Friday, May 9, 2008

Whole Brain, Open Mind: Co-Constructing Through Digital Reference for Today’s Students

Whole Brain, Open Mind: Co-Constructing Through Digital Reference for Today’s Students
Friday, May 9 11:00a - 12:15p

Dr. Lesley Farmer, Prof, Califormia State University, Long Beach. Member of the ALA Literacy Assembly. Author of: You Go, Girl: Girls and Technology (in press); The Human side of reference and information service, Digital inclusion, Teens and your library.

Who are our students?
State of information literacy
Reference as conversation

Girls are more sensitive to sound; girls tend to cross hemispheres seem to be better @ re;atopmsjo[bs

The teen brain - not just hormones
Emotionally volatile
NOT risk averse. Taking risks is part of maturing. Males = more risk behavior, Females=need encouragement to take emotional risks
Reactive to strees
Vulnerable to peer pressure
Focus is on short term payoffs, not long term consequences of behavior
Likely to overlook alternative courses of action

Concepts >>and right brain behavior
Function >> design
Argument >>story
Focus >>symphony
Logic >>empathy
Seriousness >>play
Accumulation >>meaning

Characteristics of millennials
· Gadget savvy but Information clueless. They’re not building logical connections in their information gathering, necessarily
· They value convenience and mobility
· They are quirky in their learning behavior like working together with others and also independently. Much of their information comes from friends
· There is a disconnect between academic information literacy and personal information literacy - Personally, they’re into finding gamesites, cheatsheets.

Contrast between Y, Net, Millennial Students and Boomers
Students are comfortable in simulations, game/fantasy situations - Boomers are not
Students socialize online Boomers in person
Students love multimedia immersion Boomers read books/articles
Students want to Get to the product Boomers are process oriented

Learning gap – Difficulties experienced by Students
· Confuse article with journal; keywork with subject
· Experience inertia: going beyond Google and Wikipedia can be daunting.
· Have trouble teasing out subjects and concepts; thinking of keyword synonyms
· Sometimes find it difficult to choose a topic and focus in on it. If topic yields little after 2 minutes at the computer, they’ll prepare to jump to another topic.
· Have difficulty evaluating the information they find
· Tend to be passive learner, perform for what they figure the teacher wants, wait for instructions. OVER TESTING and No Child Left Behind has reinforced this behavior.
· Have a tough time with the minutia of constructing a citation.
· Have difficulty identifying key concepts; what was the most important information found in this or that resource

Information seeking behavior of a student - Steps
1. Ask someone
2. Google for info, not use database. This has got to be quick, so I can get back to my real life.
3. Build on past success or past experiences rather than strategize information gathering. So hard to think about identifying and combining concepts.
4. Focus on the end product (the paper) rather than the meaning/context/implications of the topic (the learning)

· Tend to gather information, not evaluate it critically. Unable to rank importance, quality or relevance of information found.
· They are not persistent. They are easily confused, don’t want to go after information step by step, give up easily.

What kinds of websites convey the most info to teens?
· Layout “the look” is very important
· Typeface needs to be easy to read/scan quickly
· Clicks to get to the info need to be minimized
· Pictures used well
· Interactive experience - At one glance the teen needs to see how to use the page

Teen truisms
· Wikipedia is king
· Google finds everything
· Newspapers are boring, go online
· Social networking sites are good for doing your homework
· Email is for old paper. IM, twitter and texting is it.
· If it’s not on the home page, it isn’t worthwhile
· “Good enough” is good enough
· Free is good
· Downloading is ok as long as you’re not selling it
· Cut and paste is a great strategy
· Cheatsheets can save your bacon
· You can get the webpage that works for a class assignment from a smart buddy

What is reference service to a teen?
· Last resort, safety net in case I can’t find anything
· Resource based, not process based
· Fact based. The quick fix.
· The smart librarian will show you a trick that works

A source teens will love:
Pimp Your Page Free Layouts, Backgrounds & Glitter Profile. 100% Free. Download Now!

Recommendations for adults working with teens:
· Speaker recommends this: for helping teens learn about their developing brain.
· Help students to channel their risk taking into intellectual efforts
· Encourage taking thinking breaks when stressed

Recommendations for Librarians working with teens
· Get their feedback on library website designs. Make it easy and convenient
· Keep directions simple. Emphasize BETTER information skills, not Harder work.
· Provide cheatsheets and/or BE their cheatsheet
· Teach web evaluation skills : entertain them:
· The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Website evaluati on source
· RYT bogus sites: and others from
· Northwest Tree Octopus
· Encourage students to revise their search strategies. Ask them to question and reflect on each step of the strategy.
· Library of Congress Questionpoint as a source. Factsheet for librarians
· Use Meebo IM
· Don’t do their work for them