Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I know, I know. It's been a very long time since I've added to this blog--and LOTS has happened in the world of LILAC. But that will have to wait until I have more time.

Right now, I just want to jot down a few notes/quotes from some reading I've been doing. So, here goes.

From "Non-existence of Systematic Education on Computerized Writing in Japanese Schools," by Taku Sugimoto (Computers and Composition 24 (2007): 317-328).

"For high school students, a new subject called 'information studies' is introduced in the current Course of Study. It has three major goals: to develop practical skills of using information, to understand information scientifically, and to cultivate attitudes to actively participate in the information society. There are three different courses under this subject. All the courses cover the three goals above, but the weight placed on each is different. Information Studies A, for example, lays stress on basic practical skills, and in teching those skills it touches on scientific and social issues. Information Studies B puts more emphasis on the scientific understanding of information while Information Studies C deals more with issues related to the information society. Every high school student in the country is mandated to take one of these courses" (320).

I really think this gets at something I've been thinking a lot about--that our current curriculum needs to be reformed. That is, instead of teaching research as part of writing instruction, I'd like for us to dump our "Freshman English" or "Composition" classes entirely (based as they are on an antiquated 19th century model) and, instead, teach "Information Literacy"--perhaps, as here, as a sequence of courses, each building upon the other (and, of course, offering "just-in-time" instruction!).

The article continues: "Besides these subjects for ordinary senior high school students, a vocational course in informatics [emphasis added] was established in the current Course of Study for those students who will enter the information industry right after graduation from high school. And a professional subject course in information studies was created for their education and covers such topics as information and expression, algorithms, development of information systems, network systems, simulations, computer design, processing figures and pictures, multimedia expressions, and so on" (320-21).

"Besides these subject matters on informatics, the Course of Study is designed to encourage information and communication technologies in all the subjects (i.e., mathematics, social studies, and so on). Giving students access to digital technologies for learning and teaching is intended to familiarize children with computers and other information/communication technologies" (321).

So, yeah, this article is dealing more with teaching communication technology, but the idea, I think, is the same, since the courses aren't just teaching how to deal with the technology.

Another article in the same issue deals with game playing, but it, too, I think references some lessons for LILAC, specifically, James Paul Gee's work:

From "On the Bright Side of the Screen: Material-world Interactions Surrounding the Socialization of Outsiders to Digital Spaces," by Sally W. Chandler, Joshua Burnett, and Jacklyn Lopez (Computers and Composition 24 (2007): 346-364).

"Similar to principles Gee attributes to games, Jackie and Josh position the learner to discover what she needs (Discovery Principle) and provide information only when the learner is on the verge of giving up (Explicity Information On-Demand and Just-in-Time Principle) [emphasis added]. Directions help learners master the interface and provide support as they shift from material to digital styles for learning. This support differs from Gee's principles in that it is directed toward a learner who is outside the class of learners this particular game is designed to teach. The kind of person-to-person, material world support Jackie and Josh provide is particularly necessary for outsiders invested in semiotic practices inconsistent with practices built into the learning context. Experienced gamers' questions are answered by the game itself, but outsiders' different patterns for learning and making meaning make the game's information virtually inaccessible; cultural outsiders and technological newcomers initially need personalized, material-world support to use virtual spaces as places to learn" (356-57).

I think this is especially applicable to teaching information literacy skills in that we need to consider how to scaffold lessons. That is, considering learners (our students) as "cultural insiders/outsiders" can help us provide just-in-time instruction at various levels as needed by the learner, keeping in mind that not all of our students will enter the instructional model at the same levels. Or something like that.

By the way, Gee's book could be interesting to apply to our project:

Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! As a librarian here, I'm glad these conversations are happening.

    By the way, Henderson Library provides Gee's book as an e-book at