Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review of Information Literacy Programs in the Digital Age: Educating College and University Students Online

Information Literacy Programs in the Digital Age: Educating College and University Students Online

My review of Information Literacy Programs in the Digital Age: Educating College and University Students Online. Compiled by Alice Daugherty and Michael F. Russo (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2007).
Published in Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(1) January 2009.

In Information Literacy Programs in the Digital Age: Educating College and University Students Online, Louisiana State University information literacy librarians Alice Daugherty and Michael F. Russo solicit academic librarians to describe the emergence, implementation, and appraisal of their online bibliographic instruction programs. The resulting twenty-four case studies of for-credit courses, discipline-integrated classes, and general and subject-specific tutorials serve as a resource for institutions with Web-based instruction, as well as those considering initiating programs.

Academic librarians are challenged with teaching basic information seeking skills to students who are writing college-level research papers, navigating academic libraries, and taking online classes for the first time and must consider that personality traits shape students’ reactions to Web-based pedagogy. Those who enjoy personal interactions feel more comfortable in the real-time classroom, while others with self-discipline and independence thrive in asynchronous, online environments. Programs should be crafted with the audience in mind: consider how the information needs and experience differ between on-campus undergraduates and distance education adults. Offering physical and digital options responds to a wider range of learning styles and better promotes library services.

Online information literacy programs enable collaborative teaching models and community building, especially because stakeholder support is vital to their success, because programs are shaped by institutional circumstances, mandates, and facilities. In “Online Information Literacy Course at UIS: Standing the Test of Time,” librarians Pamela M. Salela, Denise D. Green, and Julie Chapman write, “As our student population becomes increasingly diverse, as well as dispersed across time, space, and cultural perspectives, it will become increasingly important to devise ways of enabling community building in the online classroom” (70). This burgeoning environment develops dynamic relationships between librarians, IT staff, and faculty.

In “Sophisticated Simplicity in e-Learning: Online Instruction at UNC-Chapel Hill,” librarians Suchi Mohanty, Lisa Norberg, and Kim Vassiliadis discover three principles applicable to any online program: simplicity of design, focus on key issues, and reusable, scalable modules. Since content is updated continuously due to the constantly shifting information environment, the delivery system must be intuitive and flexible to respond to changes without reprogramming.

Online information literacy programs assist students in understanding the multifaceted, iterative nature of information retrieval and the strategies and competencies involved. Information searching is an intellectual process that remains similar despite institution, discipline, or academic level. Research universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges are well represented throughout the book, with the “Lessons Learned” section of each essay offering strategic planning advice unique to school and program types. In reading Information Literacy Programs in the Digital Age: Educating College and University Students Online, academic librarians will discover an institution and curriculum that fits their needs and receive essential counsel for developing and implementing a bibliographic instruction program that serves their students.

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