Brian T. Johnstone

my little space here on the web

Faculty of the Future 2009

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Friday May 29th was the 7th Annual Faculty of the Future Conference right here at little old Bucks County Community College. I attended the keynote address in the morning and found it to be excellent and inspiring food for thought. There were points where I was saying to myself, “exactly.” Our speaker was Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins-Bell—a guru of all things Web 2.0 and their applications for higher education.

One of my favorite moments… in discussing visceral reaction to student use of Wikipedia by some in higher education, Sarah suggests that such faculty persons need to recognize this as another vehicle for learning. That, upon locating incorrect information in Wikipedia, a faculty person might actually want to correct that information rather than have Wikipedia banned from use. Exactly right. How often in an Information Literacy session am I trying to encourage a cornucopia of thoughts and strategies including:

  • Evaluate what you find (think)
  • An encyclopedia is a good starting point; not necessarily something that will make it to the works cited list of your ten page research paper
  • Wikipedia is as good and as flawed as Encyclopedia Britannica (so found a Nature study a few years back)
  • Once you’ve got the basics move on to a more authoritative resource
  • Understand the differences between various types of resources (web sites, journal articles—scholarly and popular, books, etc.)

And that is the essence of what we librarians and faculty persons need to be. We must impart the knowledge of learning, of how to learn. We must be flexible. We must keep our eyes open to new ways of participating in the community of knowledge. And so I say, right on “Intellagirl” you rock!

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