As a recently hired librarian I know that I’m going to be working with a lot of distance education classes and have struggled with how I might replicate a collaborative student-centered environment online without falling into “expert” mode. Thankfully, I’m not the only one to ask these questions.
Alison Hicks and Alison Graber’s article, “Shifting paradigms: teaching, learning, and Web 2.0” dances its way all around critical information literacy without ever using that term. They propose that Web 2.0 is all about, “collaboration, creativity, conversation, community, and control…..Web 2.0 changes us from passive to active information consumers” (p.623). Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, other social networking technologies, tagging, bookmarking, etc. provide an opportunity for librarians to foster the social interaction you might have in a physical classroom in a virtual environment. These technologies also require users to create content. Coming from the pedagogical perspective of CIL our students as creators of knowledge and information is key to their engagement. Hicks and Graber point out that this is the persuasive argument for using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. The idea that we should use these tools since students are “digital natives” does not have any theoretical grounding in how we learn and teach.
As Greg Bobish points out in his article, “Participation and pedagogy: connection the social web to ACRL learning outcomes,” Web 2.0 has an inherent constructivist bent. Constructivism is an important component to critical literacy and other similar educational philosophies. Bobish defines the idea succinctly as, “the idea that ‘learning is doing’”. This means that “learners construct their own knowledge individually and in a social context, rather than receiving know information from an instructor in a lecture format” (p.55). Bobish then works through the ACRL info lit standards and provides suggestions on how wikis, blogs, twitter, and social bookmarking can be used for each standard. If you’re looking for ways to make your instruction sessions more critical and student-centered he has some great tips using Web 2.0 tools. In a way Web 2.0 and changing technologies support our learning goals. One thing to watch out for is replicating traditional models of instruction in an online environment. For example, a class wiki is a tool that can be used for critical information literacy by having students find and create pages for specific course topics. However, you could also use Youtube to record a class lecture and post that to your class page. Just because you are using a current technology doesn’t mean you are creating an engaging environment for your students. If you do use Web 2.0 technologies, be sure to take advantage of them in your instruction. Using something because it is new and not connecting it to your pedagogical goals will not benefit your learners.