Transliteracy and the Role of Teachers and Teacher-Librarians

How does Transliteracy Impact Teachers and Teacher-Librarians?

"Transliteracy is very concerned with the social meaning of literacy. It explores the participatory nature of new means of communicating, which breaks down barriers between academia and the wider community and calls into question standard notions of what constitutes authority by emphasizing the benefits of knowledge sharing via social networks" (Ipri, 2010). As educators, we need to acknowledge that there are many ways to communicate, both as a consumer and producer of knowledge, through a variety means that include the tools that students use in their every day lives, as well as those that have been more traditionally attributed to libraries and academic circles.

A Vision of Students Today: Michael Wesch

Where to Begin?

1) Break Down Barriers and Demystifying Students of the 21st Century

They are plugged in, wired and a click away from Googling their questions. Our students know how to download the newest movies, navigate their way around an iPad and text each other without even missing a beat. Do we have anything left to teach them, especially when they seem so comfortable with the newest technology?

The answer is yes. Although kids these days are comfortable with all sorts of technology they need instruction on how to navigate their way through information overload and gain an understanding of how these various platforms interact. The digital divide that once existed between the haves and have nots has lessened but the divide persists even though most children have access to digital devices, whether at home or school. According to researchers Mark Warschauer and Tina Matuchniak:

Today the digital divide resides in differential ability to use new media to critically evaluate information, analyze, and interpret data, attack complex problems, test innovative solutions, manage multifaceted projects, collaborate with others in knowledge production, and communicate effectively to diverse audiences—in essence, to carry out the kinds of expert thinking and complex communication that are at the heart of the new economy. (Takeushi, 2012)

What’s missing is how one medium translates to the next. It’s about connecting all of these chains of communication (Karp, 2010).

2) Create Learning Experiences and Opportunities for Students to Produce and Consume Information in Various Forms and Across Multiple Platforms

Below you will find several suggestions for using the tools outlined in Modes of Communication to enhance student learning while making the connections with the technologies they are already using for research or in the daily lives outside the classroom. By creating learning experiences where students both produce and consume information in various forms and across multiple platforms, we enable them to understand how information is created, shared and disseminated and what their role is in an information society. Students also get the opportunity to participate in creating information themselves, and understand the process rather than just hearing about it.

There are three main principles outlined in Lane Wilkinson's LOEX presentation in 2011 entitled Bridging the Gaps: Transliteracy as Informed Pedagogythat can be used in teaching transliteracy. We can encourage students to use their pre-existing skills and teach them how to use them for research, rather than trying to replace them with something else.

A. Effective information use requires several information sources
  • students will use non-library sources
    CC Attribution: Will Lion
  • show them the benefits and limitations of using different types of sources and how to decide if they are appropriate or not

Suggestions for learning:
  • Start a general information search using Social Bookmarking: have students search for their topics on Diigo or Delicious. Students can make a list of relevant tags and discuss which ones would be useful in further searches using Google or a database. Compare/contrast the sites found and discuss merit of using these sites for further research. Students can post their finds and discuss them on a class wiki and may get the added benefit of seeing how others narrowed their searches.
  • Media sharing sites such a Flickr and Youtube provide multimedia information on many topics. Students can search these sites using tags and key words generated from previous searches on blogs and wikis.
  • Students can use a word cloud generating tool such as Wordle to create a list of key words and terms. They can cut and paste blog entries, Wikipedia entries or other sites into Wordle. What words are being used to discuss this topic?
  • Use microblogging and search hashtags on Twitter to find experts on the topic and additional resources. Ask students if this was useful for finding new information or was it difficult to follow the Tweets without a lot of background information.

B. Information sources don’t stand alone, they interact
  • can’t divide information into popular and scholarly any more and must address all types of resources
  • can’t try to fit all information into classifications anymore
  • examine different forms of categorizing information, including tagging, key words and terms
  • information resources are linked

Suggestions for learning:
  • Students can begin to understand that information is formally and informally created. An examination of stories from news websites or blogs as examples of formally created writing, while comments on posts are informal. How can students use this information? Is it reliable? Students should also be encouraged to comment on others blog sites.
  • Social Networking sites like Facebook can also lead to further sites for research. Students can find Facebook pages on their topic and then ask for additional sites to research or pose questions. Students can also follow wall posts and FB conversations to gain more insight into the topic and find experts in the field.
  • Students can sign up to a Social Bookmarking tool and share their research sites with others in the class as well others in the global community.
  • Use micro blogging and create hashtags on their topic with short descriptions. Others can discuss the usefulness of the sites.
  • students should create their own blogs to post their research questions, sources, reflections and ideas for others to comment on and provide feedback. They will also be able to reflect on the whole process much more easily. Final projects could be embedded on the blog as well.
  • students should subscribe to RSS feeds, microblogging feeds, Facebook posts and news sites all related to their topic using an aggregating tool such as iGoogle. Compare results from the various type of med
    CC Attribution: G.Forsythe
    ia. How are they similar? How are they different?

C. Identify skills that transfer across tools, platforms and media
  • teach effective search strategies
  • how databases and Google work not just how to use them
  • teach them how to use Wikipedia to further their searches and understanding
  • make connections
  • teach the purpose of the strategy
  • use their existing skills - FB, Twitter, Google, Youtube and images

Suggestions for learning:
  • Have students do an initial topic search on Wikipedia to make a list of common terms and key words to use. Can these search terms be used in Google and a database? Do the searches produce the same results? Which tool produces more useful results and why? How much overlap is there?
  • Once students become experts on a topic they may be able to add valuable information to sites like Wikipedia.
  • students can develop search strategies that are appropriate for the particular information retrieval system chosen such as Boolean searches, tags, indexes for books. Have them search their topic on YouTube and discuss why this was or wasn’t successful? How do they find related videos? Where did their video search lead them? What other type of information was discovered? Did they use different strategies depending on the tool used?
  • Assign one topic to the whole class to research but divide the class into different groups to find information using different formats such as books, encyclopedia, magazines, audio, video, blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, etc... Use a wiki to post findings and discuss what search strategies they used and what information was most useful. Why? How would you change your search strategy? How is the information presented differently depending on the format? (Bobish, 2011)

3. The Library is No Longer a Place Where you go to "Get Stuff"

The library is becoming a space where kids can bring information and learn how to distribute it, not simply a place from which to take information. Young people have an array of 'nodes' where they get knowledge and learn and school is only one of the places in their networks, while libraries can be another. Creating a library program and a library space that encourages discovery, creativity and producing new knowledge changes the way people see the library. Chicago Public Library created the YOUMedia program to encourage young people to discover their passions and interests.

There seems to be the question about libraries and their importance in society. It seems that there are questions of how teens function with technology in a space like YOUMedia, or what this means to their lives? Maybe the biggest question is... "What do they really learn here?" Malcolm tells us his side of the story through reflective poetry, and Ellis scores the lyrics with a call for Chicago to "Bring it Back".

YOUmedia is American Innovation,Born Chicago: A Poem for YOU (Bring it Back Remix) from YOUmedia @Chicago Public Library on Vimeo.

4. Recognize that the Role of Teacher-Librarians is Changing

The role of the teacher-librarians is continuously changing. Joyce Valenza outlines what it takes to be fully outfitted for the role of teacher-librarian in the 21st Century.

Staying abreast of current research, trends, and shifts in the information landscape enable Teacher-Librarians to ensure that both staff and students understand how to use and produce ideas and information. Through collaboration, TLs work with students and teachers to help them discover how information is constructed and how to evaluate sources. They can demonstrate how information is linked and that it does not stand alone. In addition, they meed the needs of all learners. The poster below outlines what teacher-librarians teach.


5. Consider Physical and Virtual Spaces

Library spaces are changing to reflect 21st Century learning and transliteracy. Many school libraries are being renovated into learning commons: a space that is designed around collaborati
on, allowing experts and novices to come together to learn. The space includes quiet areas for reading, areas for group work, as well as multimedia rooms and presentation spaces. The furniture and book shelves are moveable, allowing for different configurations depending on the needs of various users. It is also the hub of learning in a school, where teachers and students can demonstrate their learning. Patrons have access to technology, resources and mentors. A learning commons breaks down barriers that were often found in traditional libraries. Libraries are becoming shared spaces where users can contribute information, not simply take it away.The graphic below provides some examples of how libraries can become transliterate environments.

For further reading see David Loertscher's article 'Flip this library: School libraries need a Revolution'.

Another example of how library spaces can meet the needs of the 21st Century and transliteracy.

Questions to consider:

Please take a minute to add to the discussion
1. How have you drawn upon transliteracy to support student learning?

2. How has your teaching style or method changed as technology is now infused into your teaching and learning?