Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Distant View

If you're considering library school, you may be in a situation (due to work or family commitments) that make it difficult to move in order to pursue an LIS education. This spring, Laura MacPherson, who just graduated from Gustavus and is entering the field, conducted a literature review of distance education options in LIS education. Though there is a lot of criticism of the effectiveness of distance ed generally, she didn't find anything in the research that suggested distance ed in and of itself was a bad option for the field of librarianship. Faculty are working on ways of giving it a personalized, human touch; employers are not generally discriminating against graduates of distance programs, and students are largely pleased. One finding that was especially interesting is that most LIS programs today blend traditional face-to-face instruction with aspects of distance ed - so that when employers were asked whether they were leery of hiring grads of distance programs, many found the question impossible to answer; in most cases their recent hires had all taken distance courses.

Laura recommends a book edited by Daniel Barron, Benchmarks in Distance Education: The LIS Experience (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2003). She calls this the "ultimate source" on distance ed in library education. This collection of essays addresses a wide swath of issues of interest to students thinking about a distance program and for teachers embarking on teaching this way. It's pricey - you may want to look for through your library!


Emily said...

Very Cool. I would be interested to hear more about Laura's work. The professor I've been working with is getting ready to start a research study of students here at St. Kate's and those at the University of North Texas. Their program is all online, ours is a combination (because we're required to take DU classes).

Barbara said...

You may be able to ask her in person, since she's joining the St. Kate's program soon! I found it interesting that so many programs are now blended. I went to school so long ago we took a field trip to see an OCLC terminal. Wow, using computers to share cataloging records!

Carrying all those clay tablets around instead of books was a drag, too. :o)