A Framework, a Protocol and a Tech tool walk into a library…

While not the opening to a joke, but a learning punchline nevertheless. This summer I attended the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy,co-lead by Renee Hobbs and Julie Coiro from the University of Rhode Island, and I am still processing the wealth of information I received. It was a weeklong intensive focused on digital literacy. While there were participants from different fields a good portion were librarians, and I highly recommend this program for relevant librarian professional development. There is still so much for me to unpack, but for the sake of organization and clarity I chose a few pieces to share.

A framework: 

Personal Digital Inquiry created by Julie Coiro, Elizabeth Dobler, and Karen Pelekis

Permission to Use:
Personal Digital Inquiry Framework image by Julie Coiro, Elizabeth Dobler, and Karen Pelekis in From Curiosity to Deep Learning: Personal Digital Inquiry in Grades K–5, 2019.

Since many of us are educational leaders in our schools when it comes to inquiry learning and processes, finding a new framework is a great way to model to our faculty and students effective and reflective ways of searching, seeking and investigating information.  The second day of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy the theme was how we “guide” our students in the learning process. Julie Coiro presented the keynote that morning on the Personal Digital Inquiry Framework based on the work and book she created with her colleagues Elizabeth Dobler, and Karen Pelekis. The educational model or image above is an entryway into a useful structure for making intentional instructive choices to guide and promote inquiry. So while this is only a brief sampling of the framework from the image above, the philosophy of crafting a culture of inquiry is paramount to the whole framework of Personal Digital Inquiry. It emphasizes that learning  does not take place in a vacuum, but that what each individual (teacher and students )bring to a text or learning situation is vital so there is a relational element to the framework. Delving deeper into the framework Coiro and her colleagues enumerate eight cultural forces to consider when building a culture of inquiry. In fact, the technology component or the “digital” is framed as a reflective choice and not just a straightforward “how-to” component because of the cultural awareness of the personal aspect of the framework. Finally, inquiry is the modi operandi of the framework emerging from core relationships built from awareness of “the personal.” So that while research and inquiry is a messy process it does not have to be anxiety producing because there is always a reflective loop back to the teachers and students modeling, questioning , and sharing their inquiry process together. The presentation and book offer tools like the “Planning Triangle,”  “PDI Self-Reflection Tool, ” and  a companion website to make the theoretical actionable, applicable, and transferable to the everyday classroom. To learn more about the framework with examples and resources, preview the first section of the book, From Curiosity to Deep Learning: Personal Digital Inquiry in Grades K–5 from the Stenhouse website and visit the companion website.

A Protocol: 

the Questions Formation Technique (QFT) developed by the Right Questions Institute

As far back as Socrates in Plato’s Republic modeled probing questions, every teacher education program since has emphasized the importance of crafting questions as vital to knowledge attainment. And while many of us know it is important to our instruction, it is a powerful tool when students can develop quality questions. However, I know from experience it is often relegated to the back corners of our practice when the daily grind of teaching is grinding. As librarians it is also the cornerstone of research instruction as we all have seen firsthand when students form limited questions they get limited results. Often at the beginning of research we prompt students to develop research questions, but due to time constraints of a research project we might not get to delve into the questioning forming process to help students refine and reflect on them. During one of the sessions of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy a presenter shared the Question Formation Technique from the Right Questions Institute. The Right Questions Institute developed a clear, sequential protocol that pauses judgement and slows down answering the question so that time is spent reflecting on the type of question it is and the kind of response it elicits. Some of you may be familiar with QFT from the 2011 book, 

Make Just One Change By Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana from Harvard Education Press; the institute was my first exposure to it. If you are familiar with it, it bears repeating and revisiting because I think it is a simple, yet powerful process that has many uses in research and beyond. Visit the “Teaching+Learning” tab of the Right Questions Institute to see the steps and find examples of the protocol in action. I am grateful that the institute did not just mention it, but had us experience the process through questioning one of our teaching aims in  one of the projects participants were developing. In reflecting with a partner during the session we both agreed it could even be a protocol used in faculty or team meetings.

A Tech tool:

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark icon from website

Another aspect of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy was that every session had a “create to learn” portion. So participants were applying information and tech tools in close proximity to learning a concept. I picked up many tech tools along with best practices, experiential programs,and great news/media literacy resources. To spare everyone from infobesity, I wanted to share one simple, fast, and multi-use tech tool: Adobe Spark. Adobe is known for industry standard creative software for professionals, artists, and educators with rich and complex tools. There have been tech manuals and whole courses dedicated to learning the ins and out of Adobe products. However, Adobe Spark is a nimble, easy-to-use express, design studio. While it looks social media creation heavy; in which, it does have many tools and templates- it offers design applications for graphics, websites, and video. Right now there is Adobe Spark for Education that lets teachers or schools set-up accounts for free. In our session we had 15 minutes to make a quick video with another participant digitally.Collaboration was quick and easy to do remotely or in-person. This creative platform is an easy entry into design elements for research and other learning projects.

I hope to implement and integrate this framework, this protocol, and this tech tool that walked into my library, so that I can follow up with specific, grade level activities to share in future posts. In the meantime, enjoy experimenting with them and please feel free to share a comment if you have used one of these specifically in a library setting.

2 thoughts on “A Framework, a Protocol and a Tech tool walk into a library…

  1. Thanks for suggesting combining personal digital literacy, QFT, and Adobe Spark to create grade-level lessons on a specific topic.

  2. Courtney,
    Sounds like a great PD experience. I’ve been using the QFT and Spark with one of our APUSH teachers for several years now and it’s a powerful combination. Spark has so many options for presentation and the QFT is always a mind-expanding way to start any research project. I’m anxious to look into personal digital inquiry – I haven’t explored that framework – so it looks like I have something to add to my PD pile. Thanks for sharing!

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