Elizabeth  Call

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  • Active Learning in a Web 2.0 environment

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    Since I really want to make sure and post something, I am going to post a somewhat incomplete thought in the hopes that I will be able to add to it in the next couple of days!

    As a public services librarian I am interested in discussing the ways digital humanities and web 2.0 tools are being used to enhance active learning models. While I do not think digital surrogates can — or should — completely replace physical objects as education tools, I believe they can be used together to teach and encourage critical thinking in students.

    I went to a really great workshop this past week, “Not Just History Anymore: Using Special Collections and Primary Sources to Teach Critical Thinking,” which was held as a preconference to ACRL.  I found the workshop really engaging and am very excited to implement what I learned into some of my teaching activities.  One thing that was absent from the workshop was a discussion of how Web 2.0 tools could be utilized in conjunction with some of the exercises that were presented to the group.

    “Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy,” by Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson that appeared in College & Research Libraries earlier this year (Vol. 72, no.1, pp. 62-78:  crl.acrl.org/content/72/1/62.full.pdf+html) sparked my interest in this topic of rethinking how we define literacy, and therefore how we construct learning exercises.  How we have come to define “information literacy,” is lacking.  Mackey and Jacobson call for a new understanding of what it means to be “literate” today.  Just being “information literate,” as defined in years past, is not enough, in today’s environment individuals need also to be media-, digital-, visual-, and cyberliterate.

    I would like to move away from over-reliance on prefixes such as “trans” and “meta.” While discussions regarding a new definition of “literacy” that embraces all of the various components that go into making one literate in this century are extremely useful in thinking about the marriage between digital and analog, these prefixes tend to fog the development of that definition, rather than clarify it. The development of critical thinking is sorely lacking in the United States. Rather than get bogged down in terminology, we need to address how we — as information professionals, librarians, archivists, digital humanists and professors, etc. — can step up and change this.  With the proliferation of Web 2.0 tools, there is a real opportunity to create new approaches to how we teach.   There are some excellent models of teaching, such as I learned during the workshop I recently attended, and there are some excellent Web 2.0 tools — now how can we merge the two?

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