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Education

This weeks reading assignments focused on the process of learning and transfer in learning. One of the topics brought up in chapter 3 of How People Learn was about motivation and its effect on learning and transfer. The chapter discusses that motivation is one of the factors that can impact the transfer of learning. Learners can be grouped into two groups with different concentration: “performance oriented learners” and “learning oriented learners.” The motivation behind learning is something that I have becoming more and more interested in as I think more seriously of what kind of librarian I want to be. Through readings and personal experience I think that learners who are motivated by learning itself are more willing to make more risks in the assignments and projects that they take on. In contrast, I suspect that performance oriented learners will be more conservative in the learning risks that they take so as not to risk their performance on the final assignments and projects. It is suggested in the chapter that these are not fixed traits. As a librarian, I see these contrasting factors as an opportunity to allow learners to expand their knowledge on specific topics by creating programs in libraries that provide learning oriented opportunities for them to take risks which will not have formal consequences. My feeling is that these opportunities allow learners to advance more quickly or easily in formal learning opportunities with less risks of failure.

Another topic of this chapter that caught my attention is what happens when prior cultural knowledge of race, gender, religion, and ethnic affiliations conflict with the learning objectives in a library or classroom? The chapter talks briefly about what happens when knowledge gained from home experiences may differ from what is being learned in public learning spaces. I would like to work in an urban public library, which would serve a diverse population. In a library, how can I best use or work around differences in prior knowledge? I find the suggestion that differences in cultural knowledge should be viewed as strengths to be built on, however that seems difficult to manage in a large group of diverse learners.

The topic for this week is information literacy. I was excited about the opportunity to explore readings about information literacy in public libraries. Though Kristin does a great job of making 643 a well balanced class of most library specializations, I occasionally fall into the bad habit of waiting around for “the good part” of class when public libraries are discussed or looking for those parts in the readings. Though I learn a lot from discussions about other forms of libraries and librarianship, I was very excited to explore information literacy specifically in the context of public libraries. I’m looking forward to the class discussion on these readings and to finding out if there are  any areas of overlap or disconnect in different specializations regarding information literacy.

The first article I read for this week is titled, “Public Praxis: A Vision for Critical Information Literacy in Public Libraries.” (Hall, 2010). The article provided a good analysis of what information literacy is; which was defined as “‘the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information;’ (ACRL n.d.)” (Hall, 164).  I found it interesting that Hall critiqued the fact that  “‘information literacy’ is often mad  interchangeable with ‘lifelong learning; and ‘user education’  in the public library literature, even though she argues that these three concepts are inherently distinct, although related,” since we talked about this in class.  Hall critiques the use of “information literacy” as a buzz word with little concentration on what it actually means. Hall seemed to have a rather radical approach to information literacy, and suggests that older forms of library service are outdated. Hall states that

‘Ready to Read’ is a major PLA advocacy issue. In their community outreach programs, many public libraries emphasize book clubs, story time, summer reading programs, and remedies to cure ‘reluctant readers.’ While I applaud the PLA’s efforts to stimulate book-based literacy, this may be interfering with public libraries’ willingness to embrace information literacy.

Hall seems to portray and view information literacy as an all or nothing policy, incapable of coexisting with more traditional forms of library services like book clubs and reading programs. Information literacy is a very important skill, especially for individuals looking for informal replacements for continuing education, but isn’t it possible for libraries to have more than one goal or initiative?

“Information literacy, learning, and the public library: A study of Danish high school students” (Nielson and Borlund, 2011),  focused on public library’s role in informal learning. I was immediately intrigued during my reading that the authors took the time to emphasize the importance of collaboration between public libraries and formal learning institutions, especially school librarians and teachers in order to create the best learning experience for students. In regard to information literacy, Nielson and Borlund reference a much more detailed definition of information literacy with ten parts:

1. recognize the need for information;
2. recognize that accurate and complete information is basis for intelligent decision making;
3. formulate questions based on information needs;
4. identify potential sources of information;
5. develop successful search strategies;
6. access sources of information including computer-based and other technologies;
7. evaluate information;
8. organize information for practical application;
9. integrate new information into an existing body of knowledge; and
10. use information in critical thinking and problem solving.

Though this article is published only one year after Hall’s, the paper expands the definition of information literacy from Hall’s presentation of a four part definition to a much more specific ten fold definition. However, the authors still present the lack of knowledge or study of information literacy initiatives in public libraries. Though it is primarily school and academic libraries that are concerned with teaching information literacy, it should be a concern for public libraries as well. Public libraries should provide the opportunity for patrons to learn those skills, especially if they have been denied the opportunity through exclusion from the aforementioned institutions.

The third article that I read in preparation for this weeks class and discussion was focused on media literacy in youth, focusing on the learner as opposed to the medium (school library, public library, classroom, home, etc.) “Digital Youth, Libraries, and New Media Literacy,” (Tripp, 2011) discusses a case study that presents three ways that youth can learn digital or media literacy skills: “Hanging out, messing around, or geeking out..” Each category represents a specific intention that is paired with the activity, and progress towards a more serious and critical understanding of digital or media literacy (the most serious of the three delightfully labeled as “geeking out”). Though the paper discusses the program’s goal as teaching young learners media literacy, Trip states that the end goal is to teach “young people [what they] need to know about media so as to use them in responsible,ethical, thoughtful, and empowered ways” (337). During my reading, I was frequently asking myself how media literacy was distinguishable from information literacy. I am still not sure if this is from my own lack of understanding, the author’s oversight in distinguishing between the two, or  both. Or perhaps information literacy should just be the main title with media and digital literacy as subtitles among many other categories of this constantly growing topic. I saw in the other readings how the definition of information literacy expanded within one year. How much will our understanding of information literacy change within ten years?

I think the biggest take away from this week’s readings and my reflections is the need to break out of the silo’s of our own professional interests and specializations. Though I often struggle to do this in my class work, it appears to be an obvious solution to supporting information literacy in a diverse amount of library communities. As I discussed previously, public libraries seem to behind the game in regards to supporting information literacy. One way to catch up is to reach out to academic, school, or special libraries to work collaboratively.

Rachel Hall (2010): Public Praxis: A Vision for Critical Information Literacy in Public Libraries, Public Library Quarterly, 29:2, 162-175

Bo Gerner Nielsen and Pia Borlund (2011): Information literacy, learning, and the public library: A study of Danish high school students Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 2011 43: 106

Lisa Tripp (2011): Digital Youth, Libraries, and New Media Literacy, The Reference Librarian, 52:4, 329-341

 

The readings for this week concentrated on instruction in libraries, both electronic tutorials and in person workshops. I found the topics this week particularly interesting because instruction is something that I have been interested in for some time. I had some instruction experience last semester and found the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) process to be very interesting. Admittedly however, in my personal lesson planning I typically jumped to the design stage. then to the instruction, and only lightly touched on evaluation on my instruction and on the tools. It is easy to see the benefits in following this model in all stages of instruction specifically in libraries, and the ADDIE process was visible in the other readings for this week.

After completing the readings, it seems that online tutorials best support instruction when it is dealing with software or database use. More specifically, the tutorials seem to be received positively when it helps with navigation and searching in a specific cite. However, I think it is important to notice that the Johnston article suggests that a combination of in person instruction along with screen casts and tutorials be used. I think that would be best, especially for University students unfamiliar with library systems and log-in procedures. It may be difficult to address all of a student’s questions when they are unfamiliar with searching, the library system, and the database. However, once students begin to feel more comfortable, they could use the tutorial as almost a “ready reference” during their research.

Many of the articles that we read were very focused on academic libraries and students in need of research help. I am curious how the results of these studies would translate to a public library for adults and children. Would tutorials be a good resource for patrons of  a public library? I would like to think that they would, however if patrons are taking introduction to Microsoft Office software workshop, is it likely that they would be comfortable accessing similar information online and following along with a tutorial? Perhaps tutorials should be used for more advanced classes, like in excel or Photoshop workshops, where the targeted patrons will likely feel more comfortable using online tutorials. The ADDIE procedure accounts for this kind of analysis and planning of workshops, however I would be interested in reading more about public libraries’ experiences using online tutorials and the success they have had, or not had.

After completing the reading assignments for this week, my attention was focused on the emphasis on education among the “core competencies” of library and information professionals. Librarians have many different roles and responsibilities in the communities that they serve; managers, service providers, consultants, etc. What intrigued me the most in the readings, was the information was presented from an educators perspective. It is no secret that libraries have an important role in education, either being an extension of formal education or a place of informal discovery and learning. However, I often fail to think of librarians as educators themselves, in need of training in the theoretical approaches to education.

My intuition tells me that I am not alone in this oversight. This becomes more apparent after reflecting on my observations of reference interviews. During the unobtrusive observation project in SI 647 where I was asked to observe a librarian during a reference interview, I observed a poorly performed reference interview where the librarian ultimately suggested that I just “Google it.” However, as Information professionals involved in the learning process of individuals who come into the library, it is necessary that we understand more about the process of learning as well as the teaching methods. Through the reference interview particularly, it is our responsibility as Librarians to be able to answer reference questions, in addition to educate users on conducting research and navigating information in the library and outside of it.

Through my reflection of the readings for the week and the core competencies it occurred to me that an efficient way to learn more about useful education techniques and practices is through our learning process as students. SI 501 and SI 502 particularly had two very different teaching styles and two very different topics being taught, but I think the courses demonstrate some of the ideas discussed in the readings. SI 502 was definitely a class taught towards novices and was not shy about that fact. The course was designed to allow it’s students to understand basic concepts that could allow us to progress towards more expertise. I found the way of teaching to be very successful. Furthermore, when we are Librarians, especially reference librarians, we will have a very limited amount of time to work with individuals and will need to teach them the skills that they can quickly master, and provide the opportunity to learn more from us in the future if they prefer. SI 501 on the other hand was taught very differently. In many ways we were given a problem and were taught a skill set, and were asked to find the solution independently as we progressed through the course. The course attempted to develop us with the skills to develop “adaptive expertise” where we could analyze our skills, learn more throughout the course, and apply our old knowledge and new knowledge to solve a problem.

One question I had while completing the reading assignments was the constant comparison between experts and novices during the learning process. During SI 531: Human Interaction in Information Retrieval, we discussed that experts tend to find fewer “relevant” documents than novices, or intermediary subject specialists during online information searches. This is thought to be contributed to the novice and intermediary individuals knowing less specifics about the topics that they are searching for, and therefore find much more information relevant to their search because they are unfamiliar with the topics. Therefore, a greater amount of documents are relevant to their learning process. The experts however, are much more familiar with research and information on the subject and will find fewer documents relevant towards their information need. This relationship between novice and expert learners seemed to conflict with the information presented in chapter two of our readings. I am unsure of any real connections to be made, but I think that discussion on the differences in the learning process and online searching experience for novices and experts could be insightful.