Thursday, April 24, 2008

Week 6, #15: Web 2.0, Library 2.0

I read every one of the readings and I was startled with the lack of relevance to the real world. All but one of the contributors was a man from higher education who had the same message: "Get with it! People aren't going to use books anymore. They are going to access knowledge through the Internet." Well, yes and no. That is a very educated middle class statement, and one I hear from adults all the time. I liken it to the statement I heard repeatedly from school administrators 15-20 years ago: "We do not need libraries anymore--just search stations. The entire collection of the Library of Congress is available on the Internet."

What is needed is training for students, and adults, in how access and assess the information they are getting on the Internet. Is it really the entire collection of the Library of Congress, or the bibliographic records of the Library of Congress? I teach at a high school that is 71% Latino, 61% free and reduced lunch, and 40% ELL. Many do not have Internet access at home, much less use it for all their communications and research. This is college stuff, of which, I believe, only a minority of us are college educated. So who are these users they are talking about?

Yes, I am excited about Web 2.0 and its uses. I see how I can reach students 24/7 via the Internet using blogs and and Technorati. I am getting Playaways and databases with home access and e-books and such. But I am not abandoning them in favor of Library 2.0. Last month I seriously considered weeding the print encyclopedias as outdated. Why use the print encyclopedia when there is so much good information on the Internet? Then I had several classes of sheltered English students come do research on the Russian Revolution. The ones who started with the encyclopedias, with their short articles, pictures, and outlined format were better focused and able to handle the content. The eventualyy went on to use books and the Internet. The students that were allowed to use any book or the Internet first became confused by the many formats and overwhelmed with the volume of content. Those that started with the Internet sometimes got lost. Now I think I'll buy a new set, if the money ever comes my way.

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