It is no longer a question of whether to use technology in schools, but how to effectively use technology to enhance student learning. As the library media specialist for my school, my role is to come up with innovative ways to use technology across the curriculum, design student experiences that use technology in original ways, select appropriate resources, and collaborate with my colleagues to plan effective student-centered technology enhanced lessons. These lessons must allow students to develop their information literacy and computer skills, interact with members of the community, and understand that the skills they are learning can be applied to their everyday lives (Hughes-Hassell, 2001).
Technology is a tool that can be used in the library to solve problems. Hughes-Hassell (2001) states that it can be used to “gather, organize, analyze, and present information.” There are many ways to use technology effectively in the library in order to make it more engaging, relevant, and authentic. One basic way is to use technology to play review games with students on library skills, genres, parts of a book, library terminology, the Dewey decimal system, etc. Using video in the library can really help create a more complete picture when presenting lessons to students. Chances are pretty good that you can find a clip on YouTube to enhance any lesson and if not, you can upload your own video to share with the students. It is very expensive to house current encyclopedias on site at school; however, through technology, my students can access the most current electronic resources such as encyclopedias, journals, and magazines to gather research information. Digitized resources through the Library of Congress can augment lessons through the use of primary sources. Technology can help students communicate with other students from around the world or reach out to scientists, researchers, and authors. Older students might contact experts using e-mail. Skype visits with experts might also be set up to aid in lesson understanding and allow students to communicate with authors about books they have read and the writing process. Portable technologies, such as laptop computers or iPads, can be used to gather data outside the classroom and tools such as spreadsheets can be created to help students analyze their data. Students can use a variety of authoring tools like presentation tools, digital booklets, animated reports, and videos to present any type of project or research. Technology can also be used to take students on virtual field trips and simulate real-life experiences for students. Webquests can guide students to search the internet for specific information. Technology can provide scenarios and interdisciplinary connections to enhance learning. For example, after reading the book Gopher Up Your Sleeve by Tony Johnston, students might use websites like enature.com to learn more about the animals in the poems.
Technology on its own does not facilitate learning, but a huge difference is made when it is used in conjunction with meaningful resources and authentic experiences. School librarians should collaborate with teachers to design learning opportunities that utilizes technology to address the needs of the learner and curriculum goals.