Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

New Zealand School Librarians: Technology Leaders?

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

New Zealand School Librarians: Technology Leaders?

Article excerpt

Introduction

What helps and hinders school librarian's position as technology leaders within their schools?

New Zealand schools are currently in a transitional period where technology is becoming a core aspect of the way they facilitate their duty - to provide their students with the skills they will need for the future. As many New Zealand schools have been embracing this, little research has been done toward investigating how the school's librarians are making themselves relevant as education transitions into an era where books are not the sole information resource for students.

The New Zealand government began a $300 million broadband initiative roll out in 2011 with an aim to provide 97.7% of New Zealand schools with the ability to access high speed Internet and improve educational outcomes for students, teachers and administrators (Fiber to schools, fact sheet).

The question is: 'What happens after broadband has arrived at the schools?' Who will help students make the most out of the countries investment? Librarians are uniquely positioned within their school community as knowledge managers. As both quality and access to ICT improve in New Zealand schools, there is a need to monitor the conditions school librarians are in to ensure best practice is promoted. This qualitative research aims to capture a snapshot of the current attitudes and situations of school librarians.

Review of Literature

To date, little academic study has been conducted in New Zealand and abroad to evaluate school librarians as technology leaders (Johnston, 2012). However, in recent years some overseas research has delved into various aspects of this area and provided insight into the importance and potential for school librarians within this role as technology leaders.

Information Literacy

Information literacy is a main component in lifelong learning. It aids people in becoming more effective problem solvers, especially in this heavily digitally geared society, (Fernandez- Villavicencio, 2010) and as Servon and Nelson describe; 'access to information technology (IT) and the ability to use it, increasingly become part of the toolkit necessary to participate and prosper in an information-based society' (Sevron and Nelson, 2001, p. 279).

Overseas information literacy studies show that to impact people's abilities to communicate and progress, education must transition into a sphere where people do not simply consume information but also produce it (McShane, 2011). The Internet has become a global forum for business, socializing and education. If students do not have the know-how, to both use and produce on the web, they will not be able to participate in the global market to its full extent.

New Zealand's fiber infrastructure, which is currently being implemented, intends to provide schools with the option to offer high quality Internet access for their students. Offering equal access to all of New Zealand's students will put them on par with each other and students overseas, and will in turn aid them being able to compete in the global market.

Knowledge paired with infrastructure

Even though the hardware is being implemented around New Zealand, it is only half of the battle. A study of four U.S. towns with new technology infrastructure found that the only place (Connecticut) where the fiber optic cable implementation was paired with education programs showed any major improvements to the public's ability to use computers (LaRose, Strover, Gregg, and Straubhaar, 2011).

Other issues that have arisen are students' abilities to think critically. A focus group study on undergraduate students in the U.S. found that while the students were quite familiar with social networking sites, their knowledge of possible education Web 2.0 resources, like bookmarking tools, was lacking (Burhanna, Seeholzer, and Salem, 2009). Unless a student is not specifically taking a web-based class they are not being provided with tools for assessing the information they find on the web for its quality and accuracy. …

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