It’s an absolutely free gift from MIT to the global community—or at least those who have access to the Internet: MIT’s visionary Open Course Ware (OCW) website offers free content from over 1900 MIT courses for the edification and education of humankind, including course descriptions, syllabi, calendars, reading lists, assignments, answer keys, study materials, exams, lecture notes, video lectures and “related resources” that the instructor hopes will supplement the course material. It’s a truly visionary resource that embraces the philosophy of open access. However, the content itself hasn’t been adapted for use outside the classroom, so it can be difficult for the casual online student to understand how best to interact with the materials.
A few weeks ago, Wired magazine published a great article by Clive Thompson on “the New Literacy“, debunking that tired old argument that TV, computers & texting are destroying literacy and civilization.
Au contraire, what Andrea Lunsford found in a recent study at Stanford is that more young students are generating so much more creative content in their free time than any previous generation, and that this content is often highly nuanced — they know how to assess their audience and adapt their tone to get their point across. And my favorite quote from the article: “The brevity of texting and status updating teaches young people to deploy haiku-like concision.”
At my public library I encourage teenagers to blog, create podcasts and produce YouTube videos. I want them to see themselves as creators of content rather than mere content consumers. I think this is utterly empowering for them, and it’s fantastic to see some exciting & innovative research coming out of Lunsford’s study to validate these objectives!
Update: 10/26/2010 — An updated version of this article is now available in Public Library Quarterly: Vol. 29, Issue 2, p. 162
This paper was a labor of love; it was written for my Literacy and Learning course with James Elmborg this semester. In trying to understand why public libraries haven’t paid as much attention to “information literacy” as school and college libraries, I ended up writing about how public libraries can devote themselves to the “continuous process of forming whole human beings—their knowledge and aptitudes, as well as the critical faculty and the ability to act” (IFLA ), and about why I think it’s important for them to do just that. I also talk about Paolo Freire; John Dewey; Web 2.0; New Literacy Studies; and information literacy programs at public libraries in the province of Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Continue reading below to see the full text of the paper, or click here to download the pdf.
So this is what I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks instead of posting to my blog… I’m trying to graduate from Library School (just two semesters left — halfway there!), and this is one of the projects I was working on this semester in my Information Policy class.
If you want to read about Obama, Britney Spears, Admiral John Poindexter, and the Department of Defense’s creepy plan to collect all kinds of data on you and then mine that data to predict whether or not you’re a terrorist, this is the article for you! OK, so that’s kind of unfair — I really only mention Obama and Britney Spears in passing. But I’m hoping its still an informative and entertaining piece on important things happening with your electronic health records RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE.
I am too bedraggled and brain-frozen right now to do any cool “click here to cut to the rest of the article” things, so for the time being it will just be a PDF: Your Liberty and Your Health: Protecting Electronic Health Records on the Nationwide Health Information Network.
More to come in the next few days: a lovingly-written paper on Critical Information Literacy in Public Libraries (an issue near and dear to my heart), and a rundown of the Iowa Library Association’s Technology Petting Zoo, which is happening this Friday.
(*edit: my brain is working much better today. Full text available below:)