This blog post is in response to a prompt provided on my professor’s blog.
While theories abound about the differences of digital natives, the readings provided at the beginning of this term (Prensky, 2001; McKenzie, 2007; and Reeves, 2008) together make a strong argument that the differences cited by others are overblown. There may be some differences seen between generations as there has always been, but learning processes remain fairly constant.
In an earlier blog post I already decried jumping on the bandwagon of ebooks for academic use and the challenges that currently exist. I will therefore turn my attention to information literacy and research skills instruction and the digital native.
As a librarian, I am in the midst of this turmoil and controversy. Much is said about how online resources revolutionize learning. Questions about the continuing need or purposes of libraries and librarians are raised daily. Claims are made and overblown about digital natives’ use of technology and the resulting reduced need for library resources or instruction. In some cases, school libraries are downsized or even closed because of this false perception.
Paradoxically, I see even greater need for research and library instruction because of the technological revolution. Teachers and administrators often assume that because digital natives know how to use a computer, they must therefore also already know how to define research questions, create effective research strategies and evaluate and correctly document sources. They question the need for librarian-led information literacy sessions, reasoning that the students already knows these critical skills. Because of these attitudes, students come to college with very limited research skills; their research skills are often limited to typing a few words into Google and using the first page of websites. Digital native students do not differ in their learning needs; they still need this vital instruction from librarians.
The content of the instruction may change with technological advances, however. In the past information was scarce and so instruction focused on learning rote procedures to find the information. Students were taught how to go to a few central indices, search laboriously through them by standard subject terms, and then locate the articles through the library’s print collection or time-consuming interlibrary loan. Students today face an onslaught of information. Research instruction must now address countless information resources, research strategies in an online environment without standard subject terminology, evaluation skills, and citation management. In addition to continuing to learn about traditional publishing avenues for peer-reviewed academic resources, students must also become familiar with and be able to critically evaluate information posted without the benefit of formal academic peer review processes. Information literacy instruction is where this is provided.
When faced with questions from peers and colleagues about the abilities of digital natives and their differences in learning, I wish I could invite them to my information literacy sessions that I lead with First Year Seminars. These sessions clearly illustrate what the readings theorize; digital natives may be familiar with technology, but they still need instruction on learning basics, as have every generation before them.
One significant learning experience during this course was the comparison of two online courses. This assignment was very timely because my institution is transitioning to a new course management system this year and summer online courses for our undergraduate students had just started the same week. It was illuminating for me to see the design of a course in the new course management system.
Creating a rubric helped me to prioritize what I think to be most important in online course design. In addition to some generally accepted criteria such as appearance, navigation, and discussions, I focused on access to faculty, online resources, and access to library resources.
I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of navigation in a brand new system. Both courses were intuitive which leads me to believe that this new wave of course management systems are improving the design overall. I anticipate that social media will also continue to be integrated more fully into these systems as they develop into the future. Another thing that I learned in this course is the importance of well-designed discussion posts. I think that discussion posts are often afterthoughts that a professor adds quickly to ensure participation. That leads to ineffective discussions and student frustration. Rather, well-designed discussion forums can enhance participation and interaction and lead to unique learning opportunities.
I was surprised that office hours were not clearly posted and that technology was not fully integrated in creating virtual office hours. As I work to connect with busy graduate students in our new MSN program, I will attempt to create virtual office hours and easy ways to virtually connect to this student population.
I was very interested to learn how library resources were integrated into the two courses I evaluated. I discovered that our resources were not well integrated into the course. For one course, the librarian information was provided, but no links to the library or to specific resources existed.
Based on this assignment, I will work with faculty as they transition to this new course management system. I will encourage them to include links to specific library resources that would be useful to students at particular times in the course. For example, I have already created library pages for specific courses which highlight relevant online resources, books and articles. Linking to this page from the online course page would benefit student learning and increase interactions between the students and the librarian.
I feel that I am a bit more familiar with hybrid/blended courses than fully online courses because we have more blended courses where I work. The only online courses available at the college where I work are graduate, and summer undergraduate. The majority of our courses are traditional undergraduate in classroom settings. Many of these courses however do include an online component to supplement the classroom. As Ko (2010) points out, these run from minimal use of online resources such as posting the syllabus in the course management system, to full utilization just shy of a full online course.
I appreciated Ko’s addressing the elephant in the room for blended courses. Many faculty believe that adding online components doubles the workload without additional compensation or course load consideration. Ko states “we don’t believe that using the Web effectively requires you to labor twice as long for the same pay” (2010, p. 358). Rather, Ko describes a method of flipping the classroom, where content is posted online, and classroom if freed for discussions and active learning. I think that this approach has exciting potential, but the drawbacks are the extra time to develop and design this newer form of androgogy. Faculty need time to do so and colleges are often reluctant to provide that needed reduction in courseload for development.
Other uses for online coursework include discussion boards and quizzes. These vary in effectiveness depending on the design and whether they are required or considered useful enough for students to spend time in them. One use for hybrid technology is establishing virtual office hours. I will be exploring this over the next academic year as I strive to connect to students for library research services in better ways.
It is important not to overload the student when designing a hybrid course. Just as a hybrid course should not double the workload for the faculty member, it should not double the workload for the student either. Make sure to balance the work between physical and virtual spaces. Professors must also realize that hybrid courses increase the potential for confusion. Instructions and timelines must be made very clear so that different or inconsistent information is provided in both places. Students need to know if work should be submitted in the course management system, or in class.
Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: a practical guide (3rd ed.). Routledge.
The following is a guest blog post from Rob Lesher.
I want to thank Beth for inviting me to write a guest blog post on her TechieLibrarian blog. I would like to write about the role of the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) and the PA Forward initiative in helping libraries of all types address literacy needs. In particular, I would like to write about the intersection of technology and PA Forward.
PA Forward is an initiative spearheaded by the PaLA to help libraries in the state address common literacy needs of their patrons. PA Forward addresses five literacies: basic literacy such as reading skills, information literacy, civil and social literacy, health literacy and financial literacy.
Libraries must address digital media literacy in all of these literacy areas. For example, patrons need basic literacy skills, but they may also need technology skills to be able to select, download and read ebooks on ereaders. Health literacy includes the skill set of finding and evaluating quality health information online .
PA libraries of all types, including public, academic, and special libraries, must address PA Forward literacies that are relevant and needed by their patron groups. Technology needs and training must be included when addressing all of these five critical literacies.
Rob Lesher is the Executive Director of the Adams County Library System. He served as President of the PA Library Association in 2011.
I came across this recent article about the negative aspects of using discovery tools in library websites. This inspired me to revisit our library’s current decision to resist adopting a discovery service framework for our library website. I continue to support our library’s decision to decline to purchase and use a discovery service tool.
Essentially, discovery services ‘googleize’ library resources. Rather than requiring students to search the library catalog for books/videos, and journal databases such as Academic Search Complete for general journal articles or Medline/PubMed for medical journal articles, the discovery service merges all resources together regardless of format into one searchable database listing results by relevancy, in an attempt to mimic Google.
There are certainly good reasons for a library to choose to adopt a discovery service. It does simplify searching, especially for students just learning how to do research, because they just have to type their keywords into one search box and receive results from all types of library resources such as books or journal articles.
However, there are still many significant reasons why a library should resist adopting this framework for their site. The article lists many of these reasons such as encouraging poor search strategies and increasing information overload. I would like to explore a few other reasons to support my position of choosing not to adopt a discovery service for our college library.
I think that discovery services further blur the important lines among formats. Because of Google, students already do not recognize the differences among formats. They select a link and use it, not stopping to determine if they are using a book, article, blog, or general webpage. This impairs their research strategies when moving to more advanced topics. Students needs to understand the publishing process, and the different academic characteristics of books, articles or webpages. They need to determine whether they are looking for an older overview (book), peer reviewed up-to-date research on a narrow topic (journal article), or just need a quick web reference. If students don’t realize the format differences of what and where they are searching, and if they do not understand the academic publishing process, their research and selection of quality research sources for advanced research topics will suffer.
As a medical and science librarian I am wary of discovery service tools. It is critical for students and health care professionals to know how to search medical literature databases such as Medline/PubMed, using advanced research skills. It is also just as critical for them to discover, evaluate and use the most recent evidence-based research on a specific medical topic. By necessity, discovery search topics lead to general sources in ‘relevance’ order rather than specific subject searches in date order. This could lead to healthcare being provided using outdated and perhaps dangerous information. Healthcare students must learn how to search specific medical literature databases with advanced research techniques to improve health care practice. Discovery tools simply do not meet this requirement.
A work colleague posted a link on twitter to a very interesting story. I thought it would make a great discussion entry for this week’s assignment.
This blog article describes a new book that has been published by twenty-four mathematicians on homotopy type theory (I don’t even know what that means!). Essentially, this book was created, edited, revised, and published by the collaborative efforts of these professionals. The entire process took six months. The blog author indicates that this book breaks the mould of traditional academic publishing which often takes years of painstaking peer review correspondence with a single author. The blog author states that others are invited to review and even edit the book in a continual publication model. “Anyone can take the book and modify it, send us improvements and corrections, translate it, or even sell it without giving us any money.”
This has implications for academic research and scholarly communication that need to be reviewed and discussed, particularly in this age of open-access and continual publication. Please review the below issues and questions, and feel free to respond to any or all of these questions.
What are the exciting possibilities of this new publishing model? What are some of the concerns?
“Anyone can take the book and modify it, send us improvements and corrections, translate it, or even sell it without giving us any money.” How does this process ensure quality information for use in future research about this theory. What versions will be used? What versions will be cited and how will future researchers find the ‘correct’ version to use and cite in their own research?
This book was created in an open source fashion by twenty-four mathematicians. How will academic authors be able to document their individual work to receive appropriate credit for tenure consideration; it is still a ‘publish or perish’ world!
This has a similar open structure to Wikipedia. Typically Wikipedia may be used as a starting point, but never as a citation or ‘ending’ point in quality academic research. Will this book end up as a starting point or ending point in quality academic research given the open editing allowed.
Libraries provide access to print and online resources in an organized manner and over time. Researchers depend on libraries for stable access to quality resources far into the future. What is the role of libraries in providing access to books that continually change through open access editing? How will access to this book be ensured for 10, 20 or 50-plus years in the future, so that academic researchers then can also view this book.
In addition to EdTech597, I am also taking EdTech522, Online Learning for Adults, this summer term. I enjoyed the readings this week, even though it was a copious amount! The chapters from our Dawley (2007) text provided information about tools that teachers (and I would also say librarians) should have in their repertoire for online learning. I believe that many of these tools can also be helpful to supplement traditional classroom learning as well.
Tools that Librarians Should be Familiar With for Information Literacy Instruction
- Email – basic communication with students, colleagues, and experts consulted to construct research strategies
- Discussion forums – threaded discussions that allow students to reflect, write, reply and interact in discussions about classroom topics asynchronously. Can be useful for students to reflect and provide input to each other about research strategies and resources.
- Small group learning through software in learning management systems – groups can work on research projects, share strategies, resources and evaluation results of internet sources
- Chat and instant messaging – synchronous communication individually or in a group setting. This allows personal and instant reference and research consultations between the librarian and student. This is often embedded into library resource pages for students to immediately chat with the reference librarian on duty at the point of need.
- Audio/videoconferencing and whiteboard – synchronous presentation and discussion in classroom, small group or individual setting. Librarians can present information literacy instruction, demonstrations, consultation and virtual reference desk and office hours. Communication can be in the form of audio/video or chat.
- Assessment and survey tools – quizzes, rubrics, or other assessment tools can help the librarian assess information literacy skills and levels.
- Blogs and wikis – these tools provide space for unilateral or multilateral interaction and student publication. Students reflect, write and post reflections, links, resources and course materials on blogs or wikis. Students can also then respond and in some cases edit to inform and improve the posted material.
Online Learning Tool Reflection
I enjoyed the readings and assignment this week as we begin to explore tools that will be used for constructing an online learning experience. One thought that struck me as I read through Ko and Rossen (2010) was the wide variety of tools that can be mixed and matched within single modules to achieve learning objectives. It really opens the door for a diverse learning experience that exceeds what is possible in a physical classroom with space and time constraints.
As I work through the readings and assignments I realize that materials should not be translated directly from the physical classroom to the virtual. Rather, they need to be restructured to make best use of the additional features available online. The instructor must consider learning objectives, goals, and how they can be met through a mixture of features available through the learning management system. In some sense, this parallels a master chef mixing ingredients to make a complex four-course dinner.
Chapter 7 of Ko and Rossen (2010) concludes with an extensive section on information literacy and using web resources. I appreciated the description of many online resources, and the fact that they identify information literacy as “one often-overlooked aspect of planning course activities” (p. 214). However, I am disappointed that the authors did not recommend using institutional library collections including comprehensive databases of peer-reviewed academic journals. One can assume that the typical reader of this book works in an institution that provides some type of online library resources. In fact, my library provides online access to over 50,000 journals in 100 online databases and more than 100,000 ebooks that can be downloaded to computers or ereaders. This curated collection provides essential academic material to students that is often unavailable through general web sources. Additionally, the authors should have discussed the important role of librarians in providing instruction on information literacy skills. Teachers can ask librarians to present on these research skills through online courses in the form of presentations, videoconferencing, or tutorials.
I chose to explore the videoconferencing tool (Dawley, 2007) because I hope to use this tool in the coming year with our new online MSN program, for which I am the liaison librarian. I will use videoconferencing for research skills instruction with classes, demonstrations, individual research and reference consultations, and virtual office hours.
Dawley, L. (2007). The tools for successful online teaching. Hershey: Information Science Pub.
Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide (3rd ed.). Routledge.