Thursday, May 21, 2009

Three Little Ideas from Knowledge Ontario's Ideas Forum

I am so impressed with the Knowledge Ontario Ideas Forum that I was able to watch and listen in on this morning. #ko-idea

It takes a lot of courage to bring together so many people to try to tackle the "big ideas" of teaching, libraries, and technology and I think the fact that the forum generated a small number of recurring themes is both a testament to the skill of the event's moderators and organizers as well an indication that there are some fault lines in our professional thinking that we have to work through together.

Here's are some of these themes as I heard them:

Scrutinizing the mashup
There was a general consensus that we have to expand our traditional viewpoint of text-based literacy in order to to encompass wider literacies (Ha! My text editor refuses to consider literacies as a correctly spelled word! The battle rages on!) and now ubiquitous new media. But while gathering multiple sources of information is easy, the slow scrutiny and analysis (and the encouragement of such scrutiny and analysis) of that information remains as difficult as ever.

Creativity as a solution
Encouraging creativity was put forward as an answer to a number of questions during the morning's conversations. Q: How to address the fear that online collaboration is seen as cheating? A: Assess students on using knowledge instead. Q. How should we act now that we are no longer in a information scarce environment? A: Reframe our work as key problems that we need to solve.

Questioning Authority
At one point in the morning, someone in the audience stood up and said (roughly), "Ten years ago we told people that the person who is successful is the one who can find the best information the fastest" and went on to suggest that this idea is still relevant today. Other librarians during the morning also suggested that our 'value add' as librarians is that we help find 'quality information' for our users. But there were also librarians who stood up to say that now joining recognized experts are passionate collectors with their own formidable experience and with a value we should learn to recognize. Another person suggested that in the future our users won't expect librarians to find good information for us but that it will be our job to provide it. The notion of peer-helping came up a couple of times. And in the clearest expression of what I was thinking myself, a speaker came forward and said that the notion that the goal of finding authoritative information is dragging us down.

I haven't yet investigated what the break-out groups at the KO ideas forum has come up with. Will check it out tonight!

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