Whether every individual believes it or not it cannot be denied that the responsibility of the flow of information and connecting individuals to information has been a responsibility and chief purpose of libraries long before Web 2.0 technologies. These technologies provide a way to continue the relevance of libraries as places and spaces for connecting users with the information and resources they require.
One way that Arizona State University Library has chosen to advocate their relevance is through the use of one minute video clips using the You Tube channel to create their own channel. The benefits of these clips is that they are a terrific way to market their library as an information provider that is interested in their users and as such are keeping up-to-date with the current digital trends. They promote their location, the services they offer and useful tips in mobile device use and security. They are short enough to keep the user interested and have just information to pique a user’s curiosity. It is interesting that the clips with the highest number of views are those where the user may need some information on how to use the library catalogue and how to contact a librarian which could infer that users still want to connect with information via library spaces.
Other forms of social networking that the library uses is that of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These social media platforms assist the library in getting library news out quickly to their patrons and allows for regular updates about short term news and use of the library. While the You Tube channel needs preparation, organisation and staff who are skilled in collaboration and creation of videos, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow for quick posting of news and events. The user then has the choice as to which platform they feel the most at ease in using in order to connect with the library.
The other social networking technology that ASU Library uses is the use of a blog. The advantage of the blog is that it is attached to the website and provides more detail than Facebook or Twitter whilst still providing regular updates of events and collection management details that may affect the users. It is interesting to note that there is no comment feature on this blog to allow the user to share their voice. Is the feedback only provided via Facebook and Twitter?
This library is definitely making connections with their learning community and recognises that the learning community extends beyond the locale of the physical campus and that some students or interested members may only have access online. It addresses the need to be accessible at the convenience of the user.
I have been pondering this question for a couple of weeks now and at first was shocked I didn’t have an immediate opinion or thought about this. As I have pushed on in the learning, I have realised that despite digital literacy skills in their multifaceted ways being important for learning for NOW and in the future. Yes, an understanding of the multimodal landscape where information is conveyed in what we know as the Internet is definitely important now but the one thought I have had is the nature of citizenship. Not citizenship in the sense of belonging to a community but the sense of citizenship and interconnectedness with our fellow human beings.
Having read about the many affordances of technology throughout this session, Mike Wesch and his description of how things change when technologies are introduced, including cultures was really quite confronting. When you reflect o this though, you just have to look around when you sit at a coffee shop and see the changing nature of relationships and connection as people constantly check their phones when meeting up with friends or take their laptops to lunch to keep working.
When I consider citizenship as important for learning now, I consider it in a sense of connecting with other people offline so that our values are developed through the meeting and connecting face to face. It is too easy to hide behind technology.
Then I am reminded of the reading by Philip & Garcia (2013) who considered the very human element that the teacher brings to the classroom. The fact that our students while being immersed in these knowledge networks still need to be guided and to an extent protected. We need to teach our students that we are ‘feeding the machine/s’ that are digital technologies. We are the machine. Everything we write represents and forms our identity. Every search we make can be traced back to us, stored as data for big name companies and then the machine/s feed it back to us through images, advertising, anything that creates a rapport between us and the machine.
The following clip, also by Michael Wesch, interestingly enough, demonstrates this idea.
So to be a participatory learner in this digital age, we need to not only include digital literacy skills, in their plethora of guises, we need to develop critical thinking that allows empathy, respect and responsibility towards not only ourselves but to others.
As this is a reflective piece I would offer the opinion that teachers more than ever need to stand up and consider their duty of care in helping our students to not only learn for their future but to learn what it means to still be human for and in their future. Yes, there are many affordances and reasons why pedagogy needs to change in the educational arena but it is time as teachers, as leaders of education to offer the best education possible with and about the possibilities, good and bad, that these technologies offer.
It is through the nine elements of digital citizenship that will allow our students to become fully participatory in a very human way. As would be expected in our face to face interactions and community life, we need to consider each of these nine elements to keep technology as the tool/s which have evolved to supposedly make our everyday life easier. Or has technology made our life more complicated? Definitely more learning to be done.
Philip, T. M., & Garcia, A. D. (2013). The importance of still teaching the iGeneration: New technologies and the centrality of pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 83(2), 300-319, 400-401.
What an exciting time to be involved in education! What a challenging time to be in education! What a busy time to be involved in education! Anybody who is involved in education is feeling all of these things – fight and flight is present in most staff meetings when it comes to working out the best way to address all of the implications of living in this digital age. The digital divide isn’t just a concept of socioeconomics or geography or generational it is present within each and every school and teachers are feeling the pressure.
The concept of connected learning is more than just having the hardware and the apps. The tension for education is how do we integrate these tools of learning to enhance learning for all students in our care. We cannot assume that our students know how to use these tools effectively for their learning just because they have been born into an era where digital technologies are as much a part of everyday life as eating and sleeping. They have been immersed in a world of connection through digital technologies but just as we have to teach our students to be citizens in the face to face world, we also need to help them understand that values and ethics are just as important in the online world. We cannot assume they know the best information sources or the best way of communicating their resources. They demand more of us as teachers in that they expect to be connected, they expect to be collaborative. How do we meet their expectations by placing our own learning expectations for them upon them?
The answer would seem to rest with the concept of digital literacy. So what is it to be digitally literate? Trilling & Fadel (2009) define digital literacy as a combination of information, media and ICT literacy skills (Chapter 4). Rheingold in his book, “NetSmart: How to Thrive Online” describes it as a combination of 5 literacies – “attention”, “crap detector”, “participation”, “collaboration”, and “network smarts.” Chase and Laufenberg (2011) view it as “a genre, a format and tool to be found within the domain of standard literacy, rather than a concept standing at odds” (p.535). So many definitions! No wonder teachers feel like they are like the hamster running on that wheel, they need clarity.
The definition I have found most useful is that of Gilster (1997) cited by Bawden (2008), digital literacy is “an ability to understand and use information from a variety of digital sources and regard it as literacy in the digital age” (p.18). Chase and Laufenberg (2011) then would seem to agree with this more broad definition. I would agree with all of the definitions I have read and suggest that digital literacy is an umbrella term used to describe a combination of literacies that represent a variety of skills needed to be successful not just in the context of a classroom but in all areas of life both now in the present time and in the future.
We use our digital literacy when we are participating in the online environment but as it is part of standard literacy practices and not separate, our students need to know that sometimes the information available digitally may not compare with the information available in printed formats. Our students still live in privileged times where both forms of information are accessible. This is where information seeking skills are required rather than information searching as they need to learn the difference between and to filter quality over quantity of information.
Connectivism is also an important component of digital literacy as it doesn’t just refer to the physical connecting to the network known as the Internet. It is the ability our students have to connect with like-minded people, to access information quickly to build upon their already established knowledge base. This idea of connectivism has so many strengths for education and it is fraught with so many ‘dangers’ as well. by ‘dangers’ I mean students need to have the critical thinking skills of digital literacy that will enable them to evaluate credibility and validity of information. This is a vital role of teacher librarians within schools as well because some teachers allow students to research without any guidance or feedback to the students’ processes used in gaining information. Connectivism is not just about student learning it is also about teachers’ depth of understanding of the information environment using digital technologies. The challenge is helping our students know their purpose and placing it in context and ensuring that the context is credible and relevant to their learning.
Siemens (2004) describes the theory of connectivism as the way “people, organisations and/or technology can collaboratively construct knowledge” through “the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories”(Starkey, 2011, p.21). Connectivism is the building of knowledge in a social and collaborative way. This highlights the importance of teachers needing to immerse themselves within the chaos of the knowledge network to increase their own digital literacy skills and to form their own connections with other ‘experts’. Teachers are no longer the only experts in their students lives and the students know this. Formulating Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) online as well as offline is a necessary part of every teacher’s professional development and we also need to assist our students in creating their own learning networks. Our students current learning networks are social media and gaming sites. We need to guide our students to using their critical thinking skills to filter and seek people that truly represent valid and credible learning within their PLN’s. We need to try to find the way to harness these platforms to engage our students in learning.