The role of the teacher librarian has changed dramatically in the past two decades. Where we once taught gathering skills, traveling far and wide for minuscule pieces of information to stitch together to create meaning, now we teach students to sift, removing layer upon layer of digital detritus to find the truth they are seeking. This means that the skills I teach are no longer simply searching skills, but also questioning, analyzing, and evaluating skills. To teach students to be proficient researchers in the online environment, I must help them to become skeptics who examine information they encounter with a critical eye.
Because the mediums through which we access information are rapidly evolving, the skills that I teach must also be transferable. Students must learn how to use online tools, but also to adapt and transfer their skills to the tools that inevitably will replace them. In order to become independent researchers, my students must be “learning how to learn” (Fink, 2013), which includes learning to be a better student, learning to use inquiry, and becoming a self-directing learner.
I also support students in using tools to improve their learning. I encourage both students and teachers to break out of old molds and practices to fully utilize the digital tools that are available to them. For example, why should a student have to memorize how to cite a resource in MLA format when there is a plethora of citation makers available to them online? Memorizing a citation format is something that they can offload to technology, so they have more time and space for deeper learning.
My approach is a blend of constructivism and connectivism. I teach methods of seeking out information, knowing that the pathways to that information will change my students’ lives—in the next year perhaps—but with the goal of shaping students into effective questioners, evaluators, analyzers, synthesizers, and inventors. I model questioning for my students. Why would I trust this website? What gives it authority? Is the information current? Constructivism involves students making their own choices to create meaning (Siemens, 2004). Connectivism adds the element of change over time to that process (Siemens, 2004), which is why I emphasize the skills involved in critically examining information over the acquisition of concrete information itself.
While I cannot predict how my role as a teacher librarian will change in the future, I am prepared adapt to the ever-shifting information environment in order to bring my students into contact with the most current information and the newest methods of seeking out that information.
Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.proxy.library.uaf.edu/lib/uaf/detail.action?docID=1394307
Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. elearnspace (weblog). December 12, 2004. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm