As mentioned, today is sadly the end of ETAD802, and I wanted to give some closing thoughts.
These past few weeks have started something of a journey for me on the pathway of educational technology. As I have learnt more, some of the divisions I thought existed between digital and print mediums, between the past and the future, have started to erode away. That tension is there, but it is only one way of seeing the challenges and opportunities that await our attention.
It no longer is a about whether technology CAN save the day, or even if technology SHOULD save the day. It’s not Deus Ex Machina. Rather, it is about which of the seemingly infinite paths in front of us we are going to take.
Cliche I know, but still true.
Sometimes we can all get caught up in the excitement of some many new ways of thinking and sharing information.
That is good.
Other times we can get wrapped up in thinking about ‘the good old days’.
Having a sense of the past is also good.
However, the best path lies somewhere in the middle I think, with an openness to both the lessons of the past, and the opportunities of the future. This path is hard though, as it forces us to decide what we really value, and then confront some ideas that may make us uncomfortable.
Libraries are no exception. Rather, as places that appeal to masses of people from all the various strata of life, those challenges become multiplied. Each person is going to have their own opinion of how things should proceed, and trying to find a path that makes everyone happy would be impossible.
But I think there are several salient aspects of libraries that draw people, and as long as they remain primary, the peripherals can change to keep abreast of things.
The same goes for school libraries, though I feel that in many ways they lag farther behind public libraries. The role of a school library seems to be harder to pin down, yet once they are gone they are always missed. To me, that speaks to them being far more then simply internet connections, or places to study, or a room to go and read a story in.
At the very heart of it a school library is a communal experience; a chance to experience learning outside of the normal desk/whiteboard setting. It allows us to learn and interact in a way that sometimes seems forgotten in our Western model of lessons plans, achievement goals, and testing. The sense of wonder and joy in learning seems closer to the surface somehow when education takes a step back from rigidity, and libraries play a crucial role in that. Regardless of medium or mode, whether in paper serials, e-books, audio cassette, or MP3 – as long as that experience of unshackled freedom is maintained, then school libraries will be worth more then their budgetary sums.
Finding ways to help schools appreciate what that brings to education maybe the bigger challenge then format and technology.
We as educators have more tools, ideas, and opportunities then ever before; and they keep on growing. The question is, can we look beyond personal bias, hype, and stubbornness to collaboratively build the best educational system for, and with, our students?
In the end, that is truly what it’s all about.