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Proposal for the Creation of a Subdiscipline: Education Informatics


by John W. Collins & Sharon Weiner — 2010

Background/Context: Soon after the United States Department of Education began making changes to the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) system, education librarians concluded that there was a need for a fresh approach to addressing education information needs. Considering the importance of information systems in education, they agreed that a new subdiscipline of education should be promoted called education informatics. This subdiscipline would incorporate new technologies and learning strategies to enhance the capture, organization, and utilization of education information. Some of the information challenges facing the discipline of education are: gaps in existing information resources; lack of a centralized body of education information experts to influence the development of new education resources; scarce resources for the development of concepts, models, theories, and techniques related to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for learning and teaching; minimal understanding of how people access and use education information and digital information resources, services, systems, environments, and media for learning; and lack of support for international and cross-cultural collaborations in education informatics.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The creation of a subdiscipline within the field of education that examines issues that fall at the intersection of education information and information technology is critical. Once there is a broader recognition of the existence of this subdiscipline, it is likely that research funding will increase, specialized expertise will be expanded, and new programs and systems related to education information will be developed.

Research Design: The research design for this article is an analytic essay.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The process of becoming an established discipline of education informatics could be advanced through an invited symposium. Grounding it in schools of education would establish an academic identity. Such an interdisciplinary field needs attention from funding agencies and research leadership; acceptance by faculty and students; and systemic implementation in universities. The establishment of a “center” for education informatics would address problems that require many resources, incubate new programs, facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration, and attract outside funding. There is a need for a journal of education informatics that has a broader scope than educational technology.

A research agenda could include the development and evaluation of concepts, models, theories, and techniques related to the use of ICT for learning; ways in which people use digital information resources, services, systems, environments, and communications media for learning; whether information literacy educators give adequate attention to teaching all aspects of information literacy; and how international and cross-cultural collaborations in education informatics can be supported.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 10, 2010, p. 2523-2536
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15867, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 2:11:58 AM

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About the Author
  • John Collins
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    JOHN COLLINS is librarian of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a member of the faculty of education. He directs the Monroe C. Gutman Library, which provides a full range of research support services to the Harvard community and maintains collections of over 200,000 volumes and thousands of electronic resources. Collins is a specialist in information technology, serves on national boards and task forces, and is a regular reviewer for several prestigious library journals. He played a key role in designing the National Library of Education. He is a member of the ERIC Steering Committee. Collins is also an integral part of campuswide efforts toward implementing the next generation of the Harvard On-Line Library Information System and is heavily involved with the Harvard/Google project and Harvard's Open Access Initiative. His most recent publication—Collins, J. W., & O’Brien, N. P. (Eds.). The Greenwood dictionary of education (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press—is under contract and scheduled for release in 2010.
  • Sharon Weiner
    Purdue University
    SHARON A. WEINER is a professor of library science and holds the position of W. Wayne Booker Endowed Chair in Information Literacy at Purdue University. She is vice president of the National Forum on Information Literacy. She is a member of the editorial board of Practical Academic Librarianship and is editor of the column, “Information Literacy Beyond the Library” for College & Undergraduate Libraries. Her research interests are information literacy, and leadership and organizational aspects of academic libraries. Recent publications include: Weiner, S. A. (2009). Tale of two databases: The history of federally funded information systems for education and medicine. Government Information Quarterly, 26, 450–458. doi:10.1016/giq.2009.02.003; Weiner, S. A. (2009). The contribution of the library to the reputation of a university. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35, 3–13. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2008.10.003; and Weiner, S., Breivik, P. S., Clark, D., & Caboni, T. (2009). Positioning libraries to support the goals of higher education institutions: The Peabody Academic Library Leadership Institute. Journal of Library Administration, 49, 837–846. doi:10.1080/01930820903396913.
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