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« Beginning rubric 4 - word processing | Main | Feeling small »
Thursday
Feb212008

Tech-free library schools?

In trying to figure out why the school library media profession has not had a bigger impact on the integration of technology, I suggested in a earlier post that sexism, schizophrenia and collaboration strategy may be some of the causes. But several off-blog comments suggested a 4th reason: schooling.

This comment was typical (used here with permission):

I did not want to go public and post this on the blog because I am a new graduate from library school and I'm looking for a job.  The postings about integrating the technology into the curriculum is so important.  However, someone should tell the folks training the media specialists how to do it!! There are no technology classes in library school; you learn as you go.  I had to be my own advocate and go to workshops on my own to learn how to operate things like Smartboards.  Library school does a great job training you for being a media specialist of the 70's but not for the 21st century

I have to say my own library program was BC - Before Computers. Well almost. I did take a 1 credit class on BASIC programming using a terminal hooked to some kind of mainframe at the University of Iowa in 1979. We also had a teletype machine and learned the skills of chemical photography, dry-mount pressing and laminating. (I think I got a D in the last one. Wrinkles.) 

LibraryclassroominDrexelIcopy_001.jpgAs an adjunct faculty member for Minnesota State University, Mankato's library program, I taught Internet classes as long ago as 1992 or 1993. These were the days of the line interface, Gopher and "“FTP.SUNET.SE>get linc111.txt.”  The class got very excited with Stephen Collins from the University of Minnesota visited one evening with this amazing new tool called Mosaic. And the last class I've taught for MSU's library school was an online class on "Current Trends in Educational Technology" in 2003.

In other words, my personal experience has been the opposite of the young writer's above - that library schools (some anyway) are leaders in teaching new educational technologies.

Readers, your experience? What was good and what was missing in your library training in regard to technology? 

Photo from Drexel archives.

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Reader Comments (17)

Doug,

The quote you use here was somewhat true in my situation. I had already earned an Ed. Specialist degree in Instructional Technology so I didn't have to take the "tech courses" when I tried to add-on a Media Specialist certification.

After completing 10 weeks online and 2 classroom sessions, I determined that what was being offered was not worth my time or money. So I dropped...it is the first time I quit anything in education. It was difficult for me to do. After this occurrence, I could not continue. We actually had an "argument" over how many places we should go in a Dewey Decimal number. As I sat there, I thought, "Gee. Why not let Follett determine that for you? It costs less than a dime to have it included on an order." 45 minutes later, after a 10 minute break, the debate continued, but I did not.

I respect librarians who know and apply an old dynamic. But don't you think the idea of the DD was to locate material as well as classify it? Today, it seems more like a self-preservation tactic to confuse people with DD to show that you are of some value to the school.

Teachers and students want to find something to read, find it quickly, and get on with the next task at hand.

Librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find. To me, that is the paradigm shift needed in our prep programs. I know I have over-simplified, but it seems to me that our ed prep programs are behind the curve. What can be done to change it?

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRic Murry

I think Mizzou did a pretty good preparing me to enter a technology-rich world. I graduated in 2002 with a master's in information science and learning technologies. Of course, this was before the web 2.0 boom, but just using Web CT (or whatever we used) was seen as pretty advanced around the year 2000. I think. But I do agree that all library schools should take students to a technology-rich school and let them play!

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Hill

I just completed my LIS certification and Masters in IT at NIU and I have to say thier tech training was great. Not only did I learn a variety of skills and tools, but an important part was looking at your audience and knowing your audience, whether it be students, staff, or parents. I am very excited about using these skills with my staff and students now.

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathie

I just graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in May of 2007 with a combined Master's in Library Science and K-12 Teaching Certification. I was an on campus student, but I also took classes through the LEEP (online) program. I definitely learned a lot about technology in my program.
Those in the K-12 program were required to take a course called "Introduction to Network Systems" We learned all about the hardware aspect of computers, from the basics of how everything is arranged in the tower to installing Windows and Ubuntu Linux, to the basics of creating a network. In addition to that class, which was mostly hands on, our other courses integrated technology as part of our projects. I greatly improved my HTML skills and now I consider myself quite proficient, which has allowed me to easily adapt into my current position as a high school librarian.
I liked my program because technology was a part of it, and was not considered a separate thing. Instead, it was integrated into learning. There were people with widely varying levels of technical proficency, but I would say that most people in the K-12 program graduated with a pretty solid knowledge of both Web 2.0 technology tools and computer hardware.
Also, I must say that student teaching was a really great experience in seeing how those technologies were used in the classroom.

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Thanks, Ric, for sharing your experiences. Your line - Librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find - is a classic and I am stealing it!

I never understood the emphasis on cataloging at library school myself. It was my first semester and nearly failed since the 29 brilliant women in the class with me were actually taking the whole thing quite seriously. I think I was given the gift of a C- in the class!

Take care and thanks for writing!

Doug


February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Sarah, Kathie and Ana,

Thanks for leaving the comment. Glad to hear some schools are using tech with student well.

Ana, did you work at all with Francie Harris in the lab school? I am one of her many admirers!

All the best,

Doug

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I did my MLS work at Chapel Hill (SILS) and had a great time, though in retrospect, for what I'm doing, a shorter, more practical course might have been fine. The interesting thing about the years I was there -- 1991-1993 -- was that it was just at the beginning of widespread use of Windows and also of the Web. SILS had great classes, both old style and new (it was a double track program -- library and information science), and there was a lot of techhie stuff as well as detailed cataloging and classification work for the library side. We were still given classes in how to use Windows and window based applications (both Mac and PC). Later they expected people to know that or get it on their own. But the Web was so new (yes, the old Gopher days on the Internet) that a Chinese PhD student was brought in to give us a lecture on "the World Wide Web." Of course, when I hit the work place, everything was highly confusing -- a bunch of new hardware that no one here knew how to use, an over-elaborate library system -- Dynix Scholar, early 1990s style, picked by my predecessor who had delusions of grandeur for our tiny school and for which we paid tons of money but had no one here to help me with it.... No full time technical support until the administrators needed it! Plus I had little idea of the practical side of running a school library, except for one wonderful semester course at SILS, given by a brilliant practicing school librarian. So I was on a steep learning curve, and the whole scene was in flux.
One mantra I took from SILS was this: "The only thing constant is change." That has certainly proven true, and in schools change comes in fits and starts and not always with proper planning. We're hanging in there at my school and actually getting a better grip on managing change and new technologies. And the administration knows that these things require full time technological support!

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJane Hyde

As a 2004 MLIS graduate, I found myself leaving with a terrified wonder at what I had learned (or not learned) about technology in my graduate program. I nearly cried with joy when my first technology call merely required plugging in a network cable into the wall. The next week I spent 3 hours trying to figure out how to get a data projector working and hooked up to a computer, and again and was almost crying with frustration instead. I had done powerpoint presentations, but I had never had to touch a projector and had no clue what troubleshooting issues would face me as the year began!

Some of the irony in my initial struggles is that I am still in my 20s and nearly a digital native from the start.

I always thought that one of the most important things I learned in my graduate program, was the importance of networking whether with other Media Specialists in my district or listservs filled with "saints" willing to respond to the most basic of questions without judgment, etc.

The Internet wasn't so daunting to me, as I have embraced the growing possibilities of Web 2.0 - however, there was a void when it came to the endless array of hardware, software, and networking products/issues of our classrooms. The web contains so many web-based instructional tools that are the bread and butter of our technology collaborations with teachers, but I can't help but feel that our schools may be evading the hardware, software, and networking behind it all from my own experiences.

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJC

Hi JC,

Soon you will figure out little things like making the projector work and you will be regarded with awe as the tech god/dess.

You, I am sure, will be a saint yourself one day and return the favors bestowed on you.

All the very best,

Doug

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I too trained in the days of the dinosaurs, graduating with my MA in Librarianship in 1981. Luckily, I decided that the future was going to be about these "new" things called computers and I was able to take an option where we used remote terminals linking to the university's mainframe. We did some simple programming and word-processing. The early word-processor had a rudimentary spellchecker - unfortunately it had been created by a scientist so did not recognise the words: library, librarian, woman, women, etc.

My dissertation was on the career patterns of women in librarianship!

However, what this early taster of computers did for me was to break down the fear that so many people had in those days. I have gone through my career with an excitement about technology and a love of playing around with it to see what I can get it to do for me and my school community.

Those of you who are a lot younger have grown up with this stuff. But, in 20 or 30 years time, you might be seen as the "dinosaurs"! Who knows what the future holds for us? The point is that we keep hold of that hunger for learning that we have when we are young and not let it go as we get older.

After all, that is why I am reading this blog from my home in England - what exciting times we live in when we can share ideas around the world so easily.

February 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Librain: Anne Robinson

Greetings Doug,

I must share a deep thank you to the Longwood University School Library Media Staff. Dr.Audrey Church, the Program Coordinator, helped prepare us to equip our students with 21st century skills. We have been inspired with the task to establish a high quality library media center and information technology programs to meet students' needs in schools or in electronic, networked, or virtual learning environments.

http://www.longwood.edu/CEHS/education/graduate_degree/library_media/index.htm

February 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMargo Jantzi

Hi Doug,

I am the coordinator of a program that provides education for teachers wanting to become teacher-librarians in Alberta, Canada. We offer both a diploma and M. Ed. in Teacher-Librarianship completely online so students are learning/using basic technology skills to complete their programs.

We have a required technology for learning course and for several years it was was fairly "old-school" allowing students to create school library webpages, webquests, etc. to demonstrate new learnings. When I taught the course in the Fall of 2007, I found that some students were willing to try a few new Web 2.0 technologies but several were still wanting to learn PowerPoint. The course design and assignments allowed students to determine how far to push themselves.

In thinking hard about what skills our students would need after graduation, I realized that in the rest of our program we allow enough choice that students might never have to use anything other than Word and PowerPoint. Scary!

To begin with we realized that we needed to make it clear what tech competencies we expected our students to have coming into the program. We looked at other library schools to see what expectations they had and found a great list at San Jose State University.

To begin, we made our beginning tech expectations clear and then my colleague, Joanne de Groot, and I totally revamped our tech course. The new assignments require all students to blog about their experiences of learning about Web 2.0 applications - podcasting, social networking, social bookmarking, wikis, photo and video sharing, blog aggregators and RSS feeds, etc. We also require students to write a PD proposal and plan for introducing one of these new Web 2.0 applications to their colleagues.

As an aside, we are also doing research on the course by following the students' learning experiences during this implementation term.

So far, we have been pleasantly surprised. Our students are engaged, thoughtful, creative and really willing to "play" with these new technologies. We are using Joyce Valenza's 21st century school library media specialist manifesto as a starting point for our discussions into the idea of "libratory."

I think the idea of "schooling" (or lack thereof) is key issue in this discussion. How our teacher-librarians feel about and approach new technologies has a huge impact on how they are seen by the rest of the school community. M. Ed. or MLIS programs need to be flexible and we need to look across courses to make sure we are introducing technologies and then requiring students to building on these new learnings in other courses.

I was on parental leave for almost 2 years so when I came back to work in July 2007, I realized I was completely out of the loop. Most of last summer and fall was spent getting up to speed on new technologies by reading research and professional articles, and following the blogosphere and trying this stuff out.

In no way, do I consider myself an expert in all of this stuff. I am sometimes one week ahead of my students as I explore the technologies along with them and try to make sense of them in relation to teaching and learning. Luckily, we are a small program and we can make changes quickly (from one term to the next) and respond to trends as they happen. Within our department and faculty, change is a lot slower. I certainly think that we are doing a terrible job integrating new technologies and talking about the pedagogy behind the technologies in our pre-service teacher education program. I worry about these new teachers (and there are over 1200 we are graduating a year) as they go out into schools where children are much more experienced web-users and web-content creators.

In the end, this kind of change comes from having a couple of people in a program or school committed to keeping up (or willing to constantly play catch up) and an adminstrative structure that is flexible. Just as in schools, this combination isn't always easy to find.

Thanks for a great discussion.

Jennifer

February 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Branch

I am pleased to say that my Master of Education Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University in Australia has had a good grounding in the use of Information Technology in Librarianship. I especially enjoyed a subject ICT experience with Lyn Hay (awarded a citation for her work in the TL field in Australia last year).

February 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Hi Jane,

Thanks for the comment. Insightful as always! I suspect what matters is less what we learned in grad school and more that we've kept on learning! Amazing how quickly things have changed!

Doug

Hi Margo,

Nice shout-out. I hope some of the faculty see you post!

Thanks,

Doug

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! You sound like you have a wonderful program driven my a powerful philosophy.

I empathize with feeling "out of the loop." I sometimes feel that way after only being gone from the online world for a few days!

It is people like you and the programs you create that truly give me hope for the profession.

Thank you!

Doug

Hi David,

Fun to see this post, especially your mention of Lyn Hay. I've been an admirer for many years and am lucky to run into her at conferences now and then.

Cheers!

Doug

February 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

At Rutgers, if you are on the school media track you are required to take IT for library agencies and multimedia. The sites that come out of multimedia are intense. Here's an example: http://eden.rutgers.edu/~renroger/555/final/index.html

February 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristie

Hi Kristie,

LOVE the inner librarian site. I am sending this link to Jacqui Henry who is depressed about the image of the librarian!

Thanks for sharing about the Rutgers program,

Doug

February 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug,

As a 2004 MLIS graduate from the St. Kate's/Dominican program, I would agree. It's education that lacks. They tried, but really the technology aspect wasn't there. Sure I learned how to better use databases, do an internet search, and (even though it I already knew) iMovie. What I did not learn--networking solutions, software ideas etc. We did a lot of talking about, or perhaps around these concepts, but not with a lot of specifics.

I felt prepared for my job as a LMS because I had a great mentor! He taught me so much and was always curious himself and wanted to show me new things he was learning. I also was not afraid to try to troubleshoot, make a mistake and to try new things. I've already had a few practicum students and always make sure they leave me having tried to troubleshoot technology or explore something out of their comfort zone.

One of the hardest things I have had to face is a building culture where the library is not associated with technology! (Or not much of it anyway.) It's a fight and I am blessed to work well with a tech coordinator in my building, but everyday is a fight for the "image" of the 21st C. library and librarian! The library has changed and sometimes its the users that can't handle that!

February 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBB

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