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Karen Williams, director of Academic Programs, University Libraries
Are our students prepared to live and work as digital citizens in the Knowledge Age? Are our students prepared to be lifelong learners? There is a set of skills that cross disciplines and departments on campus, often referred to as 21st century literacies. It includes:
These skills are vital to academic and professional success. They help students adapt and thrive in the changing landscape of information, media, and technology on the road of lifelong learning. They need to be taught and reinforced throughout a student’s life at the University both within and outside of the classroom. It is often assumed that today’s students as “digital natives” learn these skills before they arrive at the University or by osmosis within academic programs.
The development of these skills is in line with the University’s goal to “recruit, educate, challenge and graduate outstanding students to become highly motivated lifelong learners, leaders and global citizens,” from the report Transforming the U for the 21st Century from 2007. Twenty-first century literacies are implicit in the Undergraduate Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and Student Development Outcomes (SDOs).
The University Libraries have made some inroads to integrate these literacies including student learning outcomes in First Year Writing, with tools such as the Assignment Calculator and in integration in programs with similar accreditation standards. Within the Libraries, there is also a group called the Information Literacy Collaborative which works to support the integration of information literacy into the curriculum.
As an organization with expertise in 21st century literacies, the University Libraries are in a position to support faculty and staff in teaching these competencies, but in the past our role has been underutilized. This project will identify successful models of integration and recommend strategies for the University Libraries to support faculty and staff in the teaching of 21st century literacies and the SLO/SDOs in a various programs and activities on campus. We are seeking a more systematic way to support faculty and staff in teaching and students in learning 21st century literacies.
The PEL project will help us to define our campus-wide role on these issues. The Libraries are just one partner in this endeavor. As such it will be useful to explore overlap with other units on campus such as the Digital Media Center, Center for Writing, Center for Teaching and Learning, and specific schools, departments, etc. We are also interested in strategies to break down potential silos in the teaching of 21st century literacies.
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