One of my biggest frustrations in moving from the classroom to the library is that I no longer have the ability to craft a full curriculum but rather have to dole out media and information studies piecemeal, with a lesson here with this teacher and a lesson there with that teacher. It is incredibly difficult to ensure that students receive adequate instruction on information literacy skills and ethics.
New technology has opened up doors of access and analysis the likes of which most current practicing educators never experienced in their own education. But with that comes a learning curve and new facets to social responsibility that I believe have not caught up with the technology. Many researchers are looking at the differences between how people interact face-to-face as opposed to online, be it in anonymous or pseudo-anonymous arenas.
The apparent suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi is one of so many instances in which young adults don’t think through the consequences of their actions with technology. His roommate used a webcam to broadcast Tyler making out with another student and advertised the broadcast on Twitter. Tyler’s roommate surely did not anticipate the devastating impact that his actions caused. Gossip used to be word-of-mouth and ephemeral. Technology has changed the gossip/bullying/whatever-you-want-to-call-it game profoundly and students just do not have any opportunities to thoughtfully explore issues of technology and ethics (whether this type of issue or issues of digital footprints, copyright/ownership/authorship, etc). This isn’t about “internet safety.” This is about more than simply technology and safety.
Most schools leave information and media literacy to the librarian, who is forced into teaching it in snippets here and there because very few have the staffing too be able to teach in course format. With the complexity of issues surrounding technology, and the degree to which technology is a vital part of students’ future professional and personal lives, shouldn’t more schools offer information studies in cohesive course format?