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?