Monday, 1 March 2010

Education Blogging

Since I seem to learn best by instructing others...

Today started EDPROFST715 - this is an online course using Moodle. The required reading is unbelievably boring. eg:

Presidential Committee on Information Literacy

This report was released on January 10, 1989, in Washington, D.C.
[link] 10 years old - huh? Still, it was represented to students as an introduction to IL. I found it much easier to read via the readability plugin.

In 1989 the internet was new and exciting: the information superhighway no less! This document is mostly of historical interest - attitudes and expectations have changed somewhat.

This report manages to go on at length without actually defining its topic - a good trick. This means that everyone will think it applies to them, which is useful for getting government funding. Oh dear, am I being cynical?

The author takes for granted that we are in an information age and emphasises the importance of information access to US civil liberties groups and institutions. The point is well taken and old hat (10 years remember), so the modern reader can skim most of the start.

The first approach to a description of IL is in the introductory part of the opportunities section:

Information literacy is a survival skill in the Information Age. Instead of drowning in the abundance of information that floods their lives, information literate people know how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively to solve a particular problem or make a decision---whether the information they select comes from a computer, a book, a government agency, a film, or any number of other possible resources.

... information is everything, literacy is the skill-set which lets people pick out what is important. I quite like this description, I'll have to keep it in mind during the course.

The sole emphasis is on libraries - remember that home computers were not so wide spread in the 80's so the author imagines that libraries would provide public access terminals. In the 21st century this is as likely to be from a phone.

Still, libraries are important, and there are private interests (big media) trying to restrict public information access by this means (acta, the original definition of ISP in the copyright act). It is the nature of libraries that is changing. In terms of public information, they are not so much about books on shelves any more.

The rest of the section talks about poor education models and the need for methods which promote a critical approach to learning.

The report describes how we would recognise an information-age school. An example in NZ fitting this description would be Albany Senior High School. The whole school is designed, from the classrooms up, in accord with the models described in this paper.

To respond effectively to an ever-changing environment, people need more than just a knowledge base, they also need techniques for exploring it, connecting it to other knowledge bases, and making practical use of it.

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