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Archive for the ‘information literacy’ Category

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

In assessment of learning, Education, faculty responsibilities, information literacy, innovation in teaching, institutional responsibilities, teaching with technology, technology on April 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

All around us, the world is changing. From digital information everywhere to mashups, the landscape is changing.

Yet in higher education, we’ve been extremely slow to change. Holding to tradition can be beneficial, but educational institutions face a changing landscape that other institutions have faced. Medicine has changed with the advent of digital information. One study concluded that more than half the patients of a primary care internal medicine group used the internet for information, including information they did not share with their doctors (2002). The music industry has changed drastically; purchases of CDs has reduced y 50% with the advent of illegal file sharing and access to purchase individual songs. (See: Music’s Lost Decade) Yet in higher education we teach as though nothing has changed.

Lecturing has its benefits, but there are far more options available to teach. However, institutions and regulatory bodies do not make it easy to change. Classes are structured so that students are expected to spend 150 minutes per week “seat time” in their courses. Any changes to that structure require compliance with University regulations–and under faculty governance that means that the changes must be submitted to several faculty committees to be reviewed. At my institution, such changes generally take a year to progress through committees and sometimes longer. Clearly processes need to be changed to permit “pilots” or fast-paced changes.

In addition, the “a” word (assessment) requires that work must be evaluated to determine its effectiveness. Assessment can be complicated, since different factors may determine whether a technique has been effective. One factor is student effort-and that is difficult to measure. In addition, we tend to focus on short term (semester) but there can be long term implications that are not easily measured.

Why can’t we adopt a process that makes it easy for faculty to test new approaches, with a quick turnaround time and ample assistance to assess effectiveness?

Digital Information Everywhere: But it Doesn’t Change How We Educate Learners! Should it?!

In critical thinking, how people learn, information literacy, innovation in teaching on April 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm

directions_signInformation is everywhere and we should help students learn how to access and evaluate it. Education isn’t about going to school to get the information. Learning occurs with experiential activities, developing student activities and embracing failure as a way to learn.

I learned some concepts best when I answered them wrong on a test and got feedback quickly enough so that I could clearly follow where I went wrong. If we’re going to improve learning, as the video author states, we must refocus on how we encourage learning. Educators and institutions must re-evaluate the role of tests in promoting student learning and promoting cognition. Tests are not always the best way to foster improved learning. I believe tests are one tool, but there are many other tools to encourage authentic learning.

Because information is everywhere, we must also provide learners with the tools to evaluate information. The ALA defines information literacy as

“a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”

So students must know more than the textbook or teacher as the source of information, but instead must be able to read any source and conduct an target_and_arrow_missedanalysis of the credibility of the content. Institutions must develop methods to encourage the pedagogy of authenticity and of failure in order to learn. I’ve discussed the benefits of failure to improve learning in this post. I’ve discussed the need to teach information literacy in this post.

I’d love to implement and assess some version of this. That’s my next project, possibly, after I finish the Twitter and ePortfolio activities.

Copyright Law + Education = Strange Bedfellows

In critical thinking, faculty responsibilities, how people learn, information literacy, innovation in teaching, integrity, teaching on February 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm

In the article, Do Students Have Copyright to their Own Notes, Erica Perez summarizes the arguments pro and con for students owning their class notes. The specific concern was that students were uploading the notes onto websites and, in some cases, purporting to sell them.

First, should students have a copyright in their own notes?  Absolutely!

Students’ notes are copyrighted by the students and students should be able to do anything they want with them, including sell them (although California law makes that illegal) or post them on a website. After all, when students take notes, they’re adding their interpretations of what their instructors present in classes. This is true whether the students copy from a faculty-member provided outline or whether students create and outline the notes solely from lectures or other presentations. And notes memorialize what students heard, so they can use them to study, to study with others in the class and to help students who did not attend class.

So, why the fuss? Faculty believe that the notes students take during class are based on instructors’ intellectual property. That intellectual property is the faculty members’ in-class presentation of research (sometimes) or other information  that the faculty members have developed over time and often at great effort and expense. But let’s examine that point more closely.  Most faculty giants feetdid not create this knowledge independently–they created it by “standing on the shoulders of giants” in their fields and building on those giants’ research and knowledge. Although the instructors present their “take” on the knowledge and the faculty’s presentation is thus copyrightable/copyrighted and valuable, that doesn’t mean that the students cannot copyright their “take” on the information. Each individual’s interpretation of the information has value-and copyright law permits that value to be protected.

This raises a larger issue, though, the issue of “knowledge” in general and the copyright law in particular. In education, we remain wedded to the notion that knowledge resides solely within the purview of the instructor. Think about it, though. According to Google, there are nearly 130 million books (and it plans to digitize all of them). As of August 2010, Google has digitized approximately 12 million.  That does not include other works, such as peer-reviewed articles available in paper and electronic format. It’s impossible for any one faculty member to have mastery over any significant part of that. In fact, that’s the reason that teaching information and digital literacy is so important-it’s not only having some knowledge that’s important, it’s equally important to be able to find and critically evaluation the information that’s available everywhere.

Most of us in higher education teach behind closed doors. We enter the classroom and the teaching and leaRuins of Lamanai-doorrning that occurs behind that door is a secret between the teacher and the students in that course. When students finish that course, they are to emerge with greater knowledge than when they entered. And I hope that’s true. Appropriate assessment can help faculty determine whether that has occurred.

Yet access to information has changed and so, too, must faculty’s role. The recitation and Socratic method of questioning so popular during Socrates’ time was based on the idea that Socrates had “read all the books” and as he presented his oratory he questioned his students to ensure that they were “getting it,” partly because the students hadn’t “read all the books.” Now, students have access to the books and access to a wide variety of digital resources-credible and non-credible. As technology continues to improve, students will be able to use their cell phones to access far more resources than the faculty. Faculty’s role must change to one of assisting students evaluate and manage that information, in addition to passing on the key concepts of a discipline. This evolution involves disruptive, transformational change in the way faculty promote and assess learning.

And copyright law has its own problems in that it, as Lessig would say, stifles creativity. I agree. If we continue to restrict access to information, that will, of necessity encourage underground versions of information or stifle creative versions of information.

So, should students own the copyright to their notes? Absolutely! Does that have an impact on education? Yes, as long as we continue to teach from behind closed doors.  Should it have that significant an impact? Absolutely not! Let’s move past this discussion to work on institutional change in the way we teach.

Wikipedia is dead! Long Live Wikipedia!

In information literacy on January 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

A colleague shared this link with me: Students Mourn Wikipedia Blackout.

The blog post summarizes Wikipedia’s decision to create a one-day blackout to protest Congress’s consideration of two controversial laws on Internet sites.  The comments following the post are priceless and are a testament to Wikipedia’s  popularity as a source of any and all educational material. Students’ “colorful metaphors” [as cursing was described by Captain Kirk in Star Trek IV] are priceless:  simplistic, expressive and responses from desperation at being unable to conduct academic research.

Information Overload and Innovation

In information literacy, innovation in teaching on November 29, 2010 at 8:53 am

In the article Information Overload, Then and Now,  Ann Blair explains that complaints of information overload began two thousand years ago, when people began preserving information through writing . She explains the joy and frustrations created in earlier times in this way: “Writing on durable surfaces (like parchment or paper), with a high level of redundancy (when multiple copies were produced, whether manuscript or printed), also made it possible to recover texts after they had fallen into oblivion, so that being in continuous active use was no longer essential to a text’s transmission, as is the case in an oral culture.”

Information overload in older times included the complication of searching for and finding relevant information. Blair notes the range of history from note-taking, informally collecting information through note-taking and formally storing information alphabetically and using indexing, organization methods within books to make the information more accessible and use of bibliographies. The article ends with a caution to build on what we’ve learned about storing and collecting information as we continue to store, collect and access information in electronic formats.

The issues raised in the article are magnified now that individuals can search using search engines such as Google, can store that information on their own and other computers, can add to that information through online mechanisms such as wikipedia and can create mashups that take data (regardless of its format) and manipulate it quickly to create new materials.

scales balancing traditional values and new thinkingAs we adopt methods to implement disruptive transformational change in teaching and learning, we must remain mindful of the tension between the traditions of knowledge that have served us well and the need to help learners filter through massive amounts of information available at their fingertips. In teaching, that involves, in part, helping students manage information literacy, or the ability to review information to determine its credibility. At the same time, change often occurs through innovation and mashups and using other web 2.0 tools can help create that change. Educators continue to struggle to figure out the best way to accomplish that balance.

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