Will Information Power help library media specialists integrate technology into a library skills curriculum?
School Library Journal, Jan 1999
My dad used to say that no one’s ever bought a quarter-inch drill bit because he wanted a quarter-inch drill bit. What every one’s really wanted was a quarter-inch hole.
Schools don’t invest in technology because they want technology. They invest in technology because they want students who can use technology to find, analyze and communicate information in order to solve problems. Nice to know that AASL and AECT have figured this out and have incorporated that philosophy of technology use into the new standards.
At first blush, I was disappointed that the Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning did not address technology use more directly. It is not mentioned in the Information Literacy and Independent Learning categories at all, and in the third strand, Social Responsibility, it is mentioned only in regard to responsible behavior and collaborative usefulness. The subtle message is that electronic technologies are simply another source of information, of no greater or lesser importance than print or analog video. I agree, I guess, but I am not sure that subtly has ever been effective in creating educational change. And right now any group that is willing to say it can show how technology can be used productively will be listened to. So it will primarily be up to media specialists to show the relationship between the new information literacy standards and the effective use of technology through examples. For those who read the accompanying “Standards in Action,” many fine examples of using technology are given, and the more progressive media people in the field will able to supply many of their own.
Technology is also listed as one of the three areas along with collaboration and leadership that should be integrated into all aspects of the school library program. The standards clearly state, “The library media specialist is a primary leader in the school’s use of all kinds of technologies - both instructional and informational - to enhance learning.” And strong ideas about using technology to help form links within the “learning community” are advanced. I’m proud to say my association understands its relationship to new tools like e-mail, newsgroups and listservs, and knows how tools like these will be used to create better kinds of learning experiences for students. And that library media specialists need to be there to help this happen.
These standards, if read, shared, and used with other educators, come at a good time. The public is just now figuring out how much money it has invested in educational technology and has started asking if and how technology is being effectively used with its children. Media specialists can use these new standards as both a philosophical and pragmatic tool to help schools use technology in powerful ways that are measurable and important. The standards could have been stronger regarding technology use, but what there is, is right on target.