MMIS_50 - Stephen's Lighthouse

Pipeline Column
Due Oct. 14, 2012
Internet @ Schools Jan/Feb 2012 Issue
Workplace Literacy Falling Short: Teachers and Faculty
by Stephen Abram
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 like 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 public library, school,
college and university sectors. These can broadly be thought of in several key
 Teachers are adults and adult learning and education have very different
aspects in that there are more solidified learning styles and expectations,
competing priorities for time, compensation and performance
considerations as well as demographic issues related to age and
adoption strategies;
 There are a wider range of and need for partnerships with other
stakeholder groups in the host organization such as human resources
professionals, training departments, executive champions, board or
institutional priorities, quality leaders, financial leaders;
 There are stronger and more clearly defined strategic goals that are
managed, targeted and measured, such as improvements in testing
scores, safety and privacy, assessment, productivity, efficiency and
effectiveness, budget issues, cost control, process and technological
change, etc. There may also be cultural and environmental issues
related to unionization, tenure and faculty associations;
 There are key measurements that predominate decision-making in this
sector that include scores, return on investment, return on effort, revenue
growth/cost savings, and strategic alignment with long term and
operational goals;
 There are strong institutional and cultural considerations around how
‘things are done here” and alignment with the cultural and learning values
of the dominant profession or industry and commercial norms as well as
the differences in the generations;
 While teamwork may be present in some projects, the commercial
environment has teamwork as the norm and teaching in a classroom is
often a more solo effort;
 Lastly, the training and development opportunities provided by an
employer may not be by choice or voluntary and not all target audiences
choose to attend, engage, learn or adopt.
This column explores two amazing initiatives that attempt to move the needle on
information literacy training in the workplace context through the use of semivoluntary, self-paced e-learning.
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 at the same
time as the technology framework and environment is changing very rapidly. At
the same time there are more opportunities to deal more effectively with the
broader population of learners than ever before using technology and e-learning.
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 is that undertaken by INFOhio, which is a state
cooperative delivering shared services such as OPAC/ILS management,
database licensing, and training. Their 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 [].
Having been adopted by a vast majority of US States, the Partnership for 21st
Century Skills is a national organization that advocates for 21st century
readiness for every student. As the United States 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 3Rs and
4Cs (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:
Enhance 21st century learning
Provide a technologically-advanced method to utilize INFOhio electronic
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 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 the Partnership for 21st
Century Skills. The Partnership is the leading national advocacy organization
focused on integrating 21st century learning into core subjects.
INFOhio is a learning tool for all Ohio K-12 students and educators provided by
state and federal funds. It offers a large online collection of educational
resources, which includes images, videos, popular magazines, newspapers,
scholarly journals, encyclopedias, audio and e-books, as well as content in
multiple languages. These resources help students develop 21st century thinking
skills, virtual collaboration skills, and new ways to express themselves.
INFOhio developed the 21 Things program that is a self-paced, asymmetrical,
asynchronous e-learning system that promises to update and teacher’s skills to
prepare for the needs of 21st Century learners and teaching. You can see the full
INFOhio 21 Things program here:
[]. Here
are the highlights of the 21 online lessons below.
Thing #1 Learning Path:
Orientation to what 21 Essential Things for 21st Century Success is
all about and an introduction to 21st Century Standards and 21st
Century educational organizations.
Thing #2 Learning Path:
Guided tour of the INFOhio Site including introduction to the
INFOhio Help Resources and INFOhio’s 21st Century Learning
Thing #3 Learning Path:
Guided tour of the INFOhio Research Calculator and an instruction
to Widgets which can form the basis of a model to guide students in
Thing #4 Learning Path:
Introduction to finding current educational research that will assist
classroom teaching.
Thing #5 Learning Path:
Guided tour of RSS feeds and Alerts. And an introduction to the
INFOhio subscriptions that provide RSS feed. Start a personal blog
and a Pageflake.
Thing #6 Learning Path:
Read articles, watch videos and review websites focusing on Digital
Citizenship and introduction to the concept-mapping and the tool
Thing #7 Learning Path:
Participate in a KnowItNow Session and begin a Weebly homework
center for a classroom cohort of students.
Thing #8 Learning Path:
Reinforce the learning styles concept and participate in instruction
on learning styles. Review INFOhio materials that meet different
learning styles in the classroom.
Thing #9 Learning Path:
Guided tour of the TRAILS Site and introduction to 21st century
assessment tools: RubiStar and SurveyMonkey.
Thing #10 Learning Path:
Experiment with and learn about different types of search engines
beyond Google and an introduction to visual searching.
Thing #11 Learning Path:
Tutorials on Biography databases, Wordle and Glogster, Oxford
Reference and and ways to use these resources in the
Thing #12 Learning Path:
Introduction to resources on transitioning to college and careers.
Participate in searching academic journals and free Internet
information and using social bookmarking in an educational setting.
Thing #13 Learning Path:
Participate in a guided tour of the Learning Express Library (LEL)
and review e-books, software tutorials and test preparation
materials available through LEL.
Thing #14 Learning Path:
Participate in a guided tour of the licensed databases and the
creation of virtual learning centers.
Thing #15 Learning Path:
Guided tours of digital encyclopedia products and 21st century
tools for students and teachers.
Thing #16 Learning Path:
Review research on visual learners, multiple intelligences and
individual learning styles and introduction to the Ohio Digital Video
Collection (ODVC).
Thing #17 Learning Path:
Guided tour demonstrating how to find materials that match
individual learning styles and needs in licensed databases and
INFOhio resources. Complete a Boolean logic tutorial. Review a
selection of virtual book club, book discussion and book title
sharing sites.
Thing #18 Learning Path:
Review mobile apps for education. Engage in e-book articles,
searching and classroom use. Participate in podcast skills including
searching, listening and creating.
Thing #19 Learning Path:
Participate in a guided tour of the image collections available
through INFOhio and other sources like the American Memory
Thing #20 Learning Path:
Guided tour of Science Online from INFOhio and basic concepts
regarding STEM.
Thing #21 Learning Path:
Learn new tools for professional learning such as the social tools
Twitter and LinkedIn.
This approach is an integrated approach. It focuses on building on the teacher’s
professional competencies, reinforcing important knowledge like new research
into critical thinking, learning styles, and multiple intelligences in the K-12
environment and adding new skills and resources driven by technological
opportunities. It also scales for almost 2,600 schools and a staff of teachers and
librarians spread across a large state. Thousands of school librarians as
partners in education as well as thousands of teachers and administrators have
now engaged with INFOhio's Learning Commons and the 21 Things for Ohio
school faculty. Lastly, by endowing teachers with specific information literacy
skills and ensuring that they are aware of and know how to use available web
and library resources for curriculum needs, librarians can expect to have a
greater impact on a greater number of learners.
We can learn from how higher education tries to endow their faculty with the
necessary new skills. Here’s an example.
Faculty: Professors as an Information Literacy Target and Gateway
In many universities and colleges, the teaching and research employees
sometimes get lost in the shuffle with respect to information literacy training as
the focus is on endowing undergraduates with information literacy competencies.
In many respects, focusing on the professors and lecturers can have a greater
impact on more students. A hybrid model is obviously far better, but in times of
restricted budgets sometimes choices about priorities must be made. When
teaching staff are ignored things are left up to chance and there is a quite spotty
implementation of teaching and research literacy strategies. This is made even
more complex with the variant tools and resources used in different disciplines.
Too often too few investments are made in the teaching skills of those who are
tasked with delivering the program. One success factor for libraries is that when
professors and lecturers are trained in the modern information literacy options
available through the library and network, then library use can go up and the
work product of students improves as well. This train the trainer strategy is tried
and true but still underutilized. Some research shows that even drop-out rates
(retention rates) fall precipitously among those students that use the library
versus those that don’t.
One successful hybrid program for both students and faculty is that employed by
the fully online information science and librarianship degree at the School of
Information Studies at San José State University [SJSU] in California. This
school graduates more master degrees in librarianship than any other and has a
cohort of students that is international. The tenured faculty and lecturers are also
resident in many countries and teach virtually from a distance to small cohort
classes of distance learners. Yet, SJSU has been able to ensure that all staff
and students are able to partake of the curriculum evenly and have the skills to
participate in a fully e-learning environment. All students are required to take and
pass a course in the skills and technologies that will be necessary to succeed in
this program. More importantly, all professors and lecturers have engaged in the
fundamental learning course and are capable of using all of the tools at their
disposal to deliver the program. Most universities have adopted e-learning
technologies, some many different ones, and some have changed platforms
many times. Too many have left the adoption of these tools up to individual
course deliverers to learn independently or for departments to develop their own
training, or not. This Swiss cheese approach damages education and the
learner’s success. On the other hand, access to these learning management
systems already paid for by the institution represents a great opportunity for
librarians to scale their training to a higher level and impact.
Take a look at the SJSU Syllabus:
This course introduces students and faculty to a variety of new and
emerging technologies used in today's online environment. It covers
various social networking platforms, content and learning management
tools, web conferencing, and other trends in social computing.
The class is taught in a totally online environment and will involve
synchronous and asynchronous connectivity. Students and faculty should
begin working on the course before starting the coursework. There are
assignments and assessments. Each student must successfully
participate in a synchronous meeting held via Blackboard Collaborate web
conferencing. There are optional synchronous sessions for additional
networking and information sharing.
This one unit course consists of nine modules. Since this is a one unit
CR/NC course, assignments consist of showing competency in various
social and learning technologies and platforms and engaging in discussion
on social computing in response to readings and questions raised by the
instructor. Details follow:
Learning Management System
Work within the D2L learning management system and
demonstrate competency by:
o setting up personal information
o accessing the class roster
o using e-mail
o working with discussion areas to post messages and replies
o submitting an assignment
o retrieving a graded assignment and comments
o uploading work to their personal ePortfolio area
Social Networking Platforms and Principles
Learn principles of social networking and demonstrate competency
o setting up a blog (use of a pseudonym/alias is acceptable)
o identifying the link to the RSS feed for the blog
o setting up an account on a collaborative social networking
Technology Tools and Literacy
Demonstrate basic technology skills expected of SLIS faculty and
Web Conferencing: Blackboard Collaborate
Work within the web conferencing system and demonstrate
competency by:
o connecting to Collaborate
o participating in a synchronous session including audio
o using breakout rooms for small group discussion
o using the whiteboard for collaborative interaction
Personal Skills
Students will:
o write about their understanding of teamwork in the online
o contribute to a collaborative online document
E-mail Discussion Lists
Demonstrate successful subscription to an e-mail discussion list
and will compare using e-mail and RSS for receipt of information.
Library Resources
Students will demonstrate their understanding of online library
resources by:
o creating a PIN for their library account
o successfully completing the LOTSS tutorial (3 modules)
o successfully completing the library's plagiarism tutorial
APA Style
Retrieve a scholarly article on a specified topic and properly format
the appropriate reference citation in APA style.
Successfully complete an online quiz to demonstrate their
understanding of the follow processes:
o finding help for MySJSU
o checking grades
o checking finances
o working with messaging
Earning Credit:
This one unit CR/NC course is required for all incoming SLIS students and
new faculty. In order to obtain a CR:
all activities listed in the Course Materials that require a
demonstration of competency must be successfully completed.
 all reading and discussion items must be completed at the "B" level
or better.
 all assignments and activities must be completed.
In addition to the required textbook, online readings include:
LOTSS: Library Online Tutorial for the School of Library and
Information Science Students. Retrieved from
 SJSU SLIS D2L Student Tutorials. Retrieved from
 SLIS Student Guide to Blackboard Collaborate. Retrieved from
 Additional material will be posted on the course site.
Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Employ appropriate social networking software for collaboration
with colleagues.
2. Utilize a learning management system to organize coursework.
3. Use the tools of web conferencing software to work synchronously
with colleagues.
4. Implement a variety of strategies to ensure success while taking
coursework via an online environment.
1. skills necessary for professional collaboration and presentations.
Required Textbooks:
American Psychological Association (2009). Publication Manual of the
American Psychological Association (6th ed.) Chicago: American
Psychological Association.
This is a Credit/No Credit course.
So we can see that if students and teaching staff are held to the same
foundation, that there is a platform for success. This is just one way to make
success sustainable and scalable. All service and program deliverers, including
professors, lecturers, librarians and teaching assistants must have a common
understanding of:
1. All learning management systems (LMS) involved in the delivery of the
2. All information resources available to the students and staff through the
library’s OPAC, interlibrary loan, and licensed digital resources and print
3. All help services like reference services, research support, writing labs,
advisory, one-on-one training, etc.
4. Departmental resources and webpages.
5. Available automated citation tools.
6. Copying and copyright compliance support for learning materials and
curriculum and lesson creation.
7. Additional technology support like cloud services, data support, e-mail,
Skype, blogs, wikis,, printing, computer support, etc.
8. Acceptable use policies as well as academic integrity policies.
That accomplished with an e-learning system implementation supplemented by
in-person library classes, classroom visits, or one-on-one support and training,
provides a scalable solution. Library based individual or classroom training is not
sustainable as the sole delivery strategy to have a positive impact on all students
and faculty. It is not as scalable as the challenge facing libraries and literacy.
The two programs highlighted above demonstrate what can be accomplished.
Indeed, when they are mandated by the board, school, university or college then
magic can happen and the world of research and learning will be a better place
and can move on to the next challenge.
By ensuring that faculty have the specific information literacy skills for e-learning
and library research and ensuring that they are aware of and know how to use
available web and library resources, academic librarians can expect to have a
greater impact on a greater number of learners and researchers. This focus
aligns the library more closely with the core mandates of their host institutions to
support education, publication, research and discovery.
Stephen Abram, MLS is Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Markets for
Gale Cengage Learning. He is a Past President of SLA, the Ontario Library
Association and the Canadian Library Association. He is the author of ALA
Edition’s Out Front with Stephen Abram and Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog. Stephen
would love to hear from you at