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A 21st Century Librarian Helps Students See Through the Cloud

Many schools have renamed their libraries Media Centers, and the people who help students access their resources need to be as tech-savvy as any IT person. Today’s librarians have to know things like responsible use policies (also known as acceptable use policies) and how to guide students in the effective use of the Internet for research. For schools trying to incorporate technology into the curriculum these educators are key, because they speak the language of technology and education.

Michelle Luhtala—a self-titled "21st century enthusiast," educator, and department chair at New Canaan High School library—values access to the cloud as a resource for her students. In addition to allowing access to timely information, Luhtala says, working with her students online has helped her teach critical thinking skills they’re not always able to grasp.

“We’ve been talking about resource evaluation forever with kids,” she said. “They look at the screens, they’d see the stuff coming in…and they’re like, ‘It’s a totally trusted source—it’s right there.’ They couldn’t distinguish between a blog and a subscription service and an op-ed piece and just a straight news article.”

The teachable moment came when she challenged the students on the snap judgment.

“They were having conversation about, ‘What are the clues that it might be an opinion piece or a blog? What kind of langue would we be looking for?’ These are the conversations educators have been chomping at the bit to have with kids and to have them engaged in it, and suddenly the kids were having the conversation amongst themselves,” she said. “That was very powerful.”

In addition to her blog with a variety of technology resources for teachers and librarians, Luthala uses Twitter, social media and other cloud resources to spread the word about the ways in which technology enhances education. She offers presentations on a variety of topics at www.edWeb.net, a social networking site for those in the education community.

For more information about the ways in which librarians can assist with cloud computing policies, resources and best practices, visit the websites of the American Library Association and American Association of School Libraries.

About the Author

Margo Pierce is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer.

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