Monday, November 16, 2009

Teachers and Information Literacy

Oftentimes it seems that education, as an institution, is populated by persons who work to preserve practices of the past and who do not depend upon or explore the advantages of digital literacy. Digital literacy, however, is here to stay--we are at the core of new literacy--and educators should consider how to best weave together old, new, and future literacy so that young people leave school literate in the ways of school "and" the ways of the world (O’Brien, D. & Scharber, C., 2008, p66-68).

When teaching today’s students, teachers need to be educated and confident with technology. Various studies have shown that a very high proportion of trainee teachers entering the universities are already competent in technology. For this reason, some teachers’ training programs take the technical capabilities for granted or expect that less confident teachers will enhance their lacking capabilities outside of their formal training. However, other studies have demonstrated that the level of the technical capabilities could be highly overestimated. Some researchers argue that teachers enter the profession with variable computer skills and some stop at a level of basic technical skills (Markauskaite, L. 2007, p. 548).

Many school districts are moving forward to provide necessary training for new teacher trainees and experienced teachers to improve confidence with technology so they can keep up with their students. Today’s students are ready to move beyond the textbook and open their laptop for the daily lesson. When I met last week with a librarian who is in charge of all of Marion County Public School Libraries I learned that the public libraries and librarians from the main teacher’s reference library were coming together in order to provide technical support for their teachers who were struggling to keep up with the students. The librarians are going to the schools and setting up computer workshops for the teachers. The librarians are coming into the classrooms and demonstrating for the teachers all the possibilities information literacy can be successful for both teachers and the students. The librarian expressed to me the fact that a lower rate of students were causing problems in the classroom (less boredom), the kid in the back row was paying attention and interested in the assignment, and the days are going smoother for the teacher. Other programs such as online gradebook are used for posting students’ grades online where they are not only calculated automatically with fewer errors, but parents are also able to go online and view their child’s grades.

We are teaching a new generation of techno kids that have the need to move beyond the textbook and learn to be creative with all the computer software that is available to them.


What disadvantages are there for students who have teachers that are not considering updating their computer literacy skills?

Why do you think these teachers would keep the old hum drum textbooks around when students can learn and become more creative than ever with the use of computers?

O’Brien, David & Scharber, Cassandra (2008). Digital Literacies Go to School: potholes and possibilities, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, v52 n1 p66-68, International Reading Association retrieved from ERIC database on November 15, 2009.

Markauskaite, Lina (2007). Exploring the Structure of Trainee Teachers ICT Literacy: the main components of and relationships between, general cognitive and technical capabilities. Educational Technology Research and Development 55, no.6 retrieved from ECO database on November 15, 2009.


Florence said...

It seems that kids with teachers who will not update their skills in technology are, for the most part, probably at a disadvantage. Maybe workshops should even be mandatory where technology is concerned. It was encouraging to learn about librarians offering workshops to teachers; this offers a great opportunity to introduce the idea that teaching information literacy early on is very important. I mentioned in my response to this week's first discussion question (not yet posted) that teaching information literacy using hoax sites might be a good idea for high school kids, or even older grade school kids, as they often appreciate the wacky side of things.

kbankovich said...

I loved this blog. I think it’s great that many of the school districts are providing the necessary computer literacy training for their teachers, and find it very interesting that librarians are the ones holding the workshops to teach the teachers.

If a teacher chooses not to update their computer literacy skills, I think it is a disservice to their students. I think many students today expect to have some sort of online access to their courses’ syllabus and/or assignments at the very least. According to Charles H. Becker’s article Student Values and Research: Are Millennials Really Changing the Future of Reference and Research, the Generation Y Millennial generation’s instant gratification attitude demands convenience and consumption.

The idea of moving the in-class setting to an online setting is of great debate in many of today’s institutions. Some faculty may fear change, while others believe the online setting takes away a certain rapport between faculty/student and student/student. We have been discussing changes in technology within the library setting since the beginning of class, and I think that like librarians, teachers should strive to keep up with the latest technology available to remain competitive.


Becker, Charles H. (2009). Student Values and Research: Are Millennials Really Changing the Future of Reference and Research? Journal of Library Administration 49, 341-364.

William Zunich said...

If teachers do not continuously update their skills, then a gap in knowledge will be detrimental to the students and the education process. The general goal of education is to prepare students for the future. Teachers will have difficulty in meeting this goal if they do not look ahead. School districts are offering classes to update technology skills, but as we all know TECHNOLOGY is moving at a rapid pace.

Amy Alcenius said...

While there are many advantages to using technology in the classroom, I think that in some places the "old hum drum" is acceptable. Classes like calculus can't always be "made fun" by a computer. English classes should not replace paper books with e-books just yet, and science should not replace real experiments with simulations all the time. Sometimes, computers don't make it better, it just makes it different.

DJ said...

I often wonder how teachers function without the help of technology. But I have found some older teachers that do a great job and have more patients with the students then some of the younger teachers.

Nicole Lesperance said...

Why do you think these teachers would keep the old hum drum textbooks around when students can learn and become more creative than ever with the use of computers?
I believe that these teachers are probably trying to instill a love of books in there students, especially as a resource for research, and i have to say that I agree with them in maany ways. Yes, the internet is an amzing resource but it is also good to develop reading skills and a foundation to the love of books.

Tom Nowak said...

Another reason to keep those humdrum textbooks around -- every kid can have a textbook. Not every student has access to a computer, either in school or out. Besides, sooner or later, kids are going to have to learn by sitting down and reading something, whether it is on paper or on a computer screen.

I agree that teachers who don't keep up with technology are doing themselves and the students a disservice. That isn't to say they have to incorporate more technology into the classroom, but they have to have open minds and consider new methods that might make them more effective.

I think the need for training by school districts is obvious. You can't just roll a rack of laptops into a classroom and expect magic to happen. Continuing education is the teacher's responsibility, but if the district wants a consistent, coherent integration of technology, it should have a plan. That plan should come before the technology is purchased.

This goes back to technology as a tool, not the answer. We all can figure out how to use a simple tool like a hammer (though with varying degrees of skill). But you don't walk into a machine shop and instinctively start to operate that sophisticated equipment.

Sarah said...

Memorization and rote learning do have a place and a proven success as well as "hum-drum" textbooks. I know I couldn't have learned calculus equations without repetition and memorization. So I do agree with some posts here about the value of some types of perhaps more "old-fashioned" teaching.

But that's not the only way and definitely should not restrict the methods that teachers use to teach students. The world is becoming more and more high tech and digital and kids without thouse advantages at school will definitely be left behind but teachers might not have the skills for that particular task. It's encouraging to learn that librarians are filling in the gap and teaching not only the students but the teachers as well.

Jamie Baker said...

Teaching, in particular, should be seen as a fluid profession. Obtaining the teaching certificate is not the resting place. Teachers will constantly have to update their skills in order to create the utmost potential for their students. Advances in technology will continue, and if teachers are not willing to update their skills, this may need to be considered in a retention policy. I often view technology as a foreign language, which is best taught at a young age. The more comfortable a child is with using technology, the more able a child will be to traverse technological changes. If a student sees that his or her teacher is reluctant to use technology, the student may also feel a reluctance.