CSS Library: Digital Immigrants teaching Natives

Donna Alden, Teacher-Librarian

What assumptions do we as educators (digital immigrants) make, while planning for inquiry-based projects for students who are digital natives?

As an educator, library professional and digital immigrant, what do I need to consider in a school with a one-to-one laptop project underway, with students who are indisputably digital natives? As a constructivist, I approach teaching as a “facilitator/scaffolder”. With Wiggins and McTigue’s ‘“understanding by design” format engrained in my thinking, I consider what students need to learn, and develop activities for students, working from what they know and understand, to what has been identified as needing to be learned.

My task is to consider what the teacher (as the key curriculum professional) has identified as the important curriculum outcomes in an inquiry project, and match those to some information literacy outcomes the students require in order to locate, select, synthesize and communicate their inquiry project’s findings. At this point we identify one or more related information literacy outcomes those students in this project require some integrated instruction on, in order to be successful. But what are we assuming those students already know, or are skilled in?

To understand that topics develop from general and broad to specific and narrow, and to be adept at generating alternative search terms, are easily demonstrated and learned when using print resources. But, they are also necessary skills for searching online library catalogues. When those skills and understandings transfer to students’ online searches, aren’t they more skillful searchers and consumers of online information? My knowledge base includes what resources are best sources for specific searches. Is that necessary in the digital information world? Is there a schema in our students’ approaches to locating, selecting and synthesizing relevant information? Is it the same as mine? Doubtful. Mine was developed from a print-based setting- our students’ from a digitally based setting. What implications does this present when we plan, implement, teach and evaluate a simple research project, or an inquiry project?

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