Monday, June 28, 2010

Future Librarians

Steve Kolowich, “The Librarian’s Crystal Ball,” Inside Higher Education, June 23, 2010, summarizes an Association of College and Research Libraries report, Futures Thinking For Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025, noting these predictions:

“Breaking the textbook monopoly: Most states have passed legislation that requires textbook publishers to make textbooks affordable. Faculty members, sympathetic to their students, have embraced online open educational resources (OERs). More faculty create and share openly their course materials, modules, streaming videos, tests, software, and other tools. Although widely accepted seminal OERs exist for introductory courses, faculty create materials for advanced courses based on their own knowledge and interests, inviting student contributions.

Bridging the scholar/practitioner divide: Open peer review becomes the norm for many fields, speeding application of discoveries. Online publications, by scholarly societies in partnership with trade organizations and professional associations, are open access. They support robust community-based dialogue on articles as soon as they are accepted via traditional editorial procedures. Scholars and practitioners alike discuss the findings, how the theory would apply in practice, and suggest additional research needed.

Everyone is a "nontraditional" student: The interwoven nature of work/life/school is accepted in higher education as life spans increase and students are unable to fund tuition in one lump. Co-op education is widely embraced and faculty increasingly value students' life experience. Knowing what the work force wants, students are active in designing their own learning outcomes, and the personalized curriculum becomes the norm. Faculty members evaluate students on demonstrations of learning -- such as policy documents, marketing plans, or online tutorials -- rather than old measures based on “seat time” and “credit hours.”

Meet the new freshman class: With laptops in their hands since the age of 18 months old, students who are privileged socially and economically are completely fluent in digital media. For many others, the digital divide, parental unemployment, and the disruption of moving about during the foreclosure crisis of their formative years means they never became tech savvy. “Remedial” computer and information literacy classes are now de rigueur.

Right here with me: Students “talk” through homework with their handheld devices, which issue alerts when passing a bookstore with material they need to cite. Scanning the title page, this information is instantly embedded in proper citation style with an added endnote. Checking in on location-based services, students locate study team members and hold impromptu meetings without the need for study rooms. Their devices have whiteboards and can share notes with absent members.”

The ACRL report can be found at

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