Friday, May 11, 2012

Open and Shut: A Case for Preparing Our Students for What’s Next | Inside Higher Ed

In this post Barbara Fister makes a wonderfully succinct statement about the role of librarians in undergraduate education.  Also she echoes heartily my Participation Direction, and Lloyd's Information Literacy Landscapes:
Open and Shut: A Case for Preparing Our Students for What’s Next | Inside Higher Ed

My job as a librarian at a liberal arts college is to help students join those conversations by providing doorways into the places where the discussions are happening and by helping students figure out how to pick up what’s going on and practice unfamiliar conversational norms. Much of this work is done by disciplinary faculty, but sometimes they forget how hard it is to find the door and work the doorknob, which is an odd shape and design, baffling until you're used to it. Librarians can also sometimes help students figure out what some of the puzzling words in the conversation are and why that person in the corner is waving her hands so excitedly and why someone else is rolling his eyes. We, like the students, are not insiders, but we’ve picked up some strategies for entering conversations that have been going on for years around us.  We’re there to encourage them as they step forward, looking over their shoulders nervously. Am I doing this right? Will I be okay?

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Information Landscape Problem: "Teaching Web-Scale Discovery in the Context of Google"

Convenience and its Discontents: Teaching Web-Scale Discovery in the Context of Google

This post by Pete Coco on ACRLog basically raises the question of what do we teach when we don't need to teach the clicks. And his answer aligns with mine: Teach "the concepts and conventions underneath all the clicking."

Part of our struggle as librarians is to fully understand and fully show our students that research is not what happens on a two-dimensional screen with a search box in the middle. Research happens in us as we learn and then share what we know. It's not a matter of objects that fit an assignment. It's a matter of finding our ways into the information landscapes where our fellow learners (sources) share what they know and carry on with their own learning in their own communities of practice.

Granted, the multi-dimensional and dynamic world of human knowledge, even in a single discipline, is a huge thing for our students to comprehend. They can't do it all at once. But as library educators we have to keep pointing them to what's next. One citation can always lead to another. One question always leads to the next question. And you will get lost if you don't start thinking about the landscape you are exploring, and the context that gives you the sources you are discovering.