Taking a “Teaching Information Literacy” course via ALA….

June 7, 2012

Copyright 2011 American Library Association. All Rights Reserved.

 I just started an online course through ALA: Teaching Information Literacy to College Students.  I am hoping that I will get some new, great ideas to take the “one-shot” or other classes to the next level.  The class also includes the e-book, which I will give a brief review of in the future.

One of the best aspects about these courses is chatting with other librarians of differing levels and experience.  Some are solo librarians; some are seasoned professionals.  Some are just starting out or trying to develop an IL program.  The conversations are great–we get to give each other varied perspectives, critique each other’s work, and talk about library issues. 

The first discussion has been about how librarians who are short-staffed cope with reaching all students.  First, it is unfortunate that, with many under-employed, unemployed, and newly graduated librarians, there has to be such understaffing issues when information literacy is probably more important than ever.  It is difficult to conduct consistent credit IL programs or incorporate IL into existing classes without enough people to carry these programs out.  Second, it is very heartening to see all the creative ways that people try to adjust to these shortages by keeping their focus not on the lack of time and staff, but on the faculty and students.   Online modules, close collaboration with faculty, workshops focused on student needs, and more have so far been shared by the librarians in this class.   Offering options that “go where the students and faculty go” are a great way to reach out to grab those who you cannot get to due to time constraints.

A big theme that appears over and over is COLLABORATION.  Although it is an initial time commitment, librarians need to take the time to develop consistent and deep relationships with their faculty. The faculty will then “share” that relationship with their students.  Then, the expectation is set, and things become viral!

We need to “sell” Information Literacy via such collaboration (as well as in other ways) so that it is a given part of the college experience, whether that means a one-credit course or completing online modules.  All students should have some form of IL in their first year, with a continued build up through subsequent courses, so that they are prepared for the future.

Today’s students may not know it, but they need to have the critical thinking, organizational, and evaluative skills to succeed in LIFE after “the grade.”  We librarians should be there with the faculty to introduce and nurture these skills.

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