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2002 Gwen Gawith: Re-defining research

2002 Opoho School: "The Opoho Possum Hunt"

2001 Gwen Gawith: "Infobliteracy" - Part 2.

2001 Gwen Gawith: Responding to "Into a Further World" by Elwyn Richardson.

2001 Carolyn Coil: Teachers make the world of information become knowledge.

2001 Gwen Gawith: Why Read?

2001 Gwen Gawith: "Infobliteracy" - Part 1.

2001 Linda Selby and Maureen Trebilcock: A call for teacher-librarians

2000 Gwen Gawith: Information Literacy: theory into practice - Part 2

2000 Gwen Gawith: Information literacy: problems and solutions.

2000 Alan Cooper: Information literacy; the past is not enough.

1999 Gwen Gawith: The origins of information literacy.

1998 Graham Prentice: Knowledge architects.

1998 Gwen Gawith: Getting a handle on information literacy.

1997 Gwen Gawith: NEMPing through information literacy.

1992 Gwen Gawith: learning for the future.

1987 Gwen Gawith: Information skills for an information age.

1986 Gwen Gawith Information skills for an information literate future.

1984 Gwen Gawith: Getting a handle on information skills.


information literacy:
definitions & discussion

Knowledge Architects

This article was published in Good Teacher, Term 2 1998

Graham Prentice

One of the most difficult expectations to have is to ask an adult with a past life experience is to plan for the future experience of a student in their care. As adults, we bring our bag of knowledge and try to give its contents to our children believing that somewhere those contents will provide them with what is needed to shape their lives. We fail to recognise that society's knowledge is doubling every 3-4 years (and most of this knowledge will only ever be published digitally) and that 80% of the tools that our primary aged students will use in their working lives have yet to be invented!

How can we ask our educational planners to cope with this scenario? We are entering a huge technology growth age characterised by accelerated development of microchip-based tools and rapid communications. Already developed are microchips that enable the human to instruct tools to act in different ways leg microwave programming) and miniaturised phones that enable roaming virtually anywhere on Earth - voice and data.

Authors, such as our own Gordon Dryden (The Knowledge Revolution 1997), are warning of the need for our teaching methodology and content in our schools to change rapidly to cope with future basic skills. If we give what we have always given, we'll get what we've always got - that is no longer acceptable!

Students need to become knowledge architects - provided with the tools that will allow exploration, the skills that will enable navigation and the facilitators that will encourage and provide content and reason for their construction. We need learning environments that value risk taking and collaborative involvement. If our future generation is to survive in the global community of tomorrow, we must move quickly away from providing normalised testing procedures in schools that rate past knowledge highly whilst ignoring the skills we should be encouraging.

While many of our classrooms espouse the philosophy of producing independent learners only a small number teach our students methods of creative thinking, fewer still teach our students how to move their levels of thinking from the concrete to synthesis and abstraction.

Where we do see emphasis on methodology in learning we can celebrate students whose achievements are exciting and challenging -unfortunately these settings are often primary school based with their graduates disappearing into the formalised system based on knowledge examinations of the past.

In providing a future skill set for our current students we must focus on digital media. Our children are quite capable of digital thinking, indeed many already thrive on the world of interactive computer scenarios - few adults can even navigate the world of Myst and Riven. As their world becomes a stream of digital information enabling instant access to knowledge that we adults do not even know exists, the generation gap will become a chasm.

Direct communication with the international authors of new knowledge is already happening daily in many of our primary school classrooms - indeed the interaction with such authors is itself often the catalyst for new inquiry. The luckiest of our students are part of the future today - the vast majority are not.

Overthe last few years we have seen the mushrooming of a new occupation - that of web page designer. Amongst the leaders of that growing market are teenage developers because the older group of workers have no history with digital design, what's possible, what's needed, how to create a digital space that appeals to and communicates with the visitor!

The educational outputs of the digital world are not paper based - but remains digital: CD-like media is used via some output device, web sites are linked with communication devices. We will shortly see output to holograms with multimedia sensory stimulants. Intelligent digital agents will interpret the users requests and provide an interactive forum between and stored information sources or other users.

Our world is changing increasingly rapidly. We must address the changes and plan for the change process - this change should start with our children in school. While as adults we demand the historic basics from our schools - for our children's sake we need to demand the new basics!

Graham Prentice is an ex-principal. At the time of writing he was Education Manager, Apple Computers.