In today’s age, technology—especially in the form of computers, the internet, and web 2.0 tools—is incredibly important to the growth and development of current student learners and future members of adult society. While the classroom is an important area to learn the necessary skills to thrive in the adult world, another equally important place is the library. The library—as well as the librarian—has moved beyond what used to be thought of as an archaic, dull, quiet, book-focused locale. Today, school librarians are also media specialists and are looked at by fellow educators to help students grow, prepare, and build the necessary skills for adult life. While there are many important skills for the 21st-century learner, there are three that are particularly important in conjunction with technology and skill building: Giving equitable access to all technology and materials for all students, building crucial technology skills for future employment needs, and participating in the important social context necessary for learning.
The AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (2007) details the important standards for every school librarian. Although most are crucial, one of the most important standards is giving equitable access to all technology and materials for all students. Many of today’s youth are low income or, for any various reasons, cannot access certain technologies or books. It is the librarian’s job to make sure every student—no matter race, gender, or socio-economic status—has equal access to the same materials so that every student has the opportunity to have an equal learning experience. Once students have this equal opportunity learning experience, then the librarian’s other standards can come to fruition.
With technology growing exponentially throughout society, it is only natural that technology must be incorporated into both learning and employment. For the youth of today to become skilled workers in the future, they must learn appropriate skills in school, much of which will be taught by librarians. Church (2011) explains that librarians must master the learning process to better prepare themselves for college and careers, and they must lead those students into growing those “skills of inquiry, problem solving, and critical thinking” (p. 10). There are many tools to use to build these skills, as well, but they are not the only skills necessary to build to create successful workers.
As the AASL Standards also explain, there is a social context to learning. Students must be able to build social skills, though sometimes it is difficult to do so due to potential embarrassment or social awkwardness. Weaver (2010) uses the example of Twitter and how useful it can be in a classroom setting. It can be used to post questions or conduct polls. And for the more reluctant students who might not want to raise their hands or respond in class, Twitter (or other social media or Web 2.0 tools in general) gives the ability to overcome the public fear by allowing them to respond ‘silently’ or anonymously.
Overall, technology is highly beneficial in the classroom setting, and it is up to the librarian to help push further technological tools in order to make stronger learners and build better, important skills necessary for succeeding in today’s society. Without the school librarian, it is still possible for the classroom teacher to implement technology, but the classroom teacher does not always have the time or knowledge to do so. The librarian is the perfect facilitator to bring these skills together practically and easily.
ALA. (2007). AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_LearningStandards.pdf
Church, A.P. (2011). School librarians as teacher leaders. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 77(3), 10-12.
Weaver, A. (2010). Twitter for teachers, librarians and teacher librarians. Access, 24(2), 16-20.