When the grand jury in Ferguson handed down the decision to not prosecute Darren Wilson, the policeman who shot and ultimately killed Michael Brown, it set off reactions across the country-from protests and marches spanning from New York City to Oakland. Many teachers, professors, librarians, and educators have been wrestling with how to address some of the issues that Ferguson, the deaths of Eric Garner and other black men, and race and racism in America have raised, in the classroom.
One of the most thought provoking blog posts I have read (at least for me) was a post on ACRLog, entitled "Using the New Framework to Teach Ferguson." ACRL is at the tail end of a multi-year process outlining new guidelines for information literacy in higher education. The blog post highlights some of the most relevant pieces of the new frameworks, and how we, as educators and librarians, can teach about what's going on in Ferguson (and across the country). Encouraging analyzing information for validity and bias, finding information whether across formal or informal channels, and understanding how information delivery has changed and evolves based on emerging technologies (twitter, etc.) are all just a few of the framework points that we can incorporate into our sessions-regardless of being one shot sessions or more involved research and projects we work on. The post also discussed the hashtag #fergusonsyllabus, which was started in August, and has gathered quite a bit of traction on twitter, encouraging and highlighting different pieces that professors, instructors, and teachers of all levels can use in classes to encourage discussion of Ferguson and issues of race nationwide.
Since I wrote last month about a failed experiment to bring iPads to the hands of all children in LA's public school district, I wanted to find a contrasting story that illustrated successful adoption. I stumbled across an article in the journal Interactive Technology and Smart Education that provides an interesting counterpoint. The article describes a program instituted in the United Arab Emerates which introduced iPads to the Higher Colleges of Technology in that country in 2012. As of the writing of the article in 2013, the authors declared the program a success.
One of the major features that sets this project apart from the one in LA was a well-funded support system which culminated in two conference-like gatherings, where educators could share ideas, recommendations and aspirations for using the technology in their classrooms.
The conference website has fairly minimal information, but provides a glimpse into the process of implementing technology at such a large scale:
A list of other articles written about the program is collected here:
There is also a blog for the project, which would allow educators to share and collaborate:
It was fascinating to explore the architecture around this large-scale project, but a little like wandering through a ghost town, since I wasn't able to find much information released by the program after 2013 (with the exception of a news article from last September). Do educators still use the structures put in place to help them collaboratively adopt the new technology? Did it contribute to student success? I would love to know more about how the program evolved after the initial excitement of the first year.
If you’ve been following the unfolding story of L.A. Public School District superintendent John Deasy’s plan give iPads to every student, you’re probably not surprised that he recently stepped down. Though the “iPad scandal” was not the only reason for his resignation, it certainly played a large part.
What can those of us interested in promoting the informed use of technology for instruction learn from Deasy’s resignation? One thing that bogged the program down from the beginning was lack of understanding of the full scope of what would be needed to actually get iPads into the hands of 640,000 students. Costs such as WiFi upgrades in buildings, and ongoing maintenance of the iPads should have been anticipated, but seemingly weren’t. The $1.3 billion cost certainly dismayed many; a Facebook campaign pointed out that money would be better spent renovating deteriorating school buildings. Teachers were not committed to the program. In short, the program was, as far as I can see, a textbook example of what not to do when implementing new technology in an instructional context.
So what should we do?
1. Be transparent about the process: provide sound pedagogical rational for the adoption of a technology and critically assess available alternatives.
2. Thoroughly account for costs: new technology, especially technology that is radically different than what students are already using, always seems to have hidden costs.
3. Make a plan for sustainability: technology quickly becomes obsolete. Is there money to provide for replacements and upgrades? Will the program receive continued support, and is it designed with the lasting best interest of students in mind?
4. Get practitioner buy-in: will the new technology support teaching, or will it create additional work for those in the classroom? This is especially important to examine when an initiative comes from the top down.
Do you have any thoughts Deasy’s resignation, or initiatives to integrate new technology into education? Share them below.
The Information Literacy department has been hard at work creating new videos, modules, tutorials, and a variety of other resources that you can embed in your LibGuides, courses, sites, wherever you may need them. You can find basic research modules here, and a new feature-Two Minute Tips- here. These are designed to be broad overviews of topics that are cross-disciplinary and for a variety of levels. We have videos on citing, SearchPlus, and others. Feel free to check them out and suggest ideas for new projects in the comments.
However, we also have librarians and library staff ask us about or suggest different projects or ideas they'd like to see put into action. Some of these ideas are subject specific-focusing on a database or resource you use for the courses you teach, and others are more interactive tools you'd like to have to help your students as the they research and write. To help streamline this process and give an area to brainstorm, we've created a form here. This form asks a few basic questions about your project or idea-why it's needed, what you have in mind, if you anticipate any special technology needs, etc. The form will be sent to the Instructional Technology and Information Literacy Librarians, and help us determine what will be needed (or not!) so we can help librarians go from idea to deliverable. If you have questions about the form, or what happens once you submit, contact Jessica Sender or Emilia Marcyk.
In Part 2 of this series, I looked at some best practices for incorporating discovery tools into information literacy sessions. Since I am currently in the midst teaching, I wanted to take the opportunity to try some of them for myself. I focused most closely on these two best practices:
I was working with a class that centered around science topics, and had received a request beforehand to talk about evaluating sources. Since it’s easy to find bad information about science topics (whether insidious or just misinformed), focusing on critical thinking was especially important.
Before coming to class, the students already had a research question, and were grouped in teams of 3-5. In addition, they had just completed an exercise that asked them to evaluate the credibility of a website. At the start of class, I did a brief group exercise that reiterated what they had just learned about evaluating sources, and emphasized that they would need to evaluate any sources they found, not just websites. We also did a quick brainstorming activity that modeled how to think about keywords and search strategies for a topic.
Then I set them loose. Since their assignment required them to find an actual physical book in addition to other materials, I demonstrated the book filter quickly, but otherwise gave them little direction other than to try SearchPlus. They had about 25-30 minutes to search for items on their topic, and choose one example to present.
After the time they spent searching, I asked each group to present what they found. As we usually do in class, I asked them to show how they found the source, but also why they chose it to show to the class, relying on the criteria we developed earlier. I was gratified to see that most students were very critically engaged with the sources they found, even going so far as to Google the author or publisher to make sure it seemed credible.
I was also encouraged by the search strategies I saw modeled. Groups pointed out useful filters to their peers, and talked about changing search terms until they were satisfied with their search results. Since they were in the exploratory phase of their projects, students found a wide range of materials, from trade articles to encyclopedia entries to help them think about their topic.
Some thoughts: I acknowledge that some students may have found better results in a subject-specific database. However, I decided that it was more important for students to demonstrate that they were thinking critically about sources, and SearchPlus lent itself well to that outcome, since it took some of the cognitive load out of searching and allowed them to focus on evaluation. The students will have access to a course guide in D2L, and I did point out that more resources were linked there, should they need them. But for an introductory freshman class, I was happy both with the quality of sources they found, and the quality of thought behind their examples.
Have you tried something similar? Were you satisfied? Why or why not?
|<< <||> >>|