Teaching The New Literacy

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Presentation for the 2010 Virtual Academic Library Environment (VALE) Annual Conference. Discusses the issues in teaching information literacy to this new generation of college students.


  • 1. Teaching the New Literacy David McMillan, Caldwell College Valerie Forrestal, Stevens Institute of Technology VALE Annual Conference 1.8.10
  • 2. The Problem:
    • Beyond traditional issues faced by libraries instituting an information literacy program, (lack of student engagement, institutional buy-in, faculty indifference) a new breed of student calls for innovation in pedagogy.
  • 3. The Problem, cont.
    • There is a widening gap between childrens everyday life worlds outside of school and the emphasis of many educational systems (David Buckingham, Beyond Technology: Childrens Learning in the Age of Digital Culture )
  • 4. The Opportunity:
    • This new kind of student presents a problem not only for librarians, but for all educators
    • This presents an opportunity for us to look outside the library world to research being done across the fields of education, technology and communication
    • This is also a great time for librarians to seek partnerships and cooperation with faculty and administrators, who are also dealing with these issues
    • We can place ourselves at the core of this movement in our communities, building library services and resources into this new educational framework
  • 5. Key Readings:
    • Hanging Out, Messing around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (Ito, et. al., 2009)
    • How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age (Head and Eisenberg, Dec. 2009)
    • The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology (Smith, Salaway and Caruso, Oct. 2009)
  • 6. Findings:
    • Students view academic research as a competency learned by rote
    • Librarians are still tremendously under-utilized by students (80% said they rarely, if ever, consulted one)
    • Students do, however, use library resources (90% reported having used their librarys research databases)
    • Students view their instructors, not librarians, as their research coaches
    • Heavy course-loads have led students to value efficiency over quality in their research (i.e. theyre not being lazy, theyre capable of formulating complex information-seeking strategies, these strategies focus on efficiency though.)
  • 7. Findings, cont.
    • We need to integrate web resources into our teaching, not shun them
    • Vice versa, we need to place library resources (i.e. proprietary databases) into context with students regular info-gathering resources just add to their toolkit
    • We need to spend more time training professors so they can pass that knowledge on to the students
    • Librarians need to analyze how and why students use library services, not just how often , and focus on developing services that reach the largest audience
    • Make self-directed and student-initialized help available at their convenience (i.e. online guides and tutorials, specialized pathfinders, videos and podcasts)
  • 8. Analysis:
    • Remember, students value efficiency in research, so if you can show them how much time it will save them searching in a full-text scholarly database, vs. sorting through Google results, they are very likely to use it
    • We need to keep an open mind about emerging technologies, and how they can be integrated into our teaching
    • Social media presents an opportunity for us to extend our pedagogy beyond our allotted class-time
  • 9. Analysis, cont.
    • Classes need to be more interactive, and provide an opportunities for students to help each other learn (participatory learning)
    • Allow students the opportunity to help build a socially-constructed knowledge-base
    • Expanding online networks create an opportunity for viral information and knowledge sharing. Facilitate this by having online components/versions of as much of what the library offers as possible (enables students to revisit/share/comment on content)
  • 10.
    • This presentation can be found online @
    • http://icanhaz.com/ttnl
    Presenters' contact info: Valerie Forrestal - valerie.forrestal@stevens.edu | vforrestal.info David McMillan - DLMcMillan@caldwell.edu


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