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The Internet and the school librarian: a description of one course
by Prof. Edna Aphek

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In 2002 I gave a course on The School Librarian and The Internet to Librarians, at the David Yellin College of Education, in Jerusalem.

The David Yellin College runs a three year program for librarians, at the end of the program the students receive a diploma and can serve either as librarians at one of the public libraries, or as school librarians.

The studies are conducted once a week, for a whole day, at the college.

It was my first experience in teaching librarians and the objective was to expose the librarians in their last year of studies to innovative educational theories and to the marriage between these theories and the use of the internet.

However, as I'll show in this paper, the emphasis, in light of the students' requests, tended to shift from the theoretical basis to practical hands- on use of the Internet. When I prepared for the course I was told that the students were acquainted with the various uses of the Internet, in practice, I learnt that most of the learners had very little exposure, let alone thorough knowledge of how to use the Internet.

The paper describes the course, the students' reactions and requests, the assignment given to the students and their comments and my concluding remarks.

The Course: the participants

The David Yellin College of Education is one of oldest teachers colleges in Israel.
Situated in Jerusalem, the college is named after David Yellin, teacher, linguist and researcher. The student population in the college as in Israel in general, is very varied and ranges from secular Jewish students to orthodox and a few ultra orthodox students, to non Jews and a very large group of Arab students. Coexistence studies comprise a big part of the David Yellin curriculum.
In the course there were 18 students, Jews only, secular, religious and orthodox, Israeli born and relatively new comers.

Most of the students were fluent Hebrew speakers, with the exception of K. who is an English speaker and her command of Hebrew is very weak. The students in the course came from various cities, Jerusalem and Eilat, the Kibbutzim, (communal settlements), the Moshavim (another form of communal settlements),the settlements and small towns.

Unlike what I was told not all the participants were school librarians about 1/5 were librarians in public libraries.

The Course syllabus

When I first designed the course, I met with the director of the library at the college and with the academic adviser to the Librarian Program. The course objective, so I was told, was to expose the students to the new role of the school librarian in face of the innovative educational theories and the new technologies.

In light of the above I wrote the following course rationale:

The new technologies have created a new situation of exposure and accessibility to huge amounts of information which necessitates the use of innovative methods of researching, finding, evaluating and processing information. Many functions in the school and amongst them that of the school librarian are undergoing major changes. The librarian is becoming an expert in searching and finding, analyzing and evaluating information and an integrator and guide to the various resources of information. As such, the role of the librarian at school in the information age is extremely important.

I believe that the librarian, especially in the information age, should be knowledgeable in the new educational theories and trends; the school librarian should inform on regular basis, the school's pedagogic body of the most recent developments in education, support the teachers and help them in integrating information sources while preparing for their classes, assist students in their inquiry and in project writing, inform and help implement the rules of copyright, should be instrumental in emphasizing and implementing Net ethics, caution teachers, parents and students about the dangers of the Internet and teache them about net safety and inform teachers about educational competitions and awards and how to apply for them.

Course topics: the librarian new role in the information era; living in the information era: accessibility and information overload ; multiplicity of information channels ; social and educational implications; innovative educational theories and methods, such as inquiry learning, brain based education, the MI ,cooperative learning, and the information technologies; evaluating information; competitions, cooperative projects and innovative initiatives and programs on the web; net ethics and safety rules; civic learning and the web;

Course final assignment:

Preparing an information file for school's use. Topics according to individual or group choice ranging from teaching a specific subject matter using the web to most recent educational competitions and awards or innovative educational initiatives and how to apply to them, and or Internet safe surfing etc.

Course duration:

The course was given in the second semester - spring 2002.
14 sessions, 90 minute each.

The Course itself:

When I started the course I was under the impression, that all the students were internet users. After the first two sessions and short assignments which were based on searching the internet, I realized that most of the students weren't knowledgeable as to surfing and searching the net, that very few of them had access to the internet at home, and that due to the fact that they came to the college for a full day of classes, once a week, they had no time to practice Internet usage at the college.

Though the students were very interested in learning the innovative educational theories, I decided in light of the aforementioned students' lack of expertise in using the Net, and in response to the students request, to shorten the time allotted to the educational theories , skip some of the other topics, as the students had already learnt them in other course, and devote a few sessions to working on the Net and to learning some basic usage practices and guidelines as far as using the Internet in education is concerned.

In a feedback session the students expressed their great satisfaction with the hands-on sessions.

I believe that by the end of the course, all the students, except for two who were absent a lot, and one who was totally detached, all the students acquired much of the internet skills: searching for information, evaluating information,(which they learnt also in another course), using e mail, participating in forums, and being active (to some degree only) in mailing lists.

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