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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 150-136-E
Division Number: VII
Professional Group: Continuing Professional Education
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 136
Simultaneous Interpretation: No

The convergence of methodology for the traditional school of library and information and the continuing education of the professional

Kenneth E. Dowlin
Distance Digital Education, and Associate Director for the CSU Fullerton Program
School of Library and Information Science
San Jose State University
San Jose, California, USA



The convergence of information and communication technologies as embodied in the Internet is creating extreme pressure on librarians, researchers, and Library and Information Science educators to keep up with the development of the tools and to manage their application to libraries and information centers. The Schools of Library and Information Science must develop new approaches to ensure that the profession stays abreast of these new developments and that the entry-level professionals are prepared to enter the field.

Libraries and Librarianship are undergoing a transition that equals or is greater than the one that occurred during the Andrew Carnegie era of funding buildings for libraries, and the explosive growth of libraries starting in the 1960s when the federal government adopted a de facto policy of access to libraries for every U. S. citizen. The goal now is to provide two-way access to libraries, from libraries, and among libraries via information technology (IT) for every citizen. While the president and congress have focused their efforts on this nation, the consequences of the development of access via the Internet is to create a global network that can reach all corners of the world. At the same time the tools provided by the technology needed for the extension of the School of Library and Information Science into the Digital Era are the same tools needed for Continuing Education. Thus it is important to look at trends in Distance Education to set the stage.

Distance Education Trends

First lets look at the attributes of a good distance education delivery system. They are:
  1. Available at anytime. "It's always there!"
  2. Accessible from any location. "I can always get to it."
  3. Multimedia content: use of audio, video, interactive chat, text, etc.
  4. Accommodates individual's learning style: self-paced, asynchronous collaborative, synchronous collaborative.
  5. Hyperlearning: as contrasted with static text, e-learning has the capacity to link with other resources (simulations, other content, study groups, etc.) that can enhance the learning experience and avoid the linear learning dictated by textbooks. The self-directed nature of e-learning allows Hyperlearning.
  6. Blindness of the learning engagement: Some learners who are inhibited in a classroom setting may increase engagement online.
  7. Learner-centered learning: The learner is not a passive participant but a proactive searcher and finder of information.
  8. Modularity of presentation: The content's architecture is modular, which facilitates different construction of learning events, both in design and length.
  9. Manageable structure: The electronic infrastructure supports managed (and measurable) interaction between advisors and learners.
  10. Ability to measure the effectiveness of program: E-learning software empowers administrators to track performance and measure ROI. In addition, monitoring usage by learners is simpler; i.e., the number of downloads per user can be measured. This helps training managers evaluate cost-effectiveness and provides assistance with license negotiations based on estimated usage.
  11. Simpler data management. The rapid rate with which new learning products are introduced and older products become obsolete create a challenge for individuals charged with updating libraries. However, if a single version of each product is kept on a host, users get instantaneous access to updated components.
  12. Cost savings: provides an efficient and cost-effective model for education.
  13. Revenue enhancement: provides a way for campuses to expand classroom enrollments without using bricks and mortar.
  14. Greater storage capacity: The Internet host has much greater capacity than most physical locations or a user's hard drive. This allows learners access to more products and lets the advisor mix and match courseware activities to fit specific needs. Learners can preview presentations of different courses prior to selecting one, or they can access a specific slide from thousands.
  15. Individual education programs (IEPs) can be generated from a combination of the historical record of the students' prior learning (from monitored usage) and the vast database stored on the server. As students progress, information is delivered based on what they've learned and how they've performed. For example, a student would log onto the learning server and a customized course would be generated from the content database that knows which courses the learner took, how well she did, what her job description is, what problem is most pressing. This dimension serves to focus the curriculum only on skill gaps, saving organizations both time and money. A byproduct of IEPs, in our view, is increased motivation from the self-centered nature of the experience.

According to a recent proprietary research study by 2002 there will be almost 8 billion web pages on the World Wide Web.

For e-learning to emerge as a thriving market for educational goods, it must be an open market-one that requires a standards-based platform on which to deliver educational materials. A market of multimedia objects built on IMS standards will soon emerge and that transactions will occur via web browsers. The goal obviously is to allow a searcher to select data, information or learning objects that most exactly satisfy his or her search objectives. The IMS standard has the potential to radically change the economic model in education. With IMS, the available content and information on the Web will increase and there will be much more information available on the Web. It will likely transform the way that content is licensed and authored by opening up the market to a wider audience of authors as well as learners who are willing to pay for the information.

IMS metadata standards will facilitate that thriving market.

Virtual School of Library and Information Science

A challenge to our society today is to move from the Communication Age to the Knowledge Age. The need is manifested in the perception, if not the reality that our communities, from families to nation states, are breaking down due to an overload of information converging on the citizen from thousands of channels. It is definitely true that geography is now less of a community boundary than ever before. The Internet is the clipper ship of today. It allows the creation of new communities without the traditional constraints of geography and time. The only determinant on the Internet is common interest and access. While creating communities based on common interest is not new, the fact that it can be done without relocating the people is new. History shows that a common strategy to mitigate the negative impact of technology is the development of new technologies. Another strategy is to create organizations to mitigate the negatives as well as maximize the benefits. In brief, those two strategies are what this project is all about. The Virtual School of Library and Information Science is a strategy to assist communities through their libraries to cope with the communication age.

The concept of the Virtual School of Library and Information Science is very simple. The VSLIS will use information technology (IT) to move an institutional asset (knowledge) out of a constraining physical space (the classroom). This will create a setting that is "out of the box", mentally as well as physically. As a space the classroom is now a barrier as well as an enabler for communication. It creates physical boundaries and mental mindsets that inhibit its value in an age where barriers to communication of time and distance are being drastically reduced in everyday life.

IT is creating an interesting convergence of need for a paradigm shift among libraries and higher education institutions. Both institutions need to think "out of the box". While the physical spaces can still have value for warehousing information and knowledge containers such as books or computers, for people converging, and even for being a symbolic presence in a community, the library and the university must learn to go out of the box. Universities are constrained by physical classrooms and campuses. Libraries are constrained by buildings and artifacts that contain information and knowledge. These physical constraints are now limitations to the greatest capacity of human beings -- learning. Distance and time should no longer separate the people who need the knowledge from the people with the knowledge or their communication instruments.

It is now time to use the IT, available today and predictable for tomorrow, to forge the system that will transfer knowledge from those who have it to those who need it, regardless of where they are located in California. Library and Information Science is an excellent alpha test for the university as a whole in a discipline that impacts every community in this country. The opportunity exists to stimulate and support the ability for libraries to become learning institutions.

While state of the art information technology can be harnessed to advance teaching and learning quite effectively, there is still a need for the human factor to provide the socialization and Professionalization for effective librarians. There exist today a number of networks that provide communication, technical service components, and collaboration. The marketing of the program is a very important element for success. Research is showing that the most successful eCommerce companies spend from 35 per cent to 50 per cent of their total budgets for marketing. The VSLIS will develop The Library Learning Channel using the existing network that is in place for statewide distance education (4Cnet) and existing teleconferencing sites in libraries to provide access to librarians and students in every part of the state of California.

Digital Laboratory/Classroom

To effectively navigate this transition librarians need to have state of the art IT education to enter the profession and to have lifelong support to continue to learn. The SLIS has the largest accredited program for training graduate level Library and Information Science practitioners in the world. The resources available through the CSU network provide the opportunity to reach students and practitioners in every corner of California, and beyond. What is needed is a stable, accessible, archived, and managed Digital Library Laboratory/Classroom (DLL/C) to serve as the technology center, the focal learning point, and the high profile communication vehicle. The goal of this project would be to create a distributed facility with multiple focal points, to acquire state-of-the-art equipment, and to build the Internet based Virtual School of Library and Information Science (VSLIS).

DLL/C Goals

This laboratory will provide state of the art equipment, technical support, and instruction for:
  1. Tools to research new strategies for enhancing existing technology in libraries and information centers. For example:
    1. The creation of a client/server system to provide the user interface shell to a legacy library automation system
    2. Implementation of thin shell technologies
    3. Application of a commercial search engine as the interface to a legacy online public access catalog (Savysearch, Copernicus)
  2. Technology to disseminate knowledge gained by students and faculty to practitioners throughout California
    1. Semi annual digital conferences for IT updates
    2. Online reference services for Library technology staff
  3. A focal point for continued training to support the California State Library and the Gates Learning Foundation effort to network all libraries in California, thus creating the "Library of California".
  4. Equipment to ensure a high level of IT literacy for the students in the MLIS program
  5. A high level laboratory that can be used by all schools at SJSU
  6. Corporate support to ensure maintenance and upgrades of the equipment
The DLL/C will provide an electronic workbench for developing tools to support the VSLIS, a learning laboratory for the students, and the core resources for continuing education for practitioners throughout the world.

Digital Library Laboratory Technology

The DLL hub is a high-speed local area network supporting a multi-purpose server cluster, archival storage, and high capacity near-line storage. The hub will have high-speed connection to the Internet. It will provide applications development and testing, serve as a server farm to support the Digital Library and VSLIS.

The DLL/C will provide learning stations; video and digital capture technology, and other tools to support the creation and distribution of the courseware. Transformational technology such as encoders will be provided as well.

Ramifications for CE

The development of such a tool will provide a creation and distribution center for content created for the VSLIS. It would be minor to make some, or all of this content available to the practitioner at their workplace, home, and even desktop. If the curriculum is built in modular, building block units and incorporates content from seminars, conferences, and workshops into the content it can come out of the system as an organized, archived, and globally accessible program.

July 28, 2000


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