Evolution of the Online Research and Media Skills Curriculum

It started with a blog post.

I have always called my blog the rough draft or my life, or the forever draft, but this post (which I have yet to port to my wordpress site) was the genesis of the ORMS curriculums, the MNLI cornerstones, and the ORMS MOOC>

It of course took many hands to evolve. Most notably Ian O’Byrne, Pauline Parker, Allyson Knoel, and Baraba St. Onge. I just wanted to share it with the folks from #edcampct and the #print2pixel conference. They were interested in the curricular materials, the evolution, and enrolling in the ORMS MOOC Ian created, and that we will facilitate.

The Blog Post

Screenshot 8:21:13 12:21 PM

The post began as a reflection on Prensky’s “digital native” debacale and my idea on how far the term set back effective classroom learning. It actually grew out of an #edchat back in 2011. The remix of the tri-force lead to the first time the three cornerstones of the Online Research and Media Skills curriculum were used.

The Scope and Sequence

The next step in the evolution was the development of a K-8 scope and sequence in partnership with the King Low Heywood Thomas School in Stamford, CT. This effort was lead by Allyson Noel. The Scope and Sequence took the cornerstones further and identified specific benchmarks. Then skills were identified for each benchmark. The curriculum would be further developed and taught through the library media centers by the librarians.

The Curriculum

The next step was the creation of the full Online Research and Media Skills curriculum. A few noteworthy developments occurred on the way. First 48 states, in an effort to score Race to the Top Money, adopted the Common Core State Standards. These standards specifically lay out the role of “Research and Media Skills” on page four in one of the most important paragraphs in the document:

To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum. In like fashion, research and media skills and understandings are embedded throughout the Standards rather than treated in a separate section.

We added the online component because it our belief that while very similar, online spaces introduce new complexities and social practices.

Next we changed the cornerstone online content creation to online content construction. Ian, took the lead on this one as part of his disseration. He and I spent many nights debating the meaning behind each words. Names have power. We hope we got it right.

Then we began working with Barbara St. Onge of the Connecticut Technical High School System on the creation on the ORMS curriculum. The goal was to transform their libraries (18 schools spread across Connecticut) into learning commons based on a co-teaching model. For two years we worked closely with a wonderful group of librarians who recognized their roles as teachers. We then drafted a final version of the ORMS curriculum(this document is shared for personal use only and cannot be used without the written permisssion of CTHSS).

The New Literacies Institute

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Next we incorporated the three cornerstones into the orignal design of the New Literacies Institute. The institute was originally designed by Hiller Spires, Don Leu, Julie Coiro, and Jill Castek. For the last three years I have served as co-chair with Polly Parker. We have incorporated the the three ORMS cornerstones into the conference design. We are busy planning for next year and also hope to host a second institute in Connecticut. Our partners at the Lower Pioneer Valley Collaborative have also developed a hybrid model and an online model of the institute which can be brought to any school district (contact Jim Walker for more information)


Screenshot 8:21:13 12:10 PM

The latest iteration of the ORMS model is a MOOC that Ian created. It uses GAFE tools as a Learning Management System. We are hoping to pilot it with a few volunteers this September and August and launch at the American Association of School Librarian annual conference in October.

The MOOC is built on the three cornerstones and uses a badge system to recognize expertise. Once someone earns their badges they can become a mentor in the community.

If you would like to enroll in the Beta Test of the ORMS MOOC please email Ian at wiobyrne@gmail.com.

Where do we go next?

The ORMS model continue to evolve. More and more school districts adopt it as their framework for digital teaching learning. So where the ORMS model goes next is really up to you.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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1 Response

  1. August 30, 2013

    […] ideas behind the ORMS MOOC came from work I’ve been compiling with Greg McVerry over a series of years. The ideas represent time spent researching, working with students, working with teachers, talking […]


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