Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S24
EDUCATION WEEK n
April 15, 2015
Blended Learning: Breaking Down Barriers > www.edweek.org/go/blended-barriers
New Role: Guiding
District Tech Efforts
By Carol Brzozowski
chool libraries across the country are trying to forge a new
identity, prompted largely by the need to re-establish their
relevance in the age of blended learning.
In the Vancouver, Wash., school district, those efforts are being
guided by Mark Ray, a librarian who has worked to transform
the school library program in his 23,000-student system from
feeling outdated and irrelevant into one of the most exemplary
A Washington state
district treats librarians
as digital mentors
programs in the United States, served by 35 "teacher-librarians."
Librarians have traditionally served an important role in school
systems as teachers, particularly in teaching students how to access
information. Now, in Vancouver and elsewhere, librarians' roles are
evolving, as districts count on them to help teachers use technology to
improve instruction, and to troubleshoot problems with digital systems
as they emerge.
In Vancouver, the first challenge was getting the message about libraries'
relevance understood by teachers and librarians themselves,
as well as by district decisionmakers,
Ray, now the director of
and library services for
the Vancouver district.
The school system began
its library-relevance initiative
adopting the name teacherlibrarians,
who Mr. Ray
"teach more and
librarian less." Existing
library programs were updated
as part of a $24 million technology levy approved in 2013 to pay for
new mobile devices, learning management systems, professional development,
technology staffing, and digital content.
Teacher-librarians are hired and evaluated by Vancouver's school principals.
To emphasize their increasing role in teaching and learning, teacherlibrarians'
work is closely connected to that of the district's curriculum
department, led by Layne Stampfli, and the instructional technology and
library services department, led by Mr. Ray.
The district's instructional technology services department provided
multiyear training of teacher-librarians to help launch a new video
on-demand service, and then an extensive training program to show
teacher-libarians how to use productivity software, video-production
technologies, and podcasting tools.
Investing in PD
When an estimated $20,000 in federal Enhancing Education
Through Technology funds for the teacher-librarian training ran
out,the district picked up the costs to keep the program going despite
facing a tight budget.
The district's investments in some areas, such as professional development
focused on technology, has saved the school system money. A
major project focused on automating the process for keeping track of
library textbooks led by a teacher-librarian, for instance, dramatically
improved districtwide systems, reducing costs by thousands of dollars.
Some Vancouver school librarians have fully embraced the change
brought about by the district's emphasis on blended learning. But
others have struggled to adapt to new approaches to teaching
through technology that did not exist when they entered the field,
noted Mr. Ray.
"We thought we prepared our teacher-librarians well enough, then
we put devices in their hands, and there are things we can't anticiTeaching
A survey of school librarians published in 2011 offered insights on how they provide
support for teachers' technology use. Those National Board-certified librarians worked
in well-resourced libraries. Of nearly 300 librarians who responded:
A strong majority, 74%, said they were heavily involved in "collaborating
with teachers to use technology in their instruction."
And 80% said they were heavily involved with "providing teachers with
access to technology that enhances their instruction."
But just 41% said they were heavily involved in the initial process of
"setting learning objectives and promoting the integration of technology
in classroom instruction."
Only 38% said they fully or substantially provide teachers with
"technological alternatives for assessing student learning."
Nearly all, 94%, said they were very aware of priorities for "technology
and digital-resource use."
But just 57% said they gave considerable input into those policies.
Source: School Library Research
pate," he said. But since then, many of those staff have "risen to the
occasion," he said, and are providing strong support in areas that include
helping teachers use whiteboards, laptops, and touch screens
in the classrooms, and helping shape the districts' broader priorities
enhancing instruction through technology.
Traci Chun, a teacher-librarian at Skyview High School in the Vancouver
district, was an elementary teacher-librarian when the district began to
transform the role of library staff.
"It required the teacher-librarians to be open-minded and willing to not
only shift their own thinking, but also be prepared to lead others to start
thinking in new and different ways," Ms. Chun said.
Ms. Chun viewed it as an opportunity to show teachers that "technology
isn't intimidating and can enhance their teaching," she added.
"Most of it was a natural transition-libraries are about learning, and
the technology piece was just a new way of learning."
To help support educators like Ms. Chun, Mr. Ray's team includes
nine instructional-technology facilitators who are teachers on special
assignment, teacher-librarians, and teacher technology leads-teachers
who have a one-period per day release to provide support for their
colleagues-as well as a dedicated paraprofessional/technical-support
person to troubleshoot problems.
Teacher-librarians in Vancouver fulfill a critical role in educating
students and educators about information literacy, whether that information
comes from text on paper or a computer screen. "It's still about
providing expert understanding of information resources, how to cite
the source, academic honesty, digital citizenship," he said.
But today, the teacher-librarians are also expected to help "curate
and guide learners and teachers to find good content and use it
effectively"-a challenge at a time when the massive amount of digital
content available to schools resembles the "Wild West," Mr. Ray said.
The struggle to find qualified people to meet the higher level of expertise,
skill, and leadership expected of teacher-librarians has led the district
to study the possibility of using microcredentialing programs and
partnerships with higher education organizations to help get teacherlibrarians
up to speed.
Revised Performance Evaluations
In addition, revamped job descriptions for teacher-librarians have required
the development of new performance-measurement standards.
The new standards will be based on district standards for teachers,
PAGE S26 >
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report
District Establishes Wi-Fi In Local Community
K-12 System Loans Hotspots For Connectivity
Businesses Sign Up To Give Students Online Access After School Hours
On the Road: Wi-Fi Access on Wheels
Districts Weigh Control Over Software Buying
Centralized Purchasing Brings Rewards for D.C.
District Allows Schools To Lead on Buying
Research Uneven, Tough To Interpret
Behind a Looking Glass: Teachers Help Peers Master Technology
A Charter School Designed For Ed Tech
Librarians Adopt New Role: Guiding Blended Learning, District Tech Efforts
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S2
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Contents
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - K-12 System Loans Hotspots For Connectivity
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Businesses Sign Up To Give Students Online Access After School Hours
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - On the Road: Wi-Fi Access on Wheels
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S7
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Districts Weigh Control Over Software Buying
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S9
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - District Allows Schools To Lead on Buying
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S11
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Research Uneven, Tough To Interpret
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S13
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S14
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S15
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Behind a Looking Glass: Teachers Help Peers Master Technology
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S17
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S18
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S19
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - A Charter School Designed For Ed Tech
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S21
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S22
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S23
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - Librarians Adopt New Role: Guiding Blended Learning, District Tech Efforts
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S25
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S26
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S27
Education Week - April 15, 2015 - Special Report - S28