I’ll begin my second OLA SuperConference post with a a couple of personal observations. I was surprised by the number of out-of-province librarians at the Conference. One librarian from Manitoba said that the OLA sessions are where the rubber hits the road; they are very practical. As well, it’s such a large conference, with as many as 11 sessions for each time period, that its wide variety of offerings also draws large numbers.
I had taken my Netbook with me, hoping to live tweet from the conference. However, there was no free WIFI and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre wanted a more than I was willing to pay by the hour for WIFI. The OSLA Web 2.0 Hockey Face-Off set up a screen to project live tweets, but you had to have your own connection to participate. I tried texting using my non-QWERTY cell phone, but it was just too slow and my tweets were posted well after the topic had moved on.
I heard a number of complaints about this situation, but was told the MTCC also wanted an prohibitive amount from the OLA to provide WIFI. Nonetheless, it is a situation that will have to be addressed in the future, so we can practice what is being preached.
Finally, a look at two more memorable sessions:
Students Speak Out – Learning Commons
In this session Diana Maliszewski, editor of the Ontario School Library Association’s journal, The Teaching Librarian, and a teacher-librarian with the Toronto District School Board, brought a panel of four students from Grades 1, 4, 5 and 8 to speak about the implementation of the Learning Commons at their school. She said that they were not necessarily the most articulate students. Nonetheless, they seemed very articulate to me and certainly represented their school and teacher-librarian very well.
As one of the authors of this report, Diana summarized the intent of the Learning Commons to be a flexible, responsive approach to help schools focus on learning collaboratively. Her initial focus was to try to get students to define and understand the concept of the Learning Commons. When this was met with limited success (they ended up taking the definitions of the two words and coming up with, “Learning to do the same things together!”), she shifted the focus to, “Are they doing the Learning Commons? Are they experiencing it?”
If her students are any indication, they are experiencing the Learning Commons at every level. Many impressive examples were given, including a Speakers’ Corner in a primary classroom, where students go to record a response to a lesson (things they’ve learned) that they may not wish to share in front of the class. The teacher later will listen and may ask the student if they can share the recording with the class. What a great way to give a voice to students who may not have the confidence to speak up!
I was so impressed with the students and the energy and dedication of their teacher-librarian who is bringing innovative, cutting-edge ideas and technology to her school.
Great Web 2.0 Face-Off
The Great Web 2.0 Face-Off was structured as a hockey game: three periods with commentary in between. It was a fun and informative session. I was also impressed with the ways school librarians in the audience and on stage were using some of these programs, for example, class blogs or student blogging for Forest of Reading programs.
The commentary was also well done. “It’s the thinking not the tools” and the concept of “sandbox time” (playing with the tools) were ideas that resonated with me.
For more information about the tools presented in rapid-fire succession, I would refer you to the OSLA’s Great Web 2.0 Hockey Face-Off page and to Glen Farrelly’s What a Non Librarian Learned from a Librarian Conference for a linked list of the Web 2.0 tools covered in the session.
Diana Maliszewski also wrote an excellent summary of the SuperConference 2011 experience, Conference Reflections. This powerhouse school librarian was also a participant in the Great Web 2.0 Hockey Face-Off.
SuperConference 2011 was a great experience. I’m looking forward to next year!