Internet and the school librarian: a description of one course
by Prof. Edna Aphek
Being more focused
I feel that my attempt to combine the new educational theories
with hands- on internet usage, was somewhat forced. I believe
that had I known prior to the course, that most of the participants
had no or very little knowledge of Internet skills, I would
have reversed the order of the different parts of the course,
and would have started with Internet basic skills, and only
after that would have resorted to teaching the innovative
In an e mail, K. sent me recently she said: "you opened
up my internetting world...."
This opening up should have been done in the very beginning
of the course and not almost at its end. I am afraid that
it took me too long to realize the lack of this knowledge
on the student's part, about 5-6 sessions.
This also brings me to another issue, that of better coordinating
my work with the other teachers in the program. I never met
the other teachers, and didn't really know what was being
taught, or not taught at the other courses. Only later on
I learnt from the students that in another course they learnt
how to evaluate web sites and net ethics.
I find that at times, maybe too often, teachers both in schools
and in higher learning institutions do not always share their
knowledge and their materials and that there is little information
flow. I believe that at this age of information, we should
have all the syllabi , bibliography and materials of teachers
teaching in the same program, either on the Internet or on
a specially designed organizational net. I also think that
teachers meetings should be conducted on- line from time to
Lack of good content sites in the Hebrew Language
In their papers, some of the future librarians pointed to
the meager number of good content sites in the Hebrew language.
Educational, high quality sites in Hebrew, such as Snunit:
, or Galim www.galim.org.il,
which is really part of Snunit, are scarce.
The students also pointed out to another problem related to
the above: the difficulty many Israelis have in reading materials
in English. A large number of Israelis is not fluent in the
English language and hence the need for good sites in Hebrew
becomes even more dire.
In her concluding remarks K. pointed out to the huge amounts
of time devoted to searching information on the net. All the
students in the course felt that searching the net is a very
time consuming activity. Many sites are of poor quality and
one seems to drown in too much information .
In 1997 John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen researched the issue
of "writing for the Internet" as a result , they
laid some ground rules for writing for the web.These rules
are: concise, scannable and objective writing. And so they
"Studies of how users read on the Web found that they
do not actually read: instead, they scan the text. A study
of five different writing styles found that a sample Web site
scored 58% higher in measured usability when it was written
concisely, 47% higher when the text was scannable, and 27%
higher when it was written in an objective style instead of
the promotional style used in the control condition and many
current Web pages. Combining these three changes into a single
site that was concise, scannable, and objective at the same
time resulted in 124% higher measured usability."
Unfortunately, not all the writers for the web, follow the
above principles, nor do many of them supply real content
site. The graphics content relationship, still leaves room
for much to be desired.
Coming back to the time consuming effort of using the Net,
I am wondering whether a new different method of notation,
as far as getting search results, isn't urgently needed. Some
sort of iconization which will appear next to sites found
by a search engine and which would immediately and visually
tell the searcher about the depth and quality of the content
of a specific site, the ration between graphics and content,
whether the author is an institute or an individual, whether
its commercial or academic etc.
librarian-webrarian's work in light of the above, becomes
Having the skills and the vast knowledge of dealing with different
sources of information, I believe that librarians who had
the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Information
Technologies, can and should be key persons both in schools,
and help the "perplexed" public ,in public libraries.
general "heratic" thoughts which are not directly
connected to the title of this article
With all my enthusiasm about the new technologies and the
Internet in particular, I am wondering whether with all this
effort and monetary investment, we are getting better learners,
greater philosophers, better doctors , architects , teachers
Is it time effective? Should the IT be introduced into all
classes , at all age levels?
Could the same work be done at a shorter period of time and
better? What is the learner left with? How cost effective
is the use of the Internet?
In an article titled: Is our children learning? Julie Landry
is raising the question whether the use of computers in general
will bring about the educational impact we have been praying
for. Laundry is talking about the enormous amounts of money
invested in the IT and in teacher training. She is worried
about the cost effectiveness of this investment.
However, Laundry writes that:
In a 1998 research project by the Educational Testing Service
(ETS), found that school computer use was associated with
increasing math scores for eighth graders by one-third of
a grade level. However, researchers cautioned, "the appearance
of higher test scores in students who use technology more
frequently may be due to the technology, or it may be due
to the fact that such students come from more affluent families,
and so are better academically prepared in the first place."
What I find most disconcerting in her article is that in certain
cases the use of technology in the classroom might have a
"detrimental effect" on the learners.
In this respect July quotes Jane Healy who in her book Failure
to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds for
Better and Worse (Simon & Schuster, 1998) asks for computers
to be used carefully at schools. Healy is worried about child's
development because "pictures require less effort to
process than text. She also cites the instant feedback of
computer applications as a possible factor in children's increasing
inattentiveness. Ms. Healy warns, "Some of the 'habits
of mind' fostered by this software are dangerous. . . . Attention
is guided by noise, motion and color, not by the child's brain."
Educationists, both practitioners and theoreticians should
reassess the use of computers in education as THE means for
information finding. In a recent issue of From Now On Ken
Vesey is asking the following question:
The Internet-only Research Approach: Does the Web Really Have
All There Is to Say?
Ken analyzed many Internet learning resources and in light
of his research he advocates "an approach to research
[which] will lead students to the best information wherever
it is and whatever format it is in. "
His model is a "comprehensive research process for the
students and often lead them to analog resources, as well
as encourage them to use relevant online tools to tease out
the best information on their subject."
Hence the librarian's key role in schools as a guide and mentor
for teachers and students as well, in the integration of the
various information resources.
I feel that I need to make sure that I as a teacher and a
lecturer, a practitioner and theoretician, I won't get too
carried away by in my enthusiasm about the computer and the
web and their potential, and throw the baby out with the bath
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