January 19, 2010
Librarian Opportunities to Grab in the 2010 Horizon Report
Each year, the Horizon Report (released annually by Educause) identifies critical trends and Chellenges that will affect teaching and learning. It also identifies six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use on campuses "within three adoption horizons spread over the next one to five years."
In this year's Report, the critical trends and challenges are (in)directly relevant to the changing roles of librarians in the academic mission. In my opinion, what the Report highlights as trends and challenges is what we, as librarians, do and have been doing on a regular basis for a while. By owning these skills sets and marketing them to the universities or schools to which we report, new opportunities will present themselves just as other doors are closing. It is up to us to grab these opportunities and make them our own.
Among critical trends, the Report states that the ubiquity of information will require educators to be stronger information mentors and teach our students how to judge the value of what they find online. They rightly identify the "ability to assess the credibility of information" as an historical mission of hte university that is again in the forefront of school missions. Yet, the task is even harder to accomplish today because of easy information access and the abundance of less-credentialed sources for researchers to consider.
As a librarian, I was pleased to see this important role highlighted because it NEVER left the forefront of librarians' mission despite financial and cultural attacks on the profession of librarianship by administrators and academics within many educational institutions of America.
The key challenges should also be of interest to librarians. Two of them are directly related to our role as information professionals.
Developing digital media skills and techniques. Librarians, especially law librarians who have spend decades trying to teach people how to use easy databases like Lexis and Westlaw, can appreciate the value of mastering internet skillsto find and organize information. Our students, and younger faculty, seem to want and do spend so much time online. We often mistake that as an indication of high digital literacy skills. Do not be fooled.
In the ALR class I co-teach with librarian Karen Schneiderman, we started our course teaching our upperclass law students about RSS readers and how browser add-ons like Zotero, Read It Later, and Feedly can enhance their professional performance and keep them up to date on legal news. We started by asking this group of 15, under-the-age of 25, high-achieving law students if anyone could explain what a blog is and how it is different from a "web page." Only one student was able to provide a half answer. The same student was the only one who used or even knew what an RSS reader was. Did they see the value of what they learned? Yes, and highly appreciative as well.
Also included among key challenges was gaining an understanding of "new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and research." The Report states that "[n]ew forms of peer review and approval, such as reader ratings, including in and mention by influential blogs, tagging, incoming links, and retweeting ... are not well understood by mainstream faculty and academic decision makers, creating a gap between what is possible and what is acceptable."
I think librarians are in a perfect place to fill that gap. We are among the most savvy purveyors of publishing trends and that expertise should spill over into the open access world, or at least into the digital-only, web 2.0 world.
This year, the Report identifies the following six technologies and their horizon timeline for adoption. If you, like me, are not sure what all these techonologies are, the Report provides a good, easy to understand, introduction to each beginning on page 9:
One Year or Less
- Mobile Computing (this was also identified with a one year or less time frame in last year's Report)
- Open Content/Access
Two to Three Years
- Electronic Books
- Simple Augmented Reality
Four to Five Years
- Gesture-based Computing
- Visual Data Analysis
Seize the day. (VS)
Thanks for the shout out! I also want to note that our law students will be required to be technologists as well as competent lawyers. Law schools in the 21st century have an obligation to teach legal research and writing beyond print.
Posted by: Karen Schneiderman | Jan 20, 2010 6:55:57 AM