mention for a print article, I find articles with lots of long web addresses tedious to read – I want to click and get instant gratification!  It’s a real shift in the thinking/writing process and drives home to me the value of the online world – it’s so much more convenient and direct.  Anyway, the article should appear in the February 2009 issue of FYI.

Back in March this year Web 2.0 was something I’d heard of but I didn’t really know what it was.  I discovered that I was already using a couple of Web 2.0 tools – Delicious and WordPress blogs – but I had no real concept of what was out there.  At the SLAV conference in March Lynette Lewis and Leslie Sharples spoke about the SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 program which I hadn’t at that point planned participating in – they grabbed my attention and I immediately went back to school and signed up our entire library staff for the program.

That was the start of an amazing journey, for me personally and for our library.

We set aside specific times when we would work on the program so that we could do things side by side and that was one of the most rewarding things – being able to share our difficulties and our successes.  It was an excellent learning experience and really brought home the value of online hands-on learning.

We now have a library staff blog where we can share concerns, set items for meeting agendas and discuss issues.  This is fantastically helpful for us to improve communication as we have two libraries and nine staff including four part-timers.  We’ve also started using instant messaging for communicating with each other and our computer technicians – the immediacy of the contact is incredibly useful.  We’ve also just installed Live Meeting so that we can talk and share resources remotely, we’ll be running our library meetings using that next year.  Office Communicator and Live Meeting are available through edumail for teachers in state schools.

We have a couple of other blogs – the staff Reading Café and the student Great Reads – for book reviews and discussion. 

Our procedures manual is a wiki and is still a work in progress.  It probably always will be but that is the beauty of a wiki – we can all access and edit, and the live version is always the latest one.

I’m in the process of developing a wiki as an adjunct to our library web (intranet) page.  The current page, although attractive and useful, is cumbersome to update – another advantage of a wiki is the ease of updating.  The wiki will allow for more dynamic content and some interactive elements.

On a personal level for me this program kicked off an incredible learning journey.  From reading blogs I have discovered many fabulous people, ideas and resources.  I’ve started listening to podcasts in the car on the way to work; I’ve joined the OZ/NZ educators community who have online meetings on Sunday nights, I’ve contributed to the Edna Blogging Corner 08 challenge, and I’ve discovered all sorts of amazing tools that can be used to enhance education and communication or are just plain fun!  I’ve continued writing my blog (not as regularly as I’d like) and more recently I’ve joined Twitter (I’m @hbailie).  This sense of community and connectedness is perhaps best summed up my previous post.

At the end of last term I was appointed to a new role as Leading Teacher College ICT Coach, to start officially next year (unofficially of course…let’s just say I’ve been in demand!).  My decision to apply for it was very much tied up in what I have learned and how I have developed this year and that was all sparked off by the SLAV program.  The journey has been amazing so far and I suspect I’m only at the beginning!

Anyone else out there had a similar experience?  What set you off on your learning journey?

Heather

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