Monday, October 08, 2007

Training wheels aren't just for librarians

I just finished reading "Should we take off those training-wheels" by Meredith Farkas @ Information Wants to Be Free and it struck a chord with me. I do not think this is something specific to, or mired in, libraries and librarianship. Though unfamiliar with the term, training wheels culture, two graduate assistants and I have been struggling with a like phenomenon in regards to a lab course. This self-paced basic technology lab is delivered using WebCT; students are encouraged to "try" individual assignments on their own using instruction modules and tutorials (video and written). Each year, students taking the course are more technologically savvy regarding computers. Each year the attempts at completing the work using provided instructions suffers a decided lack of interest.

"As instructors and trainers, I believe we are doing our best work when we can push people to take off their training-wheels, because we are helping them to become better life-long learners. So next time someone asks you for an answer they should probably be finding themselves, think about what you’re really teaching them if you give them the answer." (Farkas, 10/7/07)

We want students to succeed; throughout their entire academic career, not just within the library. In fact, we owe it to them as educators to make this possible, hence the inclusion of video, audio, chat reference, blogs, and other web 2.0 technologies students are familiar with and comfortable using to academic course-work. It is one of the reasons applications to AU's technology faculty learning community doubled from 2006 to 2007. But where do we draw the line, encouraging and expecting students to try? Are we doing them any favors sending email reminders, updating calendars, and posting to blogs?

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