January 17, 2008

All of this suggests that cats may be more evolutionarily advanced than a lot of academics

What a great line!

It's taken from Rob Weir's Learning from Cats article in today's InsideHigherEd. The article is about figuring out what battles we should just call closed and walk away from. Since it's from the faculty perspective, not all of them are all that relevant to libraries. My answers in bold.

The first is a good one, though:

1. What Do We Do About Poorly Prepared Incoming Students? How about teach them? It seems like I’ve been hearing the same tape loop since I was 18 and was told my generation was ignoramus-ridden because it had no training in Latin. Let’s just admit that each generation comes to the table with different skill sets and move on. This is the ultimate lost chase. What students ought to know is irrelevant when faced with a classroom of those who don’t know it.

I agree here 100%. The students are who they are and we just have to deal with it. At the same time, we also have to remember that our job is to help them learn and grow rather than encourage them to be comfortable with their current habits and limitations. An important aspect of this issue is to remember that there still is a huge digital divide amongst our students. By no means are they uniformly tech savvy. By the same token, they are often not as tech savvy as they think they are, they are often quite over confident in their abilities.

And teasers for a couple of others:
  • 3. Should the Academy Operate According to a Consumer Model?
    A tough one for libraries. We have to walk a fine line between helping students find resources that just happen to be provided by commercial vendors and acting as a conduit, providing eyeballs to vendors for commercial exploitation. Same with the way we implement a lot of the newer tech tools. Our first loyalty is always to our patrons, not our vendors.

  • 4. Why Should Faculty Be Forced to Be Tech-Savvy?
    Why should librarians be forced to be tech-savvy? Hehe. It's a bit different here, as not all librarians have the same job descriptions, where as all faculty have to teach and interact with students. So, let's just talk public service librarians. First of all, it's unreasonable to expect everyone to be equally tech-savvy. There's going to just be range, and in my experience the range isn't as determined by age as people like to make out. That being said, any reference librarian that can't help a patron with simple questions with Word or Excel is behind the times. Similarly, the use of USB memory sticks is pretty standard now. To help students at the reference desk, we need to have a pretty decent average tech savviness.

    Similarly, for instruction we're just going to need to be fairly familiar with the tools of the trade, be it CMSs, wikis or creating web pages, handouts or whatever. As advocates for and stewards of our libraries' online presences, we need to be aware of trends, open to new ideas, willling to experiment and critical of fads and snake oil salespeople.

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