ETL 507 – Reflection of Virtual Study Visit
The virtual study visits were a fascinating way for an emerging teacher librarian to gain insight into the daily operations of various information agencies, understand how they dealt with the COVID 19 lockdowns and identify the strategies they used to promote literacy development. All the educational institutions had similar goals of promoting learning and providing access to reliable and accurate information. These goals were evident through the presence of specifically curated collections, provision of various forms of learning technology and the furnishing of various spaces to meet the needs of teaching and learning.
A central theme from these sessions was how institutions adapted their library services to remote learning. Victoria University, University of Newcastle and William Angliss TAFE used innovative technologies to transform the processes in which their libraries provided information to their students offsite. The creation of online videos, LibChats and virtual help desks gave students the synchronous assistance they needed to navigate the digital resources in lieu of on site help. These services obviously met a great patron need and their uptake showed that it WAS the provision of assistance that is important, rather than the method in which it is delivered. But whilst digital technologies proved useful in developing student information literacy, especially in a digitally centric collection, my experience as a teacher librarian has shown me that there is definitely scope for more explicit instruction so that students have the skills to seek, find, access and use information in a digital context!
This instruction is essential especially with University of Newcastle’s strategic goal to have a digital focus to their collection. Whilst this correlates to the cognitive needs of tertiary students, it did not meet the developmental and behavioural needs of high school students. Strong digital literacy requires a base of strong print literacy, yet it was astounding to see that none of the educational institutions had a robust fiction collection. From a literacy perspective, this lack of fiction and promotion of recreational reading is contrary in communities that promote literacy and lifelong learning.