Monday, 25 May 2015

ETL504 Don Tapscott's 4 principles of an open world: a school library view

In his 2012 Ted Talk on the “4 principles of an open world”, Tapscott describes openness as a word that ‘denotes opportunity and possibilities’. Further, he discusses how the technology revolution is opening up the world in the way people collaborate and share information, the transparency of the way organizations interact in the global community and the empowerment that comes from the distribution of knowledge in a connected world. The evolution of the Internet and the role of technology in society have created a global information community, unlike anything experienced by human society in the past. People are connecting across the world, sharing information, ideas, collaborating. Where once access to knowledge was the privilege of those who could read and had access to the printed world, now knowledge is accessible to anyone, used to create, solve problems, innovate in socially connected, collaborative communities. Tapscott describes this global connectiveness as a way of shedding light into areas that before have only known darkness.

So what does this mean for schools and in particular, the role of school libraries and teacher librarians?
The future direction of the 21st century school is one full of possibility and challenge. The past two decades has seen the need for significant changes in the way curriculum knowledge and skills are taught and the integration of technology into the learning and teaching context. Tapscott discusses the impact of the digital world as causing ‘a profound change in the deep structure and architecture of organisations’ and this is inherently true of the educational setting. As schools endeavor to meet the challenges of such profound change, it is possible that the four principles discussed by Tapscott - collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment can be applied by our schools, teachers and librarians as a way of shining the light of this technological revolution into the learning and teaching context.

There have been significant mind shifts in the role of both classroom teachers and teacher librarians. Teachers are no longer the holders of information, students no longer the recipients of content and knowledge deemed important by the school boards and curriculum associations.  Teacher librarians are no longer the curators of just a collection of print materials. Today’s educational environment requires both classroom teachers and teacher librarians to look at how to use this limitless access to information to build students capabilities to innovate, create and engage with knowledge – to develop the students abilities to collaborate in a digital world. Teacher librarians are an essential component for schools to meet the needs of the students in a technologically connected world. They are information specialists with the skills to create an information-rich learning environment that supports both students and teachers in developing the skills needed to succeed in an online environment. Through collaboration with teachers and students, teacher librarians can teach students information search strategies, develop inquiry-based learning skills, and create opportunities for innovation, creation and engagement.


Classrooms are no longer isolated, stand alone communities of 1 teacher and 30 students. The classroom extends beyond the four walls of the building, into learning communities across the globe. There is an increasing obligation for accountability of schools to be transparent about the way teaching and learning occurs within their school. Classroom teachers and teacher librarians must be able to demonstrate to all stakeholders in the community how the school is actively teaching the necessary skills and strategies for active participation in an online world. Tapscott refers to transparency as a being a very good thing for it forces people to consider how they are representing themselves within the global community – in particular the values and integrity of the organization. For classroom teachers and teacher librarians, it is imperative that they can be seen to be fostering within the learning and teaching context an understanding of responsible digital citizenship. Teacher librarians must include in the information literacy skills they teach an understanding of credibility, accuracy and authenticity of information. As ICT and library budgets increase (or decrease), it must be transparent to the community how this impacts on the way students are taught, how accessible the online world is to them, and the implications for the teaching and learning context of the school. Classroom and libraries cannot be isolated anymore – they must be open to scrutiny – daunting and scary as that sounds, it is the only way to ensure students have the necessary teaching and learning opportunities needed for participation in a globally networked society.

Teachers and schools are learning innovative ways of connecting and networking together, working to share knowledge and intellectual property. Teachers are learning new ways of sharing knowledge with students, developing student skills in searching for information, and using that knowledge to create, build, innovate, develop skills for the 21st century. The open world is a platform that provides endless opportunities for enabling our students to feel empowered. As Tapscott discusses, the internet allows people to be producers of knowledge and ideas in an age of networked intelligence and promise.
            Teacher librarians have the skills to bring the online world into the school, building shared networked communities from the outside world that can be used to contributed to the learning and teaching context within the school environment. The 21st century school library is not a separate room within the school, disconnected from the learning experiences of the students and the sole domain of the teacher librarian.

As Tapscott states ‘the world is opening up and it is a good thing’ (2012).

Sunday, 24 May 2015

ETL 504 - Assignment 2 - Reflective Critical Analysis

‘What have I learnt as I have examined leadership in depth through this subject?’

If I were to answer this question simply, I would say that I have learnt another critical role to add to the already complex role of the teacher librarian. While that is very true, what I have learnt is much deeper and more involved than that simple statement.

Of all the units I have done so far in my Masters, studying ETL 504 has proven to be one of great challenge for me. I have spent 20 years working as a teacher and I have held leadership positions. However, due to my family circumstances I have been out of school life for over two years now. As I discussed in my first blog post for this unit (16 March 2015), I now feel a very strong disconnection between my studies and my personal experiences. It is challenging to move forward in your professional focus, when your only frame of reference is looking back into the past.

Despite this, I found the first module an acknowledgement of my previous teaching and leadership experience. I recognized leadership styles, understood their qualities and found affirmation in the leadership description I received from the quiz on Buzzle (2105). I felt confident applying the 7 step process to the primary scenario in Module 1 (Task 2, 29th March). Importantly, as I discussed in my Critical Reflection for Assignment 1 (19 April 2015), this module was eye opening in helping me to understand how my successes arose from my ability to build connected, collaborative relationships. Module 1 enabled me to critically evaluate the aspects of leadership that I have found challenging and come to understand that my challenges arose from a limited understanding of how to stimulate change and support teachers through the change process.

This has been the most significant and critically important learning for me – change management. Studying this unit and not having a current arena with which to analyse, apply and evaluate the practical knowledge of the unit has been very difficult. Yet Tapscott (TED, 2012) managed to inspire me to look forward, forget my lack of present experiences and imagine the 21st century educational paradigm that I want to work in (Blog post, edited May 25 2015). Doodle slide (2012), helped me understand that as a leader, not only do I need to be navigator in the change process, but I need to learn to put processes into place that enable those around me to be grow to be navigators of change too. Both Orridge (2009) and Kotter’s 8 step process (Kotter, 2015), enabled me to critically examine previous leadership experiences. I understand that the resistance to change I had experienced was a result of my lack of understanding of how to empower my staff; an inability to create that sense of urgency for the need to change; and not helping people to understand the plan and where they fit in to it. A humbling realization to come to, but crucial in helping me to understand how I, as a leader, can manage change in the future - that it is a strategic process that must be systematically planned for and worked through.

 In 55 days, I will be a teacher librarian and this unit has had me constantly thinking about my role, my leadership skills and understandings, and how I can marry the two together and be successful as a ‘leader for learning’ within my new school community.

How am I going to inspire collaboration, transparency and the sharing of knowledge?
How am I going to empower and lead a community into being excited about the world opening up?
How am I going to create a deep focus on learning from within the library and beyond the four walls of our classrooms?

It is difficult to say, without having started work as a teacher librarian. However, module 3: Task 1 (May 1 2015) was an important step in helping me to define what I believe about leadership in school communities - that ‘learning should be the prime concern of all those who exercise leadership in schools’ (Macbeath & Dempster, 2008, p.32) and my response to Module 6.1 (Task 1, May 12, 2015), was a way of explaining that a key aspect of leading from the middle in the library, is to ensure that the library stakeholders really understand the ‘why’ of we do and believe about learning in today’s world.

Ultimately, it will come down to the context of the school, the vision and mission that we are working to achieve and the mix of professional relationships that I have to work with. What I do know for certain, is that this unit has given to me a wealth of knowledge and skills that I can add to my Teacher Librarian toolkit, giving me the tools with which to identify, manage and guide change as a critical leader within the school community. Overall, this unit has been instrumental in learning about who I am as a leader, and where I see my future as a leader within the school. While this unit may be ending, my journey as a ‘leader for learning’ within the role of the teacher librarian is just beginning.


Buzzle. (2015). Leadership styles quiz. In Buzzle. Retrieved from

Doodle Slide. (2012). Change management explained in 1 minute! [video file]. Retrieved from

Kotter, J. (2015). Kotter International: Change leadership. Kotter International - Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from

MacBeath, J. E., & Dempster, N. (2008). Connecting leadership and learning: principles in practice. Retrieved from EBook
Orridge, M. (2009). Change leadership: Developing a change-adept organization. Retrieved from Ebook library

TED. (2012 June 28). Don Tapscott: four principles for the open world [video file]. Retrieved from