By Elizabeth Wroten
On 16, Sep 2014 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten
I just want to talk briefly about how much I dislike the term digital native. Especially when it refers to teens and tweens, which in my experience it almost always does. While kids are often more computer savvy than, say, their grandparents, I think the term is very misleading and problematic.
For starters many kids are now children of people who grew up with computers. Meaning their parents watched as computers became more widely available and then more prevalent. They watched as the Internet became more widely available and more prevalent. They logged on with their dial-up modem and continually upgraded their Internet connection. These people used computers in school, they used them in college, and they now use them everyday in the workplace. They tend to be computer savvy. Even the older generation (young Boomers) use(d) computers in the workplace with regularity. These people may not have been playing with iPads at two, but I often find them to have a much better understanding of how computers and computer-related things work. They remember having to hook up the dial-up modem so they have a little better grasp on how the Internet gets to their computer than the kid who just opens the laptop and automatically has Wi-Fi.
The problem with calling someone a digital native is that is lulls us into thinking they know what they’re doing on the computer (or tablet or phone). However, in my experience, it looks like they know what their doing when in reality, they are just very good at making it look like they know what they’re doing. I’ll use two examples to illustrate this. When the sophomores I worked with wrote their research papers they were asked to have a hanging indent at the beginning of each paragraph. A lot of them just hit “tab” at the beginning of the paragraph which worked well enough. Others would hit the space bar until the first word was in approximately the right place. The problem with both of these was that when the formatting changed above the paragraph or they added something, the paragraph could/would not be aligned correctly anymore and sometimes the tab was not placed in the correct place. Without actually looking at how they had done the formatting you would never know that they had done it incorrectly. And they assumed they knew how to do the hanging indent even though most of them had never heard of it and didn’t bother to look up or ask how to create one. Another time a student was asked to double space an essay. Instead of using the line spacing she hit “enter” at the end of every line. It looked correct, looked like she knew what she was doing, but of course any time she added more text, the formatting went wonky.
This ties into the debate about the abysmal research skills of students. There are issues with taking the first result, thinking research should be as fast and easy as a simple Google search, and not knowing where to look for good information. I think it’s a problem to assume they know what their doing in research, but I think that by calling them digital natives we partially make the assumption that they know what they’re doing because it sure looks like they do and they’re a digital native. (I’m not accusing librarians here, although I’m sure we’re all guilty of it at some point. I know I have been.)
I think the term also ignores a good slice of the population that doesn’t have access to a computer or an Internet connection. I know it is sometimes hard to believe that we all don’t have 24/7 access to Google, but there are plenty of people who don’t. I think librarians are often very aware of this fact because these people come into our libraries to use the computers and the Internet. So by grouping all teens and tweens into that mix we lump in those kids who really are not using computers and technology very often. It’s a problem to assume they will know what to do and they may be afraid to ask for help knowing we think they are digital natives.
Just a short rant. I just dislike the term and I actually think I’m seeing it less, although I could be wrong about that.
By Elizabeth Wroten
On 17, May 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten
I’ve decided to do something a little different with these posts for the future. Now that I’m feeling more on top of following blogs and librarians on Twitter, I want to start actually tweeting more. To that end I am going to start actually tweeting the links I would normally include here. Then every Friday, I’ll aggregate them here for anyone who missed them or isn’t on Twitter. I can also add a little more detail to my thoughts on the articles.
Since most of the links I find to share are in blogs I follow, I tend to come across them on Thursdays when I read my blogs. I found a service that allows me to set up tweets in advance (Twuffer, a Twitter buffer) so that I don’t inundate my tweeps. Without further ado:
Interesting article on levels of customer service and where the library should be: ow.ly/kSmrM from Designing Better Libraries
— Tibby Wroten (@AtomicBeeRanch) May 9, 2013
I agree so much with the idea here that customer service in libraries needs to be top notch and of a type that is more than pointing to the bathroom. I know added value is an irritating buzzword, but I think it’s still a relevant and necessary concept.
How next gen discovery tools are problematic and may be writing the librarian out of reference work: ow.ly/kSo0S Library Juice
— Tibby Wroten (@AtomicBeeRanch) May 14, 2013
I have mixed feelings about this piece. I agree in so many ways, but I also think that undergrads (and other patrons like the general public and younger students) do not always approach librarians. It’s true that the results they get from new fangled, improved search interfaces may not be the best, but are they better than what they got before? I don’t really know the answer to that. I think the issue lies more with marketing reference services and getting students to the reference desk (virtual, real or otherwise). However, I hadn’t really thought of those types of tools in regard to writing librarians out of reference. I think this underscores the importance of digital/information literacy skills.
— Tibby Wroten (@AtomicBeeRanch) May 10, 2013
I didn’t work with these types of teens, but as a new parent I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a single, teen parent. The sentiment is really sweet and I think the ideas are really awesome.
I think a lot of people believe technology is some sort of silver bullet. That you can just take a new technology and use it the same way in every situation. But that just isn’t true. As with any program or tool you need to know your culture in order to know if it’s right and how it should be implemented. I’m going to address this topic in more depth next week.
I recently came across a post on The Digital Shift about the book sharing website GoodReads. I was very surprised by this quote:
“You may not have heard much about Goodreads, and the public at large hardly knows it exists, but this site has a devoted following among book lovers.”
Really? I guess I know what they say about assuming. I just really thought librarians at least were aware of the site. I highly suggest reading the post, it does a great job of making the case for signing up for the service.
Personally I’ve been on it for just shy of two years and find it invaluable. Originally I began by using for readers advisory; as a way to catalog all the books I had read. I am able to give my review or thoughts on the book and place it in any number of “shelves”. I tend to group my books by genre, but because the “shelves” are flexible I can place one book on several.
I quickly discovered that it was also a great way to do some digging about whether it was worth reading a book or not. As much as I want to read every book I read a review for, it’s not possible. By reading through a mix of reviews (e.g. good, bad, and middle of the road), I find it much easier to make the call on whether or not to add it to my to-read list.
I also recently transfered over my Amazon wishlist (which was really just a bunch of titles I wanted to read) and revamped my lists of books to read. Again the flexible “shelves” were very helpful in creating these lists. I had kind of started out only tracking my YA read and to-read lists, but now I have everything from parenting titles, to personal non fiction selections, to YA on there.
If you haven’t already checked it out I suggest hopping over there and signing up. You may find it to be really helpful. You can also check out my profile and lists if you want to see how I’ve been using it.
By Elizabeth Wroten
On 28, Dec 2012 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten
These links have nothing to do with the holidays except for the fact that this post is published between Christmas and New Years. Sorry to disappoint.
Google Search: I found this one Stephen’s Lighthouse. It is a set of Google search tips for students. I know kids like to think they are good at finding stuff on the Internet. And they are. What they find just isn’t always relevant. I love ridiculous videos as much as the next person, but these tips can help them find what they really need.
In keeping with Google Search, I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but Google has premade lesson plans for teaching search techniques to a range of age and skill levels.
Library/-ian Stereotypes: A great infographic about what librarians actually do and what libraries can do for you. I know we all know how important librarians and libraries are, but sometimes the public forgets or doesn’t know. From eBook Friendly via Stephen’s Lighthouse (of course).
Library Extension for Chrome: There is a nifty little extension for Chrome that will tell you if an item you are looking at on Amazon is available at your local library. I’m giving it a try in the next couple weeks. I think I found this one through someone on Twitter, but I hate to admit I’ve forgotten who.
I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve and a happy, healthy 2013. Hope to see you back here in the new year.
By Elizabeth Wroten
On 14, Dec 2012 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten
Wednesday I attended the ALA webinar on assessing digital literacy. (It was quite interesting and you can watch the recording here.) As a school librarian this is obviously a topic that interests me, but after the first question the moderator fired off I realized I hadn’t really thought enough about the fundamentals.
Here are just a few thoughts I had while listening to the discussion:
- What is digital literacy? This was that first question and one of the presenters gave a fantastic definition. But is it more or less?
- Adding to that idea, does digital literacy include digital citizenship? I think it should, but it might make teaching and assessing digital literacy too unwieldy. Certainly being culturally literate, which is a partial real world counterpart of digital literacy, invloves being socially literate.
- Does it include hardware (like turning the computer on) and/or software (like how to use Word)? Or is it just skills you can apply as you jump from one software, platform, or media to another? I think it’s the latter, but I’ve seen it taught as software and also think hardware shouldn’t be ruled out, especially with certain groups of people.
- Tying in with the previous question, does the definition of digital literacy change with type of library you work in (e.g. public vs. academic/school)? Patrons of a public library may have very different digital needs from students in a college research library. Do we expect every person to acquire the ability to formulate successful database searches for academic articles? Do you need to double check that college students can turn their computer on?
I don’t have the answers, or at least complete answers, to these questions. And I’m not sure anyone does. I also think we could debate this stuff until the cows come home, but it won’t get us any closer to successfully teaching digital literacy. Still, I think it’s helpful to have at least a basic understanding of what we mean when we say “digital literacy”. If only so it can evolve as time goes on and technology continues to become more ubiquitous and powerful. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to leave them in the comments.