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Due to the progress of science and technology the need and demand of the society are changing very fast. Information and communication technology (ICT) also has a great influence on the lifestyle and work pattern of today's people. In the present information society there is an explosion of information and access to information has become much easier. It is therefore necessary to asses the information, to process and package the information and ultimately to provide that to the information user at the right time. The concept has changed from stereotype library to library & information center and finally to the information centre, where information is not always retained within the two bound covers. So, LIS education is very crucial at this time. But traditional methods of LIS education can not always be established as a productive one, in context with this hi -tech real world problems. To cope up with the changing society and modern technology the curricula and the method of teaching LIS should be changed. Students of LIS need to be highly professional with special techniques and skills to cater to the need of the society and that depends on how they learn the subject, i.e. in the methods they are taught. If they are taught with particular techniques suitable for this 21st century information society, their lessons will be much more effective in the real problem field. The thrust area of this paper is the method of teaching and learning in LIS in India. Some suggestions are proposed to give a new direction in LIS education.
KEYWORDS: LIS education, India, Teaching Learning Methods, LIS professionals, Library schools.
Dictionary meaning of 'teaching' is "the act, practice or profession of giving instruction". (Chambers, 1993, p1773)). And 'learning' is defined as "what is learned" or "knowledge". (Chambers, 1993, P954). In other words 'teaching' is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its intellectual sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. (Wikipedia)
And learning is acquiring new knowledge, behavior, skills, values or preferences. It may involve processing different types of information. Human learning may occur as part of education or personal development. (Wikipedia)
"In its broadest sense, learning can be defined as a process of progressive change from ignorance to knowledge, from inability to competence, and from indifference to understandingâ€¦ In much the same manner, instruction or education can be defined as the means by which we systematize the situations, conditions, task materials and opportunities by which learners acquire new or different ways of thinking, feeling and doing." (Fincher, 1994)
There are different types of methods in teaching and learning. Methods are generally strategies or styles adopted for effective teaching and learning. Students have different background knowledge, different learning capacities, different social environment etc, so for good and effective teaching teachers often use various techniques. Teaching with an appropriate method help the students understand the context in a better way and also help to retain the information for a longer time and correlate with similar contexts.
The following are the three main types of teaching learning methods:
Mass instruction methods- It includes conventional lectures and discussions, audio-visual presentations, educational broadcasts, worksheets etc.
Individualized learning- It includes directed study of text, mediated self instruction, assignments etc.
Group learning- It involves class discussions, small group discussions, brainstorming activities, role playing, seminars etc. (www2.pgu.ac.uk/celt/pgcerttlt/selecting/select3.htm)
Group learning can be collaborative or cooperative learning, where students of different abilities put their efforts together to complete a particular task.
Professional learning is skill development in professional field or specialized training for a particular work field. So, appropriate teaching methods are really essential in professional learning to absorb the subject with sound interpretation and to provide a better service.
LIS being professional courses of study is not an exception. Proper method of imparting education to produce information professional with present day knowledge and skill is very much important.
OBJECTIVES OF LIS EDUCATION:
Primary objective of LIS education is to provide LIS professionals to facilitate information infrastructure of the nation. Students from different disciplines and with different learning capacities join the courses of LIS, with the aim of getting a stable position in various library and information sectors.
The specific objectives are:
To facilitate the exchange of information
To control the exchange of information
To achieve excellence in information service delivery
To evaluate , process and disseminate information
To apply the outcomes of LIS research in practice
To sustain the growth of the subject.
To attain those objectives and to be good professionals, students of LIS must get adequate and specialized training. They have a wide range of scope, varied options to choose in the job market if only they are properly trained. They should have expertise and have to be proficient to deal with the information products along with the traditional books. And for that new and effective methods and techniques should be developed. So, it is also important that how they are being taught as well as what they are being taught. Library schools play an important role in preparing professionals. The aim of the library schools should be to produce information professionals not only library professionals. Saunders said "implicit in all this is the acceptance by all those responsible for the professional education of a wider responsibility than merely producing practitioners, for the situation as it is at present; a professional school must also identify the future professional trends and needs and prepare the practitioners to meet them."(Saunders, 1978)
RELEVANT STUDIES :
Various works have been done in this field, which shows the significance of the subject. Some works are mentioned here:
Due to increasing impact of technology on libraries and information centers, our traditional method of teaching and curricula has become outdated. Most LIS departments have changed their curricula but their method of teaching remains unchanged. In this scenario right teaching method is the need of the hour. In this context, Jaiswal discussed the methods for teaching library and information science in an article published in 2002. He also highlights the knowledge and skills required for future library and information science professionals. (Jaiswal, 2002).
LIS is recognized as a discipline for study and research. There are various universities and institutions offering different regular and distance courses in library and information science in India. But due to the advent of ICT and WWW. , the open and distance learning courses are facing real challenges. Ghosh & Sevukan opinioned in 72nd IFLA general conference and council held during 20 -24 august, 2006 at Seoul, Korea, that it is therefore inevitable for the LIS teachers and educators to keep up with the changes and for better results they should supplement the present models for lifelong learning programs using ICT based techniques. (Ghosh & Sevukan, 2006)
Many other experts (Eaton, 1954) also consider the importance of techniques to teach library and information science and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the methods in practice and also suggest some new techniques of teaching for effective learning.
It is evident from this review that further study to detail the appropriate methodology for LIS education and training is required to expand the knowledge base.
PRESENT SCENARIO OF TEACHING LEARNING PROCESS IN LIS:
LIS is a professional course. If we look back at the history of LIS in India we can find that it is one of the traditional professional courses in the country. It was started as an elementary course at Boroda, Lahore and Vijayawada. Before Indian Independence the course was available only at three or four universities at graduate level. Prof. S. R. Ranganathan, Father of Library Science education in India devoted his lifetime for its spread and advancement. Now as many 69 institutions offering certificate courses, 33 institutions offering diploma courses (DLISc), 104 institutions, the maximum numbers, are offering BLISc courses. And there are 93 universities providing MLISc programs and 53 universities/institutions offering PhD and M. Phil degrees. (Ali & Bakshi, n.d.)
At present the procedure mostly followed by the LIS departments for teaching their students includes ( dspace.vidyanidhi.org.in ) :
Conventional lectures and discussions in classes
Seminars and workshops
Case study methods
Compiling bibliographies and trend reports
But traditional methods of LIS education can not be always established as a productive one in context with this hi-tech real world problem. Conventional lectures and discussions are not so innovative in nature and do not give rise to new ideas. Often there is lack of library tours and practices and workshop facility is not always satisfactory. Some problems arise in the present system of teaching and learning.
Major problems which need to be addressed on a priority basis are:
Insufficient learning material - Many library schools can not provide sufficient learning materials and practice tools to their students due to lack of finance. As a result there is often a gap in the learning and the students can not go forward in the competition.
2. Poor infrastructure - Most of the library schools in India have inadequate infrastructure. Their faculty strength is not enough in comparison with the number of students. They do not always have proper workshop facility for students, so that they can practice over there and get help of the teachers as and when they need it. The library collection is sometimes not up to the mark.
3. Lack of training on communication skill development - Communication skill is the most important in LIS profession. As the professionals have to deal with different types of users with different mental condition, different backgrounds and of different interests, they must posses excellent communication skill to make a relation between the information and its user. But present system of teaching and learning do not give importance to develop this skill and they do not have advanced communication equipments.
4. Theoretical knowledge is more than the practice - LIS is all about providing service to the users according to their need and make them satisfied. It is a practice oriented course, not the theory as a whole. With the knowledge of the text, students often become puzzled outside the class room when they face real challenges and feel it difficult to survive in this competitive world.
5. Less knowledge about the modern technologies - Today's world is running on technologies. Success in any field has become impossible without IT. So, without a standard knowledge and skill of the IT, one can not be a good professional. But the problem is that all the LIS departments do not have well equipped IT laboratory with the library and information center related soft wares.
In today's multi resource environment students need to learn the proper strategies of work to get the genuine information and to make it communicable. To keep pace with the transforming society, alteration of the methods of teaching and learning is the need of the hour.
Authors are to put some suggestive measures from their observation and experiences for betterment of the present system. Proposed measures can be stated as:
Provision of adequate learning material should be there and for that development of the library of the institution is necessary.
Infrastructure of the library schools should be compatible with modern techniques. Proper workshop or practice room must be there.
Communication skill of the students should be developed and for that group discussion, seminars or other methods should be used like other professional courses.
Problem based learning or problem solving classes are important to increase the critical thinking ability of the students.
Small group teaching can be more fruitful as each one will get personal attention.
Group projects should be given to explore the leadership and management quality.
Audio-visual aids should be used in teaching as it will be much more effective. Interviews of professionals and users can be played in the classroom. The work process of different libraries and information centers can be showed with the help of A-V aids to give the students a clear picture of the field.
Practice oriented learning should be there. Some subjects like preservation and conservation need practical experience along with the theory. Often it is seen that professionals do not have the knowledge of the type of paper and how to preserve it, what chemical should be used for that etc, so handy work is helpful.
If the course is in distance mode then there should be expert consultant to help the students and the facility of e-learning, teleconferencing should be provided.
IT skill should be developed and students must have knowledge about how to retrieve information with the help of IT. Digitization techniques should be taught in practice.
Up gradation of professionals working in the traditional library is necessary. Regular arrangement of 'target group specific' short courses, workshop, IT training, management programmes should be done.
Evaluation of the study material and evaluation of the faculty is also necessary.
Frequent assessment of the students and individual report of the students is necessary to know their weaknesses and on that lesson plans should be designed to increase their efficiency.
Internship should be compulsory to enhance the skill and competencies of the students. During the course the students should be provided with the facility to work under the supervision of a professional at an approved library or information center for a period not less than three months.
Education prepares the professionals to carry out their duties and functions efficiently and effectively. LIS education which is a technical one also has the objective to produce skilled professionals for the work field. But the environment of work is changing very fast and getting influenced by the modern ICT. Now-a -days open sources information and digital sources information are easily available, but it is doubted if they are reliable or not. So, assessing the information is equally important to accessing it. Today's information professionals need to develop new skills to meet the increasing demand for information. Nick Moore predicted the emergence of four complementary groups of information professionals -creators, collectors, communicators and consolidators (Vijayakumar, 2005). So LIS Departments have to produce modern information professionals who are competent in the new environment. And the thing they should keep in mind is that their students are not only for managing traditional libraries but they have diverse job opportunities if they can take the upper hand with the other professionals dealing with information. To provide value added and tailor-made information service proper training is necessary. In order to develop sufficient and efficient manpower in the LIS profession to compete in this 21st century with other profession we need to adopt modern, flexible teaching-learning technique and necessary steps should be taken to broaden the scope of this profession.