Workplace Literacy Falling Short: Teachers and Faculty

By Abram, Stephen | Internet@Schools, January/February 2013 | Go to article overview

Workplace Literacy Falling Short: Teachers and Faculty


Abram, Stephen, Internet@Schools


MOST of the attention for information literacy has been focused on students. That's great. That said, there's too big a gap for information literacy for teachers (as opposed to students) and faculty (professors as opposed to young scholars). While students can be taught the skills, tools, and resources that get an A, the needs of instructors to teach those skills and to use the competencies themselves to develop curriculum, lessons, and project ideas is another matter. And, it cannot be argued that we as librarians can be more effective and reach greater penetration of the competencies required for research and learning if we work through others- especially teachers and faculty.

The educational workplace is not a single or uniform population, as can be said broadly about mass markets such as consumers. With workplace audiences, there are key differentiations from the more common focus of librarians on the broad information literacy needs of end-user populations in the public library, school, college, and university sectors.

This column explores two amazing initiatives that attempt to move the needle on information literacy training in the workplace context through the use of semi-voluntary, self-paced elearning.

TEACHERS AS INFORMATION LITERACY TARGETS

Teachers in the K-12 space are a special group. They are tasked with delivering a broad program that is undergoing dynamic change in expectations while the technology framework and environment are changing very rapidly. At the same time, there are more opportunities than ever before to use technology and elearning to deal more effectively with the broader population of learners. Combined with a trend that shows an aging population of teachers as well as a growing group of new entrants to the profession of teaching, we see opportunity challenged by the huge scale of the change.

One interesting initiative has been undertaken by INFOhio, which is a state cooperative delivering shared services such as OPAC/ILS management, database licensing, and training. The program to invest in direct training of teachers, principals, and administrators in addition to the library staff in almost 2,600 libraries is amazing. One challenge has been to align the various schools with the principles of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21; www.p21.org). Having been adopted by a majority of U.S. states, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national organization that advocates for 21st-century readiness for every student. As the U.S. continues to compete in a global economy that demands innovation, P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the three R's and the four Cs (Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation). While leading districts and schools are already doing this, P21 advocates for local, state, and federal policies that support this approach for every school. The challenge of meeting the P21 goals largely starts with preparing the teachers to deliver on the vision, and INFOhio has taken the bull by the horns and taken a risk to transform and lead in the context of Ohio's systemwide goals.

ABOUT THE INFOHIO 21ST CENTURY LEARNING COMMONS

INFOhio's 21st Century Learning Commons is an online resource for all educators to explore and to learn (or update) skills. It is designed to do the following:

* Enhance 21st-century learning

* Provide a technologically advanced method to use INFOhio electronic resources

* Foster a sense of global community through a variety of technology and learning methods

The Learning Commons provides an array of resources to help educators understand how learning has changed, adapt their teaching methods, and discover new ways to inspire students to think critically, solve problems, collaborate, innovate, and create. The Learning Commons also supports Ohio joining P21.

INFOhio is a learning tool for all Ohio K-12 students and educators provided by state and federal funds.

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