I came across this article that appeared in a 2005 issue of T.H.E. Journal titled “20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have“. Many academic librarians think of themselves as educators – or one who has a significant participatory role in the education of the college student – so let’s replace “Educator” with “Librarian” in that title. Do we have the necessary technology skills? And how would we fare against real “Educators” if we did a comparison? Looking at the list I think the majority of academic librarians would do quite well, although in some areas our skills may need strengthening. Here’s the list:
1. Word Processing Skills
2. Spreadsheets Skills
3. Database Skills
4. Electronic Presentation Skills
5. Web Navigation Skills
6. Web Site Design Skills
7. E-Mail Management Skills
8. Digital Cameras
9. Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
10. File Management & Windows Explorer Skills
11. Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
12. Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
13. WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
14. Videoconferencing skills
15. Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs)
16. Scanner Knowledge
17. Knowledge of PDAs
18. Deep Web Knowledge
19. Educational Copyright Knowledge
20. Computer Security Knowledge
Some thoughts and observations:
1-4: I think academic librarians have the basic MS Office stuff pretty well under control. Without more opportunities to create databases it’s tough to get practice with Access. When I attend conferences it’s obvious knowledge of PPT is pretty universal – but maybe the real skill is knowing when not to use it or to do so only in limited ways.
5-6: When it comes to #5 I think librarians rule especially if we’re talking about web search skills, but I’m not so sure #6 is a universal skill although lots of librarians are pretty handy with web development.
7: Seems obvious but I find in my “keeping up” workshops that many librarians still do not use their e-mail rules to achieve efficiency in dealing with the e-mail deluge.
8: The use of digital cameras is pretty widespread, but I can’t say the same for manipulating digital images, storing them, sharing them, etc. Seems like an area that needs more development.
9-12: I fee pretty safe saying that most academic librarians are computer savvy. We understand PC management, know our networks, we know how to download just about anything, and we can do installs. Have you sharpened some of these skills helping students at your library’s computers? Most of us have played the role of IT technician at one time or another.
13: A year or two ago I’d say we didn’t have this one, but now we’re much stronger in our courseware knowledge and skills. If you haven’t created and managed your own course, it’s the best way to learn.
14: That’s a broad range of skills that can include everything from participating in a videoconference to running one. Librarians may have less access to this technology, but if you talk about webconferencing I think it’s only now just developing. It’s definitely an area where we need to strengthen our skills (keep an eye out for the March 2006 issue of Library Journal for an article on this exact topic).
15-17: I’d say that 15 is no problem, 16 is something many of us have done minimally or extensively depending on our job – but we’re not intimidated by scanning, and 17 is an area where we still need development – not as much in the area of personal use but how to make our resources more useful for PDA users.
18: We’ve been talking about this for years, so I’m saying we’re way ahead of the curve on this one.
19: I’d venture to say that on most campuses the library professionals are the go to guys for getting copyright questions answered.
20: If you haven’t been burnt on this one you’re ahead of the game, but most of us have learned about computer security the hard way and now we can help advocate it on our campuses.
21 – Okay, there is no 21, but there should be and it’s a big oversight. Every educator should know how to find the right library database for an information need, and how to properly search the library databases. The author didn’t consider this an essential technology skill. Looks like we still have a lot of work to do to get educators to improve their library technology skills.
And for good measure I’ll add #22 – knowledge of instructional design and technology. Acdemic librarians should be knowledgeable about teaching technologies and media, how it can be used to design instruction products, and how to assess their effectiveness.
If you gave yourself a point for competency in each skill area – particulary #22, and you scored in the 15-20 range you just might be a “Blended Librarian“. But my guess is that many of us realize that we need to improve our skill set in more than a few of these areas. I’d say it’s a good list to use as a guide to getting “blended”.
Do you think that today’s library school students are learning all of these skills, but missing other more basic skills that are necessary to the practice of academic librarianship, such as reference negotiation? How about other “educator” technology skills that we need to have? What would you add to the list?
Take a look at the article for loads of resources you can use to build your skills in any of these technology areas.