I believe that education comes from collaboration. This collaboration comes in many forms, be it students involved in a classroom discussion, researchers incorporating new findings into their work, or faculty members corresponding with distant colleagues. The genius of colleges and universities is that individuals with a wide array of life experiences and skill sets are brought together to exchange ideas. By forming partnerships at all levels, everyone on campus stands to benefit from that diversity and enhance their learning.
As an educator, I feel that students will learn only to the extent that they are engaged in instruction and can contribute to the dialog. It is not enough for a professor to lecture to a room full of students; there must be active learning which challenges those students to think critically and get involved in the discussion. Education is inherently experiential, and the best way to improve learning is to put students in charge of what happens in class and foster an atmosphere in which they can openly share their knowledge.
As a librarian, I feel similarly that students have to take an active approach to research. Each step of the information seeking process requires inquiry and reflection, and locating reliable information rarely happens in a linear progression. My goal when teaching information literacy is to emphasize this process, rather than demonstrate a set of discrete skills. While some parts of library instruction must deal with the nuances of database interfaces and which boxes to click, my goal as a librarian is to encourage students to think critically about information, not just show them how to find the sources they need for the next paper. Through this kind of instruction, students come to see that information is merely the means of conducting a larger conversation, one of which they, too, are a part.
As a faculty member, I feel that everyone on campus is charged with improving student learning, and that we must form partnerships to meet that goal. Assessment is a crucial part of this process, as it gives us directions on how we can improve our work, as well as serves as a means of communicating our progress to colleagues. If we are to develop as professionals and better serve our students, we must be comfortable acknowledging our shortcomings to one another and working together to try new approaches. Education is always evolving, and faculty members must evolve with it.
Most of all, I believe that education goes beyond the classroom. If we are effective as teachers, the knowledge we impart to students will continue to serve them long after they graduate. As it relates to information literacy, the emphasis must not be on the ever-changing mechanics of information seeking, but rather the underlying process of critical evaluation. If students grasp this concept, they stand to contribute to future collaborations in a meaningful way, regardless of how the landscape changes.