This reflective portfolio presented here will cover in its review aspects of learning throughout the Masters of Teacher Librarianship course. The impact of this learning it has had by critically reflecting on the developmental knowledge and professional practice in addition it will highlight areas which will support future learning needs. Furthermore the critical analysis will be discussed within the framework of five distinct overarching themes educational leadership, information environment-information literacy, information environment-resourcing the curriculum-selection criteria, information environment-resourcing the curriculum-educational pathfinders and professional experience-professional portfolio.
The course ETL504 Teacher Librarian (TL) as leader (Charles Sturt University CSU, 2013) is the TL subject where educational leadership theories are introduced and how they influence teaching practices, learning of students and overall improvement to a school’s efficacy. This is also supported by Townsend (2011, p.97) Townsend (2011, p.97) who stipulates that school leadership’s as its prime directive is to increase levels of student achievement. Currently I am working as a casual mathematics’ teacher in a secondary girls’ high school and not as a TL. However the leadership theories overviewed throughout the learning modules of the course have had a profound impact on my proactive engagement when it comes to increasing my developmental knowledge and professional teaching practice. This is in accordance to Demspter, Lovett & SLuckiger (2011) who effectively state in their literature review that the influence of good school leadership across all levels has significant impact in the overall improvement of the schools efficiency, effectiveness and efficacy.
The following mind map (figure 1) (Alexandratos, 2013A) was produced for assignment one for ETL504 course and all elements of each theory are directly referenced from selected academic literature found at the end of the paper. Although the leadership theories and their respective elements in the mind map are stipulated for different leadership roles my reflection of learning achieved in the masters degree enabled me to reflect on how these theories should be logically interconnected. Firstly, I would design it now as a daisy wheel layout with educational leadership in the centre and all other leadership models hanging directly off this and secondly using bi-directional arrows. I consider this a better representation because teacher/TL can use whatever theory is required for the purpose or the occasion. Also the double headed arrow affords flexibility as it allowing teachers/TLs to create a personalised model by taking respective elements from each theory and combine it into their own modified dimension to suit their level of responsibility.
Instructional leadership is the theory mostly applicable to my teaching and learning in the classroom. In the mind map one of the elements of instructional leadership is quality teaching and learning (Alexandratos, 2013A). Quality teaching and learning is relevant in my professional practice as a mathematics teacher in overall meeting the proficient teacher accreditation in accordance to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (NSW Institute of Teachers, n.d.). Hopkins (as cited in Brooker, 2006, p.26) indicates the importance of teaching and learning being to educational leadership theories as quoted in his statement “that the prime function of leadership for authentic schools is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning.” Examining other elements of instructional leadership it would not be difficult to align or encompass them due to their influence to teaching and learning into the Professional Standards for Teachers (NSW Institute of Teachers, n.d, p.18). Furthermore it can be implied by logical juxtaposition that each of the elements of leadership theories as shown in the mind map can be aligned or encompassed due to its influence to one or more of the dimensions of the Australian standards for teacher professional practice. Learning about leadership theories has impacted my professional teaching practice by making me aware of the implications of good leadership has to teachers professional practice in improving students achievements.
Information Environment/Information Literacy
In the Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship) courses at Charles Sturt University either teacher’s content on information literacy knowledge and/or using these skills to make meaning. This is true for everything we do whilst learning and working in the 21st century. This is why our education system has to embed these skills into the primary and secondary curriculum to ensure students’ ability to be able to become information literate. The mastery of these skills emphatically determines their overall effectiveness and success in future employment with direct implications affecting the competitiveness of the whole county on the international scene (UNESCO, 2008; Henry & Asselin, 2005).
My initial understanding of the concept of literacy related to the traditional skills of reading and writing in print form and oral skills. This conceptualisation of the traditional view of literacy as explained in the UNESCO’s report understandings of literacy as a set of tangible skills in particularly the cognitive skills of reading and writing that are independent of the background of the person who acquires these skills (UNESCO, 2008). On different course forums I realized that there was a general underlying confusion about the different types of literacy’s e.g. digital literacy and how the term information literacy was loosely used as a capstone that covers all other literacy’s or describing the information seeking process e.g. big six. I needed to hone in on the exact understanding of this term. Herring (2011, p.62) indicates that information literacy is one of the key abilities that people should have living in a 21st century society. He refers to the term here as an overarching one that covers all literacies. Further Herring (2011, p.133) again shows this overarching term by indicating that it incorporates digital literacy and visual literacy. Contrary to this Wall & Ryan (2010, p. 31) indicates information literacy as a separate component along with other literacy components called ICT literacy and critical literacy and covered under the umbrella term of digital literacy.
The term information literacy will be discussed further to understand whether it can be used as an overarching term or a separate component along with other multiliteracy components or has the meaning of the term become ambiguous. This will be further unravelled by understanding what do information literacy skills entail. Coombes (2012A) (figure 2) shows what information literacy skills encompass by expressing this using a concept map. It consists of five dimensions: thinking skills, literacy skills, information management skills, working with information skills and knowing when to seek expert assistance. Trying to make sense of it by analysing all the elements of the dimensions of information literacy skills in the Coombes ‘s (2012A) concept map I juxtaposed it with another expression that she used called 21st century literacies (figure 3) (Coombes, 2012A, August 13). My initial investigations indicated that a lot of commonality of terms and cross understanding existed between the information literacy skills concept map (figure 2) and the 21st century literacies list (figure 3). Analysing all the elements of both a direct association can be reached by both Coombes’s representations by generally describing both commonalities of concepts in the following way: information seeking process; proficiency with different literacy formats e.g. computer literacy, visual literacy; higher order thinking; information management; information inquiry/problem solving; intellectual property; transliteracy or transformational literacy and so on. Hence the terms Information literacy skills or 21st century literacies cover everything associated with dealing with information processes in all formats including traditional literacy aspects and even transferring these skills across the curriculum. Hence the term of information literacy skills or 21st century literacies as described by Coombes can be considered a capstone for all the processes involved under the area of information literacy ‘practice’ (Coombes, 2012A; Coombes, 2012A, August 13).
When reading Herring’s (2011, p. 63) explanation of the definition of information literacy it refers to terms ‘ability’ and ‘practice’. My explanation of ‘ability’ relates to students level of proficiency in being information literate. Further ‘practice’ as concluded in the previous paragraph can be linked to information literacy skills (figure 2) or an equivalent term coined by Coombes (2012A, August 13) as 21st century literacies (figure 3). Wall & Ryan (2010, p. 31) indicates information literacy as one component of digital literacy but in reality when we analyse its elements as described by him in his theory the term specifically deals with information process skills. Here we can see the term information literacy to be used ambiguously. The heading information literacy as stated confuses your understanding especially for professionals who haven’t got a good grasp of the concepts. Probably he should have used another more applicable heading such as information process skills (Herring, 2011, pp. 69). It can be further derived that the information skills process requires the necessity of students to be proficient in the traditional literacy of reading writing and speaking.
This solidifies the idea that Digital literacy has to include traditional literacy as a logical outcome. Another question arises how does digital literacy hierarchical fit into the framework of information literacy skills and how does digital literacy relate to ACARA’s (2013, p.3) general capabilities. Investigating this association further by examining the underlying elements I concluded that ACARA’s (2013, p.3)) three components of general capabilities: information and communication technology (ICT), literacy and critical creative thinking are closely equivalently associated to Wall & Ryan (2010, p.31) definition of digital literacy of ICT literacy, information literacy and critical literacy. Hence information literacy skills or 21st century literacy as coined by Coombes (2012A, August 13) would encompass digital literacy and all other multiliteracies that are not included in the scope of digital literacy. This association is also supported by Coombes’s (2012A, August 13) from her 21st century literacy list (figure 3) point 10 being digital literacy. Her comment for Point 10 indicates that Digital literacy integrates all the other literacies from point 1 to 9 and makes a connection to ACARA (2013) general capabilities meaning of digital literacy. Finally it can be stated that information literacy with its two conceptual areas of ability and practise encompasses all components of the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2013, p.3).
Hence summing up information literacy consists of two areas that of ‘ability’ and the other of ‘practice’ or the term that literacy discourses use when associating with all skills of practice is information literacy skills. However we have to be aware that the term information literacy in some academic literature is used loosely and can mean an individual literacy skill set. Information literacy skills can be separated into one over compassing area called digital literacy that includes all the necessary literacies that are applicable and other separate standalone components that are not covered under digital literacy or haven’t been invented yet. Developing a clear understanding of the term information literacy has impacted on my professional practice in being able to understand different information literacies, how they are applicable to teaching and how they are aligned to the Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2013) capabilities skill set.
Information Environment-Resourcing the Curriculum-Selection Criteria
Completing subject ETL501 information environment (CSU, 2012B) I learned how selection criteria for the library collection development policy were essentially the same for websites. Coombes (2012B, August 13) ETL501 topic 3 comments on website evaluation supports this as well but stresses this importance further by elaborating on the principles of selection criteria. She exposits that whatever applies to print materials such as reading age/s, cognitive development age/s, catering for different learning styles, curriculum relevance and currency and so on are applicable to all websites that are required to support curriculum programs. An example of an evaluation skills website selection criteria form that was developed for this subject in assignment 1 is as follows:
ETL501 Information Environment-Website Selection Criteria
CC Jim Alexandratos ShareAlike Non-commercial
Looking back at this above website selection criteria form and analysing the comments made on Assignment one ETL501 information environment by the lecturer, with my increased knowledge from completing most subjects in the course, it has enlightened my critical awareness of what is required in good educational website design. This awareness is exposed when looking at the inadequacies of my website selection criteria form (figure 4) (Alexandratos, 2012A) in particular the following two sections ‘1. WEBSITE Technical – Organisation’ and ‘6. Educational – Padagogical – Multimedia’. This will be highlighted by juxtaposing Coombes’s (2012B;2012C) comment 19 (figure 5)and 20 (figure 6)with my website criteria form.
The following is an image of Coombes’s (2012B) comment 19 about item ‘1 WEBSITE Technical – Organisation’.
Firstly when Juxtaposing Coombes’s (2012B) comment 19 (figure 5) and section 1 ‘WEBSITE Technical Organisation’ of my website criteria the heading should be changed to that on comment 19 which is ‘Website Design/Technical Criteria’. The reasoning for this is because the heading’s meaning better represents the design elements of colour white space, readability, layout is uncluttered and easily identifiable. The technical criteria would deal with bandwidth, copyright and conforms to education policies. My heading of section 1 ‘‘WEBSITE Technical Organisation’ doesn’t really distinguish between the two. I have used sentences for the criteria where I should have just used text cues and another column explaining the cues. My section 1 ‘WEBSITE Technical Organisation’ did not contain enough criteria to make this section for someone to make a better objective analysis it promoted subjected reasoning. If I had to develop a new website criteria selection tool I would definitely include all these elements of Coombes (2012B) comment 19 into the design as they thoroughly deal with this section more accurately. Hadjerrouit (2010, p.54) web based learning resources criteria of technical usability supports Coombes’s (2012B) criteria in comment 19 (figure 5).
The following is an image of Coombes’s (2012C) comment 22 about item ‘Resource Evaluation Criteria (Educational and Reliability)’
Secondly when Juxtaposing Coombes’s (2012C) comment 22 (figure 6) and section 2 ‘Educational – Pedagogical – Multimedia’ of my website criteria heading (figure 4) it should be changed to that on comment 22 which is ‘Resource Evaluation Criteria (Educational and Reliability’. The reasoning for this is because the Coombes’s (2012C) comment 22 heading is more meaningful and applicable to when you’re assessing website educational learning material. I thought I examined purpose, authority and accuracy under the respective headings and sections ‘2. Author’, ‘3. Currency’ and ‘4. Information quality’ from my selection criteria form but it lacked pedagogical context in relating it to the curriculum. Hadjerrouit (2010, pp .54-56) supports the criteria of Coombes’s (2012C) comment 22 (figure 6) as it is the web based learning resources that deal with pedagogical usability and value. When creating a coherent website selection criteria tool for section ‘6. Educational’ of my selection criteria it must include all the elements in Coombes (2012C) comment 22 (figure 6). Learning the processes of critically selecting website resources to suit students learning has impacted on my critical evaluation skills with all materials print and digital I use for my lessons or those that are given to me for teachers lessons that I am replacing.
Information Environment-Resourcing the Curriculum-Educational Pathfinders
The understanding obtained from analysing website selection criteria as discussed in the previous section has significantly influenced my critical analytical skills necessary in selecting applicable resources for students learning. Further it helped reinforce the correct layout criteria important in how good educational websites are built. The website ‘Pathfinder Projectile Motion’ (Alexandratos, 2012B) (figure 7) was created for assignment two of ETL501 information environment (2012B). Unfortunately when building ‘Pathfinder Projectile Motion’ I did not possess the wealth of knowledge that currently has been assimilated by reflecting on the feedback throughout all my assessment tasks and learning obtained from my critical reflections (Alexandratos, 2013C; Alexandratos,2013B; Alexandratos, 2012C ).
An area of improvement I could have presented better with my website ‘Pathfinder Projectile Motion’ introduction page URL location http://calculusinuse1.weebly.com/introduction.html would be the purpose, description and general capabilities of the Australian curriculum. In my original introduction page (Alexandratos, 2012B) there is a description of the topic, a list of the general capabilities and outcomes in point form. The improvement would be to have on top of the page a general capabilities statement, a descriptive statement which articulates the outcomes that might be assessed which will show the what and how expressed as a series of action statements. This will inform the students what to demonstrate and how to achieve competency. The following is the actual description of Coombes (2012D ) response (figure 8) to this section in the marking sheet of the assignment.
This improvement will better inform the students’ giving them an understanding of what general capabilities are required from the Australian curriculum by using a descriptive statement although a list of the elements of each capability is considered good enhancement. I do have a list of outcomes at the end on the original introduction page but it doesn’t indicate to the students the standard of their responses where a series of action statements or assessment criteria will show what level of articulation is expected from the students. In effect you are providing a rubric showing the efficiency criteria and expectations required for the task (Herring, 2004, p. 134). Some other areas of improvement I could have links to the information skills processes, or research scaffolds and even blog page on the ‘online resourses’ tab or ‘general reference’ or another page tab that students will use as a forum.
Pathfinders are very useful as they help with students to exercise their information literacy skills in a structured environment (Hook, 2002). Educational websites or pathfinders can be taken further by converting them into assignments, showcasing students work, subject references, produce online activities such as Web Quests and many more. ‘Pathfinder Projectile Motion’ (Alexandratos, 2012B) (figure 7) can be more than just a collection of scaffolded specific curricula resources for year 11 extension mathematics students’ inquiry learning needs it can be used as a preliminary assessment task counting towards their HSC achievement pathway. I am currently developing for Riverside Girls High School a whole unit of work for year 8 mathematics curriculum on algebra and indices with the criterion of not using a commercial text book in the teaching of the unit. All the lesson plans will be developed from the start with the auspices of including formative assessment to differentiate mathematics instruction. Finally the ultimate plan is to eventually include all this in a pathfinder website that will include a student forum. The learning I have achieved throughout this Masters degree is essential to be able to implement this successfully.
Professional Experience/Professional Portfolio.
All my previous experiences as System and Software Engineer, a mathematics teacher and now being evolved and expanded with my introduction to the TL profession with my study visit and my professional placement is a continuum in my lifelong learning process. My professional placement report can be found at the end of the WordPress ‘ETL507 – Professional Experience and Portfolio’ (Alexandratos, 2014A). At the beginning of this post I have added a description of the placement, a Sydney City’s home library service narrative from the home library librarian and proceedings from professional development conducted by the front office library manager. I have included recording excerpts from this presentation in mp3 format to listen to some of the presentation. This experience was valuable as I got to understand the insights of one of Australia’s leading public library operations. I was amazed how service orientated the operation was and how the vision of the Sydney City relied heavily on their libraries as one of the contributor’s in promoting the City of Sydney as a global diverse city with global connections and a leader in sustainability locally and internationally. The study visit (Alexandratos, 2014B) whose report lists the diversity of library operations that I visited is a testimony how much more exposure I had in being able to see various types of institutions and how they were coping in operating in their specialty areas of collections.
In conclusion my reflection ‘Critical Reflection ETL401’ (Alexandratos, 2012D) conceptualised the term someone being considered information literate. To be information literate you must possess the ability to navigate the complex information landscape successfully. It is the reason why there is so much urgency being placed on educational institutions for students to gain mastery of information literacy skills as a paradigm of 21st century learning. This ensures our students and my current role as a mathematics teacher develop lifelong learning skills so we can be able to participate in a 21st century workplace/professional practice. Relating this to my past professional career as a Systems and Software Engineer it has been a revelation of how 21st century learning was very current to what I experienced at the time. Learning informally using the internet by searching for information that is required to assist you in your task or trying to gain skills quickly and efficiently in something new relating to my work was an everyday occurrence.
Alexandratos, D. (2013A). ETL504 Educational leadership Assignment 1 – Mind map of educational leadership. Retrieved from link
Alexandratos, D. (2012A). ETL501 Information Environment: Website criteria resource selection form. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/website-selection-criteria1.jpg
Alexandratos, D. (2012B). ETL501 Information Environment: Website pathfinder Pathfinder Projectile Motion. Retrieved form http://www.calculusinuse1.weebly.com
Alexandratos, D. (2013B). Reflection on evaluating a school library collection policy ETL503. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/test-post/
Alexandratos, D. (2013C). Critical Reflection Educational Leadership ETL504. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/critical-reflection-education-leadership-etl504/
Alexandratos, D. (2012C). Critical Reflection ETL401Teacher Librariaship. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/critical-reflection-etl401/
Alexandratos, D. (2014A). ETL507 – Professional Experience and Portfolio. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/etl507-professional-experience-and-portfolio/
Alexandratos, D. (2014B). ETL507 – Study visit report. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/ass2-etl507.docx
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS). Retrieved from Link
Australian Institute of Teachers and School Leadership. (2014). Australian Professional for Teachers. Retrieved from link
Australian Curriculum Assessment and reporting Authority ACARA. (2013). General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from link
Brooker, B. N. (2006). Stakeholders’ Meanings of Effective School Leadership: A Case Study in a New Zealand Primary School. Griffith University Research Collections. Retrieved March 15, 2013 from, link
Charles Sturt University CSU. (2013). Teacher Librarian as Leader.[ETL504 semester 1].
Charles Sturt University CSU. (2012A). Information Literacy. [ETL401 semester 1].
Charles Sturt University CSU. (2012B). Information Environment. [ETL501 semester 2]
Combes, B. (2012A, August 13). Topic 3 Website evaluation forum posting-21st Century Skills. [ETL501 Information Environment ]. Retrieved from link
Combes, B. (2012B, August 13). Topic 3 Website evaluation forum posting-full. [ETL501 Information Environment ]. Retrieved from link
Coombes, B. (2012A). Information literacy skills mind map [ETL501 Information Environment]. Retrieved from link
Coombes, B. (2012B). Comment 19 website criteria form ‘WEBSITE Technical – Organisation’ Assignment 1 ETL501 Information. Retrieved from
Coombes, B. (2012C). Comment 22 website criteria form ‘Educational – Pedogogical – Multimedia’. Retrieved from
Coombes, B. (2013D). Marking sheet response for assignment 2 ETL501. Retrieved from https://jimalexandratos.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/etl501_website_ass_comment.png
Demspter, N., Lovett, S., & FLuckiger, B. (2011). Strategies to develop school leadership. A select review.
School Library Association of South Australia. (2008). Teacher Librarian Role Statement. Retrieve from
Hook, P. A. (2002). Creating an Online Tutorial and Pathfinder. Law Library Journal, 94(2),243-265. Retrieved from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/docs/rolestatementslasa.pdf
Hadjerrouit, S. (2010). A Conceptual Framework for Using and Evaluating Web-Based Learning Resources in School Education. Journal of Information Technology Education, 953-79.
Henry, J., & Asselin, M. (2005). The Information Literate School Community 2: Issues of Leadership. Wagga Wagga: Centre of Information Studies Charles Sturt University.
Herring, J. E. (2011). Improving Students web use and information literacy. A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. Facet: London
Hook, P. A. (2002). Creating an Online Tutorial and Pathfinder. Law Library Journal, 94(2), 243-265. Retrieved from
NSW Institute of Teachers. (n.d.). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from link
Townsend, T. (2011). School leadership in the twenty-first century: different approaches to common problems? School Leadership and Management, 31(2), 93-103. Retrieved from (article originally downloaded through CSU in 2013 ref in database no link)
United Nations Educational, Sceintific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO. (2006). Chapter 6 understandings of literacy. In Education for all global monitoring report. Retrieved from link
Wall, J., & Ryan, S. (2010). Digital literacy: a resource for learning. Resourcing for curriculum innovation (pp. 31-35). Camberwell, Vic.: ACER Press