This is my reflection on Constructivist learning and the Australian curriculum.
Teacher librarians (TLs) have the responsibly to not only organise and manage the school library but also to produce and support appropriate learning environments. In Australia, TLs have both recognised teacher qualification and librarianship. I think the skills that TLs bring is an advantageous when creating efficient teaching and learning environments. Herring stressed (2007), teaching and learning in schools has been moving away from behaviorist theories to cognitive and constructivist theories. Constructivist learning is based on the work of Vygotsky (1978), learners need supports (scaffolding) to connect between their previous and new knowledge and assist them to complete their tasks. One of these scaffolds could be Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Research (Newhouse, 2002) shows positive impacts of ICT use on learning through learning environments.
ICT has been appreciated as a learning tool in schools in decades; however, I believe not many teachers have used ICT as scaffolding in classes. For example, many Japanese teachers use Interactive White Boards (IWB) and may say ‘I am effectively using ICT in my lessons.’ Can we call this scaffolding? No, because an IWB is just a replacement for a White Board and students are still required to copy the IWB down in their workbook. Even if teachers use an IWB, the learning environment is out of date. This situation is seen in schools as teachers are not provided with enough Professional Developments (PD) opportunities. The absence of adequate PD leads to a lack of knowledge concerning the effective implementation of ICT in class rooms. Therefore TLs with the principal’s supports need to set practical PD for teachers. It goes without saying that TLs have to develop a high level of ICT knowledge and skills.
Providing PD to teachers is not sufficient to engage with constructivist learning environment. According to Herrings (2011), collaboration between teachers and TLs is a key point that to leads to successful teaching. Consequently, this collaboration will provide fruitful lessons to students. However, it is questionable whether or not this collaboration is always possible. Since principals’ understanding and supports is essential to establish cooperation and collaboration between teachers and TLs. Haycock (2007) indicates the principal plays an important part in the creation of this collaboration. This means if TLs do not obtain their principals support, this collaboration will not occur in learning environment. Producing appropriate learning environments is one of roles of a TL; the statement of the standards for professional excellence for teacher librarians (ASLA, 2004) by Australian School Library Association (ASLA) states this significance.
In view of the current learning environments at school, as a TL I have to consider:
★ How to effectively introduce useful information to teachers and students.
★ How to assist students to seek and evaluate significantly information.
★ How to connect students’ knowledge and skills to their prospective learning.
★ How to collaborate with teachers.
★ How to negotiate with principals and obtain their strong support.
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2004b), Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, Australian School Library Association/Australian Library and Information Association,Zillmere, Qld.
Haycock,K.(2007). Collaboration:Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Herring, J. (2011). Improving students’web use and information literacy. A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. Facet Publishing, London,UK.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga
Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Newhouse, P. (2002) Literature Review the impact of ICT onlearning and teaching. Specialist Educational services, Perth, Western Australia.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes.Cambridge: Harvard University Press.