NMC 2006: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Information: Learning by Immersion

Mary Alice Ball, from the School of Library and Information Science at the Indiana University at Indianapolis presented. She teaches information policy there, which includes issues, stakeholders and influences. She wanted future librarians to understand that technology is a catalyst for change. The nature of content is changing. Content is moving away from text, for example. Our roles are changing. Librarians have been intermediaries between content creators and consumers. Not anymore. And policy always lags behind the technology.

Students have had a passive approach to their education and she wanted to change this. She wanted students to experience content creation as well as consumption. She wants students to take risks, and to be open to the unexpected.

There was a good mix of students, and the class met half-online and half in the classroom. They used Breeze and their course management system. There were two teams, into which students self-selected. Policy team and technology team. Students felt safe to risk joining the technology team even if they felt it was their weakness.

She added podcasts and streaming media. She'd been promised iPods for the class, but it ended up not working out in time (death by committee). There were traditional readings and non-tradiitonal readings. Lots of discussion online and in the classroom. Guest speakers in person and online (MSN Messenger)

A student proposed a podcast project, and she turned it into a vodcast (keeping up with Purdue). Collaboration was also key to the course's success. One student had real problems collaborating, and left the class. The remaining students created a web site (Joomla CMS, discussion forums & IM, papers, abstracts and weblinks). Close interplay took place between the technology team and the policy team.

Students were challenged with limited contact and limited structure for the class overall. By having students create information content while learning, the class was recursive. Students opted to restrict access to their content. They also learned that technology rules over policy – the code determines what can happen, not the policy. They also learned that consumers are overwhelmed by the amount of content to be consumed. Consumers also feel intimidated by the lack of control. They learned that authority is unclear and that librarians need to assume more responsibility to educate themselves and others.

Question: did you use wikis or blogs? No. The students didn't feel that wikis would give them the type of control and structure they wanted (while our presenter said they understood wikis, I seriously doubt this is the case based on this comment). As for blogs, she thought the students would put a blog up, but the technology team was overwhelmed with the amount of work they had, and it didn't happen. Mary Alice has decided not to try using wikis or blogs this next time she teaches the class.

I followed up on the reasons not to use a wiki, and without explicitly discussing the matter, she felt that it was too much for them to learn. Videos were captured and edited by Mary as well, so the student work for the course essentially was content in the Joomla CMS.

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