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Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm Just Getting Warmed Up!

The hardest part about doing anything is beginning.

To be honest, I was pretty darned terrified about the culminating project for LIBR 285. We were supposed to come up with a research proposal. Now there were a lot of things I knew I’d be exposed to in library school—but a class on research methodologies? Yeah, I never anticipated that happening. I probably should have read the program description a little closer since it’s a REQUIRED class and all! Hah! Oh well. I did learn one thing for sure since taking this class. I love research. I love the thrill of a good hunt and the amazing feeling you get when you’re chasing down random questions and find exactly what you’re looking for. What am I going to do when I get out of library school and I lose my access to all these article databases I’ve gotten so accustomed to digging around in?

5 years ago when I was slinging dirty diapers and scraping baby up-chuck off my last clean shirt, I never thought I’d be here in library school doing anything like this. Heck. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get to read another good book again—not until the kids started school anyway.
Anyway, I wanted to talk a little about this research proposal I’m putting together. I started chasing down ideas about the Net or Google Generation back in LIBR200 when I had to come up with my first big term paper in grad school. The research on this group has been particularly interesting to me because by right of birth, I’m a Net Gener. True, one of the older ones to occupy this particular end of the spectrum but a Net Gener I am. It would be nice to think that we can grow up and make a difference and not that we're just really good video gamers who text message too much, drive too fast and tune out the rest of the world every time we plug in to our earphones!
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I’m fascinated by the idea that there’s something special about my generation and that we have something worth contributing to our future generations.

I’ve used these series of projects in LIBR 285 to help me develop my thoughts a little further on this group of kids “bathed in bits” (Tapscott, 1998)—my group and have found that while much of the field regarding the enigma of us Net Geners, much has already been discussed in terms of how we learn. All this time that educators and education researchers have spent bantering back and forth whether we’re worth all the hype, the Net Geners have grown up and we’re all leaving the educational system to enter into the world as contributing members of society. What’s interesting is that some of us are coming back as teachers, child development researchers, librarians—professionals with some sort of responsibility in relaying information so others can learn and grow. 

I’m proposing a study where we evaluate the Net Geners as teachers and I’m putting together a proposal that feels so real I’m almost sad to have just started thinking about it over the last few weeks. Arguments have been made that just because we are born in the technological age, it doesn’t guarantee that we’re tech-experts. Awareness of resources doesn’t always guarantee proficiency. I want to look at whether or not the Net Geners are actually contributing to the pool of resources made available by the advancements in technology, specifically in regards to Web 2.0. Or are we merely observers? If we really learn differently, do we in turn, teach differently? Is there any validity to this question at all?

I pulled an all nighter putting my paper together last night and really burned the candle at both ends with these questions running through my mind. It was hard enough coming up with the questions… but how do I prove any of it? 

I’m fascinated with the idea of Mixed Methods research. I like that this type of research combines the best things about purely qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. I see this type of research having some real value out in the field necessitating the collaboration of various experts where you’d have a principle investigator, and specialists in qualitative and quantitative methods in addition to probably some statistics specialists… we’re talking big here. 

Education and even library programs are getting cut everywhere so we need to be even more innovative—more creative more resourceful and I see a time where research and more focused areas of study will be even more beneficial to the fields of education and information literacy than ever before.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff, Zem! Information foraging at work: are there any good studies on how we seek out information, i.e., the self-teaching required of Net Geners as school budgets shrink and classrooms are "flipped"? Wikipedia (horrors!) on "informavores"