Joyce Valenza

Joyce Valenza, teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, has been modeling evolving tech-integrated practice for more than 30 years. Valenza created her first virtual library in 1996. A mentor and leader in edtech and information fluency, she has taught at the graduate level and publishes books and videos about information skills. She writes the NeverEndingSearch blog for School Library Journal as well as regular features for edtech and library journals. Valenza is an American Memory Fellow and a Milken Educator. She has won awards for her library program, Web sites, videos, and blogs. She recently founded the TL Virtual Café, TeacherLibrarianNing, and the AASL Geek Squad.

T&L contributing editor Matt Bolch spoke with Ms. Valenza about her take on edtech.

1. How is technology being effectively used in the classroom these days?

Technology allows us to do the things we always recognized as effective practice in stickier ways. We know that learning is social. New opportunities for collaboration, using tools like Google Docs and wikis, offer easy strategies for learners to negotiate writing and thinking and to construct new knowledge with each other. Learners have new tools with which they can create knowledge products--art, music, written and video expressions. And for the first time our learners can publish and share with audiences beyond their classrooms, beyond their teacher’s eyes.

2. What applications/technologies do you see on the horizon that will impact classroom teaching?

Mobile devices are a game changer. As they become ubiquitous, students will have valuable libraries of content--their electronic texts and their research tools--and a wide variety of applications on a range of mobile devices. It will be even more possible to learn anywhere/anytime. We will need to reconsider how we might exploit the potential of this ubiquity, and we will need to consider how we ensure all children can connect.

3. As a librarian, how do you think traditional library research will change over the next several years?

I hope that traditional reports die a sudden death if they are indeed still alive anywhere. With information so available, learners should do more important work than telling us about a president, or an element, or a country. That work has been done. Young researchers should develop questions that are personally meaningful and their resulting communication should connect with audience and make a contribution to knowledge and, ideally, make some difference.

Today, there is no excuse. Every school library must have a strong web presence, a second front door with which it can interact with learners 24/7. School library websites represent librarians as information and communication professionals and teachers with serious technological chops. For learners, the absence of a rich electronic research portal creates a gaping instructional void in terms of how information is gathered, organized, synthesized, ethically used and communicated.

Learners need both physical and intellectual access to the tools for research 24/7, as libraries morph into learning commons and libratories--places where learners become ethical and effective users and producers of ideas and information.