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Introduction to the Teachers College Record Special Issue on Education Informatics

by Jo Ann Carr, John W. Collins, Nancy P. O'Brien, Sharon A. Weiner & Carol Wright - 2010

This paper introduces the special issue.

In 2005, librarians associated with the top 50 schools of education in the United States met at Harvard University with the goal to discuss ways to provide better access to education information. This informal group, now called the Education Research Libraries Forum (ERLF), is open to stakeholders with an interest in education information and its accessibility and archiving. ERLF began meeting regularly in conjunction with the conferences of the American Library Association to assess the state of the education information field and to identify activities and projects to address the goal of better access and utilization.

One of the insights from the initial meeting was the realization that the discipline of education lacked a formalized informatics program, similar to that found in fields such as health. Such a program might focus on the use of technology to solve education information problems. Recognizing that there is a need to involve an audience broader than the immediate participants in that conversation, one of the attendees proposed that a journal article or series of journal articles would promote and encourage a discussion of the issues across the broad community of education scholars and practitioners. Gary Natriello, Executive Editor of Teachers College Record, suggested that a special issue of TCR might be a suitable vehicle for this project. The guest editors reviewed many possible topics to represent the range of issues and challenges that are involved in developing education informatics as a formalized area of study. The following articles are authored by a selection of teachers, faculty, librarians, and scholars who address different aspects of information technology as applied to, practiced in, or recommended for future implementation in, education, teaching, and learning.

As the guest editors discovered through their background research, the term education informatics surfaced periodically in the literature, but its meaning varied, and its use was inconsistent. In Europe, the term generally refers to information technology; in the United States, its meaning is more closely allied to the definition used throughout this journal issue: as a technology used to identify, organize, and distribute information in the field of education. Overall, although these articles focus on issues and concerns within the United States, much of the content is applicable internationally.

In the initial article, Collins and Weiner offer a definition of education informatics and a proposal for creating a subdiscipline within formal higher education teaching programs. Wright addresses the issues of user behavior and its implications for the way the education literature is structured. Squire reviews evolving types of user behavior in our networked, collaborative, and rapidly changing technological environment, and the possible ways that classroom teachers can work within that culture. Farmer considers teacher preparation programs as a way to begin that conversation about incorporating technology into the classroom in effective and collaborative ways. Furlough’s discussion of open access issues and the ways in which individuals seek relevant education information leads into McClendon and Hearn’s overview of policy issues that affect open access to education information. They address the balance between privacy issues and the need for relevant data. McFarland and Klopfer discuss technological issues that affect the use of education information and envision new approaches to categorizing education knowledge. A summary of these articles and proposals for next steps, including a national discussion, are presented by Carr and O’Brien.

The guest editors offer these articles as a challenge to the education community to take a bold approach to incorporating informatics into the field, to formalize its inclusion in professional development schools, and to maximize the potential of new approaches in social networking and collaborative work. This will ensure that education information is both readily accessible for current access and utilization and preserved for future generations.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 10, 2010, p. 2519-2522
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15877, Date Accessed: 12/7/2021 10:43:22 AM

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About the Author
  • Jo Ann Carr
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    JO ANN CARR is director of media, education resources, and information technology for the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As director, she oversees library services, media production, computer services, shared learning spaces, desktop support, instructional consulting, and network services for the school. These diverse responsibilities place Carr in the nexus of information creation, organization, access, and technology resources. Her publication and invited presentation history includes information literacy, school library media centers, and the intersection of library and technology services in education. In 1999, she received the Distinguished Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries. Carr was also a member of the inaugural class for the Frye Leadership Institute sponsored by EDUCAUSE.
  • 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 HGSE 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 and consulted with the U.S. Department of Education in developing and implementing the National Education Network. 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. In 2005, he was awarded the Dean’s Outstanding Service Award in recognition of his outstanding service to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was recognized by the Association of College and Research Libraries as the 2008 Distinguished Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian.
  • Nancy O'Brien
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    NANCY P. O’BRIEN is head of the Education and Social Science Library and professor of library administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With additional responsibilities for building and maintaining the collection of education resources in all formats and providing instruction and virtual and real-time reference service, O’Brien’s use of education information is that of both a provider and a scholar. Her research and publications focus on the history, organization, and management of education and testing resources in libraries, with emphasis on access to, and the preservation of, historical education collections as part of our cultural heritage. In 1997, she received the Distinguished Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries. O’Brien is coeditor, with John W. Collins, of the 2003 Greenwood Dictionary of Education. See http://www.library.uiuc.edu/people/bios/npobrien for further information.
  • Sharon Weiner
    University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
    SHARON WEINER is dean of library services at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She is cochair of Vanderbilt’s Peabody Academic Library Leadership Institute. She is cochair of the National Forum on Information Literacy. She received her doctorate in higher education leadership from Vanderbilt University. She was formerly director of Peabody Library at Vanderbilt and head of information services at the University at Buffalo Health Sciences Library. She has published numerous articles and the book, Health of Native People of North America: A Bibliography and Guide to Resources.
  • Carol Wright
    Pennsylvania State University
    E-mail Author
    CAROL WRIGHT is education and behavioral sciences librarian at the Pennsylvania State University Libraries, with responsibility for programs in education policy studies, higher education, adult education, and instructional design. She has had a long and continuing commitment to library instruction and information literacy issues, nationally and at Penn State. She was project director for the Libraries’ information literacy tutorial, “Information Literacy and You,” and received a grant from Penn State’s World Campus/ATT Foundation Innovations in Distance Education project to develop library instructional materials and services for distance education students. Her research interests include student use of the Internet, academic library Web design and navigation, format duplication in collection development, and analysis of the ERIC database since implementation of mandates required by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002.
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