Getting started & discovering digital native deficiencies

Starting on the road to becoming a librarian is exciting, but also a bit scary. Will I be able to get a job in this field after I do all of this work? Will I be able to do all of this work? Will I be able to work and maintain my current job while doing this work? Those are some of the questions. Do I like this work? No question there. In fact, already, I’ve found something I’d like to research more.

In order to create the “Empowering Learners” presentation, I spoke to my mentor to see if I could create something that might actually be useful for her as opposed just to satisfying an assignment requirement for me. Our conversation quickly lighted on belief statement #4: Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs. Since HB 5 (passed three years ago, I think) removed the requirement for Texas public school students to take a basic keyboarding course, deficits in basic skills of our high school students have tremendously increased. These digital natives may be masters at social media, but many of them have no idea how to format a Word or Google document.

As I set out to find the two needed articles to support this, which I supposed would be a snap, I was dismayed.  While there were articles aplenty about what incoming college freshmen lack as far as research skills or discernment in what is a reliable source or not, there was no current research to back up the notion that students don’t know how to keyboard and format. Clearly, if students are going to continue being required to type papers, these skills matter. And, they come before searching databases and evaluating information.

I was surprised when my librarian mentor told me she sees kids actually turning the caps lock key on and off in order to capitalize because they don’t know that the shift key will do that temporarily for them.  And we serve a fairly strong middle class neighborhood. From what I encounter in my junior English classes, I knew that many struggled with the formatting, but the librarian sees a broader cross-section of students than I do, so it was enlightening to hear her experiences.

Maybe schools don’t need research in order to realize this is an issue, but maybe this is a topic that is so new, it hasn’t yet garnered the attention it needs. In any case, it is an interesting beginning for my road to librarianship.