Technology Competency Requirements of ALA-Accredited Library Science Programs: An Updated Analysis

By Scripps-Hoekstra, Lindy; Carroll, Megan et al. | Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, January 2014 | Go to article overview

Technology Competency Requirements of ALA-Accredited Library Science Programs: An Updated Analysis


Scripps-Hoekstra, Lindy, Carroll, Megan, Fotis, Theresa, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science


Introduction

The field of librarianship draws individuals from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Some incoming Library and Information Science (LIS) students are "digital natives," often fresh out of their undergraduate experience and well-versed in a variety of technologies. Others are entering the field after relatively lengthy careers in other areas and represent "digital immigrants" as they may have adopted new technologies later in life (Prensky, 2001). The task of teaching students with such a broad range of skills and experiences has led some LIS graduate programs to develop technological skill requirements to ensure that incoming students are fully prepared to begin their education and succeed in an academic environment that has become largely dependent on technology.

Dominican University's Graduate School of Library Information Science requires incoming students to demonstrate technological competency. An ALAaccredited program just outside Chicago, Dominican developed its LIS student technology competencies in 2007. These competencies require all students to complete a series of tests demonstrating adequate skills in the use of Microsoft Office and HTML as well as the ability to search the Internet, evaluate web pages, and manage files. Students must complete and submit these tests for evaluation by the end of their first nine credit hours. Assistance is provided for inexperienced students through workshops provided by the Dominican chapter of the Library and Information Sciences Student Association and the IT department.

After several years of use, Dominican's Technology Competency Committee has decided to revisit the requirements and system used to evaluate students. This evaluation came after student discontent with the current setup, largely coming from technologically-sawy digital natives who saw the required tests as busy work-overly simple yet time-consuming. In the process of revamping Dominican's technology competencies, questions have arisen as to what other LIS programs are doing to evaluate and assess incoming student skills.

Revisiting and building upon a prior study conducted in 2008, this research examined the websites of the 58 ALAaccredited LIS graduate programs in order to better understand what schools are currently doing to ensure their students have the technological skills necessary for academic success. While Dominican's Technology Competency Committee will directly benefit from a survey of other schools' practices, this study will also help provide a better understanding of the expectations of the field as a whole and how these may have changed over the past four years.

The following research questions were specifically posed:

* How many LIS graduate programs provide published technology requirements and what form do these take?

* What skills do program websites list as requirements and/or recommendations?

* How do programs evaluate incoming students' technical knowledge?

* What types of remedial support do programs provide for incoming students?

* Do schools with a similar profile share similar requirements, evaluation methods or remedial support?

* How have technology competency expectations specified on program websites changed since 2008?

Literature Review

As the evolution of technology continues to impact on the field of librarianship, educators in LIS have reassessed curriculum accordingly. The impact of technology on LIS education has been widely documented in the literature, perhaps most notably in the 2000 KALIPER Report (Association for Library and Information Science Education, 2000). After completing their in-depth assessment of LIS curricula, the scholars behind KALIPER marked a curricular sea change by identifying technology as a major component in coursework trends. This development was further examined in Markey's widely cited study of LIS curricula which designated technology as a major emerging theme based on the 55 ALA-accredited programs examined (Markey, 2004). …

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