Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Faculty and Reference Librarians-A Virtual Dynamic Duo

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Faculty and Reference Librarians-A Virtual Dynamic Duo

Article excerpt

An Internal Educational Partnership for Learning

In the 21st century, there are new rules, new players, and indisputably new technology. Curricular reform has returned as a buzzword, and a never-ending supply of information has created a need for efficient filters of raw data at virtually any place and any time. The proliferation of distance learning programs in higher education is a direct consequence of the demands of an information-based society. The new literacy for the 21st century and beyond is clearly the ability to utilize appropriate technological tools in an information society (Evans 1999). During the past decade, the use of technology in instructional delivery, both traditional and distance learning, increased at a seemingly exponential rate. At Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) in Gainesville, Fla., continuous steps are underway to facilitate the redesign of teaching and learning environments as a proactive measure for remodeling old styles of instruction in order to blend newer styles of education effectively in a digital age.

All students enrolled at SFCC have access to several state-of-the-art technology labs. The college's primary Technology Lab, which is commonly referred to as the Big Open Lab (BOL), has approximately 150 Pentium computers, set up as independent workstations for student use, six networked printers, and two scanners. Incorporation of technology into traditional classroom instruction reflects college-wide goals of implementing national standards regarding technology usage in the curriculum.

Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age

The digital age has significantly impacted the infrastructure of higher education and its delivery. It is not a coincident that the final decade of the 20th century has been inundated with changes in the mission statements of community colleges, a complete makeover of the college library, and an emphasis on establishing learning communities. Digital technology has had great impact on information access, integration, and management. Chris Dede, professor of Education and Information Technology at George Mason University (1992), discussed the problem of information overload and the commensurate need to structure immersion-centered experiences of interacting with information to prepare students for fully participating in 21st century society. He urged a greater focus on filtering incoming information, rather than simply foraging for data.

Digital accessibility has changed the flow of information (Norton and Lester 1996), and the visibility of the college library has been impacted dramatically. In particular, technological advancement and its impact on an integrated curriculum have merged positively to highlight the role of the reference librarian as an invaluable information professional. At SFCC, as the capabilities of the digital reference desk continue to grow, the 21st century learner enrolled in coursework is interested in boundary-less learning, computer literacy with rapid access to information, and interdisciplinary applications. Remaining proactive, as well as reactive, to student needs, SFCC has encouraged 21st century faculty members to move beyond the textbooks to integrate teaching, learning, and technology into their curricula, and to establish interdisciplinary relationships with other faculty and staff. One of the most visible internal and collaborative relationships that have been formed is the virtual dynamic duo between SFCC faculty and library staff.

The 21st Century Community College Library

The role of the library has undergone a startling, yet important, metamorphosis in the past decade. SFCC's 21st century reference librarian has contributed to the architecture of new teaching and learning environments for faculty and students. Its library provides instructional support through online resources, the digital reference desk for information access and an entirely new course of instruction -- library information science (LIS). …

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