Transforming Information Literacy for NowGen Students: The Media 21 Project
Buffy Hamilton, Ed.S.
Creekview High School, C...
research and reading as forms of deeper inquiry and learning. Learning artifacts included a
        traditional research p...
How to use writing as a tool for reflection and metacognition through the individual blogs.
        How to demonstrate dig...
research project using more than the minimum number of information sources required and writing
double the number of minim...
believe how much this research project affected me. It definitely forced me to look at myself and made
me ask myself what ...
Using the “presentation zen” style, I actually had to understand my findings. Because I couldn’t use
bullets in my power p...
implement this learning model with at least two sections of seniors via an Advanced Composition and
Literature course. I w...
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What Is Media 21?


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Read more about the Media 21 project at The Unquiet Library with Buffy Hamilton and Susan Lester in this document that covers the project history from March 2009 through May 1, 2010. See for more details.

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What Is Media 21?

  1. 1. Transforming Information Literacy for NowGen Students: The Media 21 Project Buffy Hamilton, Ed.S. Creekview High School, Canton, Georgia The Collaborative Process In March 2009, I approached Susan Lester, one of our school’s tenth grade English teachers, with an idea for a collaborative project grounded in connectivism and participatory librarianship. For my Media 21 Capstone project (please see , I wanted to create a semester long experience that would help students learn how to use social media and cloud computing for learning and as a means of cultivating a personal learning network. In addition, I wanted students to engage in learning through collective knowledge building and inquiry. After sharing the resources and research I had collected to support this vision of learning, Susan agreed to take a leap of faith and join me on this journey of teaching and learning. Together, we outlined content based and information literacy performance standards we wanted students to master. We collaborated to draft a list of learning activities and tools we wanted to implement, and we developed a master list of materials (books, databases, hardware) that we wanted to purchase with local school and Media 21 program funding. Over the summer, we collaborated in person and via email to fine tune our plans. Once the school year began August 3, we hit the ground running together, with both of us providing the first day orientation of the course to students. For two periods a day for an entire semester, I served as co-teacher of the course on a daily basis, creating and facilitating mini-lessons, providing group and individual instruction, designing lesson plans, co-creating assessment rubrics, facilitating the course blog, course website, and course wiki, and assisting with the formative and summative evaluation of student learning artifacts. Along with Ms. Lester, I fielded questions via students via email and provided feedback on the class blog and individual student learning blogs. During the first semester, we engaged in units of inquiry about ways people can use social media and then actually used social media and cloud computing tools as tools for facilitating learning and creating content as well as actual information sources. Highlights of our first semester learning experiences included: An eight week unit in which we explore the use of social media for educational uses and as a form of authoritative information. We also explore the use of social media for social good, exploring examples of real world uses of social media for social justice and charitable causes; in addition, we participated in the blogathon for the Louisville Free Public Library at the end of August. Please see,,, and for the research pathfinders that supports this collaborative effort. The design of a ten week unit in which students engaged in inquiry about issues in Africa. We designed the structure and learning tools which focused on student literature circles and individual research on an issue in Africa depicted in the literature circle reading. We incorporated the use of research reflection blog entries and reading reflection posts as well as literature circle group wikis with Google Sites to encourage sharing and for students to see
  2. 2. research and reading as forms of deeper inquiry and learning. Learning artifacts included a traditional research paper, a learning/research portfolio created with Google Sites, and multigenre learning artifacts that were incorporated into the learning portfolio. Please see for the research pathfinder that supports the skills and learning activities of this unit. A culminating unit in which students learned about “presentation zen” style for public speaking and presentations was the final collaborative unit of the semester. Students learned how to use images and minimal to convey key ideas and learning, effective public speaking skills, and how to use Creative Commons licensed photos in their slidedecks to create a final presentation to represent their journey of learning in the Issues in Africa unit. Please see for the supporting materials. From March through mid-May 2010, we worked together again as librarian, students, and teacher to engage in inquiry of issues and challenges our veterans face ( Students again maintained their blogs for their reading journals and research reflections; students also created a new Google Site portfolio to reflect four multigenre learning artifacts, blog posts, a narrative of their research journey, and a new element: their Netvibes information dashboard. We introduced Netvibes to our students this spring to give them a way to digitally showcase their information sources, tools for learning and research, and learning artifacts. Many students liked the extensive gallery of widgets they could use in addition to the diverse range of themes for a custom look and feel; several students also commented that they found it easier to add content and embed more types of web code to showcase their learning tools and artifacts. While we gave students a list of required elements for their Netvibes information portals/learning dashboards, they also had flexibility and creative license in choosing additional content to incorporate and paint a digital story of their research process. To see video of students describing their initial efforts with Netvibes, please visit tour-of-their-netvibes-learning-portals/ . We also introduced another new tool that has been empowering and popular with students, Evernote. Evernote is a social bookmarking tool that can clip virtually anything, including web pages, images, audio memos, and emails (important for this project since many did email interviews with experts on their topics); you can also use Evernote for clipping and bookmarking. Students overwhelmingly chose to use Evernote instead of Diigo, our first semester tool; you can read more about their response to Evernote at evernote/ . Through these collaborative units of study, students have learned: How to effectively use social media tools, such as blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking to reflect, share, and collaboratively construct knowledge. How to use cloud computing and social media tools to organize information resources, to collaborate with classmates, and to share their learning process within and outside of our school community. How to create their own subject guides or “research pathfinders.” How to represent key learnings through traditional texts and new media. How to evaluate traditional and emerging authoritative information sources
  3. 3. How to use writing as a tool for reflection and metacognition through the individual blogs. How to demonstrate digital citizenship through the ethical use of information and through the use of tools like Creative Commons licensed media. How to engage in inquiry based learning as a community of learners. As part of this process, I have modeled the reflection and creation of web-based learning artifacts that I expected of our students. If you are interested in my reflections on the collaboration process and student feedback in this process, please view my blog posts on this collaborative unit at and my overall collaborative unit resource page at that links to videos, photos, web resources, and more learning artifacts that reflect this year long effort. School Library Media Center Resources Used in Project Implementation Students accessed computer hardware, database materials, and print materials to engage in this collaborative learning experience. As a participant in the Media 21 Capstone project, I received an additional 16 station wireless laptop set and cart to facilitate student learning. We also made extensive use of our teaching lab, which houses 30 desktop computers. Dr. Bob Eddy, my school principal, agreed to purchase two databases, Gale Global Issues in Context and History Resource Center, as well as twelve novel sets (ten books each) to support student learning. In addition to the materials purchased for this project, students used existing resources, such as Gale Virtual Reference Library and SIRS Researcher, as information sources. We also accessed many of our free and integral tools through the Internet, including Google Documents, Google Sites, Gmail, Google News, Wetpaint wikis, LibGuides (for research pathfinders), Wordpress blogs, Flickr, Twitter, TeacherTube, YouTube, Netvibes, Evernote, and RSS feeds from a variety of information sources. We also used the physical space of the library for reading, group activities, literature circle meetings, and collaborative learning activities. The class essentially met every day in the library either in the lab or the commons area for the semester. We also used our large screen and overhead LCD projector with integrated sound for our culminating presentations. The resource that students used most, however, was me, the school librarian. As outlined above, I was an integral resource in designing, teaching, and facilitating the unit on a daily basis for an entire semester. As we kicked off the school year with a poll requiring students to text their responses via their cell phones, one student wondered aloud, “What kind of teacher are you?”, students quickly came to regard me as more than the librarian; I was their co-teacher with Ms. Lester. The students perceive us a team who work together to provide them learning experiences that are uniquely different from any other in their school experience here at Creekview High School because we integrate technology as a tool for inquiry and learning. Goals and Standards Met in Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning The mastery of Georgia Performance Standards and AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners were assessed through two primary means: teacher and librarian generated rubrics and student self- assessments. Students demonstrated the accurate and effective use of information in the research papers, research/learning portfolios, individual blog posts, and class presentations. They showed growth in their ability to create original research questions and to formulate their opinions on issues based on the research they engaged in. Students demonstrated excellence in information seeking and knowledge generation by exceeding our and their own expectations with the written portion of the
  4. 4. research project using more than the minimum number of information sources required and writing double the number of minimum pages required. Students demonstrated exemplary skill in group participation through the literature circle group wikis, peer editing/writing groups, and in helping each other with their digital research portfolios; additionally, many students worked together to provide feedback and suggestions as they worked on their individual presentations. At the beginning of the semester, our students were used to answering basic comprehension questions and working in isolation. Through this project, that mode of learning was disrupted as they became part of a community of learners in which sharing, dialogue, and questioning were valued. Students learned how to seek out information and to share their findings in creative and transparent ways that helped inform our understandings as a group. Our students have met or exceeded the expectations for the following AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners: 1.1.2: Use prior and background knowledge as a context for new learning 1.1.4: Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions 1.1.6: Read, view, and listen for information in any format in order to make inferences and gather meaning 1.1.8: Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry. 1.1.9: Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding 2.1.1: Continue an inquiry based research process by applying critical thinking skills to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge. 2.1.2: Organize information so that it is useful 2.1.4: Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information 2.1.5: Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems 2.1.6: Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings 3.1.1: Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning 3.1.2: Participate and collaborate as a member of a social and intellectual network of learners 3.1.5: Connect learning to community issues 3.1.6: Use information and technology ethically and responsibly 4..1.2: Read widely and fluently to make connections with self, the world, and previous reading 4.1.3: Respond to literature and creative expressions of ideas in various formats and genres. 4.1.6: Organize personal knowledge in a way that can be called upon easily. 4.1.7: Use social networks and network tools to gather and share information. 4.1.8: Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning. Perhaps the students can best articulate how they mastered the learning goals and standards in their own words: from Nicole My research has made a very big difference to me. I can actually say that I have changed for the better. I have never had such a life changing research topic and this definitely has changed my life. I couldn’t
  5. 5. believe how much this research project affected me. It definitely forced me to look at myself and made me ask myself what I could do better in my life to help impact other people. I feel that this research that I have done will make a huge difference to others because they too will see what they can do to help others. I hope that by reading my essay, others will decide to devote their time and life to helping those that are in need. from Nolan I have learned from the blogs, because I have to type the information and think about it rather then mindlessly transferring information from paper to paper as I have done in every other class. I enjoy the blogs because they are quick and easy to review, edit, or read. The wikis are helpful and easy to post to, and it is helpful to see everybody’s input on a subject matter. Google Docs and Sites are a major advancement because I don’t have to keep up with a flash-drive, or worry about converting a Word document for e-mailing. All of these new learning tools are relieving a lot of stress in school, and making it significantly easier to learn. I am looking forward to putting them to further more in depth use as we move on this year. from Cori You would never think that posting a blog, or updating your profile would help you get organized, but it has. When I am looking for something that I complete several weeks ago I look back to my blog post and back to my Google Sites, and there it is. The Google Docs really has helped me also. I use that instead of Microsoft Word, and it helps me keep everything right there on my e mail. It also saves by itself so you never have to worry about all your work being gone. from Lindy I have improved so much on the information I can collect in the time allotted, writing blog responses, staying on task, and keeping caught up with all the work that needs to be done. The thing I am most proud of is how much my writing has improved just by writing one persuasive essay and many blogs posts and responses. Not only can I tell that my writing has had great progress in my English course, but also in my other classes too. My performance in writing, comprehending, and socializing has been greatly influenced by learning the many tools these past 2 months. from Loren I have learned about the usefulness of wikis and how they can be used to share information as a group. It helped me understand how Wikipedia and other wikis actually work and function as learning tools. The introduction of learning through blogging on the site WordPress was also a new experience to me. I was interested to find that some blogs actually contain credible information and not just opinion based articles. Anonymous feedback on presentation zen I like it SO much more. You feel so much more comfortable and relaxed when you can just look at your audience instead of reading bullets off a power point. Thank you to Mrs. Lester and Mrs. Hamilton. I know that my grade does not match with how much I have learned. Even though my grade isn’t what I would hoped it to be, the learning I have received will be with me forever, and for that I am strongly appreciative. Anonymous feedback on presentation zen
  6. 6. Using the “presentation zen” style, I actually had to understand my findings. Because I couldn’t use bullets in my power point, I was forced to really connect to my research to talk about it during my presentation. Anonymous feedback on presentation zen I like the whole “simple picture, simple text” concept. I think this method actually gets the presented message across to the audience more powerfully and emotionally than busy, chaotic slides. This method also forces the presenter to present to the AUDIENCE and talk from what he/she knows rather than look at the slides and read right off of the slide with no communication to the audience. from Alex I think that my Netvibes has been essential in my research process because I can travel to any of my work or interests right off of that page. I enjoy being able to show my viewers visual aids and written tools. My Netvibes describes me as a learner because I have to be very organized in order to succeed. I was able to categorize items in columns, which made my Netvibes reflect my personality. My Netvibes also gives an overview on my topic by using many different feeds and links. I think that viewers will be able to understand why my topic is very important to me due to my dedication to the material that is displayed. This is the link to my Netvibes page on veterans’ issues: from Jonathan Netvibes has really helped me as I continue working on my research project. It gives me a great place to combine information and research together in one, easy-to-use place. I enjoy using it and I can’t wait to implement it in my every day routine. Netvibes is easily an essential tool for me. I’m on it each class period and every night I get home. If I’m not using it for a basis for research, then it’s a portal for links and RSS feeds. My Netvibes page has everything I would need for a project or issue that needed to be covered. I really enjoy how easy it is to get started and jump right into editing my Netvibes. I like the fact that I can add any widgets I need in the blink of an eye and put it where ever I’d like it. Netvibes allow for quick and easy access to my information, research sources, and search engines that I have place upon my Netvibes pages. The addition of RSS feeds on my Netvibes has helped me greatly. I also added a link to Gale searching and Libguides from my school. The ability to click and drag any widget I may need is really great and it helps me work so much quicker than before. I feel that my Netvibes can speak for itself. It’s obvious I have evolved my work ethic from the beginning of the year to now. My research has become more complicated and complete. Conclusion and Future Directions Media 21 has provided students a unique opportunity to be part of a collaborative partnership in which collective intelligence, crowdsourcing research and learning, and inquiry have taken center stage in a participatory environment. Ms. Lester and I have been able to function as sponsors of transliteracy as we have scaffolded students’ efforts to build their ability to read, write, and create content across multiple forms of media. We strongly believe that the learning experiences of the last year will go with these students and be the seeds of their ability to see transact with the world of information in more powerful ways for both academic as well as personal information seeking needs. We will spend this summer triangulating the data of this project and end of the year student feedback as we try to learn and grow as educators from our experiences with the students and prepare to
  7. 7. implement this learning model with at least two sections of seniors via an Advanced Composition and Literature course. I will continue to document and reflect these experiences at and my blog, . Susan and I are looking forward to helping more students create personal learning environments and engaging in conversations about learning in 2010-11!