21st Century Media Specialists

Final Reg-2.pdf (page 1 of 3)Provocateur Scott McLeod (otherwise known as Scott McLeod, Iowa State University associate professor and head of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education) came to the Minnesota Education media Organization fall conference to shake up the status quo.  His provocative keynote challenged media specialist and librarians to examine the core of their work.  Scott believes that change is happening so readily throughout the world (see the video Did You Know?)– changing jobs, exponential growth of information, ubiquitous computing–that it is essential that media specialist take the lead in transforming teaching and learning in schools.  If they don’t take the lead, Scott says,  “Get out of the way!”

It is clear that media specialist are caught in a system of information gathering, housing, organizing and sharing that is slow to change.

Take for instance the very nature of books.  With the advent of eReaders and low cost netbooks, students have access to multiple texts, all searchable, easily indexed, rich with multimedia and easily highlighted and noted electronically.  It’s possible, through an internet connection, for students to have access to a vast array of reference materials and electronic databases.  So, Scott argues, what print reference materials are still needed in media centers?  What does the media center of the 21st century look like?

McLeod argues that factual knowledge and low-level skills are much of what teaching and learning are all about these days.  He asks media specialists, “How can you help students work more effectively with knowledge, particularly knowledge that is stored electronically?  What core knowledge do our students need for them to be good creative knowledge users?”

Students are no longer just consumers of knowledge; they have become creators—through blogs, video, wikis, and other interactive media.  Media specialists need to help students become responsible creators and publishers and, in tandem with teachers, open pathways for students to engage and interact with the world.

It seems to be me that the challenge for media specialist now becomes how can they lead their teachers and administrators to a new vision of teaching and learning where 21st century information literacy skills are central to the mission of the school.  The time is ripe for insightful leadership—do media specialists have the skills and background, and are they ready to step up to the challenge?

6 thoughts on “21st Century Media Specialists

  1. diane

    Thanks for sharing this info from MEMO. Blogs are a good way to communicate. Our own Minneapolis wiki has blog possibilities too. But there is no harm in looking for other possiblities.

  2. Paul Sommers

    Great things to think about Todd.
    Writing seems to come naturally to you.
    What kinds of responses have you gotten to your blog?

  3. Sarah

    At a recent staff development I was struck by a bit of discussion around which format was preferred for reading: print or digital. Many people (a generation older than me) preferred reading printed books because of the tactile experience of the page. I can relate to that (I was born in 1979), but I also LOVE digital precisely because of what you’re talking about here: creativity & flexibility. I often have multiple tabs open in my browser while I’m reading. If I don’t know a word or reference, it’s right over to dictionary.com or wikipedia. Instant searchability and knowledge gratification has started to sway me in favor of digital media!

    But, I have to say, nothing beats the smell of a good library full of musty old books.

    1. Nichole Mason

      First, let me comment on how much I enjoy reading this blog site. I love it! Thanks Todd. Keep up the great work.

      Second, I could not agree more with Sarah. (I was born in 1974.) I love the idea of Kindle and just downloaded it onto my Blackberry but…I’m itching for the next trip to our local (actually, three hours away!) discounted book fair.

  4. @Sarah, great comment.

    In education, I think of it terms of professional development. I subscribe to 2 print sources (The Journal & Tech & Learning). I wouldn’t subscribe if they weren’t free.

    It takes me about an hour to read them both cover to cover. In the meantime, I have 30 blogs, 100s of Twitter feeds, and countless online articles that read.

    I would never do the extent of learning that I do without the online resources.

  5. Nichole Mason

    If it weren’t for Twitter I would not be able to keep up with my professional mentor. I get loads of information from following her tweets alone. Through Twitter I have been able to develop a broader understanding of the field. That’s important because I still work full-time while working on my master’s in instructional technology. And most of my career has been at the higher education level.

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