The IDT Issues and Trends to Watch for in 2016

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning means many things, from using teaching and learning strategies that are accessible to all (e.g., Universal Design for Learning) to mastery learning to competency-based education to cognitive apprenticeships. Adaptive technology already exists to make it happen, so maybe this is the year for personalized learning. I hope so.

3D Technologies

3D technology is not limited to 3D printing (which continues to get cheaper). 3D pens are a fun alternative that have the added bonus of supporting fine motor development in children. But I think the 3D technology to really watch for in 2016 is the 3D projector in the classroom, creating the potential for a powerful, immersive learning experience.



Co-teaching takes collaboration to the next level. While models of co-teaching are a standard of practice in special education, librarians can easily adapt those approaches to information literacy and related instruction.

Transmedia Education

Transmedia storytelling has crept silently into the world of education, and Scholastic has been one of the leaders in this trend, especially in the form of popular franchises like 39 Clues and Skeleton Creek. Educators can further harness the power of transmedia by tying multiple media platforms together (e.g., social media, digital games, learning management systems, books) to deliver a lesson; or by integrating transmedia stories into the classroom or library.

Connected Learning

Connected learning is not anywhere near being the norm yet, but it’s where we need to go to truly foster 21st century learning. Connected learning means a connected curriculum. Think engineering in the language arts classroom or literacy in the mathematics classroom. Connected learning also means making connections between informal and formal learning. The library is the perfect (third) space for this, and while many libraries already connect the informal and formal with learning programs, intentional planning with intentional partnerships between libraries and school districts is necessary for connected learning to really take off.

Credit: Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub

Information Literacy and Communities of Practice

Today, I am going to dig into the concept of communities of practices and what that means for libraries within the context of the new framework for information literacy.

First, consider the following statements:

Information literacy is a social practice.

Information literacy is situational.

The perspective of literacy as a social practice is a way to explain multiple literacies. It also reflects the current understanding of literacy in general.

What does that mean for information literacy? It means that the way we value, interact and create information is driven by the accepted practices of the community in which we belong.

We belong to many communities, meaning that information literacy is also situational. Therefore, we practice information literacy in a lot of different ways — the way we practice it in informal communities (e.g. home environment) is different than the way we practice it in formal communities (e.g. school).

The new framework attempts to define the expectations (knowledge practices) of how information literacy should be practiced within scholarly communities, emphasis on the plural.

Okay, so what are communities of practice?

 “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” (Wenger-Trayner, n.d.)

Examples of communities of practice at a university:

  • a Comp I class learning the practices of college writing
  • a forensics team honing its debate skills
  • a cohort of pre-service teachers
  • faculty with shared teaching or research interests

Those are just a few examples of the communities of practice found within higher education.

Under the new framework then, one goal of librarians will be to facilitate the development of information literacy knowledge practices within selected communities of practice (e.g. Comp I class). To some extent, this is already being done with current information literacy programs.

Another goal will be to help students transfer their information literacy knowledge practices across communities of practices throughout their academic careers. This is trickier because information literacy is situational, so it looks a bit different within each community (i.e. history vs. science vs. philosophy) even if its practices share common characteristics. This goal can be met through the library. Or more appropriately, the learning commons.

With the new framework, I see the library or learning commons serving as the web that supports the many communities of practice within an academic institution. The librarian’s job will become more important than ever. The library itself will become a sort of meta-community of practice (the mother ship, so to speak), nurturing the information literacy knowledge practices of all sorts of scholarly communities of practice within its physical and virtual walls.

Sounds pretty awesome, right?

So, how can it be done? Here are a couple of strategies:

Cognitive apprenticeship for one, with the librarian as expert and student as novice. And embedded libraries (not just librarians). I’ve written about these ideas before: