Adaptive Expertise

…or reflections on Chapter 2 from How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition / National Research Council…

Prompt: Consider the last tech class you attended. Was the focus on novice-level or expert-level growth? How do the professors and teachers you admire promote expert-level growth? How in the heck does this all connect to libraries? To your past technology or information literacy instruction experiences as a student or teacher? What connections do you make between the “Adaptive Expertise” section and your experiences in 501?

The last tech class I took was SI502 – Networked Computing: Storage, Communication, and Processing.  I find it hard to classify this class into only novice-level or expert-level in the intended outcomes but I believe it was taught with the expectation of eventually containing expert-level mastery and application.  It was stated more than once that the class would only bring you one step further than where you were when you started, however I believe that the way in which it was taught allowed even that small amount to be adaptable to many different situations.

Although I personally know that I have a lot more to learn before I feel confident and comfortable in my knowledge, I at least have a starting base that helps me know where to go next.  Even this is a sign of learning in a way that uses expert-level as a guide.  Had the class been taught differently, I may only remember certain formulas or facts about the Internet.  Instead, I know where I can go to find information to write a program, I know what programs look like and I know major concepts surrounding the Internet and its design.  This differs very much from the one other tech class I remember taking in Undergraduate/high-school where we sat with a “lesson” on the computer to complete an Excel spreadsheet, or typing program and submit our final score.  I know that the only mastery I have of Excel is because I had to re-learn it when I was using the program, and not because of that class.  That class was taught at the novice-level and did not seem to have the intent of achieving mastery in anything.

The missions of public libraries are to educate.  It is extremely important to keep this in mind when working with patrons and other library users and to always make an attempt to help them grow in their knowledge.  I believe that school libraries could, and should, be used a lot more collaboratively with teachers and public libraries.  It takes more than one show-and-tell session to learn how to appropriately search Google for a research paper.  It takes more than one tour to know what resources your library actually has and librarians are there to HELP teachers.  So many times I have seen teachers take their class to the library to research for a paper when the librarian is working at a different school that day.  Such a waste of a learning opportunity – not only does the librarian have no idea what your students need but the teacher as teacher may not understand the best ways to educate students in research tools.

In SI501 – Contextual Inquiry and Project Management, I feel that the learning I had with this class was completely dependent on the hands-on and full immersion of running a project with an outside client.  I believe this directly correlates with its transfer ability in future situations.  I have already participated in and muddled through the concepts and ideas once with a positive outcome.  I now know areas that may take longer, that I need to review and that are completely necessary for success.  Although I probably would not choose to go through the experience again, I understand how it helps business and where I need to go to be better the next time I participate in something of this nature.

Further thoughts: How does curriculum and expectations stop expert teachers from using these research-proven methods?

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