What Does It Mean to be Digitally Literate?

On my drive to work this morning,  Roger, Darren and Marilyn radio hosts were discussing how the “older” generation folks they have in their lives were struggling with things like Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones and things of this ilk. I found this discussion rather interesting for a number of reasons, first, I wonder if the likes of Roger, Darren & Marilyn might have been familiar with these tools five years ago; second, I was amazed (as I always am) at the speed of change when it comes to ICT; but third, I was pondering this discussion in light of the discussion led by Audrey Watters yesterday evening for #ETMOOC. I found myself thinking does this mean these folks are digitally literate, or are they merely digitally competent? Despite their implied knowledge about the tools they were discussing, I’m going with competent.

Sony TrinitronI don’t know if I can successfully define what digitally literate means for the rest of the world but for me I’m thinking that one who is digitally literate is comfortable negotiating the various types of media and text we are presented in multiple digital environments. I would hope this person can interpret meaning of various forms of digital media to meet the needs of the situation.  This would mean, understanding how to compose an email correctly for specific purpose; understanding how to use text messaging and what happens to this data once we hit send. I would hope that a digitally literate person would understand that “Digital is Different” and that anything shared electronically can be remixed, reused, re-purposed for multiple and varied audiences. I would expect a digitally literate person to understand appropriate use of digital media, fair dealing guidelines and the need to understand Creative Commons licensing for all forms of media. I would also hope that the digitally literate person would take time to consider where the data they create lives, who owns this data and how we might take more control of our data. I would also hope that the digitally literate learner/citizen would understand how challenging and bewildering the rapid change and development in today’s world might be to folks who might just remember their first colour television! (hence the Sony Trinitron above)

The world is shrinking through our connectedness but it is also becoming amazingly more complex in terms of the amounts of information we must process, curate and evaluate. I think that someone who is truly digitally literate, must  understand this and  share the wonder as things continue to evolve. Just some of my musings…..


February Blahs….

Now that we have fully experienced winter in Southern Ontario, I have to say I am truly sick an tired of winter. However, there are many reasons to be happy in February. Here is a short list of my ideas, I’m sure folks out there have many other ideas but here are mine:

  • The days are slowly getting longer (even though I have no motivation to be outside in the light)
  • Family Day
  • March Break is looming large (maybe it will be warm like last year?)
  • Spring is closer!

Additionally, I have some interesting activities I’m involved in to help me pass the winter weather. I have taken up knitting again and am enjoying work and knitting chat with others. I had opportunity to attend the OLA Superconference and had some great professional learning two weeks ago. I am beginning my term as Vice President of the OSLA, a commitment for the next three years! I am teaching Additional Qualification Courses for York again and really enjoying interacting with motivated learners. I love doing hot yoga two to three times a week to feel the heat, get some exercise and imagine I am in the Bahamas. I am transforming my school library into true learning commons with mobile technology, mobile furnishings, wireless access for students to bring their own devices with a mobile drop down zone, a virtual library collection to meet our learning needs and developing a culture of collaborative planning, teaching and learning for all.

I’m busy, but I need some vitamin D!

Introducing myself to #ETMOOC

I’m late and all of a sudden very, very busy BUT I am following the etmooc hashtag, lurking in google hangouts and viewing posts and blogs via my RSS. I am determined to participate, hence my lateness but am eager to learn from the many folks I follow on Twitter and folks I know who are involved. So here is a very poor video knocked off on my ipad this afternoon as I was cooking, knitting, and working on two other online courses I’m facilitating. Hello etmooc!

Intro to ETMOOC from Deb Kitchener on Vimeo.

I’m on the Ballot!

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Wow, it feels kind of surreal but I am nominated for the role of Vice-President of the Ontario School Library Association. I’m really hoping to win this election since at this point in my career I know I have a lot to offer.

I’ve been a school librarian now for close to 14 years! Now four of those years I was a librarian sans library.  What that means is librarian in my heart whilst working centrally as the Consultant for School Libraries in YRDSB and three years as Program Leader with the ABEL  and Learning Connections online learning communities. I’ve served on the OSLA council as counsellor for a three year term and I have been the Teacher Leader for face to face and online Additional Qualification courses for Librarianship I, II & III for about 10 years.

I have been an advocate for school libraries as long as I have been an educator and as Head of Library at Keswick High School I continue to do so. Never have school libraries ever been so important to school learning communities.  As we move toward our vision of the Learning Commons, it is vitally important to support our teachers and students in negotiating the vast array of digital media and resources they access daily. It is important to ensure that we model for our younger colleagues what effective teaching and learning looks like in the Learning Commons and how we can work collaboratively as we co-plan, co-teach, co-reflect upon this experience together. Additionally, it is important that we ensure all school districts have access to information through  Virtual Libraries that support student learning needs at home and at school.

I am passionate about school libraries and effective school programs. In this day and age TL’s need to be connected learners and leaders. I am a connected Leader and Learner and I am ready to work with our membership, Together for Learning.

Connected Learning Book Study

After two sessions with our ABEL book study group I have to say what a pleasure it is to work with so many committed and engaged professionals.  It is not easy to engage in learning in our current political climate, it’s an honour to learn with such a dedicated group.

Add to the challenge, the fact that we are learning in an online environment so we are grappling with all of the issues that folks deal with in face to face learning at a distance. That being said, you would not have known this last Thursday evening through our active discussion and the fact that we were running overtime because there was so much going on!

Things I continue to  learn: ongoing need for balance in connected learning, importance of our digital footprint (as always), relationships are vital and key to learning, technology is not about the tool, time is a four letter word.

Things I continue to question: How do I introduce dissonance to a group of like minded learners? How do we continue building and growing our group and tune it as suggested by Howard Rheingold? What will continue to  draw people into an online group of learners with established learning and knowledge building relationships?

Hopefully, the group will help to answer my questions as will my PLN.

Studying Books Virtually

So last night was my first session as moderator of a virtual book study.  I am working with a group of educators from across Ontario who are all interested in becoming more connected.  They are a dedicated group that are willing to take the leap to DIY learning in a virtual environment. We are reading “The Connected Educator:  Learning and Leading in a Digital Age” by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall, so it makes sense that we learn together virtually.

I feel my biggest challenge is to connect with each of the participants and develop a relationship with them so that we can co-construct learning together. Virtual is different, it requires an understanding of silent spaces in conversations, the ability to follow chat and respond accordingly while moving discussion forward logically as we would in face to face learning. I am comfortable in this space, I hope the rest of our group is too.  Next step is to engage the group in online discussion between sessions and I look forward to some rich and reflective discussion.

I know that I am an online learner and engage in my own self directed professional learning, I hope I can convince this group to join me for the ride 🙂


I attended EdcampTO this past weekend, my first Edcamp experience.  In this challenging political climate, it was such a great way to re-energize and re-connect with folks who are passionate about learning and education. 

Things I really liked about Edcamp:

  • Not an exclusive audience, we had parents, business people, higher education representatives, public and privately funded education stakeholders.
  • The grassroots approach to developing the agenda
  • The passion for learning by all those in attendance
  • Connections to other learners through twitter
  • The explicit understanding that we were all reflective learners and intend to share our thoughts, reflections and big questions in an online context

For the past four years I have had the luxury of being surrounded by reflective, connected learners in my work environment in addition to my personal learning network.  This year I am back in a school where my colleagues have a very diverse understanding and approach to their own learning, so the Edcamp experience feeds my need.

Best of all, this learning experience reaffirmed my own understanding that learning both online and offline is really all about the relationships.  Thanks to Edcamp I was immersed in the best of both worlds.

I know that this won’t be my last Edcamp so  I’m looking forward to Edcamp Waterloo, Peel and Hamilton!