Saturday, October 27, 2007

MEDIA Specialists?

Standing outside yesterday loading our daycare vans in the rain, I began a discussion with a fellow teacher about students and their hobbies. The conversation ended up becoming somewhat of a debate. The quote she added... "Kids today only care about sitting in front of the television with a bag of chips or playing video games". I began by adding my opinions on the differences of the 2 activities.

Watching television is a passive activity. It doesn't take
much thought to sit down on a couch and watch a television. One positive attribute of watching television is that one can gain a little knowledge of the world around them, if they are watching intuitive programming.

Playing a video game is an active activity. A child constantly needs to learn, create and rethink their actions through the course of a digital video game. Problem solving techniques are constantly being tossed about. A child doesn't only watch, they have to constantly think of their actions, learn from their mistakes and try new strategies to reach a different outcome.

The teacher, being a Media Specialist, didn't necessarily agree with me. I thought it was quite sad that this media specialist is so disconnected from the students that she teaches. Shouldn't all forms of media be her forte'?

This leads me to believe that we need to look at the function of a media specialist in our schools. I have read posts from other bloggers describing media specialists in other areas of the country. I am aware that there are media specialists that are turning to digital means to teach in their libraries. As the information revolution changes the way we use media, shouldn't the job description of our media specialists change? Has it changed already? If their job descriptions have changed, then why havn't they changed with it?
The only changes that I have seen occur in libraries is the computerized system to check out a book. This is the only change in 20 years. I do not want to generalize, but this is what I am seeing.
There needs to be reform in our libraries. We need to get the media specialist on board. Now, I ask the question... what is your media personnel doing to engage students with the tools of the information revolution?


Jenny said...

Our media specialist has done a lot of work with our students on research online. She's modeled for them using online encyclopedias and databases. That's about it, though.

There are clearly some media specialists who have moved forward, but I think most are behind in this issue. However, I think the percentages are about the same as those for teachers.h

Cathy Nelson said...

Oh but Woody--there are those of us doing more. MY students KNOW and understand how I depend on my network. They trust me with instruction about online material, be it the school opac, the Internet, YouTube, blogs, other 2.0 tools, and more. Just recently my 6th graders and I had a huge debate about downloading and whether it is legal on file sharing sites. I had to show them and make them understand the "fine print" that is written so that even most adults don't understand it. It was a joyous occasion to have the Jammie Thomas fiasco take place, and now we are looking at what happens when u get caught illegally downloading--woot--an actual case! A classroom teacher asked why i would waste time teaching about this, and I informed her that one of my standards is to teach the ethical use of information (no matter its format) and that includes music. I also told her this was a great segue into teaching about copyright and why we (teachers) make kids do something so seemingly irrelevant, like learning how to cite sources. So there are some of us that are very relevant with todays youth. I would have to agree with you on the comparison of video games and vegging in front of the tv. Even if not all games are engaging on the highest level, it is significantly more engaging than sitting in a dull classroom listening to a supposed expert tell content instead of allowing students to create knowledge and then discuss, compare, and defend it. Some of us I think get it. So don't be down on all school librarians. Would u like to play a game with me head to head--online?

A. Woody DeLauder said...

Thanks for the comment. This put a smile on my face. It is refreshing to hear you talk of your experiences. I didn't want to come across sounding as if all Librarians and media specialists are falling short. I was only speaking of my experience. We definitely need more teachers like you in the system. Thanks again!

David Robb said...

Hi Woody,

I don't think watching TV is passive and playing a video game is active is as black-and-white as you described.

Watching television can be an active activity. Sometimes, when my 2 year old daughter watches TV she'll point to something and ask "What's that?" I'll answer her and, sometimes, I'll come back with another question like, "What color is that?" I think this an example of how you can turn television into a more active activity.

Furthermore, although I agree that a video game is an active activity, many games do not challenge children to learn, create, and rethink. Some video games are all about pressing buttons as fast as possible.

Overall, I do agree with your opinion, I just think there's a little more of a gray area.

A. Woody DeLauder said...

You do make a great point. There is definitely a gray area. The frustration lies with the media specialist at my school. The only media she uses in the library are books and a television at times. This just frustrates me!