November 15, 2012
Michael V. Daly & Mary Donohue
The fall 2012 semester marks another high point in how the Evans Library provides FM students and faculty with the ability to directly experience and engage with how information is created, accessed, and shared in the 21st century. The addition of 30 iPads to our Information Literacy program has created opportunities for both students and faculty: students across disciplines are being taught that accessing and evaluating information is no longer limited by one’s location, while teaching faculty are re-visiting traditional methods regarding course content delivery, putting more emphasis on the important parallel skills of students being digitally and critically literate. FM, as a valuable community resource, is fulfilling its goal to prepare students to “learn, live, and lead in a diverse and dynamic global culture.”
Whether it’s students in a History course viewing primary documents, Business Management students taking a Myers-Briggs personality test, Chemistry students using subject-specific apps to create 3-D models of chemical equations, Criminal Justice students discovering the depth of data available on government websites, or Nursing students actively sharing presentations across screens, the core of what iPads offer to FM’s curricula – mobility and access to information for all – remains constant.
As mobile technology, the iPads have the unique ability to turn any classroom at FM into a technology-rich research setting. Librarians utilize a ‘sync-cart’ to store and manage the units. That same cart also functions as a mobile learning space as, within minutes, librarians or teaching faculty can place an iPad in every student’s hand. Rather than relying on the Evans Library’s heavily scheduled instruction classroom, librarians are now free to expand services by stepping out of the bricks and mortar library building, step into the classrooms, and actively demonstrate how information is everywhere.
The effectiveness of iPads as part of the Evans Library’s Information Literacy program is already evident: reflecting on using iPads in an introductory Criminal Justice class, one student noted, “I enjoyed that when using the iPad you can be anywhere… you are allowed to sit anywhere and be comfortable.” The use of iPads also reinforces the Evans Library’s premise that being an information literate student or citizen is never limited to successfully completing a ten-page research paper or finding books in a library. Information literate individuals recognize the never-ending process of critically interacting with the world. By allowing students to be ‘comfortable’ in their surroundings, iPads push students to further develop those necessary life-long skills of locating and evaluating information, in whatever environment they may find themselves.
FM takes great pride in its efforts to prepare graduates who are ‘job-ready,’ however, that notion of ‘readiness’ is changing at a dramatic rate. A recent article in the Leader-Herald quoting Rick Ruby Sr. of Ruby & Quiri, speaks directly to this idea. “It is important for people to have the ability to use technology,” Ruby said. “For example, our sales people use iPads to write up sales orders on the floor. Years ago, we would have hand-written them” (“Labor Pains” 11/4/12).
As more employers continue to seek applicants who have relevant, real-world experience with the tools driving today’s economy, the Evans Library’s use of iPads takes another step toward closing the readiness gap for future employees. And the College, as it encourages innovation and growth for students and faculty alike, continues to provide the community with a diverse and dynamic workforce.
Michael V. Daly is FM’s Public Services Librarian & Mary Donohue is Director of the Library.