The internet and information literacy

Sigh… So work got away from me so I didn’t get to participate as much as I would have liked so this is my attempt to catch up.

Week 2 we examined the Internet and how it relates to education and open access.  I did the reading early and then didn’t have time to fully participate to get my questions answered.  When I read and annotated the Tim Berners-Lee article I didn’t get the chance to respond to some of the questions I was asked about my comments, which deserve to be answered.  As I read the article I was struck by the income bias.  The article while very informative and enlightening, has a bias toward those who can afford access. Gardner Campbell noted my concerns and is I believe on the right track with inclusive access for all.  Gardner also provided a link to Pew research showing the increase in usage of the internet.  But as I looked through this data I was struck by how we are still biasing access with income and education.  While general use has increased, lower income and education have just now reached the use point of higher income and education individuals were at 18 years ago.  And home use of the internet via home broadband for low income is at 53% and low education at 34% verses high income and high education’s 93% and 91%.  This is not taking into consideration location (data is provided).  Also of note in that same research is that lower income and education individuals are more dependent on their smartphones for all their internet access.  The internet has an inherent bias to those who can afford access, and I think it’s important to recognize that.

Week 3 we examined information literacy and open access.  As a librarian who teaches a credit bearing research course, Facing the Frames just confined what I do.  Although there are differences since my class is 16 weeks and we go into more then just information literacy (we also cover some aspects of writing), the concepts of teaching the student to analyze every aspect of what they are doing is important for librarians to understand and use in every aspect of what they do.  Critical thinking and evaluation is the most important thing we teach.  Which lead into Beyond Buttonology… I have to say I was surprised at this article, because I had thought that librarians had moved beyond teaching the mechanics already.  Critical thinking and metacognition has always been emphasized where I have worked.

That’s my $0.02.



Kal-toh, chess, and tic-tac-toe

This week we peeked into the world of open and flew into a worm hole.  There is sooo much that can be read into one word, and so many uses of the concept that it gets difficult for me to see the multidimensionality of it.  I have a tendency to stay on the surface because that’s what I understand.

On the surface, open education is teaching through a free means.  Open educational resources are the items used in the teaching that are also free.  I’m good here, this is easy to understand.  No cost to teachers or students for textbooks, articles, or any materials the instructor wants to use.

“Kal-toh is to chess as chess is to tic-tac-toe.” (Tuvok: VOY: “Alter Ego”)

But let’s talk about free.  Free starts to get complicated because free should just be that, but it isn’t.  Just like free from a library isn’t free if you can’t get to the library or you live outside the service area, free on the internet isn’t free if you can’t get onto the internet.  You need a computer and access to get to the free. So what exactly is free? and how do we provide it to ALL to create real openness?  Also, is free, free when we make students pay to be taught?  And here is when I stop playing kal-toh and go back to tic-tac-toe.

So how does this relate to my own idea of open education?  I’m not sure I have an idea about open education… yet.  I do know that  in my practice I want to save the student from having to purchase material to learn something when practical application and discussion can accomplish the same thing.  But the materials we use are the library databases that are not free since they are licensed via the library budget.  So even though they don’t have a textbook, their tuition pays for the subscriptions, so in all technicality that is not free or open.

Can I create assignments that are completely open?  The easy answer is yes, by using open access articles to do information literacy objectives, I could use all free materials. But again… this is not truly free for the student who doesn’t have a computer or the internet at home, because they would not be able to access the material anyway.  To further complicate this, they have already paid for my class.  I’m not sharing my expertise free of charge, which again technically would not be completely open or free.  I keep getting stuck in the free aspect of open.  Because really, nothing in our society is free.

I keep thinking about Star Trek.  The open society where you explore your passions for self-improvement, self-enrichment, and the betterment of all humanity. There is no money.  Everyone (supposedly) has the same opportunities for learning and working.  In this world open education is open and free.  In our world, there are too many facets to “open” and “free” to truly be either.

So until we can live in the Star Trek world, we do the best we can and cut cost to the student where it is feasible.  To me that means, finding ways to provide open educational resources to the faculty to use, finding ways to integrate what the library already owns into an easier medium for the faculty and students to use, and to explore whatever options present themselves to make the life of the student easier.  As a librarian, I am a facilitator of access.