April 30, 2010

Information technology and the skills to use it.

Alloway Librarian Bill Badke just had an article published in eCampusnews. As he often does, Bill challenges some conventional thinking about information-gathering skills. Here's an extract:
Whether delivering unbelievably cheap laptops or sophisticated scientific databases, education is in a providing mood despite the economic downturn. Many are predicting that the result will be a utopia in which education and technology create the super-student of the future.
My institution—Trinity Western University, in Langley, British Columbia—has technology: lots of it, from campus-wide Wi-Fi, to extensive library databases, to laptops in the hands of most students. One would think that utopia was just on the horizon, and the coming techno-student was emerging before our eyes. But, as necessary as technology is to education, something crucial has been left out. The give-them-technology movement is missing the point.
He lists 8 complex skill-clusters that an information-literate student needs to survive and concludes that "making a student information-literate is not an...exercise that can be accomplished in an hour or two...This is not a remedial task, like learning how to read a spreadsheet or memorizing the periodic table of the elements. It is closer to learning a new language."

He calls "for academia to turn to information literacy librarians and let them propose ways to make information literacy foundational to all education. Our students deserve intense instruction and practice in developing the skills they do not currently have in our Information Age.
Give them technology, to be sure, but make them skilled information handlers as well."
Read the full article here (Free registration required)

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