Digital Natives – Critical Need for Information and Digital Literacy

Finally, a book that addresses information and digital technology literacy for the young!

While the reviews of Digital Natives: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives overall do not rank high, I applaud Palfrey and  Gasser on addressing the benefits of technology on the Digital Natives and even more so for the importance of information and digital technology literacy instruction and guidance for our youth. So often the topic of information literacy is targeted at college students and adults. I have struggled to understand why the youth so inundated with technological interference  in their lives since birth have been left out of the topic on information literacy. I further applaud the authors for highlighting the fact that the responsibility to introduce, guide, educate, trust, and protect our Digital Natives – and the rest of us for that matter – involves various key groups including the Digital Natives themselves, parents, teachers, technology companies, business, libraries and even government.

The book is further criticized for being too general without specific guidance on how to do the job of guiding and protecting our Digital Natives but it appears those critics were missing some key points. First, there is no single solution that would not interfere with another benefit, privilege, or law when as it relates to privacy, freedom of speech, copyright, and creativity. Second, without a broader approach to guiding our Digital Natives, we often result to strategies that inhibit dangerous online behavior and facilitate distrust among Digital Natives and their parents, teachers, and even the law. Third, that many of the “dangers” that lurk online (bullying, stalking, identify theft, peer-induced psychological harm, etc.) are not different, beyond their platform, than they are in  the offline world. Fourth, that in fact the behaviors, opportunities, and developments impacted by our Digital Natives online will in fact propel our society – and our democracy – forward in many ways (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008).

quote image

Despite its critics, the book is not without advice. In fact, it charges the responsibility for parents and teachers to come up to speed with the technological platform so they are more competent in working with Digital Natives in making good decisions online in their social, educational, and participatory activities. Despite its delay, I was pleased when the authors addressed the role libraries and librarians can play in supporting Digital Natives. What better entity than a library staffed with librarians skilled in the latest technologies and knowledgeable about information literacy to help guide Digital Natives in their online endeavors!

While the authors adequately outline the specific roles librarians can fulfill for the Digital Natives, they do miss a critical role in offering support to the Digital Native’s support system – their parents and teachers. Libraries can bring parents and teachers up to speed on the latest technologies, software programs, information literacy skills, privacy policies, and online communications that will provide them the tools to be competent, reliable, and trustworthy resources for the Digital Natives they care about. While the authors develop a strong argument on the broad responsibility to support and guide the Digital Natives, little attention was devoted to the tools and resources those groups would need in order to provide the needed solutions. Libraries and, more specifically, librarians are already equipped to provide that support and advocacy needed to support our Digital Natives. Libraries, librarians, and library instruction needs to be pushed more to the forefront of information and digital literacy not only for our Digital Natives, but the community at large who will be guided both those same Digital Natives in the very near future.

Palfrey, J. & Gasser, U. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. Basic Books, Philadelphia, PA.


Transformative Butterflies: Teaching as Reflective Process

butterfly1“Butterflies are not insects,’ Captain John Sterling said soberly. ‘They are self-propelled flowers.”
― Robert A. HeinleinThe Cat Who Walks Through Walls

I have a vision of a little girl imaging herself as a famous singer. She’s on her imaginary stage, cardboard microphone in hand, singing up a storm to an imaginary crowd. Replace that cardboard with wire and sound, and she is quiet, still – almost frozen from the butterflies that are fluttering insider her. Thirty years later, that same little girl finds herself in a new vision – this one so close to approaching reality its scares her. The butterflies have returned. She is now imaging herself as an instructor. Her stage is a classroom (physical or virtual), her microphone her knowledge, her crowd her students eager (or needing) to learn. The butterflies this time are not so much from nervousness but from her own lack of confidence in being an effective instructor. That girl is me.

Teaching has always been a goal of mine and as I near my full-fledged LIS career, the opportunity to see myself teaching is in full reality. I recently read Char Booth’s (2011) Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning and her section on  transformative learning really motivated me as she addressed how teaching, just as learning, is a lifelong, transformative process.

What grabbed my attention the most is the identification that teaching is a reflective process, requiring both metacognition and self-reflection that guides instructor development. Booth emphasized how the reflective process helps  you focus you on your skills, abilities, needs and decisions. I believe that process doesn’t just happen during the “moment” as she indicates but would be most effective from curriculum development to the classroom and even beyond.

I also appreciated and found confidence in her section on reflective approaches. Some of the common themes I found included seeing shortcomings as opportunities, being adaptive, and continuously evaluating yourself.  I think the butterflies represent the fear of being “new” in the process and messing it up. By thinking about it as a process of learning, adapting, and transforming the teaching approach, the butterflies settle down. They become near calm when I understand and adopt the philosophy that this process will remain throughout my career span.

The quote above describes the butterfly as a propelled flower. That’s my new vision – to allow the reflective and transformative learning approach to propel me forward to develop my teaching awesomeness.

Developing My Personal Learning Network

Personal Learning Network – Presentation

“Developing”, as it pertains to my title of this blog, is defined as the ongoing development, utilization, and management of my personal learning network. It is not something that “is done” and then complete, it is something that will, with careful nurturing and management, follow me throughout the rest my learning life.

The journey began years ago without realization when I signed up for Facebook, popped on (and then quickly off) Twitter, set up a LinkedIn account, and checked out various apps via my mobile phone.  It wasn’t until taking Transformative Learning and Technology Literacy course with Dr. Michael Stephens that the potential of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) came to life!

My favorite explanation of a Personal Learning Network is by Anya Kamenetz who writes on her blog post titled 8 Ways to Build Your Personal Learning Network with Twitter, Google Plus, and More  that “no one learns alone”. The leads to the various discussions about transformative learning we have had in our course this semester – where learning is a transformative process from where we begin in our learning, to how where we end, and most importantly – the resources, tools, and people that helped us through that transformation. David Hopkins (2013) said highlights this well in his own blog post when he said “I know my work and perception of my role has been transformed since I joined Twitter and other networks, and it has been because I wanted it to.” That’s the beauty of the PLN – we create it purposely so our learning can be transformed, so we can continuously expand and explore our understanding, and then share that understanding continuously with others.

In the attached “My Personal Learning Network” presentation, I present my PLN as it stands right now. As will always be the case, the network is not yet complete. For example, I have not yet explored or compared bookmarking sites, yet they are on my list of things to check out.  I need to revisit other LIS type social sites such as Goodreads and LibraryThing, both which I have explored before, to see if they should be added as well. And there are so many others. What news feeds will help support my PLN? Shat list serves should I explore?  What professional associations should I engage with online? What potential employers should I follow?  The process will be ongoing, but I have gained a tremendous beginning as we you will in the following presentation.


For those of you who do not have the time to view my presentation, I offer an outline below of my PLN development process.

My PLN Mission Statement:

My PLN will…

  • be transparent and open for others to view, to participate, and to learn from
  • foster lifelong learning for myself and others
  • permit both creativity and curiosity
  • be used to share ideas, to play, to have fun, and to continuously explore.

Goals of My PLN:

  • Commit to lifelong learning
  • Constantly add to my skillset
  • Develop professional identity
  • Curate information
  • Find a mentor – be a mentor
  • Foster balance between professional and personal life

Scope of MY PLN:

The scope of my PLN is to focus on issues and trends relating to academic librarianship and will include a strong focus on the following areas:

  • Academic Libraries
  • Information Literacy
  • Information Technology
  • Research Methodology
  • Reference Services
  • Online Learning
  • Assessment
  • Learning Environments
  • Social/Hyperlinked Media


  • Connect
  • Contribute
  • Converse
  • Request

My Primary Networks:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Netvibes

My PLN Tools:

  • Google Docs
  • Slideshare
  • Mindmeister
  • Google Scholar
  • Flickr
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube

Maintaining My PLN:

  • Contribute at least one blog post per week
  • Participate in at least 3 discussions per week
  • Connect/follow those I meet in discussions
  • Tweet and re-tweet daily
  • Connect by sharing personal interests as well as professional interests
  • Re-evaluate dashboards and collections at each life milestone
  • Review blogs every six months – weed out inactive ones
  • Network at live events, receptions, conferences
  • Introduce others within my network and ask to be introduced

Advice to Others


  • Building a PLN doesn’t happen quickly
  • It takes time to make connections
  • It takes time to build relationships
  • It takes participation to determine the value of a community
  • It takes perseverance when you receive no comments or replies
  • It requires patience to build your social presence


“Don’t try to game the system, worry to much about your online “brand,” or in any way cajole people into following you or responding to you The more you reveal your humanity the more people will trust you, identify with you, and respond to your reflections and appeals. More importantly, the more you seek out the humanity in others, the more they will want to connect with you – and share with you.”    Wagner, 2012

PLN Success!

ACTION: Used Pinterest to do a search on PLN’s. Received numerous resources, suggestions, presentations, mindmap, etc. to reflect upon for my own PLN development.

RESULT: This led to developing my own Pinterest PLN board which has since been followed by others

ACTION: Inquired about favorite tools and resources from graduate students in a MLIS program via Facebook SLIS Students group

RESULT: over 13 responses with over unique 20 suggestions. Not only resulted as a tremendous resource for my project, but also resulted in shared file for future students to access the recommendations.

Resources supporting both this blog post and the “My Personal Learning Network” presentation:

Hopkins, S. (2013). Developing your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) #edtech. Technology Enhanced Learning Blog. Retrieved from:

Inquisitive Learning:

Howlett, A. (2011). Connecting to the LIS online community: A new information professional developing a personal learning network. ALIA 5th New Librarians Symposium 2011: Metamorphosis: What will you become today. Perth, Australia.

Kamenetz, Anya (2011). 8 Ways to build your personal learning network with Twitter, Google Plus, and more. Fast Company. Retrieved at:

Rajagopal, Kamakshi, Joosten-ten Brinke, Desirée, Van Bruggen, Jan, And Sloep, Peter. “Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them” First Monday [Online],  17(1). Retreived from:

Wagner, D. (2013). Personal Education Networks for Educators. Getting Smart. Retrieved from:

My Teaching Philosophy

Taking on Booth’s suggestion, here’s my teaching philosophy.

To approach my students in a constructive manner by opening up the conversation (on any given topic), sharing (rather than telling) my expertise, and offering a learning experience that is relative, and applicable, to their needs. To realize that teaching is not only about the students, but about my own opportunity to learn, explore, and demonstrate my own lifelong learning approach through the exercises, discussion, and exploration shared with each student. Most importantly, to instill a passion for a continuous, adaptive, and transformative learning.